Kevin O’Connell

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

The NFL experienced a busy offseason on the coaching front. A whopping 10 teams changed coaches during the 2022 offseason, with the Buccaneers’ late-March switch pushing the number into double digits.

Fourteen of the league’s 32 head coaches were hired in the past two offseasons, illustrating the increased pressure the NFL’s sideline leaders face in today’s game. Two of the coaches replaced this year left on their own. Sean Payton vacated his spot in second on the longest-tenured HCs list by stepping down from his 16-year Saints post in February, while Bruce Arians has repeatedly insisted his Bucs exit was about giving his defensive coordinator a chance with a strong roster and not a Tom Brady post-retirement power play.

While Bill Belichick has been the league’s longest-tenured HC for many years, Payton’s exit moved Mike Tomlin up to No. 2. Mike Zimmer‘s firing after nine seasons moved Frank Reich into the top 10. Reich’s HC opportunity only came about because Josh McDaniels spurned the Colts in 2018, but Indianapolis’ backup plan has led the team to two playoff brackets and has signed an extension. Reich’s seat is hotter in 2022, however, after a January collapse. Linked to numerous HC jobs over the past several offseasons, McDaniels finally took another swing after his Broncos tenure ended quickly.

As 2022’s training camps approach, here are the NFL’s longest-tenured HCs:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2024
  3. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  4. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010; extended through 2025
  5. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2025
  6. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2025
  7. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2023
  8. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2025
  9. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018; signed extension in February 2022
  10. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018; extended through 2026
  11. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019; extended through 2027
  12. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  13. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  14. Ron Rivera (Washington Football Team): January 1, 2020
  15. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  16. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  17. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020
  18. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  19. Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons): January 15, 2021
  20. Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers): January 17, 2021
  21. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021
  22. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  23. Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos): January 27, 2022
  24. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  25. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  26. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  27. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  28. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  29. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  30. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  31. Lovie Smith (Houston Texans): February 7, 2022
  32. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022

NFL Coaching Notes: Rams, Brown, Bengals, Texans

While the Rams have lost Kevin O’Connell and Wes Phillips to Minnesota, it appears they won’t see their entire offensive staff dismantled. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, assistant quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson is expected to stay with the team with a bit of a promotion in title.

The Rams still have an offensive coordinator position up for grabs. Currently, the favorite to land the job is University of Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen. Coen worked on the Rams’ offensive staff for three years before spending last year in Lexington. He’s turned down multiple job offers recently to remain at Kentucky, but the opportunity to rejoin Sean McVay in Los Angeles may be too good to pass up.

Here are a few more coaching notes from the NFL starting with another note from the Super Bowl LVI champions:

  • Rapoport also reported that Rams’ running backs coach and assistant head coach Thomas Brown is expected to return to Los Angeles. Brown received head coaching interest from Miami and was a candidate to join O’Connell in Minnesota as offensive coordinator before Phillips was announced earlier today. Brown’s presence will provide McVay with some much needed continuity to his offensive staff.
  • The Bengals have hired Charles Burks from the Dolphins to become their cornerbacks coach, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. No word yet on the status of the Bengals’ cornerbacks coach from last season, Steve Jackson.
  • The Texans’ have hired Ted White with the official title of offensive assistant-quarterbacks. White had recently accepted the position of offensive coordinator at Grambling State University under head coach Hue Jackson, but Jackson will have to find someone else to fill the role. White has molded quarterbacks at Texas Southern, Southern, his alma mater of Howard, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Prairie View A&M. He’ll be tasked with the development of second-year quarterback Davis Mills.

Vikings Hire Kevin O’Connell

It’s officially official. On Wednesday, the Vikings officially announced the hiring of Kevin O’Connell as their new head coach. 

We are ecstatic to add Kevin as our head coach,” said Vikings owner Mark Wilf. “He is a strong leader, an innovative coach and an excellent communicator. Kevin played the game at all levels, which gives him a unique connection to players, and he is highly respected throughout the league. Vikings fans should be excited for the future of this team under Kevin’s direction.”

The Vikings shook hands with O’Connell two weeks ago, though they had to wait as his Rams went on to win the Super Bowl. As LA’s OC, O’Connell guided the unit to place No. 9 in total offense (372.1 yards/game). Meanwhile, his veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp both enjoyed career years. Even when Odell Beckham Jr. was taken out of the championship game, the Rams’ offense still had enough juice to top a tough Bengals team and win it all — that’s a testament to the team’s remarkable depth, as well as O’Connell’s coaching.

O’Connell will be the Vikings’ first offensive-minded head coach since Brad Childress.The past two HCs — Mike Zimmer and Leslie Frazier — were known for their defense but did not deliver the desired results in Minnesota.

Although O’Connell is respected all around the NFL, he’s only been a play-caller for a three-month stretch, doing so after Washington fired Jay Gruden early in the 2019 season. Sean McVay kept the laminates in Los Angeles, but he’s always been a huge advocate of O’Connell, encouraging other clubs to consider him for head coaching jobs. That surely helped his case in Minnesota, though the Vikings didn’t need much convincing.

As I spent time with Kevin during the interview process, it became immediately clear he will be a great partner in building this football team for long-term success,” said new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. “He understands what is critical to leading a team that wins at the highest level, and he has an ability to simplify the complex, which will help us in problem-solving in all football areas. He is a genuinely positive person who will help create a high-energy internal environment.”

Vikings To Interview Thomas Brown For OC Job

Following a Super Bowl win on Sunday, Rams running backs coach Thomas Brown is now eyeing a potential promotion. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), Brown will interview with the Vikings for their offensive coordinator job.

[RELATED: Vikings Plan To Hire Rams’ Kevin O’Connell]

Former Rams OC (and new Vikings head coach) Kevin O’Connell will surely recruit some of his fellow Rams coaches to Minnesota, and it appears that Brown is on his list. Only 35, Brown has made a rapid rise through the coaching ranks. Following a nine-year stint in the NCAA, Brown has spent the past two years with the Rams. After starting as RBs coach in 2021, Brown also earned the title of assistant head coach in 2021.

Thanks to his success in Los Angeles, Brown was considered for the Dolphins HC gig this offseason. According to Cameron Wolfe of NFL Network (on Twitter), Brown impressed the Dolphins brass, and the coach is considered a “respected offensive mind” around the NFL.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are finalizing their deal with O’Connell to be their new head coach, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). An announcement is coming, and the press conference is expected to take place on Thursday.

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

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

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

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

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Vikings Plan To Hire Rams’ Kevin O’Connell

Shortly after the Jim Harbaugh news surfaced, the Vikings appear to have their new top choice identified. They are targeting Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell for the job, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

The Vikings appear serious here, with ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano adding the team called its other finalists to inform them they are no longer in the running for the job (Twitter link). That points to a strong indication O’Connell is on board to succeed Mike Zimmer. Minnesota had Giants DC Patrick Graham and Rams DC Raheem Morris positioned as its other finalists, having given each second interviews along with O’Connell.

Although an O’Connell deal cannot be finalized until after Super Bowl LVI, this chain of events points to the Vikings being confident they have their next coach. This process burned the Colts four years ago, with Josh McDaniels backing out of an agreement after Super Bowl LII. But O’Connell does not have the track record of HC hesitancy the ex-Patriots OC did. O’Connell was also a finalist for the Broncos job that went to Nathaniel Hackett, conducted a second interview with the Texans and was on the Jaguars’ second-interview radar.

Harbaugh interviewed for the Vikings’ HC job Wednesday, but the seven-year Michigan coach is staying at the college level. O’Connell, 36, has been the Rams’ offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, joining Sean McVay in Los Angeles after Washington changed regimes in 2020. O’Connell served as Washington’s quarterbacks coach from 2017-18 and moved up to OC in 2019. O’Connell and new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah were also both with the 49ers in 2016.

O’Connell will be the Vikings’ first offensive-minded head coach since Brad Childress. The team moved in the defensive direction with its past two HCs — Zimmer and Leslie Frazier — but will now bring in a new play-caller. O’Connell has only been a play-caller for a three-month stretch, doing so after Washington fired Jay Gruden early in the 2019 season. Equipped with Case Keenum and a scuffling Dwayne Haskins, Washington ranked last in offense under O’Connell that year. Matthew Stafford‘s performance in his first Rams slate certainly made a better case for O’Connell this season.

The Vikings choosing O’Connell will mean Graham stays with the Giants as DC. Brian Daboll signed on for Graham to stick around were the Vikings to choose someone else as their head coach. Graham, 43, has been with the Giants for the past two seasons. Daboll and Graham previously worked together in New England. The Vikings going with O’Connell means the Rams will not have another one-and-done defensive coordinator, with Morris not connected to any other jobs. The Chargers made Brandon Staley a one-and-done with the Rams last year.

Kevin O’Connell Gets Second Texans Interview

Kevin O’Connell‘s focus over the next two weeks will be on the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Rams offensive coordinator carved out some time for an interview today. According to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com, O’Connell had his second interview with the Texans on Monday.

We heard earlier this month that Houston had requested permission to speak with O’Connell, but as Wilson notes, the Texans never publicly confirmed the first interview. That first interview presumably took place over the past few weeks.

O’Connell, who spent the 2019 season as Washington’s OC before joining the Rams in that capacity in 2020, oversaw an offense that finished in the top-10 in terms of both points per game and yards per game in 2021. A member of the popular Sean McVay coaching tree, O’Connell was a finalist for the Broncos’ HC job that ultimately went to Nathaniel Hackett, and the Jaguars also want to sit down with O’Connell.

The current list of candidates for the Texans HC vacancy includes:

Latest On Jaguars’ Head Coaching Search

The search for a new head coach in Jacksonville has taken a bizarre turn, but also added a new name. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that the team is not currently able to interview Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell due to a timing issue; in a follow-up, he then tweeted that the Jags will be interviewing former Raiders interim HC Rich Bisaccia

O’Connell was thought to be the new favorite for the job in Jacksonville. However, as Schefter reports, the Jags “didn’t request an interview in the initial interview period”. That, along with the fact that the Rams won the NFC championship yesterday, means he can’t meet with Jacksonville until after the Super Bowl. Since O’Connell is also a finalist for the Vikings’ HC role, the Jags’ opportunity to get him may have already ended before it began.

This news comes after the initial report of the team hiring Byron Leftwich as HC and Adrian Wilson as a replacement for Trent Baalke as general manager was refuted. The current Bucs’ offensive coordinator, it is believed, would only accept the HC job if Baalke were to be let go. Baalke being retained, then, would seem to also take Leftwich out of the running.

Meanwhile, Bisaccia represents another late addition to the list of coaching candidates. He finished this season, of course, as the interim HC in Vegas after the resignation of Jon Gruden. While he interviewed to stay on full-time, that was always seen as an uphill battle; the Raiders made it official he won’t be coming back when they hired Josh McDaniels yesterday. He has also been named the favorite for the special teams coordinator role in Chicago, as newly-hired Matt Eberflus begins building his staff.

Given all of that, here’s the latest look at the HC search in Jacksonville:

 

Vikings To Conduct Second Interviews With DeMeco Ryans, Kevin O’Connell; Jags Also Interested In O’Connell

49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell will be matching wits in today’s NFC Championship Game. And they are also competing against each other for the Vikings’ head coaching job.

Per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, Minnesota plans to conduct second interviews with both Ryans and O’Connell this week. Ryans, whose unit ranked third in yards allowed and tenth in points allowed in his first season as DC, is also said to be a candidate for the Raiders’ head coaching post. However, with Las Vegas seemingly zeroing in on Josh McDaniels, the Vikings’ gig may be Ryans’ only real chance to earn a promotion to HC in this year’s cycle.

O’Connell, who spent the 2019 season as Washington’s OC before joining the Rams in that capacity in 2020, oversaw an offense that finished in the top-10 in terms of both points per game and yards per game in 2021. A member of the popular Sean McVay coaching tree, O’Connell was a finalist for the Broncos’ HC job that ultimately went to Nathaniel Hackett, and he has also taken a head coaching interview with the Texans. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, the Jaguars also want to sit down with O’Connell.

There is some confusion in Duval at the moment, which is not unusual for Jags fans. Earlier this week, we heard that the club was on the cusp of hiring Bucs OC Byron Leftwich as head coach and Cardinals vice president of pro scouting Adrian Wilson as general manager. According to Rapoport, neither hire “came close to happening,” and while Leftwich remains a candidate for the job — perhaps if the Jags agree to replace embattled GM Trent Baalke with Wilson — O’Connell has emerged as a late entrant to the race. The 36-year-old is reportedly a “big fan” of Jacksonville QB Trevor Lawrence, and Rapoport says O’Connell could quickly become the team’s top choice.

The problem for the Jags, as Pelissero notes in a follow-up tweet, is that, if the Rams defeat the 49ers today, Jacksonville would be unable to interview O’Connell until after the Super Bowl since it did not conduct an interview during the week of the divisional round. So, if the Rams win and the Vikings decide O’Connell is their guy, the Jaguars wouldn’t even have the chance to make a pitch.

In addition to Ryans and O’Connell — both of whom were employed by the Niners during new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah‘s tenure there — Pelissero confirms that the Vikes still want to have an interview with Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh. We heard yesterday that an interview was scheduled to take place, but Pelissero says the only thing that has happened so far is an “exploratory conversation” to gauge Harbaugh’s interest. Still, a formal interview could happen this week, and Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network classifies the relationship between Harbaugh and Adofo-Mensah — who also, of course, share significant 49ers connections — as a strong one.

Vikings Request Permission To Speak With Six More Coaches About HC Job

And like that, we’ve got a growing list of candidates for the Vikings HC job. Following news that the Vikings requested permission to interview Todd Bowles for the gig, we’ve learned that the organization requested permission to interview six additional coaches:

  • Jonathan Gannon, defensive coordinator (Eagles) (via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter)
  • Nathaniel Hackett, offensive coordinator (Packers) (via Pelissero on Twitter)
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator (Cowboys) (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter)
  • Kevin O’Connell, offensive coordinator (Rams) (via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Twitter)
  • Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator (Cowboys) (via Pelissero on Twitter)
  • DeMeco Ryans, defensive coordinator (49ers) (via Pelissero on Twitter)

Five of those coaches have already been connected to other HC vacancies, but this is the first reported interview request for Ryans. The former NFL linebacker has been on the 49ers coaching staff since 2017, and he was promoted to defensive coordinator last offseason after Robert Saleh left for New York. During his first season in the role, the 49ers defense ranked third in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed.

Of course, the Vikings may not be sticking with only seven candidates. ESPN’s Courtney Cronin tweets that the Vikings have also explored the candidacy of Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

Per Pelissero (on Twitter), the Vikings are hoping to find a replacement for former GM Rick Spielman before they hire a replacement for former HC Mike Zimmer. However, considering the anti-tampering rules, the Vikings only have until Sunday to interview coaches on byes, so they have reason to speak with someone like Hackett ASAP. The Vikings plan to kick off their GM interviews on Sunday, with Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort first in line.