Jerry Gray

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spins, many of the league’s offensive and defensive coordinator positions are open as well. Teams seeking new head coaches will soon begin OC and DC searches — some have already started those processes — but a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

The Browns and Patriots have begun 2023’s coordinator hires. Here are the rest of the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 1-26-23 (10:06pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Carolina Panthers 

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

Bears Request Interviews With Commanders’ Chris Harris, Packers’ Jerry Gray

The Bears requested interviews yesterday with two names that have been brought up in defensive coordinator searches recently. They requested permission to interview Washington defensive backs coach Chris Harris for an unspecified position on the defensive staff, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Jonathan Jones of NFL on CBS similarly reported that Chicago requested permission to interview Packers defensive pass game coordinator and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray for an “as-yet-undefined” role on the defensive staff.

Harris is a former All-Pro safety who began his NFL coaching career immediately after retiring as a player. He started off as a defensive quality control coach for the team that drafted him in Chicago. Harris was not retained after the firing of then-head coach Marc Trestman, and he joined the Chargers as the assistant defensive backs coach, moving with the team from San Diego to Los Angeles. When Ron Rivera was hired as head coach in Washington, Harris was granted a promotion to defensive backs coach, a position he’s held for the past three seasons with the Commanders.

The past couple of years have seen Harris participate in a few interviews for defensive coordinator positions. He was reportedly a finalist for the Packers coordinator job two years ago and interviewed with the Colts last year. Harris’s name came up today when Tennessee also requested to interview him. If he were to join the Titans, it’s presumed that he would come into the role of passing game coordinator, in addition to his usual position coaching gig.

Gray has actual coordinator experience from his time with the Bills and Titans. The 60-year-old coach was also requested to interview for the defensive coordinator position in Atlanta a week ago. After the Falcons’ former defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, announced his retirement, Gray’s name quickly came up as a replacement candidate. Gray’s defensive units have put up middling results over the years, but his experience calling plays makes him an attractive candidate to replace Pees, who has been doing so since 2012.

With defensive coordinator Alan Williams still in the position for the Bears, neither Harris nor Gray are likely being interviewed for his role. More likely, they are being considered for the role of passing game coordinator. Harris makes the most sense, considering his history with the franchise, but Gray has more experience in larger roles. The Bears should get to talk with both in the days to come.

Falcons Request DC Interviews With Jerry Gray, Ryan Nielsen

The Falcons have reportedly hit a roadblock with their first target to take on their vacant defensive coordinator position. Two new names have quickly emerged as candidates the team is interested in meeting with, however.

Atlanta has put in an interview request with Packers defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Jerry Gray, per Benjamin Albright of KOA Colorado (Twitter link). A sit-down is expected to take place next week, Albright adds. That news comes as little surprise, given the fact that Gray was quickly named as a candidate to replace Falcons DC Dean Pees following his retirement announcement.

Gray, 60, has NFL coaching experience dating back to 1997. His time on the sidelines at the pro level began in Tennessee, and includes a stint as the Bills’ DC from 2001-05. Gray ultimately found himself back with the Titans in 2011, when he took charge of their defense. His unit put up generally sub-par numbers during his time in Nashville, aside from his first year in charge where the team’s defense ranked eighth in scoring.

In addition, the Falcons have their eyes on the Saints’ Ryan Nielsen, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic tweets. The 43-year-old has exclusively worked with New Orleans during his time as an NFL staffer, beginning with the team in 2017. He spent five years working strictly with the defensive line, before being promoted to the role of co-DC this past offseason.

That move was necessitated by Dennis Allen being promoted to New Orleans’ head coach, of course, and increased Nielson’s importance (along with that of Kris Richard) to the Saints’ defense. The unit delivered a strong performance in 2022, ranking fifth in the league in yards allowed and ninth in scoring. That wasn’t enough to guide the Saints to a postseason berth given their offensive struggles, but it likely boosted Nielson’s stock as a high-end coordinator candidate.

Either option would bring significant experience to the rebuilding Falcons’ defense, so they could be serious candidates for the job. Atlanta is expected to cast a wide net in their search for Pees’ successor, however, so their list of interviewees is likely to grow in the coming days.