Thomas Brown

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 1-30-23 (7:00pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Kellen Moore)

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 

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

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

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 1-30-23 (5:15pm CT)

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Chargers, Commanders To Interview Rams’ Thomas Brown For OC

Thomas Brown interviewed for the Texans’ head coaching job, but he will have the chance at two coordinator positions soon. The Chargers and Commanders will meet with the Rams’ tight ends coach this week.

Mentioned previously as a Commanders candidate, Brown will meet with the NFC East team Tuesday and has a Chargers summit scheduled for Wednesday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Despite only being an NFL assistant for three years, Brown has impressed to the point he could be the next Sean McVay assistant to move up the ladder.

McVay’s coaching tree is already one of the league’s sturdiest. Matt LaFleur, Zac Taylor and Brandon Staley have become head coaches after short spans on McVay’s staff, and Raheem Morris has rebuilt his stock in Los Angeles as well. Wes Phillips became the Vikings’ offensive coordinator last year — a position for which Brown interviewed — while Ejiro Evero‘s value is surging after relocating from L.A. to Denver for a DC opportunity. Joe Barry‘s Rams stay restored his value; he is now going into his third season as the Packers’ DC. Shane Waldron is now entering Year 3 as Seattle’s OC.

Brown was on McVay’s staff with a few of these coaches, coming to L.A. in 2020 after nine years in the college ranks. Viewed as a rising talent for a bit now, the 36-year-old staffer will interview to replace Scott Turner and Joe Lombardi. The Commanders are further along in their search, having fired Turner several days before the Lombardi ouster created the chance to work with Justin Herbert. Washington has some intriguing pieces on offense, though it once again features quarterback uncertainty. Conversely, Herbert’s presence should make the Bolts job one of the most coveted positions available this year.

Commanders To Interview Rams’ Thomas Brown, Dolphins’ Eric Studesville For OC

Rams tight ends coach Thomas Brown is both on the HC and OC radar. In addition to meeting with the Texans about their top coaching position, the young assistant is on tap to discuss the Commanders’ play-calling role.

The Commanders are set to meet with Brown and Dolphins running backs coach Eric Studesville about their offensive coordinator position, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. Studesville will talk with the NFC East team Monday, while Brown’s meeting is slated for some point next week.

While this search is progressing, multiple candidates have bowed out of the pursuit early. Both Jim Caldwell and Darrell Bevell indicated they would not meet with the Commanders. The former Colts and Lions HC is not interested in OC gigs, while the Dolphins’ QBs coach rebuffed overtures from the Commanders and Jets about play-calling roles. Washington still has conducted interviews with former OCs — Pat Shurmur and current QBs coach Ken Zampese — but some first-time options are involved in this search as well.

Brown, 36, met with the Texans about their HC role Tuesday and has also come up as a possible option to succeed Liam Coen as Rams OC. Sean McVay jettisoned a host of assistants this week but retained Brown, who has been on the rise for a bit now. The Vikings interviewed the three-year Rams staffer for their OC role in 2022. Brown spent nine years in the college ranks before joining McVay’s staff in 2020; he has coached both the team’s running backs and tight ends.

Studesville, 55, has both been an interim HC (with the 2010 Broncos) and an OC (with the 2021 Dolphins) previously, but the veteran assistant has primarily coached running backs throughout his lengthy NFL run. Both the Broncos and Dolphins kept Studesville on despite changing coaches multiple times during his tenure. Both John Fox and Gary Kubiak kept the Josh McDaniels hire on in Denver, while Studesville has been with Miami through the Adam Gase, Brian Flores and Mike McDaniel regimes. Studesville, who shared Miami’s OC role with George Godsey in Flores’ final season, has been an NFL staffer since 1997.

Sean McVay To Remain With Rams

The Rams are no longer awaiting word on Sean McVay‘s future. After rumblings he was going to leave after six seasons surfaced, McVay is shooting that talk down. He will come back.

McVay informed members of the Rams organization he plans to stay in place as the team’s head coach, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). The team gave McVay space to make his decision, and he took a few days. Despite the Rams’ 5-12 finish and a run of injuries gutting their depth chart this season, the Super Bowl-winning HC will attempt to pick up the pieces in 2023.

Rams COO Kevin Demoff said the team had a contingency plan, with the Los Angeles Times’ Gary Klein indicating defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and tight ends coach Thomas Brown almost certainly resided as McVay fallback options. Both coaches are up for other positions, but each could also return as top McVay lieutenants next season. McVay is considering staff changes, Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo add (via Twitter).

Still the youngest head coach in the NFL, McVay has received extensive interest from networks for prime analyst roles. Even part-time work would have satisfied certain networks, giving McVay a lucrative out from his Rams post. The wunderkind coach confirmed he is interested in pursuing a TV career at some point. Amazon and Fox wooed him last year, but he turned each down and signed an extension that made him one of the league’s highest-paid coaches. It appears the 36-year-old leader will stay on that contract and attempt a Rams reload.

A Sunday report pointed to McVay being likelier to step away, though The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue indicated some among the Rams believed he would ultimately come back (Twitter link). The Rams sent out an ominous message earlier this week, letting their assistants know lateral moves to other teams, as McVay pondered his future, would not be blocked. While it does sound like staff changes are coming — one we know will happen is at the offensive coordinator post, after Liam Coen returned to Kentucky — several key Rams staffers will likely be back.

McVay’s arrival in Los Angeles turned the Rams from the league’s worst passing offense to the NFL’s top scoring team, resulting in a 2017 playoff berth and Coach of the Year honors. Proving to be one of the modern game’s premier offensive minds, McVay accomplished that feat at 31, led the Rams to the Super Bowl at 32 and won it at 35, putting himself on a trajectory to become one of the game’s all-time greats — should he choose to stick around long enough to bolster his resume. The Rams are 60-38 under McVay, but they did just complete the worst Super Bowl title defense in history.

Last year, the Rams extended Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp. By December, none of those stars were available. The 2022 season flipped the Rams’ injury fortune, with offensive line setbacks also crushing the team. L.A. started four quarterbacks, including waiver claim Baker Mayfield. Stafford, 35 in February, said he has no plans to retire. The Rams prioritized a healthy Stafford offseason — after 2022’s featured nagging elbow trouble — and used Mayfield down the stretch. Donald, who joined Kupp as the drivers of the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI win last year, also made it clear McVay played a major role in his decision not to retire last year.

The Rams will face familiar problems in 2023: no first-round pick (they do have a second-rounder this year) and a cap-space figure projected to be near the bottom of the league. These issues have not deterred the McVay-Les Snead regime from continually fielding strong teams, but 2023 — when Kupp will join Donald and Stafford as over-30 standouts — may be more challenging.

McVay leaving the Rams could have brought an organization-altering change, considering the value he has presented the team over the past six years. Checking this box will be the most important, and the Rams can now move on to staff and roster matters as they attempt to assemble a fifth playoff team in the McVay era.

Texans Request HC Interview With Rams’ Thomas Brown

Although they will join the other head coach-needy teams in the Sean Payton sweepstakes, the Texans otherwise have identified a type of coach they will covet during their latest pursuit. They will aim to have another young assistant on their docket.

The team sent out a request to interview Rams tight ends coach Thomas Brown, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Brown is a new name on this year’s coaching carousel, and this is the Sean McVay staffer’s first known opportunity to interview for an NFL HC gig.

Brown, however, was on the radar for Arizona State’s HC position recently and interviewed for the Rams’ offensive coordinator job last year. He has been on McVay’s staff since since 2020. Brown, 36, has only been in the NFL since that point; prior to the 2020s, he spent nearly a decade as a college assistant. This represents quite the rise for Brown, who spent his first two years with the Rams as their running backs coach. But he has generated praise as a rising candidate.

The Rams also have Brown on the radar for their OC role, one Liam Coen vacated officially this week by returning to Kentucky. McVay has not determined if he will return for a seventh season. That obviously overshadows everything else Rams for the time being, and it clouds the coaching staff’s future. The Rams will not block any assistant from taking a job elsewhere right now, inviting more speculation about a potential McVay departure.

The Texans have sent out eight interview requests since firing Lovie Smith. With the exception of Payton, all are under 42. Brown joins DeMeco Ryans, Shane Steichen, Ben Johnson and Mike Kafka in being under 40. The team intends to interview Ejiro Evero next week; Brown’s ex-Rams coworker-turned-Broncos DC has already interviewed for the Denver and Indianapolis HC positions. Josh McCown, who interviewed for the Texans’ job in each of the past two offseasons, has not been connected to the post this year. But, after two years with 60-something HCs, GM Nick Caserio has a host of candidates in McCown’s age bracket on the radar.

Rams Will Not Block Assistant Coach Moves; Frank Reich On OC Radar

Sean McVay has not confirmed he will return for a seventh season with the Rams, keeping the team in suspense. As the Rams wait on an answer, they will not stand in the way of any assistant who has an opportunity with another team.

The Rams will not block any assistant from leaving, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. While teams can no longer block position coaches from coordinator interviews, they can impede lateral moves. The Rams will not do so, adding more uncertainty as McVay determines his path.

Los Angeles has already lost multiple assistants, including offensive coordinator Liam Coen, who officially rejoined the University of Kentucky on Tuesday. Coen, who is now a two-time Rams and two-time Wildcats assistant, agreed to again become the SEC team’s OC weeks ago. Coen was the Rams’ third OC under McVay, following Kevin O’Connell and Matt LaFleur. The Rams went without an OC from 2018-19, following LaFleur’s move to the Titans. McVay’s presence minimizes the role of the Rams’ OC, but the team is eyeing an experienced play-caller for the position.

The Rams have shown some interest in ex-Colts HC Frank Reich for the job, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets. Thomas Brown and Zac Robinson are internal candidates for the gig, per Rodrigue, though filling Coen’s post will obviously need to wait on McVay’s call. Arizona State had Brown on the radar for its HC job, and the Vikings interviewed him for their OC job last year. But the Rams’ tight ends coach remains in place. Robinson is the Rams’ passing-game coordinator; he has been with the team since 2019.

It would represent a major step down, role-wise, for Reich to join the Rams (assuming McVay stays). The five-year Colts coach said he wanted to be a head coach again, hopefully as soon as 2023, and teams have him on their radar. The Panthers are expected to interview Reich. Any coordinator overtures, which should emerge from other teams besides the Rams, will presumably need to wait on Reich’s latest HC carousel ride.

Reich, 61, would obviously provide the Rams with a wealth of experience, but it would be unusual for the longtime play-caller to accept a non-play-calling OC role. Reich did hold such a position in Philadelphia, however, with Doug Pederson calling the Eagles’ plays during Reich’s two-year stay on his staff. In Indianapolis, Reich called plays throughout his tenure. Prior to going to Philly, Reich served as the Chargers’ OC — also under an offense-oriented head coach, Mike McCoy — for two seasons.

NFC West Notes: Cards, Purdy, Rams, Hawks

The Cardinals will be without their 10th-year GM going forward. Steve Keim stepped away from his post for the time being, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes this health-related matter has been on the radar for months (video link). Keim’s future with the Cardinals is “up in the air,” Rapoport adds. This news comes months after Keim agreed to an extension that runs through 2027. Both Keim and Kliff Kingsbury signed add-ons this offseason, though the latter has also run into some turbulence. With Keim stepping away, Kyler Murray going down with an ACL tear and Kingsbury on the hot seat, this has been one of the more disappointing seasons in recent Cardinals history.

Here is the latest from Arizona and the rest of the NFC West:

  • Brock Purdy was not throwing during the 49ers‘ Tuesday practice, but the new San Francisco starter is expected to play through his rib and oblique injuries against the Seahawks tonight, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Purdy stayed in Sunday’s game despite suffering those injuries. The 49ers, who have lost both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to major injuries this season, have journeyman Josh Johnson — recently signed off the Broncos’ practice squad — in place as their backup. Purdy and Johnson are the only two healthy QBs on San Francisco’s 53-man roster. Garoppolo remains on the active roster, for IR-management purposes, but is unlikely to return this season.
  • Shifting back to the Cardinals‘ quarterback situation, Murray is not slated to have surgery until after Christmas, Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com tweets. This is common for ACL surgeries, with the delay helping the swelling subside. Saquon Barkley ended up waiting over a month to have his ACL surgery in 2020 and was ready in time for the 2021 season. Week 1 will obviously be Murray’s goal, but given the through-2028 extension the Cardinals gave Murray this offseason, it would not surprise to see the organization play this cautionsly.
  • Thought to be leaving for Matt Rhule‘s Nebraska staff, Rams assistant Jake Peetz is staying in Los Angeles. Peetz turned down an offer to head to Lincoln, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Currently a Rams offensive assistant, Peetz was believed to have been offered the Nebraska quarterbacks coach job. He was the Panthers’ QBs coach under Rhule in 2020 and is a Nebraska native who played for the Cornhuskers during the 2000s. With Rams OC Liam Coen leaving to be Kentucky’s OC soon, it would not surprise to see Peetz rise on Sean McVay‘s staff.
  • The Rams will, however, lose their running backs coach — Ra’Shaad Samples — to the college ranks. Samples is heading to Arizona State to become the Pac-12 program’s wide receivers coach and passing-game coordinator, per Matt Zenitz of On3Sports. This season marked Samples’ first in the NFL. Impressively rising to the level of an NFL position coach at just 27, Samples will return to the college ranks. He was previously SMU’s running backs coach before heading to L.A. Samples also drew coordinator interest at the college level, Zenitz adds.
  • McVay’s staff has seen a run of connections to the college level in recent weeks. Prior to Arizona State and Georgia Tech hiring Kenny Dillingham and Brent Key, respectively, the schools were interested in Rams assistants. Tight ends coach Thomas Brown drew interest from the Sun Devils, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, who adds defensive line coach Eric Henderson was on the Yellowjackets’ radar. A Georgia Tech alum, Henderson, 39, has been with the Rams since 2019. Brown, 36, has been with the team since 2020, joining the Rams after 10 seasons as a college staffer. The latter has generated praise as a rising NFL assistant, so the Rams retaining him is critical.
  • The Rams used their high waiver position to claim former Titans defensive lineman Larrell Murchison, but Field Yates of ESPN.com notes the Seahawks and Lions also made claims (Twitter link). Murchison’s rookie contract runs through the 2023 season; the Rams will have a chance to evaluate the former fifth-round pick.

Rams’ Thomas Brown Next Out Of McVay’s Coaching Tree?

In mid-January, as the head coaching interviews were reaching their peak, a new name emerged in the head coaching market. In their search to replace former head coach Brian Flores, the Dolphins requested an interview with Thomas Brown, who was in the role of running backs coach/assistant head coach of the Rams at the time. This was really the first time Brown’s name had surfaced in any NFL coaching circles, which is no surprise considering he’d only been coaching in the NFL for two years. Now, though, Brown is shouldering a bit more responsibility in Los Angeles as “his name gains momentum in hiring circles across the league,” according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic (subscription required). 

Brown had a short career in the NFL after being taken in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. As a young running back, Brown saw his rookie season end before it could even get going when a horse collar tackle landed him on injured reserve. After the injury, he never found his way back onto the field.

Not one to sit dormant, Brown went back to his alma mater and became a strength and conditioning coach for the Georgia Bulldogs. He broke into coaching after accepting the role of running backs coach at UT Chattanooga. He progressed through several jobs from there accepting coaching roles at Marshall, Wisconsin, Georgia, Miami (FL), and South Carolina, even rising to the rank of offensive coordinator in Coral Gables, although play-calling duties remained with then head coach Mark Richt. During his time at the collegiate level, Brown mentored many future NFL players such as Melvin Gordon, Corey Clement, Dare Ogunbowale, and Derek Watt at Wisconsin, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb at Georgia, Gus Edwards, Travis Homer, and DeeJay Dallas at Miami, and Tavien Feaster at South Carolina. In his lone season with Gordon, Gordon finished 42 yards short of breaking Barry Sanders’ single-season college rushing record.

According to Brown, that was where his plan ended. “Becoming an offensive coordinator, a head coach, those were never my goals when I first started coaching,” Brown told Rodrigue. He only planned to coach his old position for awhile before he would “retire and disappear with his family into the countryside.” Those plans changed when he discovered that Rams head coach Sean McVay had taken an interest in him. McVay hired Brown as running backs coach shortly after the 2019 NFL season. After only one season on staff, Brown was granted the additional title of assistant head coach.

Brown is known for developing a trust with his players, who would run through walls for him. He’s an advocate for the men he coaches and he takes responsibility for their development outside the game as much as in it, as was displayed in a clip from HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” in which he spoke to his position group about the racial issues plaguing the nation.

After only two years in the NFL, Brown interviewed for the Dolphins’ head coaching vacancy and the Vikings’ offensive coordinator job. Although the job eventually went to former Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen, Brown was considered for the Rams’ offensive coordinator vacancy, as well, after Kevin O’Connell left to become the Vikings’ head coach. Brown may not have ended up with any of those positions, but the 36-year-old heading into his third season of NFL coaching has certainly not heard the last of the interview requests.

After it was determined that he would stay in Los Angeles, Brown was given more responsibility in the offense. He was asked to transition to tight ends coach/assistant head coach and was tasked with the assignment of hiring his replacement to coach running backs.

McVay has already amassed quite a coaching tree during his five-year tenure as an NFL head coach. So far, four of McVay’s former coordinators and assistants have become head coaches. Not only is Brown the natural next staffer to take the step up to a head coaching position and expand McVay’s coaching tree even further, but he’s also an obvious candidate for a league that is struggling heavily with diversity amongst the top ranks of it’s coaching staffs.

Brown’s NFL coaching career has just begun and has been rising meteorically. The dynamic, young leader of men is bound to make an impact on this league much sooner rather than later.

NFC West Notes: McGlinchey, Diggs, Rams, Polite

49ers’ offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey is set to play through the fifth-year option of his rookie contact this season. McGlinchey has been a bit of a mixed-bag for the Niners early on in his career. While grading out as one of the league’s better run-blockers, McGlinchey struggled early in pass protection. Just as he was beginning to show some real improvement in the passing game, McGlinchey saw his season come to an end in Week 9 of this past season after suffering a torn quadriceps.

While McGlinchey’s cap hit for 2022 will be $10.88MM, the 49ers have nothing to gain by cutting him, as the fifth-year option for a rookie is fully guaranteed. The team does hold two options to potentially avoid the 27-year-old’s cap hit: they can trade him or extend him. According to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, there is a chance that the 49ers sign McGlinchey to an extension in order to create more cap space. They would be betting on McGlinchey coming back strong from his injury, but they seem to feel good about the progress in play he showed before his injury last year.

Here are a few other notes from the NFC West, starting with a note from Seattle:

  • After breaking his ankle in Week 17 of the season this past year, Seahawks’ safety Quandre Diggs is expected to be fully cleared for all football activities by June, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Diggs is set to test free agency this offseason and teams will likely take his injury recovery into account. It’s impressive progress for the 29-year-old as his doctors say he is recovering well.
  • The Rams are hiring TCU running backs coach/assistant head coach Ra’Shaad Samples as their new running backs coach, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Samples is highly regarded as one of the up-and-coming coaches in football earning his first NFL job at the age of 27. In a corresponding move, assistant head coach Thomas Brown will now be coaching tight ends.
  • Edge-rusher Jachai Polite, who spent 11 games with the Rams in 2020 after being cut by the Jets before his rookie season, has made the move to the Canadian Football League. According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, the former third-round pick signed a contract to join the Toronto Argonauts.