Ken Dorsey

2023 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, 10 NFL teams hired new head coaches. Following the Panthers’ hire, this year’s vacancy count sits at four. 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 1-26-23 (4:36pm CT)

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Panthers Request Interviews With Three Offensive Coordinators For Head Coach

9:45pm: Carolina has added a third current offensive coordinator to their requests, this time one from the AFC. Rapoport reports that the Panthers have requested to interview Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey for their open head coaching position.

Dorsey’s rise as a coach has been fairly quick. After joining the Panthers organization initially as a scout in 2011, Dorsey quickly transitioned to quarterback coach, mentoring quarterback Cam Newton during the seasons in which Newton won MVP and led his team to the Super Bowl.

Dorsey was a casualty when the Panthers fired former offensive coordinator Mike Shula and was hired a year later to be the Bills’ quarterback coach under Sean McDermott. Dorsey’s success coaching second-year quarterback Josh Allen led to multiple teams reaching out about hiring him as their offensive coordinator. When Brian Daboll was hired to coach the Giants, Dorsey was promoted to offensive coordinator in Buffalo for the 2022 season.

After one season at the helm of the offense, Dorsey is getting his first interest for a head coaching position. Coincidentally, that interest just happens to be coming from the franchise that broke him into the coaching ranks of the NFL 10 years ago.

9:26pm: The Panthers’ search to replace former head coach Matt Rhule continued this evening as the organization requested interviews with Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, as reported separately by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero. The two have become popular names in the 2023 head coaching market. Both Steichen and Johnson had received requests from the Texans and Colts today, as well. This makes six candidates who appear to be in the running for the open head coaching position in Carolina.

Steichen, formerly the offensive coordinator for the Chargers, took over as Philadelphia’s play caller when Nick Sirianni was named head coach in 2021. Steichen has played a crucial role in the development of quarterback Jalen Hurts. Together, in only their second season of work together, the two led a third-ranked Eagles offense to the NFC’s top seed.

Johnson is a holdover assistant coach in Detroit from the Matt Patricia-era to the Dan Campbell-era. Campbell was so impressed with Johnson he promoted the former tight ends coach to offensive coordinator this past offseason. Johnson excelled in the role, helping turn the Lions’ season around from a 1-6 start to a 9-8 record despite sporting the league’s worst scoring defense. Johnson helped the offense fire around quarterback Jared Goff and coached a rushing attack that saw running back Jamaal Williams break Barry Sanders record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 17.

Carolina is also expected to interview former Colts head coaches Frank Reich and Jim Caldwell, who more recently coached the Lions, and interim head coach Steve Wilks will get an opportunity to state his case after just falling short of a division title despite a disastrous start to the season. University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has been in contact with the team, as well, to discuss the position.

The Panthers will have plenty of routes to choose from in their search. Whether they decided they prefer the experience of veteran coaches like Caldwell or Harbaugh, they decide they would like to see more out the small samples provided by Wilks and Reich, or if they decide they want to give a debut opportunity to the younger coordinators, Carolina will do their due diligence in their search.

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.

Bills Considered Davis Webb As QBs Coach

After promoting their previous quarterbacks coach (Ken Dorsey) to offensive coordinator, the Bills hired former Panthers OC Joe Brady to be Josh Allen‘s position coach. Brady’s hire did not commence until February, and it came after the team was prepared to give a still-active QB a long look for the gig.

Davis Webb signed with the Giants in February, opting to continue his playing career by following Brian Daboll to the rebuilding NFC team. But the Bills were interested in him for their quarterbacks coach post. Had Webb wanted to enter coaching now, Buffalo would have hired him for the QBs role this year, Tim Graham of The Athletic notes (subscription required).

A 2017 third-round Giants pick, Webb has hung around the league on roster fringes. But this potential path to a higher-level assistant gig, at age 27, signals the Cal product could have a future in coaching soon. Webb confirmed during an appearance on the Breaking Big Blue podcast with ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan he had a chance to interview for the Buffalo QBs coach job but chose to keep playing.

You’re either staying in Buffalo or going probably with Dabs and them or you’re thinking about coaching,” Webb said (audio link). “When I talked to Brandon [Beane] and Sean [McDermott] about it, we kind of left that conversation probably leaning toward coaching in Buffalo. It would have been the quarterback coaching job and I would have had to interview and go through the whole process, but that’s kind of where we were leaning toward was us probably transitioning into that.

They offered that I could still play. You could be in Buffalo in one of these two roles. We want you here. … Why start coaching when you have two contract [offers] to keep going? For me to give up on that just didn’t seem right.”

Webb is attached to a one-year, $945K Giants deal, following Daboll and ex-Bills assistant QBs coach Shea Tierney to the Giants. Tierney is now Big Blue’s QBs coach. Although Tyrod Taylor is positioned to be Daniel Jones‘ backup, it should be considered likely Webb will have some input in the fourth-year starter’s development. Webb has appeared in one game, which came last season, but has yet to throw a regular-season pass.

Bills Name Ken Dorsey Offensive Coordinator

After spending a bit of time looking at external candidates for their offensive coordinator vacancy, the Bills have landed on the internal name they were first linked to. Ken Dorsey, the team’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, has been promoted to OC (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of NFL Network). 

[Related: Tee Martin, Edgar Bennett To Interview For Bills’ OC Position]

It had been expected that Dorsey would soon become an OC; the question was simply whether or not it would be in Buffalo or New York, after Brian Daboll was named the new head coach of the Giants. Rather than hiring one of the two outside coaches they interviewed, allowing Dorsey to follow Daboll to New York, the Bills have kept the 40-year-old in house to keep a degree of stability on offense.

Buffalo certainly had competitors for Dorsey’s services. As WGRZ’s Vic Carucci tweets, there were “at least a half-dozen teams” interested in him. If he had left the Bills, that means it actually may not have been a guarantee the Giants would have been his ultimate destination.

Dorsey has been with the Bills since 2019, beginning with the same QBs coach role he held for five years with the Panthers. For the past two seasons, he has had the added title of passing game coordinator, helping lead the team to a third place finish in points per game in 2021. More generally, he has played a crucial role in developing Josh Allen into an MVP candidate following the accuracy concerns early in his career.

Meanwhile, for the Giants, the list of their preferred (remaining) candidates is down to three, according to Garafolo. He tweets that the finalists are Pep Hamilton, the QBs coach/passing game coordinator for the Texans, Mike Kafka, who holds the same titles with the Chiefs, and Chad O’Shea, the WRs coach/pass game coordinator with the Browns.

Ravens’ Tee Martin, Raiders’ Edgar Bennett To Interview For Bills’ OC Position

With Brian Daboll off to the Giants as their newest head coach, the Bills continue to search for a new offensive coordinator. The second name on the list of candidates is Tee Martin, the Ravens’ wide receivers coach, who is set to meet with Buffalo for the vacancy (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec). Not long after that came out, ESPN’s Dan Graziano tweeted that Edgar Bennett, who holds the same title with the Raiders, will also interview for the role. 

[Related: Ken Dorsey To Be Considered For Bills, Giants OC Jobs]

The Martin announcement was made by Ravens HC John Harbaugh when he addressed the media on Monday. Martin, 43, has only been an NFL coach for this past season. He has a decorated college resume, though, highlighted by work as the wide receivers coach at Kentucky, USC and Tennessee dating back to 2010. Those stints have also included the roles of passing game coordinator, OC and assistant head coach along the way. The 2021 season, while disappointing overall for the Ravens, offered cause for optimism at the receiver position with Marquise Brown recording his first 1,000-yard season and Rashod Bateman demonstrating, once he was healthy, why he was worthy of a first round pick.

Bennett has been an NFL coach since 2005, the year he started working in Green Bay. That lasted until 2017, and included a three-year stint as the team’s OC. Part of a major overhaul on the offensive staff in 2018, the 52-year-old was let go in January of 2018. For the past four years, he has been the WRs coach with the Raiders; the 2021 campaign saw Las Vegas rank sixth in the league in passing yards.

These announcements come after it was reported that Ken Dorsey, the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator for the Bills, would likely be promoted to OC with Daboll gone. The only alternative, it is believed, would be if Daboll convinced Dorsey to follow him to New York. With Buffalo looking at two external candidates, the team will have options if that does in fact happen.

Ken Dorsey To Be Considered For Bills, Giants OC Jobs

Following Brian Daboll‘s hiring in New York, another Bills coach will likely be getting a promotion. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), Bills passing-game coordinator and QB coach Ken Dorsey will likely earn a promotion to OC.

As Schefter notes, that opportunity could come from two places. Dorsey could easily slide in to the OC vacancy with the Bills, and ESPN’s Dan Graziano tweets his believe that Dorsey will ultimately get the job in Buffalo. However, as Lindsay Jones of The Athletic tweets, the Rooney Rule will require the organization to interview at least one minority candidate for the job, so Dorsey won’t be a shoo-in.

Alternatively, the coach could join Daboll in New York and become the Giants new OC. Dorsey worked alongside Daboll for three seasons in Buffalo.

Dorsey has been an NFL QBs coach since 2013. He spent five years with the Panthers before following the pipeline up north, joining his former bosses in Buffalo. Dorsey was with Carolina during the franchise’s most recent Super Bowl season, when Cam Newton soared to MVP honors in 2015. Since then, he’s raised his stock even further, taking Josh Allen from an inaccurate prospect to an MVP candidate.

 

Ken Dorsey To Serve As Bills’ Passing Game Coordinator

The Bills have appointed Ken Dorsey as their passing game coordinator, as Sal Capaccio of WGR 550 tweets. It’s a new title for the former quarterback, who serves as the team’s QBs coach.

The new position presumably comes with a pay bump. The Bills nearly lost the former University of Miami passer this year as he garnered interest from the Seahawks and Lions. Ultimately, Dorsey stayed put to serve under Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, but both clubs saw him as a potential fit for their OC vacancies.

Dorsey has been an NFL QBs coach since 2013. He spent five years with the Panthers before following the pipeline up north, joining his former bosses in Buffalo. Dorsey was with Carolina during the franchise’s most recent Super Bowl season, when Cam Newton soared to MVP honors in 2015. Since then, he’s raised his stock even further, taking Josh Allen from an inaccurate prospect to an MVP candidate.

Dorsey, 40, figures to be a hot candidate in the next cycle as well. But, for now, he’ll stay put in Buffalo with an even larger role.

Coaching Notes: Seahawks, Titans, Dolphins

We’ve got another couple of names to pass along for Seattle’s wide-ranging offensive coordinator search. The Seahawks want to interview Bills quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey and have already spoken with Rams pass-game coordinator Shane Waldron, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. They’ve been linked to what seems like every offensive coach in the league now, including Adam Gase and other big names. Dorsey was a backup quarterback in the league for a handful of years, and the 39-year-old was the Panthers’ quarterbacks coach from 2013-17.

He joined the Bills last season. Waldron is another young guy who has coached under Rams coach Sean McVay since 2016 since they were both with Washington. He started as McVay’s tight ends coach in Los Angeles before getting promoted to quarterbacks coach and pass-game coordinator. The Seahawks don’t appear to be honing in on anything in particular, and at this point it’s anyone’s guess who they’ll hire.

Here are more coaching notes from around the league:

  • The Texans are the only team still with a head coach opening, but they aren’t letting one key assistant go out the door yet. They recently blocked offensive coordinator Tim Kelly from interviewing for OC openings with two other teams, and those interested teams were the Titans and Lions, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Since it would be a lateral move and he’s still under contract, Houston can block those requests. As Breer points out, there has been buzz that Deshaun Watson likes Kelly, and the team could be looking to keep him in order to curry favor with their disgruntled starting quarterback. Detroit has since filled their vacancy with former Chargers coach Anthony Lynn.
  • Speaking of the Titans’ opening, Tennessee will be interviewing Pep Hamilton for the job in the next few days, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Hamilton was the Chargers’ quarterbacks coach this past year, and did a great job helping with the development of Justin Herbert, so he’s been drawing a lot of interest for OC jobs. He was talked about as a candidate in Miami, and is one of the finalists in Pittsburgh as well. The Titans of course are looking to replace Arthur Smith, now the head coach in Atlanta. Hamilton coordinated the Colts’ offense from 2013-15, and had a lot of success with Andrew Luck.
  • The Dolphins are still looking for their OC, but they have made a different key hire on offense. The team has parted ways with quarterbacks coach Robby Brown and replaced him with former NFL passer Charlie Frye, they announced in a tweet. It’s the first NFL coaching gig for Frye, who was Central Michigan’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons. It’s interesting that they’d hire the QBs coach before the OC. A third-round pick of the Browns back in 2005, Frye also played with the Seahawks and Raiders until 2009.

Anthony Lynn, Ken Dorsey On Lions’ Radar

After hiring Aaron Glenn as defensive coordinator, the Lions are moving fast on their offensive coordinator job. Two more candidates have emerged for Detroit’s play-calling post.

Former Chargers HC Anthony Lynn and current Bills QBs coach Ken Dorsey are on Detroit’s radar for this position, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. New Lions HC Dan Campbell said he has interviewed four OC candidates already, per Birkett (on Twitter). Ravens QBs coach James Urban and Steelers wide receivers instructor Ike Hilliard are in the mix for the gig.

This makes two OC positions to which Lynn has been connected. He has also engaged in discussions with Pete Carroll regarding Seattle’s play-calling role. Lynn, 52, spent the past four seasons as the Chargers’ head coach. The Bolts fired him shortly after the season ended, moving to Brandon Staley.

Lynn took the Chargers to the playoffs in 2018, with a 12-4 record, and oversaw Justin Herbert‘s rapid development this past season. However, Lynn was not the Bolts’ primary play-caller. He spent most of the 2016 season calling plays in Buffalo, after an early-season promotion to offensive coordinator.

A former decorated college quarterback, Dorsey has been an NFL QBs coach since the 2013 season. He is one of many players and staffers to migrate from Charlotte to Buffalo, working as Panthers QBs coach for five seasons before signing on with the Bills to work in that same role in 2019.

The centerpiece of Dorsey’s credentials for a coordinator move will obviously be Josh Allen‘s rise from inaccurate prospect to MVP candidate over the past year. However, Dorsey was also with Carolina during the franchise’s most recent Super Bowl season — when Cam Newton soared to MVP honors in 2015. Dorsey, 39, interviewed for the Bills’ OC position in 2017 but has worked under current Buffalo play-caller Brian Daboll over the past two seasons.