Ken Dorsey

Assessing NFL’s OC Landscape

This offseason showed the turnover that can take place at the offensive coordinator position. As a result of several decisions in January and February, the NFL no longer has an OC who has been in his current role for more than two seasons. Various firings and defections now have the 2022 batch of hires stationed as the longest-tenured OCs.

One of the longest-tenured coordinators in NFL history, Pete Carmichael is no longer with the Saints. The team moved on after 15 seasons, a stay that featured part-time play-calling duties. The Browns canned their four-year non-play-calling OC, Alex Van Pelt, while three-year play-callers Arthur Smith and Shane Waldron are relocating this winter. Brian Callahan‘s five-year gig as the Bengals’ non-play-calling OC booked him a top job.

The recent lean toward offense-oriented HCs took a bit of a hit of a hit this offseason, with five of the eight jobs going to defense-oriented leaders. Callahan, Dave Canales and Jim Harbaugh were the only offense-geared candidates hired during this cycle. But half the NFL will go into this season with a new OC. Following the Seahawks’ decision to hire ex-Washington (and, briefly, Alabama) staffer Ryan Grubb, here is how the NFL’s OC landscape looks:

2022 OC hires

  • Ben Johnson, Detroit Lions*
  • Mike Kafka, New York Giants*
  • Wes Phillips, Minnesota Vikings
  • Frank Smith, Miami Dolphins
  • Adam Stenavich, Green Bay Packers
  • Press Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars*

Although this sextet now comprises the senior wing of offensive coordinators, this still marks each’s first gig as an NFL OC. Three of the six received HC interest this offseason.

Johnson’s status back in Detroit has been one of the offseason’s top storylines and a development the Commanders have not taken especially well. The two-year Lions OC was viewed as the frontrunner for the Washington job for weeks this offseason, and when team brass did not receive word about Johnson’s intent to stay in Detroit (thus, waiting until at least 2025 to make his long-expected HC move) until a Commanders contingent was en route to Detroit for a second interview, a back-and-forth about what exactly broke down took place. Johnson should be expected to remain a high-end HC candidate next year, but Dan Campbell will still have his services for 2024.

Kafka interviewed for the Seahawks’ HC job, and the Giants then blocked him from meeting with the NFC West team about its OC position. Rumblings about Kafka and Brian Daboll no longer being on great terms surfaced this year, with the latter yanking away play-calling duties — given to Kafka ahead of the 2022 season — at points in 2023. Taylor may also be on the hot seat with his team. Doug Pederson gave Taylor the call sheet last season, and Trevor Lawrence did not make the leap many expected. After a collapse left the Jaguars out of the playoffs, the team had begun to look into its offensive situation.

2023 OC hires

  • Jim Bob Cooter, Indianapolis Colts
  • Nathaniel Hackett, New York Jets*
  • Mike LaFleur, Los Angeles Rams
  • Joe Lombardi, Denver Broncos
  • Todd Monken, Baltimore Ravens*
  • Matt Nagy, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Drew Petzing, Arizona Cardinals*
  • Brian Schottenheimer, Dallas Cowboys
  • Bobby Slowik, Houston Texans*

Only nine of the 15 OCs hired in 2023 are still with their teams. One (Canales) moved up the ladder, while others were shown the door following that organization canning its head coach. The Eagles were the only team who hired an offensive coordinator last year to fire that staffer (Brian Johnson) after one season. Nick Sirianni fired both his coordinators following a wildly disappointing conclusion.

Hackett may also be drifting into deep water, given what transpired last year in New York. Rumblings of Robert Saleh — who is on the hottest seat among HCs — stripping some of his offensive play-caller’s responsibilities surfaced recently. This marks Hackett’s fourth chance to call plays in the NFL; the second-generation staffer did so for the Bills, Jaguars and Broncos prior to coming to New York. After the 2022 Broncos ranked last in scoring, the ’23 Jets ranked 31st in total offense. Hackett’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers has largely kept him in place, but 2024 may represent a last chance for the embattled coach.

Of this crop, Monken and Slowik were the only ones to receive HC interest. Neither emerged as a frontrunner for a position, though Slowik met with the Commanders twice. The Texans then gave their first-time play-caller a raise to stick around for C.J. Stroud‘s second season. Stroud’s remarkable progress figures to keep Slowik on the HC radar. Monken, who is in his third try as an NFL OC (after gigs in Tampa and Cleveland), just helped Lamar Jackson to his second MVP award. The former national championship-winning OC did not stick the landing — as Jackson struggled against the Chiefs — but he fared well on the whole last season.

Schottenheimer is on his fourth go-round as an OC, while Lombardi is on team No. 3. The latter’s job figures to be more secure, being tied to Sean Payton, compared to what is transpiring in Dallas. With the Cowboys having Mike McCarthy as the rare lame-duck HC, his coordinators probably should not get too comfortable.

2024 OC hires

  • Joe Brady, Buffalo Bills*
  • Liam Coen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
  • Ken Dorsey, Cleveland Browns
  • Luke Getsy, Las Vegas Raiders*
  • Ryan Grubb, Seattle Seahawks*
  • Nick Holz, Tennessee Titans
  • Kliff Kingsbury, Washington Commanders*
  • Klint Kubiak, New Orleans Saints*
  • Brad Idzik, Carolina Panthers
  • Kellen Moore, Philadelphia Eagles*
  • Dan Pitcher, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Zac Robinson, Atlanta Falcons*
  • Greg Roman, Los Angeles Chargers*
  • Arthur Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers*
  • Alex Van Pelt, New England Patriots*
  • Shane Waldron, Chicago Bears*

The 49ers do not employ a traditional OC; 16 of the 31 teams that do recently made a change. Most of the teams to add OCs this year, however, did so without employing play-calling coaches. This naturally raises the stakes for this year’s batch of hires.

Retreads became rather popular. Dorsey, Getsy, Moore, Van Pelt and Waldron were all OCs elsewhere (Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle) last season. Smith will shift from calling the Falcons’ plays to running the show for the Steelers. Dorsey, Getsy and Van Pelt were fired; Moore and Waldron moved on after the Chargers and Seahawks respectively changed HCs. Moore and Smith will be calling plays for a third team; for Moore, this is three OC jobs in three years.

Coen, Kingsbury and Roman are back after a year away. Kingsbury became a popular name on the OC carousel, having coached Caleb Williams last season. This will be his second crack at an NFL play-calling gig, having been the Cardinals’ conductor throughout his HC tenure. This will be Coen’s first shot at calling plays in the pros; he was Sean McVay‘s non-play-calling assistant in 2022. Likely to become the Chargers’ play-caller, Roman will have a rare fourth chance to call plays in the NFL. He held that responsibility under Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco; following Harbaugh’s explosive 2015 49ers split, Roman moved to Buffalo and Baltimore to work under non-offense-oriented leaders.

Grubb, Holz, Idzik, Pitcher and Robinson represent this year’s first-timer contingent. Grubb has, however, called plays at the college level. Robinson is the latest McVay staffer to move into a play-calling post; he was a Rams assistant for five years. A host of teams had Robinson on their OC radar, but Raheem Morris brought his former L.A. coworker to Atlanta. Pitcher appeared in a few searches as well, but the Bengals made the expected move — after extending him last year — to give him Callahan’s old job.

* = denotes play-calling coordinator

2024 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

After a crowded carousel previously stopped, the 49ers opened their defensive coordinator position. Here is how the NFC champions’ search looks:

Updated 3-2-24 (10:00am CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dave Ragone)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Ken Dorsey)

  • Joe Brady, interim offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (Bills): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed

Carolina Panthers (Out: Thomas Brown)

  • Marcus Brady, senior offensive assistant (Eagles): Interview requested
  • Brad Idzik, wide receivers coach (Buccaneers): Hired

Chicago Bears (Out: Luke Getsy)

Cincinnati Bengals (Out: Brian Callahan)

  • Andy Dickerson, offensive line coach (Seahawks): To interview
  • Dan Pitcher, quarterbacks coach (Bengals): Promoted

Cleveland Browns (Out: Alex Van Pelt)

Las Vegas Raiders (Out: Mick Lombardi)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Kellen Moore)

New England Patriots (Out: Bill O’Brien)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Pete Carmichael)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Brian Johnson)

  • Jerrod Johnson, quarterbacks coach (Texans): Interviewed
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Interviewed 1/23
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator (Chargers): Hired

Pittsburgh Steelers (Out: Matt Canada)

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Shane Waldron)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Dave Canales)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Tim Kelly)

  • Nick Holz, passing game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed
  • Eric Studesville, associate head coach/running backs coach (Dolphins): Interview requested

Washington Commanders (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Chip Kelly, former head coach (Eagles/49ers): On team’s radar
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Hired

Defensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Ryan Nielsen)

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Mike Macdonald)

  • Zach Orr, inside linebackers coach (Ravens): Promoted

Buffalo Bills

  • Bobby Babich, linebackers coach (Bills): Promoted
  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Sean Desai, former defensive coordinator (Eagles): To interview

Chicago Bears (Out: Alan Williams)

  • Joe Barry, former defensive coordinator (Packers): To interview 1/27
  • Chris Harris, secondary coach (Titans): To interview
  • Eric Washington, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Bills): Hired
  • Terrell Williams, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Titans): To interview

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Dan Quinn)

Green Bay Packers (Out: Joe Barry)

Jacksonville Jaguars (Out: Mike Caldwell)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Derrick Ansley)

  • Jesse Minter, defensive coordinator (Michigan): Hired

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Raheem Morris)

Miami Dolphins (Out: Vic Fangio)

New England Patriots

  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Promoted
  • Michael Hodges, linebackers coach (Saints): To interview
  • Tem Lukabu, outside linebackers coach (Panthers): To interview
  • Christian Parker, defensive backs coach (Broncos): Interviewed

New York Giants (Out: Don Martindale)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Sean Desai)

  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Vic Fangio, former defensive coordinator (Dolphins): Hired
  • Ron Rivera, former head coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/22

San Francisco 49ers (Out: Steve Wilks)

  • Gerald Alexander, safeties coach (Raiders): Interviewed 3/1
  • Daniel Bullocks, defensive backs coach (49ers): Interviewed 2/28
  • David Merritt, defensive backs coach (Chiefs): To interview
  • Nick Sorensen, defensive passing game specialist (49ers): Promoted
  • Brandon Staley, former head coach (Chargers): Interviewed

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Clint Hurtt)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Shane Bowen)

  • Brandon Lynch, cornerbacks coach (Browns): Interviewed 1/30
  • Dennard Wilson, defensive backs coach (Ravens): Hired

Washington Commanders (Out: Jack Del Rio)

  • Joe Cullen, defensive line coach (Chiefs): Considered a candidate
  • Joe Whitt, defensive backs coach (Cowboys): Hired

Browns Hire Ken Dorsey As OC

Coordinator dominoes continue to fall around the league. The Browns are set to hire Ken Dorsey as their new OC, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Dorsey began his pro coaching career with the Panthers in 2013, but his first coordinator gig came about during his four-plus years on the Bills’ staff. From 2019-21, he served as Buffalo’s quarterbacks coach, taking over from Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator ahead of last season. Things did not go according to plan during the 2023 campaign, however.

Under Dorsey, the Bills finished second in the league in both total and scoring offense in 2022. Expectations were thus high for the unit heading into this season, but a regression marked by inconsistency was experienced. Despite the fact the team sat in the top 10 in points and yards at the time, Dorsey was fired in November and replaced internally by Joe Brady. The latter has since taken on the full-time gig in Buffalo.

In spite of his recent ouster, Dorsey drew immediate interest as a coordinator candidate. He met with the Browns one week ago; an interview with the Buccaneers was also on the books. Instead of speaking with Tampa Bay, Dorsey has elected to join a Cleveland staff which underwent notable changes on the offensive side of the ball following the team’s wild-card elimination.

OC Alex Van Pelt was among the personnel let go in a bid by head coach Kevin Stefanski to spark improvement in production. Van Pelt had been in place for four years (in a non-play-calling capacity), and Stefanski will likely continue to orchestrate the unit on gamedays. Cleveland finished 10th in scoring this season despite a rash of injuries across the board, but an uptick in passing efficiency will be a target moving forward.

Of course, much will depend on the health and play of quarterback Deshaun Watson in 2024 and beyond. Three more years remain on his fully-guaranteed, $230MM deal, and a restructure will be needed to avoid him carrying a cap hit of nearly $64MM next season. Dorsey’s ability to work with Watson and Co. along with Stefanski will be a key factor in Cleveland’s ability to return to the postseason in 2024.

Several offensive coordinator openings remain around the league, but to no surprise this weekend has seen a number of developments on that front. Dorsey marks another candidate off the market for prospective employers, and the Buccaneers (along with any other teams which had him on their radar) will now need to move in a different direction. The Browns, meanwhile, have filled a signficant vacancy on their staff.

Buccaneers Arranging OC Interviews With Kellen Moore, Zac Robinson, Ken Dorsey, Brian Johnson

Tampa Bay experienced a batter-than-expected season on offense with first-year coordinator Dave Canales in charge of the unit. He has departed to become head coach of the Panthers, however, leaving the Buccaneers in need of a new OC for the second straight year.

A list of targets has begun to emerge. Tampa will speak with Chargers OC Kellen Moore on Monday, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports. Colleague Ian Rapoport adds that Rams QBs coach Zac Robinson has received a Bucs interview request. The team also plans to speak with ex-Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who notes his Tampa interview will take place next week. Lastly, Dianna Russini of The Athletic reports ousted Eagles OC Brian Johnson has a Buccaneers interview lined up.

Moore’s future with the Chargers has not yet been determined, but with Jim Harbaugh now in place, he is likely to bring his own assistants aboard. That could lead to a number of opportunities for Moore, who joined L.A.’s staff last offseason after a successful run with the Cowboys. The 34-year-old has also been connected to the Browns and Eagles during this year’s hiring cycle, so he could have a few options to choose from in the event he does wind up in a new home for the second offseason in a row.

Robinson has been one of the hottest coordinator candidates in 2024. He has interviewed three times so far, and he has received a request from an additional three teams including today’s slip from Tampa Bay. Robinson, 37, has been with the Rams since 2019, spending much of his time working with the team’s quarterbacks. For each of the past two seasons, he has held the additional title of passing game coordinator. Staffers often make the jump from that combination of roles to a coordinator gig, and Robinson doing the same would leave a signficant vacancy for Sean McVay to fill.

Dorsey saw his run with the Bills come to an end midway through the 2023 season. Buffalo’s offense went in a different direction under interim OC Joe Brady, whose success down the stretch has him in consideration for the full-time position. Still, Dorsey is on the radar for a new coordinator opportunity right away, having interviewed with the Browns. The 42-year-old’s Buffalo stint was his only NFL coordinator position to date, but he has extensive experience as a QBs coach.

Johnson was promoted to OC of the Eagles last year, and his familiarity with Jalen Hurts and the team’s offense led to signficant expectations despite Shane Steichen‘s departure. Earlier in the year, Philadelphia performed well in a number of areas, and the team put up solid overall numbers in several offensive categories. As was the case on defense, however, things took a turn for the worse late in the year through the wild-card round of the postseason. Johnson was dismissed as part of the Eagles’ staff overhaul, but he took head coaching interviews before that, and he is also on the OC radar.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield enjoyed a productive campaign under Canales, and keeping the former in place will be a key offseason priority for Tampa Bay. One of the most important factors in replicating Mayfield’s success will of course be the latter’s replacement, and the Bucs could have competition for some of the most in-demand candidates. Their search will start to take shape in the coming days.

Ken Dorsey Interviews For Browns’ OC Gig

Sean McDermott moved on from both Leslie Frazier and Ken Dorsey in 2023, with the latter decision preceding a late-season surge. But Dorsey had helped the Bills produce high-end offensive work during his 1 1/2-season tenure as the team’s play-caller. Both he and Frazier are on the interview circuit this year.

The Browns met with Dorsey this week about their newly vacant post, according to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones. Cleveland fired Alex Van Pelt this week, opening up its non-play-calling coordinator position. The Bills made Dorsey a coaching free agent back in November.

Remembered for his stretch as the Bills’ OC post, Dorsey may still be best known for his place as the quarterback on Miami’s dominant early-2000s teams. He parlayed that college success into a career as an NFL backup; that included a stop in Cleveland. In a 2006 trade that sent Trent Dilfer to the 49ers, the Browns obtained Dorsey and a seventh-round pick. Dorsey finished out his playing career in Cleveland, working primarily as a Browns backup from 2006-08. He made three starts in place of Derek Anderson in 2008.

Dorsey, 42, spent four-plus seasons in Buffalo, joining McDermott’s staff in 2019 as quarterbacks coach. Previously, he spent five seasons as the Panthers’ QBs coach. These stints allowed Dorsey to help develop Cam Newton and Josh Allen, with both becoming superstars during these stays. Brian Daboll‘s Giants hire allowed Dorsey, who was in place during Newton’s MVP season as the Panthers stormed to Super Bowl 50, to call plays for the first time. That promotion produced mixed results.

Allen battled an elbow injury last season but still powered the Bills to a 13-3 record. The Bills ranked second offensively last season. But Buffalo’s QB dynamo struggled with turnovers to start the 2023 campaign. Eleven of Allen’s career-high 18 interceptions occurred during Dorsey’s 10-game run as OC. After the Bills’ last-second loss to the Broncos in November, McDermott made Dorsey a sacrificial lamb by indicating the scuffling team needed to change something. The Bills promoted Joe Brady, and while their offensive performance has not exactly spiked, the team has stabilized its season and returned to the divisional round.

Dorsey joins Seahawks offensive line coach Andy Dickerson as Browns OC targets thus far. The Browns employed Van Pelt as Kevin Stefanski‘s right-hand man on offense for four seasons.

Latest On Bills HC Sean McDermott, GM Brandon Beane

The Bills entered the 2023 season on the short list of Super Bowl favorites, but Buffalo currently sports a 5-5 record and has a difficult schedule over the remainder of the campaign. With the team already having moved on from offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, it is fair to wonder if even more significant changes could be on the horizon.

Both Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post and Dianna Russini of The Athletic (subscription required) used the terms “scapegoat” and “scapegoating” when describing Dorsey’s recent dismissal. As Russini writes, head coach Sean McDermott told reporters that he fired Dorsey following the Bills’ narrow loss to the Broncos last week because he felt his team could not walk back into the locker room without knowing something had changed. That is about as blunt as a coach will be when it comes to publicly assigning blame, and since the team has bid adieu to both of its top coordinators in less than a year — longtime defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier stepped away in February — the pressure is squarely on McDermott to right the ship (interestingly, La Canfora said the Frazier situation was fueled by panic-stricken scapegoating, which suggests that his exit was not entirely voluntary, as had been presumed).

Scapegoat or not, Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News believes it was the right call to part ways with Dorsey, whose scheme lacked creativity and whose play-calling had become predictable in Skurski’s eyes. That said, while Skurski believes McDermott will be on the hot seat if the Bills miss the playoffs, he does not believe McDermott will be fired. After all, Buffalo snapped its 17-year playoff drought in McDermott’s first season at the helm in 2017, and McDermott has posted a 67-40 regular season record while failing to qualify for the postseason field just once from 2017-22. La Canfora also hears from rival execs that McDermott has built up enough goodwill to survive one disappointing campaign.

However, additional staff shakeups should be expected. McDermott took over defensive play-calling duties in the wake of Frazier’s departure, and the Bills have slipped from sixth in the league in total defense in 2022 to 17th in 2023. While injuries have certainly played a major role in that regression, McDermott’s failed decision to call an all-out blitz in the Denver loss and the subsequent special teams snafu that allowed the Broncos a second chance at the game-winning field goal support one rival GM’s belief — as articulated to La Canfora — that Bills ownership will not allow McDermott to continue as de facto DC and defensive play-caller in 2024.

That same general manager does not believe that the Buffalo offense will find its footing under interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady. The GM said Brady’s scheme was proven to be a flawed one during his brief stint as OC with the Panthers, though Albert Breer of reports that most people within Carolina’s organization saw Brady as an imaginative and detail-oriented coach, and that Brady’s ouster was fueled primarily by a personality clash with then-head coach Matt Rhule. Still, should the Bills’ offense falter under Brady’s stewardship, Skurski believes McDermott will also be looking for a new offensive coordinator in the offseason.

GM Brandon Beane, who came to Buffalo alongside McDermott in 2017, also seems like a good bet to keep his job, as Skurski suggests. While La Canfora reports that team ownership is getting a bit restless, it should be noted that both Beane and McDermott were handed thru-2027 extensions earlier this year. Their contract situations and their track records may afford them the chance to return the Bills to powerhouse status, but if Buffalo misses the playoffs in 2023 and does not exhibit marked improvement in 2024, Beane and McDermott will likely be looking for new employment.

Bills Fire OC Ken Dorsey

In the aftermath of another underwhelming performance, the Bills are making a signficant change on the sidelines. Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey has been fired, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The team has since confirmed the move.

The Bills have struggled to an extent on offense in 2023, Dorsey’s second year in charge of the unit. He will be replaced by quarterbacks coach Joe Brady, Schefter adds. The latter has also been in Buffalo since 2022, having previously served as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator under head coach Matt Rhule.

The departure of Brian Daboll led to questions about Buffalo’s ability to remain amongst the league’s top offenses with Dorsey at the helm. It came as little surprise when the Bills decided to look in-house for Daboll’s successor, promoting Dorsey from the QB coach position he had held with the team for the previous three years. While Buffalo has posted strong statistical showings during Dorsey’s time as OC, he has been dismissed in the hopes of providing a spark for the unit and getting the team’s postseason push back on track.

The Bills ranked second in the league in both total and scoring offense last season, a sign that the switch to Dorsey could have been one with long-term appeal. However, the team suffered a lackluster defeat in the postseason during the divisional round, and week-to-week consistency has been hard to come by in 2023. This year, Buffalo sits eighth in the NFL in both points (26) and yards (377) per game.

After recording three straight high-scoring wins starting in Week 2, the Bills have failed to score 30 points in their last six games. Turnovers have been a major issue for the unit, which has led to increased criticism of quarterback Josh Allen. Aiming to produce a rebound from their franchise passer, the team will now proceed with a new face for the stretch run. Today’s move will leave Buffalo with neither the offensive nor defensive coordinator which was in place following the end of the 2022 campaign.

DC Leslie Frazier stepped away from football in February, though he intends to return to the sidelines either as a coordinator or a head coach in the future. Head coach Sean McDermott has called plays on defense this season, and that unit has not delivered to the extent it has in past seasons. Injuries on defense have been a major storyline for Buffalo this year, but McDermott has drawn criticism on a number of fronts, including most recently the disorganization which resulted in a penalty to give the Broncos a chance to win in come-from-behind fashion last night. In the wake of that special teams mistake, McDermott will move forward with a new voice for the offense.

Dorsey will now join the 2024 coaching cycle early. The 42-year-old interviewed with the Panthers for their head coaching vacancy last offseason. Given the manner in which his Buffalo tenure has come to an end, it will be interesting to see how much of a market he generates in the winter. Buffalo, meanwhile, will aim for a step forward in efficiency with Brady at the helm.

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

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.