Sean Desai

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

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

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

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

Offensive Coordinators

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Carolina Panthers 

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

Dolphins To Interview Vic Fangio, Kris Richard, Sean Desai For DC

Vic Fangio will interview for a third defensive coordinator position during this year’s cycle. The Dolphins’ previously rumored interest will produce a meeting.

Miami is set for interviews with Fangio, Seahawks assistant Sean Desai and Saints co-DC Kris Richard, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). Fangio and Desai worked together with the Bears, while Richard has been a fixture in defensive coordinator searches in recent offseasons. The Fangio and Desai meetings will occur Wednesday.

Richard, 43, re-emerged as a DC after four seasons on the position coach level. The Saints promoted the veteran staffer to that role, placing him alongside Ryan Nielsen in a rarely utilized co-DC arrangement. The former Seahawks DC had spent time under Rod Marinelli as the Cowboys’ secondary coach from 2018-19 and caught on with the Saints as their DBs coach in 2021. Richard is best known for his time in Seattle, however. He served as the Legion of Boom’s position coach and later Seattle’s DC during that unit’s heyday, and the Seahawks of that period became the first team to lead the NFL in scoring defense in four straight years since the 1950s Browns.

This garnered Richard some HC interest back in the late 2010s — which included a 2019 Dolphins interview — but nothing materialized. The Saints have ranked in the top 10 defensively in each of Richard’s two years with the team, though Dennis Allen has overseen both those units. The Panthers have also spoken to Richard about a meeting. Nielsen has come up as a candidate — in Atlanta and Minnesota — as well, so New Orleans faces the possibility of losing both its DCs this offseason. Desai, the Bears’ DC in 2021, also received an interview request from the Vikings.

Fangio has interviewed for the Falcons and Panthers’ positions thus far but came up in connection to the Dolphins gig soon after it became available. He is believed to be the lead candidate, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets, with ESPN’s Jeff Darlington noting (via Twitter) Fangio and Mike McDaniel share an agent and have a good relationship.

Fangio, 64, did not last too long in his HC opportunity with the Broncos, though his three-year Denver tenure was the longest since John Fox‘s, but the longtime defensive staffer was long believed to be a hot candidate to return to a full-time role as a DC. That is coming to fruition. Fangio’s options could soon include a return to the 49ers, with the team being connected to rehiring him in the event DeMeco Ryans departs.

Vikings, Dolphins Request DC Interviews With Sean Desai

The Vikings and Dolphins are in need of a new defensive coordinator, and both clubs have requested interviews with Seahawks defensive assistant and associate head coach Sean Desai (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Desai was also a candidate for the Browns’ DC post that was recently filled by Jim Schwartz.

Minnesota enjoyed a 13-4 record in 2022, Kevin O’Connell‘s first year as head coach. However, the team’s defense was a sore spot all season, and after a wildcard-round loss to the Giants in which the Vikes struggled to slow New York quarterback Daniel Jones, defensive coordinator Ed Donatell received his walking papers. Minnesota subsequently requested an interview with Steelers senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach Brian Flores and also hopes to talk to Desai. In addition, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) that the Vikings have requested an interview with Saints co-DC Ryan Nielsen, who is expected to interview with the Falcons for the same position.

Like the Vikings, the Dolphins were bounced in last week’s wildcard round, giving up over 400 total yards in their loss to the Bills. The team’s defense finished the regular season in the middle of the pack in terms of yards allowed, but the unit dropped from 16th in points allowed in 2021 to 24th in 2022 while falling from 10th to 15th in DVOA. That drop-off cost defensive coordinator Josh Boyer his job, and in addition to Desai, the ‘Fins hope to talk with Vic Fangio about their DC vacancy.

Desai, 39, may not have Fangio’s track record, but he did work under the renowned defensive guru for a few years while both men were on the Bears’ staff, and he was named Chicago’s defensive coordinator in 2021. He found himself in need of new employment at the end of that campaign, as the Bears elected to part ways with head coach Matt Nagy & Co. In 2022, Desai ended up in Seattle under fellow ex-Fangio staffer Clint Hurtt.

Although the Bears were anxious to clean house after a disappointing end to the Nagy era, Desai’s defense did finish sixth in the league in yards allowed per game (316.7) in 2021, despite injuries to a number of key players. The Vikings — along with the Giants and Raiders — actually interviewed him for their DC post in last year’s cycle before opting to move forward with Donatell, and they are now giving him another look.

Browns Request DC Interviews With Brian Flores, Jim Schwartz, Jerod Mayo, Sean Desai

JANUARY 13: Mayo will pass on an interview with the Browns, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston tweets. This comes after the Panthers requested a head coaching interview with the young assistant and the Patriots making the rare move to announce they are negotiating an extension. The Pats clearly view Mayo as a key part of their future. As such, he is standing down regarding the Browns’ interest.

JANUARY 10: Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweeted out the upcoming schedule for Browns DC interviews. Jim Schwartz is set to interview with the organization on Wednesday, while Brian Flores will be in the building on Thursday. The team is still working out interview times with Jerod Mayo and Sean Desai.

JANUARY 9: The Browns are starting early on their defensive coordinator search. Hours after firing three-year defensive play-caller Joe Woods, the team is eyeing three assistants and former HC Jim Schwartz for the position.

Cleveland sent out an interview request for Schwartz, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, and the parties are scheduling a meeting. Schwartz spent this season out of football. Among other staffers to receive requests, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport add that Steelers linebackers coach Brian Flores, Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo and Seahawks associate HC Sean Desai have each received interview summons (all Twitter links).

Surprisingly fired by the Dolphins after leading a turnaround during the team’s aggressive rebuild effort, Flores interviewed for four HC jobs last year. Amid a discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and several teams, Flores was not hired and ended up in Pittsburgh as a Mike Tomlin lieutenant on defense. Even with Flores’ lawsuit still proceeding, it is unsurprising he has received early attention. It will be interesting if Flores, 41, ends up on the HC interview circuit; that will impede an early Browns commitment. Prior to his Dolphins tenure, Flores vaulted onto the HC radar after being Bill Belichick‘s de facto DC — a season that ended with the Patriots becoming the second team in Super Bowl history to hold an opponent (the Rams) without a touchdown.

Mayo, 36, has also met with teams about their HC vacancies in the recent past; the Broncos and Raiders interviewed him last year. Mayo reaffirmed recently a desire to become a head coach. While that is not exactly surprising, the Browns are interested to see if he move up a rung on the ladder in order to eventually move to the top of it. A former Patriots linebacker, Mayo has been on Belichick’s staff since 2019.

Desai, 39, spent a season (2021) as the Bears’ DC, but with Matt Nagy‘s staff being canned after last season, the Vic Fangio disciple ended up in Seattle under fellow ex-Fangio staffer Clint Hurtt. Desai spent nine seasons in Chicago, serving as a position coach under Marc Trestman and John Fox before working under Nagy.

Schwartz already showing interest in the Browns mark the beginnings of a potential homecoming for the veteran defensive leader. Schwartz started his NFL career on Belichick’s Browns staff in the early 1990s. The Ravens kept him on after firing Belichick in 1996, and Schwartz has since been a defensive coordinator for three teams — the Titans, Bills and Eagles — and spent the past two seasons as a Titans assistant. The former Lions HC, now 56, has 19 years of NFL HC or DC experience and collected a Super Bowl ring as Philly’s DC in 2017. Schwartz’s time in Philly overlapped with Browns GM Andrew Berry‘s stay with the NFC East team.

Seahawks Hire Sean Desai As Associate Head Coach

The Seahawks have landed one of the biggest coaching names as they rebuild their defensive staff. Sean Desai has been hired under the title of associate head coach – defense (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport).

Seattle has been looking for a new coach to lead the defense since they parted ways with defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. nearly a month ago. Desai was among the candidates for the role, along with DC jobs on the Giants, Raiders and Vikings, making him one of the most sought-after defensive minds in this hiring cycle. Originally, Ed Donatell was set to take on an assistant role in Seattle, but he pivoted to Minnesota yesterday.

At the age of 38, Rapoport notes, Desai is one of the youngest coaches in the league to hold such a high-ranking title. The hire proves the high regard he was held in due to his work with the Bears. Since coming to Chicago in 2013, he worked his way up the coaching ladder, getting promoted to DC one year ago. That made him the first coordinator of Indian descent in NFL history.

The Bears ranked sixth in the league in yards allowed per game (316.7), in spite of injuries to an number of key pieces on the unit. That success could certainly lead to him playing a role in helping the Seahawks rebound from their disappointing performances on that side of the ball in recent years.

NFC Staff Notes: Panthers, Bears, Cowboys

After two years back in college, Paul Pasqualoni is returning to the NFL. The Panthers hired the septuagenarian assistant as their defensive line coach Tuesday. Like Matt Rhule, Pasqualoni has spent most of his coaching career at the college level, being best known for his lengthy tenure as Syracuse’s head coach. Pasqualoni and Rhule were each head coaches, the former at UConn and the latter at Temple, in the American Athletic Conference’s debut season (2013). Pasqualoni, 72, resurfaced in the NFL in 2018, when he became Matt Patricia‘s defensive coordinator in Detroit. After Patricia fired him, Pasqualoni spent the past two years as a special assistant at Florida.

Here is the latest from the NFC coaching carousel:

  • The Bears have made a few more hires, staffing their front lines. They added Travis Smith to coach their defensive line. This will mark a notable change for Smith, who was with the Raiders for the past 10 years, coaching under Dennis Allen, Tony Sparano, Jack Del Rio, Jon Gruden and Rich Bisaccia. Chicago also added Jim Dray as its tight ends coach. A veteran tight end who retired not that long ago, Dray is moving up from the quality control level. This will be the 35-year-old assistant’s first position coaching gig, having been a QC coach in Cleveland over the past two years. Austin King is also set to become the Bears’ assistant O-line coach. King worked with Smith this past season, being the Raiders’ tight ends coach. He was Dayton’s OC from 2017-19.
  • Cowboys wide receivers coach Adam Henry is interviewing with the Giants. He will do so after turning down a new Cowboys contract, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Robert Prince is set to replace him, per ESPN’s Todd Archer and Field Yates (on Twitter). Prince and Cowboys OC Kellen Moore have an interesting history. Prince, 56, was a Boise State staffer during Moore’s final season (2011). He later joined the Lions’ staff during Moore’s QB tenure there. Prince spent seven seasons in Detroit as the team’s wideouts coach.
  • Curtis Modkins is likely to become the Vikings‘ next run-game coordinator and backfield coach, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. The Broncos’ running backs coach over the past four seasons, Modkins played a key role in Phillip Lindsay‘s rapid rise from UDFA to Pro Bowler and then aided Javonte Williams during his quality rookie season. Modkins, 51, is a two-time NFL OC, having served in that role with the Bills in the early 2010s and with the 49ers in 2016.
  • The Seahawks are in talks to add Karl Scott as their defensive passing-game coordinator, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. Alabama’s DBs coach from 2018-20, Scott made his NFL coaching debut this past season as Vikings secondary coach. The Seahawks adding Scott would not be as a Sean Desai backup plan, per Condotta. Both could join the revamped staff. Seattle is targeting the 2021 Chicago DC for an assistant role, in the event Minnesota does not hire him as its next DC.

Vikings Interview Sean Desai For DC Job

Despite having just one year of defensive coordinator experience, Sean Desai has emerged as a popular candidate this year. As staffs continue to be assembled, new head coaches have been eager to speak with the 2021 Bears DC.

Desai has now gone through three such interviews; the Vikings represent the third. Desai interviewed for the vacant Vikings’ DC job over the weekend, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). This follows Desai meetings with the Raiders and Giants.

Both the Raiders and Giants made their hires, in multiyear DCs Patrick Graham and Don Martindale. The Vikings have yet to decide on their new DC. This position will take on greater importance given the impending Kevin O’Connell HC hire. Minnesota’s next DC will be the team’s unquestioned defensive play-caller.

Although the Bears slogged through a disappointing season — their first sub-.500 campaign since 2017 — they ranked sixth in total defense. Chicago had bumped up Desai last year to replace the retired Chuck Pagano, and the new play-caller helped a largely Khalil Mack-less unit to a respectable season — one that included Robert Quinn breaking Richard Dent‘s 37-year-old team sack record.

The Vikings have also interviewed Ravens defensive line coach Anthony Weaver and requested a meeting with Lions secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant. Former Browns HC and Packers DC Mike Pettine, however, is the rumored favorite.

Should the Vikings head in another direction, Desai appears to have a fallback plan. The Seahawks are interested in adding him to their staff in a non-DC role. Seattle promoted Clint Hurtt to DC and added Ed Donatell as well. Desai would make three ex-Vic Fangio disciples (and two 2021 DCs) on one staff.

Giants To Interview Don Martindale, Sean Desai For DC Job

With Patrick Graham heading to Las Vegas, Brian Daboll and the Giants are hunting for a new defensive coordinator. Well, it sounds like some contenders are starting to emerge. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), the Giants will interview Don “Wink” Martindale and Sean Desai for their defensive coordinator vacancy. The interviews will both take place today.

Martindale has been a coordinator for two teams, also serving as the Broncos’ DC during a poor 2010 season. He revamped his reputation with the Ravens, with Baltimore ranking as a top-10 defense from 2018-20. The veteran coach entered the season with lame-duck status in Baltimore, and the two sides ultimately decided to part ways. The Ravens regressed defensively this season, dropping to 25th in yards allowed, but the team dealt with injuries throughout. Before the Giants settled on Graham, “Wink” was a strong candidate for the gig, per SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano (on Twitter).

Desai’s NFL coaching career dates back to 2013. At the age of 38, he already has an impressive amount of experience, with three different roles in the college ranks (including special teams coordinator at Boston College) and, most recently, the DC role he held with the Bears in 2021. With Matt Eberflus electing to bring a familiar face in Alan Williams with him from Indianapolis, though, Desai is in search of a new home.

One of the top young defensive minds in the coaching ranks, Desai’s unit ranked sixth in the league in yards allowed this season, despite injuries to the likes of Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks. That success earned him interest from the Seahawks and Raiders.

Seahawks Make Defensive Staff Changes

The Seahawks’ Ken Norton Jr. replacement effort appears to be a multi-pronged approach. Not only will Clint Hurtt move up to Seattle’s defensive coordinator post, but the team is also expected to bring in Ed Donatell.

Hurtt will rise from defensive line coach to DC, Bob Condotta and Adam Jude of the Seattle Times report. Donatell, who interviewed for the DC gig, is expected to join Seattle’s staff in a different role, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. A senior defensive assistant title appears likely for Donatell, a veteran coordinator who has been an NFL assistant since 1990.

Sean Desai, whom the Bears promoted to DC in Matt Nagy‘s final season, is also a Seahawks target, according to the Seattle Times. Desai, Donatell and Hurtt have worked for Vic Fangio in the past, making for an interesting arrangement in Seattle. The Seahawks endured brutal starts to the past two seasons on defense, being on pace for record-setting yardage totals, though each of Norton’s final two units stabilized to some degree. This will double as the team’s top staff shakeup this offseason, with Pete Carroll and OC Shane Waldron sticking around.

As should be expected, Carroll is interested in incorporating Fangio’s system. Donatell spent the past three seasons running it in Denver, operating as Broncos DC. Despite Bradley Chubb‘s injury trouble and Von Miller‘s midseason departure, the Broncos finished in the top 10 in total defense and points allowed this season. Donatell and Carroll have worked together with the Jets in the early 1990s and were each part of the University of Pacific’s staff back in 1983.

Hurtt, 43, has been with the Seahawks since 2017. He worked under Fangio in Chicago from 2015-16. This will be his first chance at a coordinator role at any level. Desai received that opportunity last year. Despite the Bears losing Khalil Mack midway through the season, Desai’s unit ranked sixth in total defense. Robert Quinn broke Richard Dent‘s 37-year-old team sack record, finishing with 18.5. Desai’s Seattle arrival will be contingent on him not landing the Las Vegas DC job. The Raiders interviewed Desai on Thursday.

Raiders Interview Sean Desai For DC Job

The Raiders are meeting with a highly regarded candidate for the first defensive hire of the Josh McDaniels era. Las Vegas is set to interview former Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai today, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link).

[Related: Bears To Hire Alan Williams As DC]

Desai’s NFL coaching career dates back to 2013, and had only been spent in Chicago until now. At the age of 38, he already has an impressive amount of experience, between three different roles in the college ranks (including special teams coordinator at Boston College) and, most recently, the DC role he held with the Bears in 2021. With Matt Eberflus electing to bring a familiar face in Alan Williams with him from Indianapolis, though, Desai is in search of a new home.

One of the top young defensive minds in the coaching ranks, Desai’s unit ranked sixth in the league in yards allowed this season, despite injuries to the likes of Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks. That success earned him interest from the Seahawks earlier this month, as they requested an interview for their DC vacancy.

While he hasn’t officially taken another position yet, current Raiders DC Gus Bradley certainly seems to be on the way out. Between this Desai interview, and the meeting Bradley has already had with the Colts for their DC opening, there will apparently be a new voice for a Vegas defensive unit that ranked 26th in the league in points allowed in 2021.