Nick Holz

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

The offensive and defensive coordinator carousels are in winding down. Here is how the OC and DC searches look:

Updated 2-14-24 (5:50pm 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)

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

Titans To Hire Nick Holz As OC

Not long after meeting with Nick Holz, the Titans have landed on him as their new offensive coordinator. The Jaguars passing coordinator has been tapped for Tennessee’s OC position, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Holz interviewed with Tennessee on Monday as part of the team’s search for a Tim Kelly replacement. Now, he will make an intra-divisional move and take on a new position with the Titans’ new-look coaching staff. Despite not doing so during his time with the Bengals, new head coach Brian Callahan will call plays on offense for Tennessee.

Holz, 39, and Callahan worked alongside each other with the Raiders in 2018, making them a logical pair to reunite in Tennessee. The former held a number of titles during his Raiders tenure, which lasted from 2012-21, but his only OC experience came in 2022 when he served on UNLV’s staff.

Following that one-year stint, Holz returned to the NFL on Jacksonville’s staff. The Jaguars did not meet expectations during the latter part of the season in particular on offense, leaving the the team out of the postseason. While quarterback Trevor Lawrence‘s injuries were a factor, Holz will head to Tennessee with a number of challenges and no OC experience in the pro game. He will nevertheless be a key member of the Titans’ efforts to develop Will Levis.

The 2023 second-rounder took over for an injured Ryan Tannehill midway through the campaign, and he is now in place atop Tennessee’s depth chart. A number of other moves will no doubt be coming on offense for the team – with improvement along the O-line and in the skill-position corps needed for a return to the playoffs – but Levis’ Year Two growth will be a central storyline in Nashville.

Tennessee met with Buccaneers QBs coach Thad Lewis as part of the team’s OC search, and the Titans also submitted an interview request with Dolphins associate head coach Eric Studesville. After a relatively brief process to find a Kelly replacement, Holz will now take on a key position on Callahan’s initial staff. The Titans have been busy this offseason, but several major vacancies on the sidelines have now been filled.

Earlier this week, the Titans worked out an agreement to hire Ravens defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson as their new defensive coordinator. He, too, does not have NFL DC experience, just as Callahan has never been a head coach at the pro level before. An inexperienced staff will be in place in Tennessee for the 2024 season as the team looks to rebound from the struggles of the past two years.

Titans To Interview Jaguars’ Nick Holz For OC Job

A top candidate has emerged to become the new offensive coordinator under first-time head coach Brian Callahan in Tennessee. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Titans will be interviewing Jaguars passing game coordinator Nick Holz on Monday for their officially open offensive coordinator position. Tim Kelly was the incumbent for the position, but following the firing of Mike Vrabel, plenty of the Titans’ offensive staffers have explored interview opportunities elsewhere, seeing the writing on the wall that often comes with a change at head coach.

With Callahan in place as the team’s next head coach, the Titans’ focus will now shift to filling out the rest of the staff. They recently made their first request to the Ravens to interview defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson for their defensive coordinator position. Now, we get an idea of who the new head coach likes as a potential coordinator on the offensive side of the ball. This is Holz’s first request to interview for a coordinator job this offseason and, according to our records, the first NFL coordinator interview of his career.

Holz has a strong connection to Callahan that makes him an obvious candidate to assist the new head coach in Tennessee. Holz’s extensive experience in the NFL all comes from the Raiders organization. After assistant coaching jobs at the college level, Holz spent 10 years in Oakland and Vegas. After three years as an offensive assistant, Holz alternated between roles as an offensive quality control coach and an assistant wide receivers coach. When Callahan spent a year in 2018 as the Raiders quarterbacks coach before joining Zac Taylor in Cincinnati as offensive coordinator, Holz was an offensive quality control coach in Oakland.

With Holz as passing game coordinator, the Jaguars finished in the top-10 for passing yards, though quarterback Trevor Lawrence to a slight step back in 2023. While averaging more passing yards per game, Lawrence fell four touchdowns short of last year’s total and threw an unappealing 14 interceptions after limiting himself to eight in 2022. Callahan reportedly plans on calling plays for the Titans after not calling plays during his time as offensive coordinator in Cincinnati, so it will be interesting to see what plans the team has at offensive coordinator. Regardless, Holz’s history working with Callahan makes him a top candidate for the position as Tennessee moves forward with the hiring process.

AFC Coaching Notes: Fangio, Colts, Jaguars

At 64, Vic Fangio is closer to the end of his coaching career than the beginning. However, his decision to take the Dolphins‘ defensive coordinator position should not be considered a short-term commitment.

“I still have a lot of coaching left in me,” Fangio said, via Kevin Patra of NFL.com. “It’s not like I’m thinking about retirement or anything. Somebody asked, ‘How much longer are you gonna do this?’ I don’t know. It might be 10 years, if they’ll have me here for 10 years.”

After a delay between when his Miami deal was first reported and when he officially accepted it, Fangio reportedly became the league’s highest-paid coordinator. Expectations will be raised in Miami, with the former Broncos head coach and celebrated defensive mind taking charge of a unit which struggled in 2022. Fangio’s new defense has number of intriguing players on it with plenty of upside. Regardless of their performance, Fangio, who signed a three-year contract, is eyeing a lengthy stay in the Sunshine State.

Here are some other coaching updates from the AFC:

  • The Colts have seen plenty of turnover on their staff, one now led by Shane Steichen. The latest addition is DeAndre Smith, whom Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News tweets is leaving the Giants’ staff to head to Indianapolis. Smith spent last season as the Giants’ running backs coach and will work in the same capacity with the Colts. The 54-year-old assistant’s tenure in New York last year marked his first NFL coaching gig, following more than two decades spent in the college ranks; Smith will now reunite with Steichen, after the pair worked together at UNLV in 2009.
  • Steichen is not planning to make wholesale changes on offense. One assistant who is expected to stay put: franchise icon Reggie Wayne (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Zak Keefer). Wayne, who played for the Colts for 14 seasons en route to becoming a Hall of Fame finalist, began his coaching career this past season as Indianapolis’ wide receivers coach and will likely remain in that role in 2023.
  • The Jaguars lost Jim Bob Cooter earlier this week when he made the intra-divisional move to the Colts to become Indy’s offensive coordinator. Jacksonville found a replacement in Nick Holz (Twitter link via Mia O’Brien of 1010 XL). The veteran staffer spent 10 seasons as an NFL coach, all with the Raiders; his tenure with the team ended in 2021 after he worked as its assistant wide receivers coach. Holz spent the past season as the OC at UNLV and will now be paired alongside Jaguars OC (and close friend) Press Taylor.
  • After yet another injury-filled season, the Chargers are making a change on the training side. They are moving on from longtime athletic trainer Damon Mitchell, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Mitchell had spent past six years as the team’s trainer and had been with the organization long before the injury-prone stigma entered the equation, spending the past 24 years in San Diego and Los Angeles.

Coaching Rumors: Browns, Raiders, Bears

Even though new Browns lead football man John Dorsey is keeping current head coach Hue Jackson, he has just gotten started in reshaping the team’s coaching staff. Apart from hiring Ken Zampese and Adam Henry as the organization’s quarterbacks and wide receivers coaches earlier this week, the team has let go of five staff members from this past season, according to Tony Grossi of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Grossi reports that the team has moved on from former QB’s coach David Lee, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, running back coordinator Kirby Wilson, special teams assistant Shawn Mennenga and special teams quality control coach Stan Watson. Dorsey has brought a new look to the Browns front office and he’ll now remake the team’s coaching staff given this new coaching news.

Here’s more coaching news from around the league:

  • Raiders new head coach Jon Gruden has brought in a number of new coaches to join his staff for the 2018 season. But there is one coach that is definitely being retained from Jack Del Rio’s previous coaching crew. Assistant wide receivers coach Nick Holz is being retained, per Adam Caplan of SiriusXM (Twitter link). While Holz is the only holdover as of now, Caplan does note that many other Del Rio staffers are currently being reviewed by the organization.
  • Matt Nagy has began filling out the Bears coaching staff for next season. The team announced that they have hired former NFL receiver Mike Furrey to coach their wideout group. Furrey was recently the head coach at Limestone College and played with Nagy in the AFL back in 2002. Furrey will likely inherit a much different group of receivers than the team had in 2017.
  • Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown is expected to return to the team in 2018, sources tell Todd Archer of ESPN.com. It was previously reported that while Dallas had wanted to retain him, he had also drawn interest from the Raiders and Texans.
  • While many hires are being reported, the Chargers are losing their tight ends coach John McNulty to the college ranks. McNulty will join Rutgers as their offensive coordinator for the next season, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). McNulty previously worked as an assistant coach for the Scarlet Knights from 2004-2008.

 

 

West Notes: Cardinals, Joeckel, Raiders

Let’s take a quick swing around the league’s west divisions:

  • We learned earlier today that Tony Jefferson‘s new deal with the Ravens will pay him up to $37MM over four years. We also heard reports in recent days that the Browns and possibly the Jets offered him slightly more money, but that he spurned those offers to sign with Baltimore. As Andy Benoit of TheMMQB writes in a detailed piece on Jefferson’s free agent journey, Jefferson’s former team, the Cardinals, made him an initial “low-ball” offer of three years, $12MM, before upping their proposal to four years and $24MM, still well short of the winning bid.
  • Mike Jurecki of FoxSports910 passes along some contract details on two of the Cardinals‘ recent signings (Twitter links). Jurecki reports that safety Antoine Bethea‘s new three-year deal will pay him yearly base salaries of $2MM, $3MM, and $3MM, while A.Q. Shipley‘s new two-year pact is worth a total of $3.5MM with base salaries of $775K and $1.5MM, $725K in guarantees, and $250K in roster bonuses for 2017 and 2018.
  • Luke Joeckel‘s new one-year deal with the Seahawks will pay him a fully-guaranteed $7MM, with an additional $1MM available in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets that Robbie Gould‘s new two-year pact with the 49ers is worth a total of $4MM, with $1MM fully guaranteed.
  • The Raiders will likely not have a lease agreement for a proposed Las Vegas stadium in place before the league owners meet later this month, a meeting during which they could approve the team’s relocation bid. However, as noted in a piece from the Associated Press, the absence of a finalized lease agreement does not mean the league owners will be precluded from voting on the relocation proposal. Instead, they could conditionally approve the relocation as long as the lease adequately addresses issues that are important to the league.
  • The Raiders have made a few changes to their coaching staff, as Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com writes. Last season’s assistant secondary coach, Rod Woodson, will coach cornerbacks, as he did previously, and Brent Vieselmeyer, who was assistant linebackers coach last year, will coach the safeties in 2017. Meanwhile, Travis Smith has been promoted from quality control to outside linebackers coach, and Nick Holz is now the assistant receivers coach. Nate Tice, son of offensive line coach Mike Tice, is the offensive quality control coach.
  • We learned earlier today that the Broncos and OT Donald Stephenson have agreed to a restructured deal.