Eric Bieniemy

AFC West Notes: Waller, Chiefs, Broncos

Darren Waller came up in trade talks last year, generating Packers interest ahead of the deadline, and the veteran tight end missed a big chunk of the Raiders‘ season due to a nagging hamstring injury that may or may not have irked some with the team. This came after the Raiders reached a three-year, $51MM extension with the former Pro Bowler just before the season. Despite Waller’s disappointing slate and the team moving on from Derek Carr, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes the Silver and Black are not looking to move on from the talented tight end (subscription required).

Waller’s $12MM cap number checks in considerably lower than Chandler Jones‘ ($19.3MM), but Howe adds the latter is also unlikely to be moved. The Raiders did not receive what they had hoped from Jones, who totaled just 4.5 sacks and seven QB hits in his Las Vegas debut. The Raiders would save $9MM-plus by trading Jones, 33, but the ex-Cardinals All-Pro’s trade value may not be especially high right now. Jones still has $16MM in guarantees remaining on his three-year, $51MM deal.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • The Chiefs had once eyed Mike Kafka to succeed Eric Bieniemy as OC, per’s Albert Breer, but they had envisioned the latter landing a head coaching job. Bieniemy famously failed to do so and ended up leaving for a play-calling role in Washington after five years. This proved too long for Kafka to wait; he is now the Giants’ play-caller and joined this year’s HC carousel. Benefiting from the past two offseasons’ events, Matt Nagy replaced Kafka as QBs coach and has since replaced Bieniemy. Nagy’s Bears HC shortcomings notwithstanding, Breer adds he is seen as a possible Andy Reid heir apparent in Kansas City. Reid shot down retirement rumors after Super Bowl LVII, but the future Hall of Famer will turn 65 this month and is going into his 25th season as a head coach.
  • Graham Glasgow, Ronald Darby and Chase Edmonds loom as cut candidates for the Broncos, who have some needs to fill in free agency. It is possible the Broncos release all three, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. Denver restructured Glasgow’s contract in 2022 and saw him become needed after injuries to guard Quinn Meinerz and center Lloyd Cushenberry. But the team can save $11MM by releasing Glasgow. The team can add $9.6MM by cutting Darby, who suffered a torn ACL in October. Rookie Damarri Mathis fared decently replacing the veteran opposite Patrick Surtain II. The Broncos picked up Edmonds at the deadline from the Dolphins; they can save $5.9MM by releasing the ex-Cardinals starter. Denver should be able to add a veteran for cheaper, given this year’s crowded running back market, and Sean Payton favorite Latavius Murray is likely a candidate to be re-signed.
  • For what it’s worth, Russell Wilson‘s office is no longer in use. The space that drew considerable attention as the former Seahawks star struggled in Denver has been cleaned out, Mike Klis of 9News notes. While Broncos players did not necessarily voice issues about Wilson’s office, it attracted scrutiny during a 5-12 season. Wilson previously agreed to stop using it during the season’s final two weeks.
  • Kyle Van Noy wants to stay with the Chargers, per The Athletic’s Daniel Popper, who notes the versatile linebacker should have a chance to return. The Bolts signed Van Noy to a low-cost deal late in the 2022 offseason. His role expanded after Joey Bosa‘s groin injury, and the 13-game starter hit the five-sack mark for the fifth time in the past six seasons. Conversely, Morgan Fox will probably depart in free agency, Popper adds. Fox registered 6.5 sacks and likely will price himself out of Los Angeles, as the Bolts want to re-sign right tackle Trey Pipkins and linebacker Drue Tranquill.
  • Mecole Hardman recently underwent groin surgery, Tom Pelissero of tweets. The November injury kept the contract-year wide receiver out of Super Bowl LVII. Hardman will attempt to get healthy ahead of a free agency bid, with Howe adding he will need around two months to recover (Twitter link). The Chiefs have Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster set to hit the market. Mutual interest exists between the Chiefs and Smith-Schuster.

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spun for several weeks, many teams made coordinator changes as well. Teams seeking new head coaches are conducting OC and DC searches, and a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

This is a big year for offensive coordinator hires, with nearly half the league making changes. Here are the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 3-1-23 (3:31pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals 

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Ben McAdoo)

  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach, (Rams): Hired
  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Kellen Moore)

  • Brian Angelichio, tight ends coach (Vikings): Interviewed 2/2
  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach (Rams): Interviewed
  • Jeff Nixon, running backs coach (Panthers): Interviewed
  • Brian Schottenheimer, offensive consultant (Cowboys): Hired

Denver Broncos (Out: Justin Outten)

Houston Texans (Out: Pep Hamilton)

Indianapolis Colts (Out: Parks Frazier)

  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Tee Martin, wide receivers coach (Ravens): Interview requested

Kansas City Chiefs (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Matt Nagy, quarterbacks coach (Chiefs): Hired

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Shane Steichen)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals (Out: Vance Joseph)

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Leslie Frazier)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Al Holcomb)

  • Ejiro Evero, former defensive coordinator (Broncos): Hired
  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): Interviewed
  • Marquand Manuel, safeties coach (Jets): Interviewed
  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator (Saints): Interviewed

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans 

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Renaldo Hill)

  • Derrick Ansley, defensive backs coach (Chargers): Promoted
  • Doug Belk, defensive coordinator (Houston): Interviewed
  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Interviewed

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Ryan Nielsen, Kris Richard)

  • Joe Woods, former defensive coordinator (Browns): Hired

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Jonathan Gannon)

San Francisco 49ers (Out: DeMeco Ryans)

  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): On radar
  • Chris Harris, defensive backs coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/31
  • Kris Kocurek, defensive line coach (49ers): On radar
  • Steve Wilks, former interim head coach (Panthers): Hired

Commanders’ Eric Bieniemy Hire Will Not Impact Sam Howell’s Status As QB1

The Commanders made a big splash when they landed Eric Bieniemy as their offensive coordinator several days ago. However, that hire will not change the club’s approach to its quarterback position, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.

Back in January, we heard that Washington was telling potential OC candidates that 2022 fifth-rounder Sam Howell is expected to be the team’s QB1 when training camp begins. Although head coach Ron Rivera subsequently left the door open to a veteran addition, it was clear that such a player would be more of a backup type and would likely not be one of the high-profile passers on the free agent and trade markets.

Now, even with Bieniemy on board, Howell remains in the driver’s seat to open the 2023 campaign as the Commanders’ QB1, and that suits the newly-minted OC just fine. Bieniemy, like Washington’s other offensive coordinator targets, is high on Howell and much of the rest of the offensive roster, which includes strong skill position depth in running backs Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson and wide receivers Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel. Because of generally substandard quarterback play, the club posted below-average marks in total offense and points per game in 2022 despite leading the league in time of possession. If Howell develops as the Commanders apparently believe he will, and if the team can bolster its O-line, it would be fair to expect a much more productive offense in 2023.

With Washington about to start a rookie-contract signal-caller and on the verge of cutting bait on Carson Wentz‘s contract — which will come with no dead money ramifications — it will be much easier to address the offensive line and other needs. Bieniemy could therefore be well-positioned to improve his head coaching stock, which has dropped in recent years despite the continued success of the Chiefs, his former employer.

Howell started just one game for the Commanders in his rookie season, a Week 18 win over the Cowboys. In that contest, he completed 11 of his 19 pass attempts for 169 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also added another 35 yards and a touchdown on five carries.

Commanders Hire Eric Bieniemy As OC

6:10pm: Schefter tweets that the deal is now official. He adds, unsurprisingly, that Bieniemy’s new job title will be accompanied by a raise in terms of annual compensation compared to what he had been earning during his time in Kansas City.

4:12pm: A deal between the Commanders and Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy appears to be in place. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports (via Twitter) that the parties have agreed on a multi-year pact which will see him become the new offensive coordinator and assistant head coach in Washington.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds that the Commanders are aiming to have a deal formally in place by tomorrow (Twitter link). Assuming that happens, it will officially mark the end of a courtship which increasingly pointed to a move from Kansas City to the nation’s capital in recent days. Pelissero notes that the Super Bowl champions preferred to keep Bieniemy in place, but they will now look elsewhere to fill a major vacancy.

Bieniemy, 53, has been connected to several head coaching positions in recent years, as his role in shaping the Chiefs’ elite offense has been noted. His lack of opportunities has led to widespread criticism, but now he will take on an OC role featuring complete control of an offense for the first time. Much will therefore be learned about his abilities in what is an increased capacity, though the Commanders represent a far different situation to the one in Kansas City.

Washington led the NFL in time of possession last season, but put up below-average numbers in several other offensive categories. That was caused in no small part by their poor QB play, a mark of their continued inability to find a long-term solution under center. Their latest attempt was the trade acquisition of Carson Wentz, but he was relegated to backup duty by the end of the season, one in which the team went 8-8-1. Rookie Sam Howell has since been named the starter heading into 2023.

The fifth-rounder attempted just 19 regular season passes, so to call him a stark contrast from two-time NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes in terms of pedigree would be a massive understatement. Bieniemy will still have a veteran head coach alongside him on the sidelines in Ron Rivera, though whispers have picked up that he could be on the hot seat next year.

With a Bieniemy move seemingly likely, it came out earlier today that QBs coach Matt Nagy is the name to watch for a promotion to the OC role. Nagy flamed out as head coach of the Bears, but a second OC posting in Kansas City for 2023 could help him rebuild his stock. Head coach Andy Reid has been a play-caller with the Chiefs during Bieniemy’s tenure, clouding the latter’s importance to the unit. It will be worth watching how much that dynamic changes if Nagy is tapped as Bieniemy’s replacement.

With Bieniemy set to head to the nation’s capital, here is the final breakdown of the Commanders’ OC search:

Mutual Interest Between Commanders, Eric Bieniemy; Chiefs Eyeing Matt Nagy Promotion

Eric Bieniemy and the Commanders look to be moving toward a deal. The longtime Chiefs offensive coordinator is back at the NFC East team’s facility Friday and is believed to have interest in leaving Kansas City for Washington, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

While it would represent a somewhat strange development for the five-year Chiefs OC to leave a place where he has won two Super Bowls, teams have continually overlooked him for head coaching gigs. This OC-to-OC move would allow Bieniemy to have full play-calling responsibilities for the first time.

The sides began their meeting with a Wednesday-night dinner, and Albert Breer of tweets he and the Commanders will discuss contract matters and staffing Friday. The process is likely to conclude with Bieniemy becoming the next Commanders OC, Rapoport tweets. If Bieniemy leaves his post under Andy Reid, Rapoport adds (via Twitter) Matt Nagy is the favorite to replace him as the Chiefs’ next OC. Other teams showed interest in Nagy this offseason, but’s Mike Garafolo tweets the ex-Bears HC received indications he was next in line to become Reid’s right-hand man on offense.

Both Nagy and Doug Pederson rode Kansas City’s OC position to HC opportunities — in Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively — but no such path has formed for Bieniemy, leading to widespread criticism. The Chiefs have employed Bieniemy as their OC throughout Patrick Mahomes‘ starter tenure, and while numerous HC interviews occurred, a chance to lead a team remains elusive. A move to a play-calling post, then, emerged on the radar as a potential stepping stone for the 10-year Chiefs assistant.

Bieniemy, 53, interviewed for the Colts’ HC job this year but said prior to Super Bowl LVII he had not met with any teams about their OC gig. Both the Commanders and Ravens wanted to speak with the Reid lieutenant about their play-calling positions, but Baltimore hired Todd Monken for the job. Washington, however, has kept its job open for more than a month. Bieniemy has been the Commanders’ top choice for a while, and despite Ron Rivera being on the hot seat and the franchise potentially nearing a sale, the two-time Super Bowl-winning OC is close to relocating.

The Chiefs extended Bieniemy on a one-year deal during the 2022 offseason. Even if his contract were not up, the Chiefs could not block a Bieniemy Commanders interview due to the job coming with play-calling responsibilities. Reid has retained those in Kansas City, which has played a role in the assistant not landing a top coaching gig. Bieniemy’s inability to do so, despite others securing such opportunities in recent years without play-calling pasts, has led to the intense scrutiny regarding the NFL’s hiring practices. That is unlikely to cease if Bieniemy lands in Washington, but it appears the former NFL running back is ready to test himself as a play-caller for a scuffling team.

Rivera fired three-year OC Scott Turner on Jan. 10 and interviewed several candidates, but the search slowed. Bieniemy waited until after the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVII win to interview, passing on a Titans meeting in the process. Rivera and Reid have been in contact, Breer adds.

Whereas the Chiefs are coming off a season in which their offense ranked No. 1 in DVOA despite the team trading All-Pro Tyreek Hill, the Commanders ranked 28th. Even in traditional metrics, Washington’s offense did not rank inside the top 20 during Turner’s tenure. Quarterback issues played a large part in that, though Turner drew criticism as well during the 2022 season.

While Bieniemy leaving the comforts of the Reid-Mahomes setup for uncertainty in Washington obviously brings considerable risk, the Commanders do roster some skill-position talent. Terry McLaurin and first-round pick Jahan Dotson are signed through 2025, with Curtis Samuel‘s contract running through the ’23 season. Brian Robinson also showed promise during his rookie campaign, despite suffering gunshot wounds in August.

Nagy served as Reid’s OC for two seasons — 2016-17 — after Pederson left for Philadelphia. Reid did give him a play-calling role for a bit, and the Bears hired him after Alex Smith‘s final K.C. season. Nagy earned Coach of the Year honors after helping the Bears to a 12-4 record and their first NFC North title since 2010. The operation went south soon after, with the team’s Mitch Trubisky draft choice doing well to sink Nagy. The Bears finished 8-8 in 2019 and 2020, but their 6-11 2021 mark led to Nagy’s firing. He quickly resurfaced in Kansas City as quarterbacks coach, and it looks like the Chiefs will ensure continuity by promoting him to replace Bieniemy.

Latest On Eric Bieniemy, Commanders’ OC Search

FEBRUARY 16: Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post reports (via Twitter) that today’s talks went well, and that Bieniemy will remain in Washington Friday to continue discussing the OC position. This latest update represents another sign pointing towards a Commanders deal being a distinct possibility in the very near future.

FEBRUARY 15: Kansas City’s offensive coordinator will interview with Washington’s OC job Thursday, Ian Rapoport of tweets. Bieniemy remains the Commanders’ top candidate for the gig, which would come with play-calling responsibilities. Bieniemy’s Chiefs contract expired after Super Bowl LVII.

FEBRUARY 13: Eric Bieniemy is now a two-time Super Bowl champion, after the Chiefs’ offense sparked a second-half comeback victory Sunday night. The Kansas City offensive coordinator was already on the radar of several other teams before the title game, and its result has not changed his situation.

Bieniemy remains the top target for the Commanders, who are setting up an interview with him for this week, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Washington was recently named as a suitor for the 53-year-old, along with Baltimore; Schefter’s colleague Jeremy Fowler tweets that the Ravens are also expected to meet with Bieniemy regarding their vacancy.

The Commanders have undertaken a wide-ranging search in their replacement for Scott Turner. An interview with Bieniemy was only possible after the Super Bowl, of course, but they could have competition for his services. Bieniemy’s agent explained to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk over the weekend that he has an “outside shot” at the Colts’ head coaching position, one of two in the NFL which has yet to filled. Bieniemy interviewed once for that role but has plenty of competition amongst his fellow finalists.

In addition to the Indianapolis HC gig and the Washington and Baltimore OC postings, Bieniemy could also be a contender to become Arizona’s next offensive coordinator, per his agent, depending on who is ultimately hired as the Cardinals’ new head coach. To date, the 10-year Chiefs staffer has not taken any OC interviews, but that could change very quickly given his position atop the list of the Commanders’ preferred candidates.

The Chiefs cannot block Bieniemy from interviewing for a job with play-calling responsibilities. With Andy Reid calling plays in Kansas City, it would be considered a step up for Bieniemy to become an offensive coordinator elsewhere. Reid would welcome his longtime lieutenant taking the reins elsewhere.

Eric Bieniemy has been tremendous for us and I think tremendous for the National Football League,” Reid said, via Adam Teicher of “I’m hoping he has an opportunity to go somewhere and do his thing where he can run the show and be Eric Bieniemy.”

Should Washington not be able to land Bieniemy, another veteran coach appears to be in place as Plan B. The Commanders are keeping an eye on Pat Shurmur, who interviewed with the team not long after their season ended. JP Finlay of NBC Sports notes that no other team has met with the former Giants and Browns head coach during the 2023 cycle, and that none are expected to in the coming days. Fowler concurs that Shurmur, 57, is likely the Commanders’ fallback option.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s John Keim reports (via Twitter) that Washington is lining up an interview with former Ravens OC Greg Roman. The latter spent the past four years at the helm of the Ravens’ offense, enjoying considerable success in the running game but coming up noticeably short regarding the team’s passing attack. The 50-year-old has previously served as the offensive coordinator of the 49ers and Bills.

Here is the updated breakdown of where things stand on the Washington OC front:

2023 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, 10 NFL teams hired new head coaches. Following the Panthers, Broncos and Texans’ hires, this year’s vacancy count sits at two. Last year’s Saints and Buccaneers moves, however, showed these job openings can emerge at unexpected points.

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

Updated 2-14-23 (1:30pm CT)

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Eric Bieniemy Has Not Taken Any OC Interviews; Commanders, Ravens Remain Interested

1:29pm: Neither the Commanders nor the Ravens have hired an offensive coordinator, and neither team can interview Bieniemy until after Super Bowl LVII. Bieniemy’s statement regarding OC jobs notwithstanding,’s Adam Schefter notes (on Twitter) he remains a prime candidate for both Baltimore and Washington.

A move to either team would not be a lateral shift; both the Commanders and Ravens are looking for their next play-caller. Each team has proceeded methodically here. The Commanders’ job became open on Jan. 10; the Ravens moved on from Greg Roman on Jan. 19.

9:58am: Another team with Eric Bieniemy on its interview wish list filled its offensive coordinator vacancy this week. The Titans promoted from within, elevating Tim Kelly to the post.

Tennessee is not the only franchise to show interest in Kansas City’s OC for a non-head coaching position this year. Baltimore and Washington requested Bieniemy interviews weeks ago, but the 10-year Chiefs staffer — whose inability to land a top coaching job has drawn extensive scrutiny over the past several years — said he has only taken one interview this year. Bieniemy spoke with the Colts about their HC position, but no other teams reached out to him regarding their top sideline gigs.

I have not taken any interviews for any offensive coordinator positions. I’ve only taken one interview, for a head coaching position. Right now, I’ve interviewed with the Indianapolis Colts. I thought it went great,” Bieniemy said, via the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala (on Twitter). “We’ll see where that goes. Now, as far as the offensive coordinator stuff, right now I am where my feet are. And right now I’m focusing on helping us win this game this weekend.”

The Colts are proceeding with one of the most thorough HC interview processes in recent history, potentially planning a third round of meetings. Bieniemy not confirming he spoke with the Colts a second time may well point to yet another team bypassing him. The Colts have interviewed eight candidates twice, including Shane Steichen, who is in the same scheduling boat as Bieniemy due to NFL rules regarding Super Bowl assistants. Bieniemy was linked to being a finalist for the Indianapolis job, but that was before the host of second interviews went down.

Heavy Bieniemy HC interest emerged in past offseasons, but it has waned. The five-year Chiefs OC only interviewed for two of the 10 available jobs last year and one of this year’s five openings. Despite the Chiefs leading the league in offensive DVOA after trading Tyreek Hill, Bieniemy has not received too much credit for the team’s success with Patrick Mahomes. Andy Reid, understandably, has received the bulk of the praise for best stretch in Chiefs history. Bieniemy’s persistent hurdle has led teams to inquire about his interest in becoming a play-calling OC, in an effort to show he can lead a successful offense independent of Reid. Though, past Reid Kansas City lieutenants Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy secured HC jobs during Alex Smith‘s stay as K.C.’s starter.

Bieniemy has reached agreements to stay in Missouri in each of the past two offseasons. He re-signed via a one-year pact in 2022, Jhabvala adds. While the former NFL running back did not confirm he would be back with the Chiefs in 2023, saying he will “have that conversation with coach Reid at that particular time,” the team would naturally have interest in retaining its OC. The Chiefs may yet again have the opportunity to retain Reid’s right-hand man.

Latest On Ravens’ OC Search

Baltimore is one of several NFL teams slowly working their way through the process of finding a new offensive coordinator. New updates have emerged with respect to who they are targeting to replace Greg Roman.

In a detailed piece breaking down where things currently stand, The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec writes (subscription required) that three candidates for the position have interviewed twice with head coach John Harbaugh. Two of those (Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken and Vikings pass game coordinator Brian Angelichio) have been well known in the search so far, but another name has been added to the mix.

Bobby Engram has met twice to discuss the Ravens’ OC vacancy, per Zrebiec. The 50-year-old is currently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wisconsin, but he spent considerable time in Baltimore prior to that. Engram was the Ravens’ wide receivers coach from 2014-18, and then worked with the team’s tight ends for three seasons after that. He also has experience with the Steelers and 49ers, but has not been an OC at the NFL level.

Other finalists will also include Seahawks quarterbacks coach Dave Canales and Broncos offensive coordinator Justin Outten. Those two are set to interview for the second time this week, which will bring the list of second interviewees to five. As Zrebiec notes, however, Harbaugh could conduct second interviews with other candidates not mentioned here, or he could ever hire a name that has yet to interview for the gig. A number of Chiefs and Eagles assistants could be of interest to the Ravens (Zrebiec specifically calls out Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, senior offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy and wide receivers coach Joe Bleymaier; and Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson and pass game coordinator Kevin Patullo).

The Ravens wouldn’t be able to talk to any of those coaches until after the Super Bowl. That means the organization could decide to wait at least another week to make a hire, although they may end up moving quickly on one of the existing candidates if they determine he could sign elsewhere.

Poll: Who Will Become Next Colts HC?

Five years after their Josh McDaniels-to-Frank Reich pivot, the Colts are again conducting a rather interesting head coaching search. This process may well produce an unusual stage.

Indianapolis potentially planning a third round on HC interviews, after holding 12-hour meetings — in some cases — with candidates during the second round, adds a memorable wrinkle to its search to replace Reich. A third round of a coaching search has not happened in at least 40 years, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star notes. GM Chris Ballard has run the search, but Jim Irsay will make the call. Where will this search end up?

Almost everyone involved in this Indy journey has been mentioned as a finalist or scheduled a second interview. Dan Quinn hopped off the ride midway through, doing so hours after he scheduled a second meeting about the position. Ben Johnson backed out after his virtual interview, staying with the Lions. Giants OC Mike Kafka also has not been mentioned as being summoned for a second meeting. DeMeco Ryans cancelled his virtual interview and chose the Texans over the Broncos. Jim Harbaugh was mentioned as a candidate in December, but the ex-Colts QB did not interview. Otherwise, this search remains one of the most wide open in memory.

Rich Bisaccia, Brian Callahan, Ejiro Evero, Aaron Glenn, Don Martindale, Raheem Morris, Jeff Saturday and Shane Steichen have either gone through a second interview or will do so soon. Eric Bieniemy and Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone have also been mentioned as potential finalists, though neither is believed to have scheduled a second meeting.

This search has produced the rare mix of all three phases, with Bisaccia and Ventrone representing the special teams wing. Ventrone, 40, was Reich’s ST coordinator throughout the latter’s HC tenure, while Bisaccia, 62, is the rare interim HC to have guided his team to the playoffs. The Raiders passed on Bisaccia, leading him to Green Bay. Could he join John Harbaugh as a former ST coordinator to become a head coach?

Irsay went offense twice in 2018, hiring McDaniels and then Reich. This year’s lot of OCs in contention includes Andy Reid‘s right-hand man. Ballard and Bieniemy worked together in Kansas City for four years, and since Ballard left for Indiana, Bieniemy has become Reid’s top lieutenant. Of course, that has famously not led to a head coaching opportunity. Both Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy earned HC chances as Reid’s HC, but teams have paused on Bieniemy, 53. After this latest Chiefs attack led the NFL in offensive DVOA despite trading Tyreek Hill, will the Colts be the team that goes with the oft-bypassed candidate?

Callahan and Steichen are the only other offense-based candidates linked to having paths to the job. Steichen is just 37 and worked with Reich during the future Colts leader’s time as Chargers OC. Ex-Reich lieutenant Nick Sirianni gave Steichen the play-calling reins midway through last season, and it made a major difference in the Eagles’ trajectory. Philadelphia led the NFL in rushing in 2021 and has produced a top-three attack this year, as Jalen Hurts has made considerable strides as a passer. Callahan, 38, does not call plays in Cincinnati but is a candidate for both the Colts and Cardinals’ HC gigs. Joe Burrow is primed to book one of Zac Taylor‘s assistants a promotion, and Callahan is this year’s candidate.

Evero, 42, leads the league in connections to jobs during this year’s cycle, being summoned by all five HC-seeking teams for interviews and being pursued for DC gigs. It appears the Broncos’ DC will land on his feet, despite Nathaniel Hackett‘s one-and-done, and Denver remains interested in keeping him. The Rams also have Evero in mind as a Morris contingency plan. Morris, 46, would be a second-chance HC, but the ex-Buccaneers leader’s first chance came more than 10 years ago. He has rebuilt his stock in Los Angeles, helping the Rams to a Super Bowl LVI win, and Sean McVay staffers are quite popular on coaching carousels. Morris also has a near-three-month run as an interim leader under his belt, having replaced Quinn with the 2020 Falcons.

Martindale, 59 is believed to have interviewed well in his second meeting (the Irsay stage), and he played a key role in the Giants making a surprising surge to the divisional round. He coached the Ravens to three top-five defensive finishes in four DC seasons. Glenn, 50, started late in coaching due to his playing career spanning 16 seasons. The ex-cornerback joins Evero and Callahan as Cards candidates.

Saturday, of course, is the main variable here. Irsay stunned the NFL by hiring the former Pro Bowl center as his interim coach, pulling him off various ESPN sets and onto the sideline. Saturday, 47, won his first game but oversaw a brutal stretch in the weeks that followed. The Colts lost their final seven games and blew an NFL-record 33-point lead during that stretch. While Irsay’s unorthodox choice appeared to backfire, the owner bypassed advice against hiring Saturday in November and is believed to be receiving similar counsel now. Will the Irsay-Saturday partnership somehow continue? The 1-7 record aside, he has consistently been mentioned as a live candidate. With the Panthers passing on Steve Wilks, no interim HC has been promoted in six years.

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this situation in the comments section.