Shane Steichen

2023 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, 10 NFL teams hired new head coaches. Following the Panthers’ hire, this year’s vacancy count sits at four. Last year’s Saints and Buccaneers moves, however, showed these job openings can emerge at unexpected points.

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

Updated 1-26-23 (4:36pm CT)

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Panthers Request Interviews With Three Offensive Coordinators For Head Coach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colts Request HC Interviews; Jeff Saturday Wants To Stay

On display knocking the Packers out of the playoff race, the Lions finished off a remarkable turnaround this season. Early interest is coming in for Dan Campbell‘s coordinators.

Following a Texans interview request, OC Ben Johnson received another from the Colts, whom Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) are interested in speaking with Lions DC Aaron Glenn. Jeff Saturday is believed to remain in the equation for Jim Irsay‘s team, but the owner said last month he looked forward to meeting with a host of candidates for the gig. The Colts will also attempt to meet with Rams DC Raheem Morris, per CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (on Twitter), and Eagles OC Shane Steichen, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

This run of HC interest represents quite the rise for Johnson, who started last season as Detroit’s tight ends coach. For Glenn, the HC interest comes a few months after rumors of his potential ouster as Detroit’s DC surfaced. The Lions, however, completed an incredible bounce-back effort by going from 1-6 to 9-8.

Glenn’s defense did not cross the finish line with particularly strong marks. The Lions’ late-season surge still ended with their defense in last place in yards allowed and 28th in scoring. A crucial December loss to the Panthers ended with Carolina setting franchise records in total yards and on the ground. Still, the development of players like Aidan Hutchinson, James Houston, Jeff Okudah and Kerby Joseph reflects well on Glenn, who was up for the Saints’ HC job that went to Dennis Allen last year. Glenn, 50, took over Lions DC duties in 2021 but spent the previous five years on Sean Payton‘s staff.

Jared Goff finished the season fifth in QBR — by far the highest placement of his career — and closed his second Lions campaign with a 29-7 TD-INT ratio. Behind one of the league’s better offensive lines, Jamaal Williams also put together a 1,000-yard season that ended with him leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns (17 — a number that broke Barry Sanders‘ 31-year-old Lions record). Johnson, 36, has gone from never calling plays at any level prior to 2022 to being a sought-after interviewee.

Morris, a former Buccaneers coach and Falcons interim HC, wrapped his second season as the Rams’ DC. While 2022 proved to be a rough year for the defending Super Bowl champions, Morris’ work shaping the 2021 Rams’ defense will still make him an intriguing candidate. Morris, 46, has experience coaching on both sides of the ball at the NFL level. Mostly a defensive coach, he helmed the Falcons’ wide receivers from 2016-19.

The Texans also requested a Steichen meeting, but the Eagles’ continued growth on offense — as Jalen Hurts morphs from a player with long-term questions to a surefire extension candidate — has been expected to generate looks for their play-caller. Ex-Colts OC Nick Sirianni gave Steichen play-calling duties midway through last season, and the 37-year-old assistant drove the team to becoming the league’s top rushing attack. The Eagles rank third in total yards and points this season, and Hurts took a major leap as a passer.

Despite the Colts completing their worst regular season in at least 11 years, Irsay has stumped for Saturday on multiple occasions since making the controversial hire. Saturday wants to stay on as head coach, Mike Chappell of CBS4 notes, adding that while no interview has been scheduled one should be expected. It would be odd (and wildly unpopular) for the coach in charge of the Colts’ first seven-game losing streak to end a season since the team’s 1953 expansion year would stay on, but that scenario remains in play.

Texans Request Five HC Interviews

The Lions made major strides on offense this season, and their young coordinator received an interview request Monday. Not long after their Lovie Smith firing, the Texans requested an interview with Ben Johnson, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Other interview requests are coming in fast.

49ers DC DeMeco Ryans, Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon and Broncos DC Ejiro Evero are on the team’s candidate list, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adding the Texans have requested interviews with each defensive play-caller (Twitter link). While KPRC’s Aaron Wilson reported Evero, Johnson and Gannon are expected to be in the mix, he added Ryans is not expected to pursue the job. It will be interesting to see how the former Texans linebacker proceeds regarding this request.

Johnson has been with the Lions since Matt Patricia‘s hire in 2019. Dan Campbell not only kept Johnson on but promoted him this past offseason. The production of Jared Goff and Jamaal Williams certainly will boost Johnson’s chances, and this probably will not be the only job he winds up being linked to during this cycle.

Johnson’s age (36) and the experience levels of the other candidates are notable here. The Texans made two odd hires in 2021 and ’22, adding 60-somethings in Smith and David Culley despite neither being on the radar for other teams at the time. GM Nick Caserio made each a one-and-done, leading to rumblings about his own future. Evero is the oldest of this bunch, at 42, with Gannon being 40 and Ryans — a Texans inside linebacker from 2006-11 — having entered the profession a bit later. The 38-year-old DC, however, will be one of this interview cycle’s top names, considering what he has done with the 49ers’ defense this season.

Robert Saleh‘s successor, Ryans has rocketed onto the HC tier — to the point he is expected to land a job — after elevating San Francisco’s defense to the No. 1 spot. The 49ers launched their 10-game win streak by mounting a four-game streak in which they held opponents without a second-half touchdown. It will certainly be interesting if Ryans passes on a meeting with his former team, but the Texans’ past two coaching searches — each involving Josh McCown, despite no NFL staff experience — have surprised. The Broncos also requested a Ryans meeting.

The other Eagles coordinator — OC Shane Steichen — joins Gannon among the Texans’ interview requests, Rapoport adds (via Twitter). Considering Jalen Hurts‘ progression and the Eagles’ run to the NFC’s No. 1 seed, it should be expected Steichen — the former Chargers OC — receives attention during this year’s cycle. Steichen is 37. The Eagles, who were linked to veteran QBs via trade this past offseason, rank third offensively and have shown malleability under Steichen. Nick Sirianni gave Steichen the play-calling reins midway through the 2021 season, and the Eagles’ pivot to a run-heavy offense drove them to last year’s playoff bracket. Hurts’ progression as a passer this year led to the team’s latest crack at the NFC’s top seed.

The reported frontrunner, Gannon was a finalist for Houston’s HC position last year. That makes his inclusion in Caserio’s third HC search in three years more intriguing. The Eagles also progressed significantly on defense, using a menacing pass rush — one that fell two sacks shy of the 1984 Bears’ single-season record — to spearhead a unit that ranks second in total defense. It is entirely possible the Eagles lose both their coordinators this year, but candidates might be choosey with regards to the Texans, given their recent history.

Evero makes for one of the more unusual candidates in recent years. The Broncos finished 5-12 and fired the coach who brought in Evero — Nathaniel Hackett — after 15 games, making him just the third coach since the 1970 merger to be canned before his first season wrapped. But Evero was on Sean McVay‘s first five Rams staffs and was rising before Hackett hired him. Despite steady injuries and Denver’s offense cratering under Hackett, Evero’s defense finished seventh this season.

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.

OC Shane Steichen To Call Eagles’ Plays

Although the Eagles hired an offense-oriented head coach in Nick Sirianni, he will work in a sideline CEO-type role next season. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen will call Philadelphia’s plays in 2022, he said Friday (via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane, on Twitter).

This will not necessarily represent a change. Sirianni began his Eagles debut season calling plays, but he handed the reins to Steichen midway through the campaign. That resulted in a shift for the team, which used a more run-centric offense down the stretch to craft a surprise playoff route.

Steichen’s role in the offense does make Sirianni’s stand out. The former Colts offensive coordinator did not call plays while in that post, with Frank Reich doing so. Most of the league’s head coaches with offensive backgrounds call their teams’ plays. Sirianni’s approach resembles Mike McCarthy‘s in Dallas, where OC Kellen Moore holds that responsibility.

I think last year, we were a new staff and we were evolving as an offense. And so as the season got going on, I ended up taking over more of the play-calling midseason,” Steichen said, via Eagles Wire’s Glenn Irby. “And then, again, Nick has a stamp on every single thing we do. So in the meeting rooms, he has a stamp on everything we do. Every play that’s on that call sheet, he makes sure it’s justified and we’re good to go.”

Steichen’s previous position was as a play-caller for a team with an offense-geared HC (Anthony Lynn). The Chargers promoted Steichen to OC during the 2019 season, and he continued to call plays in 2020, playing a central role in Justin Herbert‘s Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Steichen’s encore in this role illustrated a willingness to play to a team’s strengths. The Eagles became the first team since the 1985 Bears to rush for at least 175 yards in seven straight games. Philly finished the season as the NFL’s top-ranked rushing attack.

Steichen, 37, may need to adjust again given the personnel change that occurred on the draft’s first night. The team’s key ball-carrying principals — Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Jalen Hurts — return, but Philly’s offense figures to change now that A.J. Brown is on the team. Brown comes from a Titans team that also centered its offense around the ground game, but the Eagles authorized a wide receiver-record $56MM fully guaranteed upon trading for the fourth-year playmaker. That will require an increased aerial focus, something that should help the team determine Hurts’ long-term viability.

Nick Sirianni Tests Positive For COVID-19

Nick Sirianni became the second NFL head coach to test positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. Following Jets HC Robert Saleh, Sirianni is now in the league’s COVID protocol.

The Eagles announced their first-year coach experienced symptoms. Although Sirianni remains hopeful to be cleared in time to coach Sunday against the Giants, the Eagles could well be without their play-caller in Week 16.

If Sirianni is unable to recover in time, passing-game coordinator Kevin Patullo will be Philadelphia’s acting HC. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen will call plays in this scenario, Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com tweets.

Under Sirianni’s guidance, the Eagles have reeled off one of the most successful rushing stretches in modern NFL history. They are riding a streak of seven straight games with 175 rushing yards, a run not matched since the 1985 Bears accomplished this. The Eagles’ win over Washington on Tuesday moved them to .500; FiveThirtyEight.com gives Philly a 36% chance to make the playoffs. The Eagles lost to the Giants in the teams’ New Jersey meeting, but Big Blue will not have Daniel Jones this time around.

Two head coaches — the Saints’ Sean Payton and the Browns’ Kevin Stefanski — missed last week’s games due to positive coronavirus tests. Stefanski has been cleared to return. Payton has not.

Nick Sirianni To Call Eagles’ Plays

The Eagles have a new head coach in Nick Sirianni and a new offensive coordinator in Shane Steichen. However, Sirianni will be the one calling plays. 

[RELATED: Duce Staley Joins Lions]

I do plan on calling the plays,” Sirianni told the team website. ““I know we’re going to work really hard throughout the week to make sure we’re ready,” Sirianni said. “And then we’re built with the right people in place to handle the challenges that I foresee as the most challenging things.”

The challenge, Sirianni says, will be to manage all aspects of the game while also calling the plays. Interesting, Sirianni has never called plays at the NFL level, despite serving as the Colts’ offensive coordinator in his last job. The Eagles trust his judgement, however. The 39-year-old guided the Colts through their transition from Andrew Luck to Philip Rivers. Under Sirianni’s watch, Rivers completed 68% of his throws for 4,169 yards with 24 touchdowns against eleven interceptions, leading Indy to the playoffs.

Recently, Sirianni also tapped a new quarterbacks coach, though the status of the actual QB position remains murky.

Eagles Hire Shane Steichen As OC

The Eagles will hire Shane Steichen as their new offensive coordinator (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). The deal will likely become official sometime this week. 

[RELATED: Duce Staley Wants Out]

Steichen has history with new head coach Nick Sirianni – the two worked together with the Chargers from 2014 through 2017. Most recently, Steichen served as the offensive coordinator in Los Angeles, guiding Justin Herbert in his tremendous rookie season. Some believed that Steichen would be a candidate for the Seahawks opening, following Brian Schottenheimer‘s firing, but he’s heading out east instead.

The Bolts promoted Steichen from quarterbacks coach to OC in October 2019 after Ken Whisenhunt‘s offense tanked. Under Whisenhunt, the run game was downright pitiful: The Chargers went four straight games without achieving 40 yards rushing, leaving them in the bottom third of the league in points. With Steichen at the helm, things improved – the Chargers finished out that year ranked No. 12 in DVOA.

Now, the 35-year-old will be tasked with getting Carson Wentz back on track. He’ll also have to hire a new assistant to help with the run game with Duce Staley leaving.

Eagles Hire Jonathan Gannon As DC; Latest On OC Search

The Eagles have hired Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon as their new defensive coordinator, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Albert Breer of SI.com reported yesterday that Gannon had emerged as the favorite for the job and that all signs were pointing towards a union between him and Philadelphia (Twitter link).

Both Rapoport and Breer classify Gannon as a coveted addition, with Breer noting that the former Colts staffer had multiple coordinator offers. We knew that both the Chargers and the Bears were considering Gannon, and it’s possible that those two clubs extended him offers, along with the Eagles.

Of course, Gannon may have chosen the Eagles because of his familiarity with new Philadelphia head coach Nick Sirianni, who served as the Colts’ OC over the past three seasons. Sirianni was clearly a fan of Gannon’s work, as he was a key part of a staff that helped turn Indianapolis’ defense into one of the league’s top units over the past several seasons. Under Gannon’s watch, cornerback Xavier Rhodes revived his career in 2020, while fellow CB Kenny Moore and safety Khari Willis also turned in strong seasons.

Meanwhile, Sirianni is acting quickly to fill out the rest of his staff. Mike Klis of 9News.com reports that the Eagles are meeting with Broncos RB coach Curtis Modkins about their OC opening, while Rapoport notes that the club is also interviewing Chargers OC Shane Steichen (Twitter links).

Modkins is the more experienced of the two, having served as running backs coach or offensive coordinator with seven different NFL teams since 2008. But Steichen is at least partially credited for Justin Herbert‘s terrific rookie season in Los Angeles in 2020, and he and Sirianni did work together on the Chargers’ offensive staff from 2014-17.

In related news, the Eagles considered interviewing Josh McCown for their head coaching position before hiring Sirianni, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. McCown, who is now under consideration for the Texans’ HC job, impressed Eagles brass with his leadership skills and football acumen during his recent stint as a Philadelphia quarterback, and the club believes he has what it takes to be an NFL coach.

But the fact that he had no coaching experience of any kind led the Eagles to move in a different direction.