Steve Wilks

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spun for several weeks, many teams made coordinator changes as well. Teams seeking new head coaches are conducting OC and DC searches, and a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

This is a big year for offensive coordinator hires, with nearly half the league making changes. Here are the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 3-1-23 (3:31pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals 

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Ben McAdoo)

  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach, (Rams): Hired
  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Kellen Moore)

  • Brian Angelichio, tight ends coach (Vikings): Interviewed 2/2
  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach (Rams): Interviewed
  • Jeff Nixon, running backs coach (Panthers): Interviewed
  • Brian Schottenheimer, offensive consultant (Cowboys): Hired

Denver Broncos (Out: Justin Outten)

Houston Texans (Out: Pep Hamilton)

Indianapolis Colts (Out: Parks Frazier)

  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Tee Martin, wide receivers coach (Ravens): Interview requested

Kansas City Chiefs (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Matt Nagy, quarterbacks coach (Chiefs): Hired

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Shane Steichen)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals (Out: Vance Joseph)

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Leslie Frazier)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Al Holcomb)

  • Ejiro Evero, former defensive coordinator (Broncos): Hired
  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): Interviewed
  • Marquand Manuel, safeties coach (Jets): Interviewed
  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator (Saints): Interviewed

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans 

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Renaldo Hill)

  • Derrick Ansley, defensive backs coach (Chargers): Promoted
  • Doug Belk, defensive coordinator (Houston): Interviewed
  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Interviewed

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Ryan Nielsen, Kris Richard)

  • Joe Woods, former defensive coordinator (Browns): Hired

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Jonathan Gannon)

San Francisco 49ers (Out: DeMeco Ryans)

  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): On radar
  • Chris Harris, defensive backs coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/31
  • Kris Kocurek, defensive line coach (49ers): On radar
  • Steve Wilks, former interim head coach (Panthers): Hired

2023 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

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

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

Updated 2-14-23 (1:30pm CT)

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Coaching Notes: Panthers, Kocurek, Leftwich, Titans

Yesterday, Joseph Person of The Athletic provided a breakdown of the Panthers‘ recent search for a new head coach that ended in the hiring of Frank Reich. There were a few notes of interest that we took away from the behind the scenes look.

The first note of interest is the revelation that, when interim head coach Steve Wilks interviewed for the official role, he laid out his full offensive plan for the search committee. Part of Wilks’ offensive plan relied on the pursuit of Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson as his offensive coordinator. Johnson’s year coaching a phenomenal season by quarterback Jalen Hurts made him a name to watch for many of the open offensive coordinator jobs around the league. He did end up interviewing with the Rams and Jets for jobs that went to Mike LaFleur and Nathaniel Hackett, respectively.

A second note of interest is likely a clue as to why Wilks didn’t end up as the official head coach of the Panthers. Of the nine candidates Carolina looked at for the position, seven had offensive backgrounds. Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer has a belief that “offensive coordinators-turned-head coaches might have an edge in game management.” That explains why Wilks was so detailed in his offensive plan and, perhaps, how much of an uphill battle he faced.

Lastly, it was reported that Reich was becoming the clear choice for the job by his second interview. “The first time he came in, he was dialed in, laid out his plan,” Fitterer said. “Then when he came back in the second time, he took that plan and went deeper, went to a different level.” Reich was offered the position the next day, prompting an immediate response from the legal team representing Wilks and Brian Flores in their lawsuit accusing the league of racial discrimination.

Here are a few other notes of coaching developments occurring around the NFL:

  • Even though Wilks didn’t get the head coaching position he coveted, he ended up landing a top coordinator position in the league with the 49ers, following the departure of DeMeco Ryans. San Francisco defensive line coach Kris Kocurek received some interest for the Texans defensive coordinator position under his former coordinator and was in consideration for the job that Ryans vacated and Wilks took. Wilks apparently was able to convince Kocurek to stay in the Bay Area, keeping a respected defensive assistant on his staff, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
  • Former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich could be headed to the college ranks, following his recent dismissal from Tampa Bay. According to Grace Remington of 247Sports, Leftwich reached out to Notre Dame about the offensive coordinator position vacated by Tommy Rees, who left to become the offensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa. Leftwich has reportedly remained in contact with the head coach of the Fighting Irish, Marcus Freeman, and remains a strong contender for the job.
  • A slew of coaching updates in Nashville were provided earlier today, with a few smaller assignments sliding under notice. Formerly the running backs coach over star Derrick Henry, Tony Dews has transitioned to the tight ends coaching position for the Titans, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. It was recently reported that former Buccaneers assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust was making her way to Tennessee. Wilson provided clarification that she has been brought on in a defensive quality control role. Justin Hamilton will reportedly join her in a similar role. Finally, Wilson provided news of a departure, reporting that secondary coach Anthony Midget will not be retained in 2023.

49ers To Hire Steve Wilks As DC

Another high-profile defensive mind has found his new NFL home. Just days after losing DeMeco Ryans to Houston’s head coaching position, the 49ers are hiring Steve Wilks to take his place as defensive coordinator (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero).

Ryans was one of the hottest names on the head coaching radar in 2023, and for quite some time it was widely expected that he would wind up with the Texans. Once that became official, the 49ers had to quickly pivot to a dwindling number of experienced candidates to replace him. With it known that Ryans would be on the move, San Francisco hosted Wilks for a DC interview yesterday.

That meeting obviously went well, as it has quickly landed the 53-year-old a highly desirable posting. Wilks finished the 2022 season as interim head coach of the Panthers, after Carolina cut ties with Matt Rhule amidst a disappointing start to the season. Very shortly after that decision, Carolina’s front office made it clear that Wilks had an opportunity to earn the position on a full-time basis depending on his performance.

Under Wilks and his re-worked temporary staff, the Panthers enjoyed a notable resurgence. Despite trading away running back Christian McCaffrey, the team’s offense remained consistently productive on the ground, and their defense enjoyed successful spells. Overall, the Panthers went 6-6 under Wilks, keeping them in contention to win the NFC South and thus earn an unexpected playoff berth until very late in the campaign. It was clear that he was the players’ preference to be retained as head coach moving forward.

Wilks was a finalist for the job in Charlotte, but that ultimately went to Frank Reich. Upon the ex-Colts HC’s hiring, it became clear that Wilks would need to head elsewhere for his next opportunity. In San Francisco, he will inherit an elite unit which boasts stars at multiple levels of the defense and helped lead the team to the NFC title game despite never-ending injury issues at the quarterback position.

This will mark a return to the NFC West for Wilks, who spent the 2018 season as Arizona’s head coach. The rebuilding team went 3-13 during Josh Rosen‘s ill-fated rookie campaign, and Wilks was dismissed after that single campaign in favor of Kliff Kingsbury. His firing represents the reason for Wilks’ involvement in Brian Flores‘ ongoing racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and numerous teams. The latter was hired by the Vikings to lead their defense yesterday.

With Wilks, Flores and Ejro Evero (hired by the Panthers this past weekend) now having found their new NFL homes in quick succession, the DC landscape around the league has become much clearer. Now, only the Broncos and Texans remain with respect to teams on the lookout for new defensive coordinators. Their respective decisions should come very soon, as the coaching dominoes continue to fall around the league.

49ers Eyeing Chris Harris For DC Interview

Chris Harris was reportedly heading from Washington to Tennessee, but there could be a change of plans. According to Josina Anderson (via Twitter), the 49ers are hoping to interview Harris for their defensive coordinator vacancy. They have moved forward with an interview request, Adam Schefter of tweets.

[RELATED: Texans Hire DeMeco Ryans As HC]

After most recently serving as Washington’s defensive backs coach, we heard earlier this month that Harris was set to join the Titans as their their defensive pass game coordinator and cornerbacks coach. No deal was finalized, leaving the door open for Harris renege on the agreement. A promotion to defensive coordinator would obviously be an opportunity the 40-year-old couldn’t refuse, but there’s still a good chance he lands in Tennessee if things don’t work out with San Francisco.

Harris has spent the past three years with Washington, helping develop a number of defensive backs behind veterans Kendall Fuller and Bobby McCain. Washington’s defense only allowed 3,252 passing yards this past season, good for fourth in the NFL. They also allowed opposing QBs to complete only 59.9 percent of their passes, the second-best mark in the NFL. As a result, Harris became a hot name on the coaching circuit, with the Bears also making a run at him.

The 49ers are officially in the market for a new defensive coordinator after DeMeco Ryans agreed to become the new Texans head coach. We heard earlier today that the 49ers requested an interview with former Panthers interim HC Steve Wilks, and Anderson confirms that the organization is set to speak with the coach. Anderson also notes that Vic Fangio is also in contention for the gig; Fangio was reportedly heading to the Dolphins to become their defensive coordinator, but that move has yet to become official.

49ers To Interview Steve Wilks For DC

DeMeco Ryans is now the Texans’ head coach. The 49ers had long prepared for the scenario in which Ryans departs, and they are moving ahead in this direction.

The 49ers requested an interview with former Panthers interim HC Steve Wilks for the likely soon-to-be-vacant defensive coordinator position, Aaron Wilson of KPRC tweets. Wilks was a finalist for the Panthers’ HC job, but Frank Reich ended up as Carolina’s hire. Wilks is prepared to coach elsewhere in 2023. He will move forward with a 49ers interview Monday, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

Carolina still has Wilks under contract, Mike Garafolo of tweets, but after the team hired Reich, it seems a separation is imminent. The Panthers interviewed Wilks and Reich twice, but the team was long expected to hire an offense-oriented HC. Wilks made the process more difficult, clearly, as he went 6-6 as Carolina’s interim boss. But his second stay with the Panthers will likely be capped at one year.

Re-emerging as a key NFL name after a two-year hiatus — one of those seasons spent as Missouri’s DC — Wilks oversaw one of the better interim efforts in a long time by guiding the Panthers, who were 1-4 under Matt Rhule, to a 7-10 mark. The Panthers vied for the NFC South lead in Week 17, but a loss to the Buccaneers ended their rally. The Tampa Bay defeat, in which Tom Brady torched Carolina’s secondary, likely affected Wilks’ chances of having his interim tag removed. The Panthers rehired Wilks — a Ron Rivera assistant from 2012-17 — as their secondary coach last year, and David Tepper promoted him to steer the ship post-Rhule.

Wilks is part of the Brian Flores-led discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and multiple teams, and his attorney expressed disappointment shortly after the Panthers went with Reich. But Wilks released a statement thanking the Panthers in the wake of their Reich hire, potentially signaling he will move on with his career over adding the Panthers to the suit.

The 49ers had Vic Fangio on their radar as a Ryans replacement, but the former San Francisco DC is taking over as Miami’s defensive leader. The 49ers have lost their past two DCs — Ryans and Robert Saleh — to HC jobs. Wilks is 9-19 as a head coach, with his one-year Cardinals stint leading to the sub-.500 record. But he improved his stock this past season in Carolina. The Charlotte native does not have a history with Kyle Shanahan, but he has been an NFL assistant since 2005.

Panthers’ HC Hire Comes With Some Potential Controversy

Carolina broke the seal on head coaching hires this offseason when it announced the decision to hire former Colts head coach Frank Reich today to officially replace Matt Rhule, spurning interim head coach Steve Wilks in the process. A closer look at the Panthers’ recent hires, though, may bring us back to an issue the NFL has been struggling to fight in recent years, and may lead Carolina into pending litigation against the NFL and multiple other teams, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

On January 8, nearly three weeks ago and a mere two hours after the Panthers’ regular season had come to a close, Reich’s daughter, Hannah Reich Fairman, announced that she had officially accepted a job with Carolina on Twitter. On its face, there’s nothing wrong with Fairman’s hiring. Even in a league rife with nepotism, the personnel addition couldn’t even be considered as such as Reich didn’t yet work for the Panthers.

Wilks already has a storied role in the league’s history of racial discrimination. Wilks is involved in the pending Brian Flores racial discrimination case against the league and several teams, having sued the Cardinals. After the announcement that Wilks was being passed over for Reich, Wilks’ lawyer in the suit, Doug Wigdor, implied that Carolina would soon find itself added to the lawsuit as a defendant, as reported by Florio. The argument on Wilks’ behalf is that racial bias affected his chances to remain the head coach in Carolina on an official basis and that his existing involvement in the pending lawsuit against the NFL led the Panthers to consider him in a lesser capacity.

“We are shocked and disturbed that after the incredible job Coach Wilks did as the interim coach, including bringing the team back into playoff contention and garnering the support of the players and fans, that he was passed over for the head coach position by (Panthers owner) David Tepper,” Wigdor averred in his statement. “There is a legitimate race problem in the NFL, and we can assure you that we will have more to say in the coming days.”

Whether or not Fairman’s hiring holds any wrongdoing, it immediately becomes a point of interest in the eventual litigation. The theory would be that the Panthers knew that Reich would eventually become their head coach when they hired Fairman and strung any other candidates along for a sham coaching search that made a mockery of the NFL’s diversity hiring rules and efforts. Efforts like the Rooney Rule have been minimized into red tape that has NFL franchises perfunctorily going through mandatory motions with zero intention.

If Reich’s appointment was a done deal at the time of Fairman’s hiring, it becomes a key example of the league’s issues with racial discrimination, and Wilks case gains much more evidential validity. In order to prove that theory, an investigation will have to be undertaken to review all communications and question those involved in the hiring process.

Panthers Hire Frank Reich As Head Coach

The Panthers will make this year’s first head coaching hire. They have decided on Frank Reich, according to’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

Reich joined interim coach Steve Wilks as Carolina’s finalists. A quarterback on the Panthers’ inaugural 1995 squad, Reich will have a second head coaching opportunity following a midseason Colts dismissal. The Panthers have announced the hire. Following Matt Rhule‘s seven-year contract, Joe Person of The Athletic notes this is a four-year agreement (Twitter link).

Carolina had been zeroing in on offense-oriented coaches for a while, but Wilks’ performance as interim HC interfered with that plan. Wilks, who went 6-6 in his chance as the Panthers’ interim boss, joined Reich in interviewing twice for the position. The latter’s experience as a play-caller won out. Reich also interviewed for the Cardinals’ HC post, and a few teams wanted to speak with him about their offensive coordinator positions. But Reich said shortly after his Indianapolis exit he wanted a second chance as a head coach.

Reich zoomed onto the HC radar in 2018, after he played a central role in helping the Eagles win Super Bowl LII after losing their starting quarterback. Nick Foles‘ virtuoso finish to the 2017 season led to Reich becoming the Colts’ head coach, though he was Indy’s second choice following Josh McDaniels‘ infamous about-face. Reich ended up being a solid choice for the team, coaching two Colts squads to playoff berths.

The 2018 Colts edition did not face high expectations, but Reich led a turnaround that ended in the divisional round. Andrew Luck bounced back with a 39-touchdown pass season under Reich, but another run of injury trouble during the 2019 offseason led the standout passer to announce his retirement just before the season. Reich navigated that setback for a bit, reuniting with ex-Chargers pupil Philip Rivers in 2020, but the Colts are still dealing with the fallout from Luck’s retirement. After the 2020 playoff berth preceded Rivers’ retirement, the wheels gradually fell off for the Colts. Their 9-8 2021 season — ending with an ugly Week 18 loss to the two-touchdown underdog Jaguars — prompted Jim Irsay to insist on sweeping changes, and that process soon led to Reich’s firing.

Reich, 61, had advocated for Carson Wentz in 2021, and the Colts bypassed a draft move to reunite their HC with his ex-Eagles charge. Wentz had moments in 2021 and ranked in the top 10 in QBR, throwing 27 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions. Wentz was inconsistent down the stretch that year, and after a COVID-19 contraction, he struggled mightily in the Colts’ final two games — losses that knocked them out of the playoff race. Irsay demanded Wentz be traded, leading to an Irsay-endorsed Matt Ryan partnership. Ryan’s woes in his age-37 season led to Irsay demanding Reich bench him for former sixth-round pick Sam Ehlinger. This run of owner-mandated moves eventually led to Reich being canned in November — not long after the Panthers axed Rhule. Irsay later said he reluctantly extended Reich in 2021, putting a bow on an eventful 2022 for the Colts owner.

A longtime Bills backup who led the greatest comeback in playoff history — a 32-point rally past the Oilers in the 1992 wild-card round — Reich played the 1995 season with the Panthers. Arriving in Carolina as a free agent in ’95, Reich took the first snap in team history. He moved into coaching in the mid-2000s and began his rise as the Chargers’ OC under Mike McCoy nearly a decade later. Reich will come full circle with the Panthers, who recently hired one of his daughters to work in their marketing department, per Person. Frank’s brother, Joe, has also been the head coach at Charlotte-area Wingate University for 22 years.

Wilks has deeper ties to the Panthers. He is a Charlotte native who coached in Carolina as a Ron Rivera assistant and then an interim HC. Players advocated for Wilks, who did one of the better jobs in interim coaching history last season. With Reich beating him out for the full-time gig, Wilks intends to coach elsewhere in 2023, Pelissero tweets.

The Panthers were also quite impressed with Cowboys OC Kellen Moore, Rapoport tweets, but they will go with experience in Reich. Moore, 33, just finished his fourth season as Dallas’ play-caller and interviewed over a two-day period with Carolina this week. Although David Tepper met with Sean Payton this week, a trade between two NFC South franchises was never likely.

Tepper’ssecond hire will be a first for the Panthers, who have never seen their head coach double as their offensive play-caller. The Panthers have either employed defensive-minded leaders (Dom Capers, George Seifert, John Fox, Rivera) or a CEO-type HC (Rhule). Tepper’s seven-year, $62MM Rhule contract backfired, leading the owner to prioritize NFL experience this time around.

Steve Wilks, Frank Reich Set For Second Panthers HC Interviews

This year’s methodically paced NFL head coaching search will now produce second interviews for the Panthers’ top staff position. Steve Wilks and Frank Reich are among the finalists.

The Carolina interim HC and the former Colts HC are the first known finalists for the full-time gig and will each go through second interviews Wednesday, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of note (Twitter links). Wilks gained steam throughout his interim run, while Reich has interviewed with both the Panthers and Cardinals.

Carolina is believed to be targeting experience with this year’s hire, which certainly makes sense after its Matt Rhule whiff, but Rapoport adds (via Twitter) Cowboys OC Kellen Moore impressed Panthers brass during his first interview. It would not surprise to see Moore, then, book a second interview. But he does not bring the experience Reich and Wilks do.

Although Wilks generated extensive support to keep the gig, the Panthers have already begun interviewing defensive coordinator candidates. They have spoken with Vic Fangio and requested interviews with Kris Richard and Marquand Manuel. Wilks’ background is on the defensive side, and Al Holcomb served as Carolina’s interim DC in the wake of the Phil Snow firing. The Panthers already taking steps to interview defensive bosses — and not move toward addressing its OC — points to the team making post-Wilks plans. Carolina has long been connected to an offense-oriented hire, but Wilks going 6-6 in his interim chance and not receiving strong consideration would likely have gone over poorly among Panthers players.

Reich stands to have options — either as a head coach or coordinator — in the coming days and weeks. Should he strike out on securing a second head coaching opportunity this year, teams have been connected to the five-year Colts coach for OC openings. The Chargers, Jets and Rams have been connected to Reich in some capacity. Both the Bolts and Jets gigs come with play-calling responsibilities, but Reich said soon after his Colts dismissal he wanted to stay on the HC level. The Panthers have already discussed staff options with Reich, per CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, and’s Albert Breer notes the veteran play-caller has gained steam throughout this process (Twitter links).

This component may not matter too much as the team looks to regain its footing after the seven-year Rhule deal backfired, but both Wilks and Reich have ties to the Charlotte area. Wilks grew up in the city, while Reich spent the 1995 season with the Panthers’ inaugural edition. Reich’s brother also is the head coach at Wingate, a college in the area.

Panthers Request Permission To Interview Marquand Manuel For Coordinator Position

The Panthers have requested permission to interview Jets safeties coach Marquand Manuel for “a coordinator position,” per Jeremy Fowler of (via Twitter). Presumably, Carolina is interested in installing Manuel as its defensive coordinator.

Manuel, 43, enjoyed an eight-year playing career in the NFL from 2002-09 and joined the coaching ranks as an assistant special teams coach with the Seahawks in 2012. He worked as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator from 2017-18, but Atlanta finished in the bottom-five in total defense in 2018 after boasting a top-10 unit the year before, and the team parted ways with Manuel at the conclusion of the campaign.

After one year as a DBs coach with the Eagles in 2020, Manuel joined Robert Saleh‘s first Jets staff in 2021 and has served as Gang Green’s safeties coach over the past two seasons. The Jets allowed the fourth-fewest yards per game and the third-fewest passing yards per game in 2022, which is certainly a feather in Manuel’s cap (though this is the first time we have heard of outside interest in his services in the current coaching cycle).

Of particular interest here is what the interview request could mean for Steve Wilks‘ candidacy as the Panthers’ head coach. Wilks, who stepped in as interim HC upon Matt Rhule‘s ouster in October, guided the club to a surprising 6-6 finish to the season, and he nearly captured a division title in the process. He also appears to have the full support of his locker room.

Nonetheless, as David Newton of tweets, Al Holcomb is Wilks’ defensive coordinator. So if the team is going in a different direction at DC, it could mean that it is, by extension, planning on going in a different direction at head coach.

While two of Carolina’s HC candidates, Jerod Mayo and Jim Harbaugh, are no longer in the running, there are nine other options (including Wilks) as of the time of his writing. The full list is as follows, and the majority of the remaining candidates have an offensive background, which Wilks does not have but which may be a priority for team ownership: