Dan Quinn

Broncos Likely To Fire Nathaniel Hackett Before Season’s End?

DECEMBER 4: Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports hears that an in-season firing is unlikely. Jones observes that Hackett has not lost the support of his locker room, and while he will need to win a few games down the stretch to have a chance to keep his job, the Broncos’ new ownership appears willing to give him that opportunity.

NOVEMBER 29: After the warning signs that emerged during Nathaniel Hackett‘s Week 1 outing, the first-year Broncos HC has not recovered. One-and-done rumors have engulfed him for several weeks. The Broncos enter Week 13 with one of the worst scoring offenses in recent NFL history.

The team is riding its second three-game losing streak, with this one including losses to the sub-.500 Raiders and Panthers, and is averaging 14.3 points per game. Although six more games remain, the Broncos continuing on this pace would group them with the 2018 Cardinals, 2016 Rams and 2012 Chiefs. No other team has averaged fewer 14.3 points per game over the past decade. These three organizations canned their head coaches — Steve Wilks, Jeff Fisher and Romeo Crennel, respectively — during or after those seasons.

This stunning season will almost certainly lead to Hackett’s ouster, and execs informed Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post it is likely Hackett will be canned before season’s end. This could give the Broncos a chance to evaluate Ejiro Evero as an interim coach, potentially with an eye on the first-time defensive coordinator sticking around beyond 2022.

The Broncos have Evero on their radar as a potential Hackett replacement, though it would be rather strange if the team that has underwhelmed to this degree went with a current staffer to replace Hackett. Evero and Hackett have been close since being college teammates 20-plus years ago, but the former has been a well-regarded assistant as well. Evero, 41, spent the past five seasons on Sean McVay‘s Rams staff and has helmed a Broncos defense that has kept the team in most of its games. Denver ranks third in total defense and points allowed.

Hackett has both brought in a game management assistant after several September gaffes — highlighted by the bizarre decision to settle for a 64-yard field goal in Week 1 — and turned over play-calling duties to quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak. The Broncos have failed to score 17 points since making the latter change. The team, which has been without several offensive starters in recent weeks, also leads the league in penalties.

While 13 teams this century have fired a coach after one season, only the Jaguars last year axed their first-year HC during the season. (Bobby Petrino did not finish his first Falcons campaign, but that situation involved the former college coach accepting an Arkansas offer in December 2007.) Jacksonville fired Urban Meyer on Dec. 16, 2021, 13 games into his season. It would be strange to see Hackett grouped with Meyer, whose scandal-filled Jags tenure led to the early ouster, but the Broncos traded a bounty for Russell Wilson and have somehow declined considerably on offense.

Denver had Kevin O’Connell and Dan Quinn as its other HC finalists this year, and La Canfora adds GM George Paton‘s ties to Quinn may keep him in the mix. Quinn was an early frontrunner for the Denver HC post, but Hackett emerged instead. It would be interesting to see if the Cowboys DC would go through another interview process with a team that passed on him so recently. But it is a near-certainty at this point another Broncos coaching search — under new ownership — will commence in 2023.

Panthers’ Post-Rhule Fallout: Termination, Replacement, Trades

The NFL news circuit was set ablaze today when news broke of the firings of Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. The termination of Rhule was not necessarily a surprise, as he’s been firmly on the hot seat all year and the possibility of firing Rhule had been discussed “well before” today, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, but it did create a newsworthy fallout of information that is of interest to those who follow the sport.

Many have talked about the contract implications of Rhule’s termination, alluding to the millions of dollars still remaining on his contract. While it’s completely applicable to Rhule’s situation, it doesn’t sound like it is a concern to Carolina. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted out that “Carolina is on the hook for this season, but the salaries for the ensuing seasons are offset by what his future college job pays him.” Essentially, Rhule will absolutely get his guaranteed money, but the onus won’t be on Carolina to pay it. Whenever Rhule, who is presumed to be a top college coaching candidate for next year, gets another job, his salary from the new school will offset the amount the Panthers owe him.

It was also announced that Panthers defensive passing game coordinator & secondary coach Steve Wilks will sub in as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The defensive-minded former head coach of the Cardinals has apparently already begun to make the team his own. When Panthers owner David Tepper was asked why Snow was fired, he reportedly pointed the finger at Wilks, telling reporters to direct that question to the interim head coach, according to ESPN’s David Newton.

Here are a few more fallout items from today, starting with some ideas on Rhule’s replacement:

  • The biggest nugget to come out of today concerning Carolina is that, as most NFL executives expected Rhule to lose his job, many in league circles are expecting the Panthers to start dealing veteran assets in an attempt to accrue draft capital that might make the head coaching position more attractive, according to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post. The Panthers currently only hold four draft picks for 2023: first-, second-, fourth-, and fifth-round picks, supporting the idea that trading away veterans could improve their current situation. Trading away veterans with expensive contracts, such as star running back Christian McCaffrey or wide receiver Robbie Anderson, could prove troublesome, according to La Canfora, so the Panthers are reportedly willing to eat some of those salaries in order to facilitate moving those assets. Early reports claimed that the Bills have reached out about McCaffrey and that they did in the offseason, as well, according to Person, but Tom Pelissero of NFL Network clarified that, while every team will be calling about McCaffrey, the Panthers haven’t engaged in any trade talks yet. In addition to McCaffrey and Anderson, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports expects wide receiver D.J. Moore, defensive end Brian Burns, and defensive tackle Derrick Brown to be on the table.
  • Jeff Howe of The Athletic posed the question today of who might replace Rhule and offered quite a few suggestions. Howe started the list with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn who took the Falcons to the Super Bowl as head coach in 2016. Next, he mentioned 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Ryans interviewed for the Vikings’ job this offseason and was expected to interview for the Raiders’, as well. The 38-year-old has rocketed up coaching boards since retiring as a player in 2015. Another name mentioned was Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon who also interviewed for the Vikings last year, in addition to the Texans and Broncos. Howe went into great detail on every candidate, seeming to list anybody who may be up for a head coaching job in the next few seasons. His list included former NFL head coaches including the retired Sean Payton, Steelers senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, and former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, as well as the current interim head coach, Wilks. Other serious candidates Howe mentioned were Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, and Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The list essentially devolved into an article about anybody who may make the jump to NFL head coach in the next few seasons, pointing out “wait and see” candidates such as Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, and Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.
  • One interesting name that came out of today’s rumors was former Panthers All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly. Joe Person of The Athletic advised that an eye be kept on Kuechly, who remains close with Wilks and new defensive coordinator Al Holcomb, to come back in some capacity. After retiring from a pro scout position last year, Kuechly has been working as an analyst on Panthers radio broadcasts.

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints created nine full-time vacancies available this year.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 2-7-22 (1:45pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Dolphins Hire Mike McDaniel As Head Coach

The Dolphins have announced that they’ve agreed to terms to make 49ers’ offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel their next head coach (Twitter).

McDaniel recently had his second interview with Miami on Friday. Fox Sports Writer Peter Schrager reported that the interview lasted for 10 hours.
McDaniel was one of two candidates to receive a second interview with the Dolphins as Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore interviewed yesterday. With Moore not getting the job, it looks like Dallas will keep both coordinators as Moore has not been mentioned as a contender for the Saints’ or Texans’ jobs and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has informed teams that he is remaining in Dallas.

McDaniel is a longtime Kyle Shanahan-staffer, following Shanahan from Atlanta to San Francisco. Following Mike LaFleur‘s departure to join Robert Saleh on the Jets, McDaniel was promoted to offensive coordinator.

The 2021 NFL season was McDaniel’s first and only year as an offensive coordinator at any level. He first entered the NFL as an intern for the Broncos in 2004. He spent three years as an offensive assistant in Houston before taking the position of running backs coach for Sacramento’s short-lived UFL team. McDaniel re-entered the NFL ranks an an offensive assistant in Washington for two years before getting promoted to wide receivers coach. He spent one season in that position in Washington followed by a season holding the same position in Cleveland before heading to Atlanta to become an offensive assistant under Shanahan.

The 38-year-old’s rise has been meteoric since joining Shanahan. After two years in Atlanta, McDaniel became Shanahan’s run game coordinator in San Francisco for four seasons before finally getting his shot last year at offensive coordinator. McDaniel didn’t call plays for the 49ers, but he did draw up the running plays and coordinate a running game that ranked in the top-10 despite losing Raheem Mostert in Week 1 and missing Elijah Mitchell for 6 games this year.

With Brian Flores‘ lawsuit against the NFL, Dolphins, Giants, and Broncos alleging racial discrimination, much attention will likely be paid to the fact that McDaniel identifies as multiracial, making him the first minority coaching candidate to be hired in this year’s cycle. The 49ers will receive two third-round compensatory picks as a result of the hire.

With Miami securing their man, there are now only two teams remaining who are without a head coach: the Texans and Saints. Keep up with the last remaining coaching searches on our 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.

NFC East Notes: WFT, Quinn, Cooper

The Washington Football Team moniker will soon be a thing of the past. As Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post tweeted earlier this month, WFT’s new name and “brand identity” will be revealed on The Today Show on February 2. During its two years as the Washington Football Team, the franchise put together a 14-19 regular season record, though it did capture the NFC East title in 2020 and came close to defeating the eventual-Super Bowl champion Buccaneers in last year’s wildcard round.

As we get set to usher in a new era of football in the nation’s capital — or at least a differently-named era — let’s take a look at some other NFC East items:

  • Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was the hottest name in this year’s head coaching cycle, but it appears the job he really wanted was the Giants‘ HC gig, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post (via Twitter). When Quinn realized that Big Blue had narrowed its search to Brian Daboll and Brian Flores — the post ultimately went to Daboll — he withdrew his name from HC consideration and signed an extension with Dallas shortly thereafter.
  • There has been a fair amount of speculation about WR Amari Cooper‘s future with the Cowboys, speculation that ramped up following some of owner Jerry Jonesrecent comments on the matter. While the club could save $16MM in cap space by cutting the 27-year-old wideout before his $20MM base salary for 2022 becomes fully-guaranteed on the fifth day of the league year in March, Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network says that most sources he has spoken with expect Dallas to retain Cooper.
  • Eagles TE Tyree Jackson, a former collegiate QB who also spent some time in the XFL, saw action in nine games for Philadelphia in 2021, and in the club’s regular season finale, he secured three catches for 22 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Unfortunately, he also tore his ACL in that game, and as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets, Jackson recently underwent successful ACL reconstruction surgery. The Eagles have high hopes for the 24-year-old, who — depending on how his recovery goes — could operate as their TE2 in 2022.
  • In addition to Jackson, Eagles OL Brett Toth, who signed with Philadelphia as a UDFA in 2020 after receiving late permission from the U.S. Army to join the NFL, has also gone under the knife. Toth announced on Instagram (via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Twitter) that he recently had knee surgery that would require nine months of recovery. That timeline obviously puts the start of the 2022 season in jeopardy, if Toth is even on the roster at that point.

Cowboys Sign Dan Quinn To Multi-Year Extension

Dan Quinn is staying put. On Friday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan that he’s signed his defensive coordinator to an extension that will keep him in place “for years to come,” (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). 

[RELATED: Cowboys To Keep HC Mike McCarthy]

Quinn was up for head coaching jobs with the Bears, Broncos, Jaguars, Dolphins, and Giants. It’s not clear if he received any offers, though Jones personally believes that he did (Twitter link). It’s likely that Quinn will be contacted in future cycles and one has to imagine that he’ll be willing to listen. But, for now, he’ll remain as the Cowboys’ DC.

Jones also “believes” that offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will return to Cowboys in 2022 (Twitter link via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas News), though he has another interview coming up with the Dolphins. Both coordinators, in theory, could be internal HC candidates at some point down the line, especially given the rumors surrounding Mike McCarthy‘s status.

The Cowboys will stick with McCarthy for another year, though Jones didn’t exactly rush to give his vote of confidence. “There was never an issue with Mike being the head coach,” JJ said during the interview.

Dan Quinn Remaining With The Cowboys

The most sought-after candidate in this year’s head coach hiring cycle has taken himself out of consideration for numerous jobs. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has informed HC-needy teams that he will be staying put in Dallas, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). 

Six of the nine teams with a vacancy requested an interview with Quinn, so it was widely believed his stay with the Cowboys would only last one season. Instead, he will carry on with the Cowboys to take another shot at a Super Bowl with one of the league’s most complete rosters.

Quinn conducted one interview with each of the Dolphins, Vikings and Giants. He was also a finalist for the Bears‘ and Broncos‘ positions, both of which have been filled today. The widespread interest he generated was in large part due to the success of the Cowboys’ defense in 2021. The unit ranked in the top ten in the league in points allowed (21 per game) and led the NFL with 26 interceptions.

The 51-year-old’s work with the ‘Legion of Boom’ in Seattle earned him the HC position in Atlanta. His return to life as an assistant in Dallas has certainly paid off, though, considering the opportunities he’s gotten in recent weeks. That interest is unlikely to die down, as Pelissero adds Quinn “should be a hot name again next year”. For now, though, teams will have to look elsewhere for their 2022 HC hires.

Latest On Bears’ Head Coaching Search

TUESDAY: Quinn and Eberflus will travel to Chicago for their interviews, per ESPN.com’s Ed Werder (on Twitter). With new GM hire Ryan Poles now on board, the Bears will likely make their choice soon. Quinn will meet with Poles and Co. on Tuesday, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Additionally, Allen’s interview did not go on as scheduled Tuesday, Breer tweets. The longtime Sean Payton assistant stayed in New Orleans for the 16-year HC’s press conference, during which he announced he was leaving his post. Allen is now on the short list to succeed Payton in New Orleans.

MONDAY: The Bears are giving Dan Quinn and Jim Caldwell a second look. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), the Bears have requested second interviews with the two candidates.

[RELATED: 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Quinn has been one of the most sought-after candidate of this year’s HC cycle. His work with Dallas’ defense in just one season – seventh in the league in points allowed per game, first in interceptions, to name a few statistics – has put him in line to get another HC gig one year after being fired by the Falcons. Quinn has already scheduled a second interview for the Broncos HC job.

Caldwell, 66, served as the Dolphins’ quarterbacks coach in 2019 before health issues forced him to step aside. Fortunately, he’s said to be back to full health now, and it sounds like he’s ready for his next job. Between his time with the Colts and Lions, Caldwell owns a career 62-50 record as a head coach with four playoff berths and one Super Bowl appearance. Caldwell’s last stop in Detroit saw him never finish with fewer than seven wins, but he was still canned following back-to-back 9-7 seasons.

Meanwhile, Rapoport notes that Matt Eberflus will have his second interview on Wednesday, while Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen will get his first crack at the gig tomorrow.

Latest On Broncos’ HC Search

A bit more clarity has emerged with regards to the finalists for the Broncos’ head coaching position. In an update on Good Morning Football, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported that the job will come down to three candidates: Dan Quinn, Kevin O’Connell and Nathaniel Hackett

[Related: Broncos Down To “A Few” HC Finalists]

Quinn was the only coach listed by name as a frontrunner when it was reported yesterday that the search was coming down to a small number of candidates. The current Cowboys defensive coordinator has been linked to six of the seven HC vacancies this year, which should presumably give him multiple options to consider.

O’Connell was among the first set of interview requests the Broncos made following Vic Fangio‘s dismissal. In two years as the offensive coordinator for the Rams, the 36-year-old has been impressive. The unit’s 2021 numbers are down slightly due injuries hampering the running game, but he has overseen Matt Stafford‘s first year in L.A., which included Cooper Kupp‘s incredible production. O’Connell has also been linked to the open positions in Houston and Minnesota.

Hackett represents another offensive-minded candidate, something which would differ from the defense-oriented Fangio and Quinn. He has been an offensive coordinator in Buffalo, Jacksonville and, most recently, Green Bay. In three seasons there, he has helped the team win 13 games each time, including a highly efficient year in 2020. The Bears, Jaguars and Vikings have also interviewed the 42-year-old.

According to 9News’ Mike Klis, Quinn is coming to the Broncos’ headquarters sometime this week (Twitter link). The other two are expected to also interview in person, although nothing has been officially scheduled yet. Be sure to check in on our HC Search Tracker for the latest updates.


Broncos Down To “A Few” HC Finalists

The Broncos could be on the verge of naming their next head coach. Broncos GM George Paton has narrowed his search to just “a few” candidates, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link). It’s not clear who the finalists are, but many around the league believe that Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is among the frontrunners. 

To date, the Broncos have interviewed at least ten candidates for their head coaching vacancy:

Quinn, 51, has become a consistent presence in this cycle, popping up with six of the seven clubs looking for a head coach. Beyond the Broncos, the Bears, Jaguars, Dolphins, Vikings, and Giants have had him in their sights. Quinn surely has his own shortlist of favorites, one that might exclude the Jaguars since he declined to interview with them during the season. Meanwhile, the Giants job could hold extra appeal for him since he grew up in nearby Orange, NJ.