Tim Kelly

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)

Titans Considering Tim Kelly For OC Vacancy, Request Interview With Chris Harris

The Titans are one of several teams currently in need of a new offensive coordinator. Their ultimate decision with respect to replacing Todd Downing may not take them outside of the organization, however.

Tennessee has met with passing game coordinator Tim Kelly to discuss their OC position, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweets. The 36-year-old has been an NFL coach since 2014, when he joined the Texans’ staff. Three years, later he took on the title of tight ends coach, one which he held for a pair of seasons. In 2019, Houston promoted him to offensive coordinator.

The Texans put up middling numbers during Kelly’s first two seasons at the helm. They ranked 13th in the NFL in yardage over that span, finishing 14th, then 18th in scoring. During the 2021 coaching cycle, the Texans denied requests from outside teams interested in interviewing him, showcasing their interest in retaining him. However, the 2021 season (during which quarterback Deshaun Watson sat out amidst his trade request) saw the team plummet to last in the league in yardage and 30th in scoring.

That led to Kelly’s intra-divisional move this past offseason, where he joined the Titans as an offensive assistant under Downing. Tennessee averaged only 171 yards per game through the air, the third-worst figure in the league this year. Injuries to quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the team’s lack of established wideouts certainly contributed to their underwhelming totals and to Downing’s firing. Regardless, Fowler notes that Kelly represents the “strongest in-house candidate” for the OC position.

On the other side of the ball, the Titans have requested an interview with Commanders staffer Chris Harris (Twitter link via Fowler). The former All-Pro safety began his coaching career in Chicago immediately after hanging up his cleats. He spent two seasons with the Bears, followed by four years with the Chargers as their assistant DBs coach. He took a promotion coaching the same position in Washington in 2020, and has remained there since.

Fowler adds that a potential Titans hire would likely come with the title of passing game coordinator in addition to Harris’ current capacity coaching in the secondary. The 40-year-old could also garner interest as a defensive coordinator, however, as he looks to continue his career ascension on the sidelines.

AFC Staff Notes: McCown, Kelly, Broncos

The Texans‘ coaching search meandered from Brian Flores and Josh McCown to the latter’s former head coach. Lovie Smith coached McCown in Chicago and then brought him to Tampa in 2014. McCown interviewed for Houston’s HC job three times over the past year and change but still does not have any NFL coaching experience. While it is clear the Texans’ front office would be on board with having McCown on staff, Smith might not be. At least, not in 2022. The new Texans HC praised McCown as a future coach and added (via Fox 26’s Mark Berman, video link) he would want him on his staff “eventually someday.” Smith already promoted quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton to offensive coordinator. McCown could conceivably fill Hamilton’s old post as QBs coach, however, if the Texans are indeed intent on him eventually becoming their head coach.

Here is the latest from the AFC coaching ranks:

  • John Pagano spent the past two seasons as the Broncos‘ outside linebackers coach, taking over after Brandon Staley departed for Los Angeles in 2020. During that span, the Broncos saw some new edge contributors — Malik Reed, Stephen Weatherly and seventh-round rookie Jonathon Cooper — help out to the point the team felt OK trading Von Miller. Pagano, however, will not be on Nathaniel Hackett‘s first Denver staff, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). The former Raiders and Chargers DC has now been an NFL staffer for 26 seasons.
  • Tim Kelly will serve as the Titans’ new passing-game coordinator, per TennesseeTitans.com’s Jim Wyatt. Kelly, the Texans’ OC from 2019-21, will work alongside Titans OC Todd Downing. Tim Kelly, the older brother of ex-Titans right tackle Dennis Kelly, and Mike Vrabel worked together on Houston’s staff ahead of the latter’s move to Tennessee. The Titans also hired Bobby King to be their inside linebackers coach. King also worked in Houston alongside Vrabel in 2017; he finished his Texans tenure as the team’s D-line coach this past season.
  • Denver interviewed Jason Simmons for its defensive coordinator job — a post expected to go to Rams secondary coach Ejiro Evero — but the Carolina assistant will instead head to Las Vegas. The Raiders are hiring Simmons as their secondary coach, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. Simmons worked with new Raider DC Patrick Graham with the Packers in 2018.
  • The Steelers did not renew Ike Hilliard‘s contract, per The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly (on Twitter), and hired Frisman Jackson to coach their wide receivers. Jackson will leave Matt Rhule‘s hub for ex-Temple and Baylor coaches for Pittsburgh. The former NFL wideout, after stints with Rhule at both college programs, coached the Panthers’ receivers in each of Rhule’s first two years. Hilliard served as the Steelers’ receivers coach during that span.
  • Ex-NFL D-linemen-turned-assistants Brentson Buckner and Phillip Daniels may be vying for the Jaguars‘ D-line coach role, with Wilson adding the team is considering each for the position (Twitter link). Buckner currently serves as the Cardinals’ D-line coach. Daniels has less experience but worked under Doug Pederson in Philadelphia, working with the Eagles’ D-line from 2016-19. The Eagles fired Daniels after the ’19 season.
  • The Jags are also hiring Louisiana assistant head coach Rory Segrest, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman tweets. Segrest has been in the college ranks for over a decade but was with the Eagles during Pederson’s time working under Andy Reid in the late 2000s.
  • Circling back to the Broncos, they added a few more assistants early this week. UNLV DC Peter Hansen signed on to be Denver’s linebackers coach, Klis tweets. Hanson and Eviro were on Vic Fangio‘s 49ers staff from 2011-13. The Broncos also named Ben Steele their tight ends coach, Klis notes. Steele was the Vikings’ assistant O-line coach under Klint Kubiak this past season. Mike Mallory also joined Hackett’s Denver staff as assistant special teams coordinator (Twitter links). Mallory spent eight seasons with the Jaguars, as their ST coordinator and assistant ST coordinator (2013-20), working with Hackett for part of that stretch.

AFC Coaching Notes: Broncos, Jaguars, Chiefs

As Nathaniel Hackett continues to build his staff with the Broncos, the new head coach interviewed many of the team’s holdover position coaches this week, reports Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (via Twitter). The majority of these coaches are “pretty much on hold,” but a handful of coaches are starting to get clarity on their job security.

As Klis notes, defensive backs coach Christian Parker is one of the coaches who will return next season. The 30-year-old has had a rapid rise through the coaching ranks. Prior to getting hired as the Broncos DBs coach in 2021, he spent time as the defensive quality control coach with the Packers. Of course, Hackett was on that Green Bay staff, so there’s already familiarity between the two.

Meanwhile, long-time coach Reggie Herring won’t be retained (per Klis on Twitter). The linebackers coach had been with the organization since their Super Bowl-winning 2015 campaign. He previously spent time as the linebackers coach with the Bears, Texans (two stints), and Cowboys.

More coaching notes out of the AFC:

  • The Jaguars won’t be retaining special teams coordinator Nick Sorensen, reports Aaron Wilson (via Twitter). The former player was added to Urban Meyer’s staff last offseason. The 43-year-old previously spent time with the Seahawks, serving as assistant ST coach, assistant defensive backs coach, and secondary coach.
  • SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan tweets that Andrew Breiner could be a candidate for Doug Pederson’s new Jaguars staff, potentially as quarterbacks coach. Breiner was last in the NFL in 2020 when he was the passing game analyst for the Eagles, and he spent the 2021 campaign in the college ranks as the offensive coordinator at FIU.
  • The Chiefs have hired Joe Cullen as their new defensive line coach, with former DL coach Brendan Daly moving to linebackers coach (per a team announcement on Twitter). Cullen spent last season as the Jaguars defensive coordinator, and he had talks with the Ravens and Colts about their DC vacancies. He was a DL coach for more than a decade during stints with the Lions, Jaguars, Browns, Buccaneers, and Ravens. Daley had spent the past three seasons as the Chiefs DL coach.
  • The Bills are expected to hire Vikings offensive line coach Phil Rauscher in the same role, reports ESPN’s Courtney Cronin (via Twitter). Rauscher was one of several Vikings coaches who were given permission to seek other coaching opportunities. The 36-year-old had previous NFL coaching gigs with the Broncos and Washington.
  • Former Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly is in talks to join the Titans staff, reports ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (via Twitter). Only 35, Kelly had a quick rise through the Texans organization. After starting as an offensive quality control coach in 2014, Kelly was eventually promoted to assistant offensive line coach, tight ends coach, and (ultimately) OC. He was fired by the organization after the season. Kelly has ties to Titans coach Mike Vrabel stemming from their stints in Houston.

Panthers Interview Tim Kelly, Packers’ Luke Getsy For OC Job

Nearly 10 names have now been connected to the Panthers in their offensive coordinator. Packers quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy and former Texans OC Tim Kelly are now in the mix.

Both Getsy and Kelly interviewed for the Carolina job, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Panthers have not interviewed everyone to whom they have been connected, but the team has met with Colts wide receivers coach Mike Groh, Colts running backs coach Scottie Montgomery and Vikings offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak.

Getsy, 37, has now interviewed for jobs on two coaching tiers this offseason. The Broncos met with the Packers assistant for their HC job last week. Although Getsy also serves as Green Bay’s passing-game coordinator, he is the least experienced candidate to be linked to the Carolina OC gig thus far. Getsy did serve as Mississippi State’s OC during the 2018 season. His NFL experience has come entirely in Green Bay, where he has worked his way up from the quality control level.

In making their widely debated David Culley decision, the Texans also fired Kelly. Culley kept Kelly in place despite the latter’s extensive ties to Bill O’Brien. Kelly served as Houston’s OC for three seasons, taking over play-calling from O’Brien during that span. Deshaun Watson made his second and third Pro Bowls on Kelly’s watch, while Davis Mills showed improvement as this season progressed.

Interestingly, O’Brien (along with Jay Gruden) have been mentioned as candidates for the Panthers job as well. The Jaguars have also met with O’Brien, who spent the season as Alabama’s OC, for their HC job. Texans QBs coach Pep Hamilton has also popped up on the radar for this expansive Panthers OC search.

Texans To Fire David Culley

Despite little being expected of this Texans squad, the franchise is moving on from David Culley after one season. Culley is out in Houston after the team’s 4-13 slate, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets.

This move comes three days after Black Monday and two days after the Giants axed Joe Judge. While this clears out another HC position, it is a tough break for Culley, who took over a team in a bad situation.

In December, Culley was viewed as being safe to stay aboard for a second Houston season. Soon after, however, the winds started to shift a little. GM Nick Caserio may or may not have a successor lined up. Given Caserio’s connection to Josh McDaniels, speculation understandably ensued connecting those dots.

Culley navigated the messy Deshaun Watson situation fairly smoothly, deactivating the embattled Pro Bowler throughout the season. The Texans’ previous regime also saddled the new one without first- or second-round picks in last year’s draft. Caserio signed numerous midlevel veterans to one- or two-year contracts, setting up the 2021 season to be a transition year before the team becomes more aggressive on the rebuilding front. While the Texans improved and notched multiple major upsets late in the season, it was not enough for a placeholder HC to stay on.

The Culley hire came out of nowhere. The Ravens wide receivers coach was not involved in any other team’s interview process and had not called plays for an NFL team previously. The Ravens recouped two third-round picks, the second coming this year, because of this surprising hire. With Culley’s firing coming after Brian Flores‘ surprising ouster, Mike Tomlin is the NFL’s only Black head coach at the moment. Flores figures to have options soon, perhaps in Houston, with he and Caserio working together in New England for over a decade. But he has only been connected to the Bears thus far.

Some murkiness has surfaced regarding Culley’s contract. After Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweeted that just two years on Culley’s five-year deal were guaranteed, the 66-year-old coach indicated (via Berman, on Twitter) his full five-year deal is, in fact, guaranteed. A partially guaranteed deal would indeed be a highly unusual arrangement. Culley will collect $17MM through the life of this deal, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Culley’s in-game decision-making certainly veered toward questionable often, and it was clear he was not viewed as a long-term leader in Houston. Davis Mills‘ promising performance down the stretch, despite being a third-round pick, does provide some hope for a franchise that has gone 8-25 over the past two seasons. Among rookies, only Mac Jones had a better QBR than Mills — albeit in a smaller sample size — this season.

Mills’ progress notwithstanding, the Texans are also firing offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, Schefter tweets. Kelly was a holdover from the Bill O’Brien regime and had been with the team since O’Brien’s 2014 hire. Kelly, 35, worked his way up from quality control level to become Houston’s OC by the 2019 season. The Texans advanced to the playoffs behind a Watson Pro Bowl campaign that year. While Watson excelled in 2020 as well, the team fell off a cliff.

The Texans ranked 32nd offensively this season, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds that Culley was asked to make changes to his offensive staff (Twitter link). While it can obviously be argued Culley was set up to fail this season, his refusal to fire Kelly may well have contributed to the one-and-done. Kelly’s ouster will certainly not be the last one, with the Texans pivoting again under Caserio.

Coaching Notes: Seahawks, Titans, Dolphins

We’ve got another couple of names to pass along for Seattle’s wide-ranging offensive coordinator search. The Seahawks want to interview Bills quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey and have already spoken with Rams pass-game coordinator Shane Waldron, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. They’ve been linked to what seems like every offensive coach in the league now, including Adam Gase and other big names. Dorsey was a backup quarterback in the league for a handful of years, and the 39-year-old was the Panthers’ quarterbacks coach from 2013-17.

He joined the Bills last season. Waldron is another young guy who has coached under Rams coach Sean McVay since 2016 since they were both with Washington. He started as McVay’s tight ends coach in Los Angeles before getting promoted to quarterbacks coach and pass-game coordinator. The Seahawks don’t appear to be honing in on anything in particular, and at this point it’s anyone’s guess who they’ll hire.

Here are more coaching notes from around the league:

  • The Texans are the only team still with a head coach opening, but they aren’t letting one key assistant go out the door yet. They recently blocked offensive coordinator Tim Kelly from interviewing for OC openings with two other teams, and those interested teams were the Titans and Lions, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Since it would be a lateral move and he’s still under contract, Houston can block those requests. As Breer points out, there has been buzz that Deshaun Watson likes Kelly, and the team could be looking to keep him in order to curry favor with their disgruntled starting quarterback. Detroit has since filled their vacancy with former Chargers coach Anthony Lynn.
  • Speaking of the Titans’ opening, Tennessee will be interviewing Pep Hamilton for the job in the next few days, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Hamilton was the Chargers’ quarterbacks coach this past year, and did a great job helping with the development of Justin Herbert, so he’s been drawing a lot of interest for OC jobs. He was talked about as a candidate in Miami, and is one of the finalists in Pittsburgh as well. The Titans of course are looking to replace Arthur Smith, now the head coach in Atlanta. Hamilton coordinated the Colts’ offense from 2013-15, and had a lot of success with Andrew Luck.
  • The Dolphins are still looking for their OC, but they have made a different key hire on offense. The team has parted ways with quarterbacks coach Robby Brown and replaced him with former NFL passer Charlie Frye, they announced in a tweet. It’s the first NFL coaching gig for Frye, who was Central Michigan’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons. It’s interesting that they’d hire the QBs coach before the OC. A third-round pick of the Browns back in 2005, Frye also played with the Seahawks and Raiders until 2009.

Texans Deny Tim Kelly Interview Requests

The Texans have denied interview requests from teams interested in offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tim Kelly (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle). The Texans have yet to hire their next head coach, but they seem intent on keeping Kelly as a part of their staff.

Kelly, who will turn 35 this offseason, has spent the last two years as the Texans’ offensive coordinator. Bill O’Brien called the plays in Kelly’s first year with Houston. Last year, he ceded the headset to Kelly.

Deshaun Watson, who has lobbied for more control over the team’s hiring decisions, has been one of Kelly’s biggest advocates.

Tim over the past two years has really taken my game to a whole another level as far as just knowledge, reading defenses, understanding run points and run schemes, understanding the way of different concepts and different situations,” said Watson. “His knowledge of just the game of football is very, very bright and he really helped me take my game, especially this year, the best football I’ve played in my career.

With Kelly in command, Watson threw for a league-high 4,823 yards with 33 touchdown passes against seven interceptions. It sounds like Kelly will continue to serve as Watson’s guru in 2021.

Texans Notes: Easterby, Kelly, Cobb

While Texans executive VP Jack Easterby will not become the team’s next GM, recent reports suggest that he will have a significant say in determining who the next head coach will be. And in a comprehensive piece detailing Easterby’s unconventional and sometimes controversial rise through the NFL front office ranks, Jenny Vrentas and Greg Bishop of SI.com suggest that might not necessarily be a good thing.

The article is well-worth a read for any NFL observer, but especially Texans fans. Some of the authors’ sources say that Easterby, who was brought in to improve the club’s culture, has only made it worse, and that he has secured his lofty position within the organization thanks largely to the inordinate amount of sway he has over owner Cal McNair. Indeed, one source said McNair is “blinded” by Easterby, who has also been accused of undermining other key figures — like former head coach Bill O’Brien — and who is said to have been a driving force behind the lopsided DeAndre Hopkins trade (for which O’Brien has shouldered most of the blame).

Of course, Easterby — who declined the authors’ invitation to tell his side of the story — has plenty of supporters as well, and it will be fascinating to see how his role will impact Houston’s HC/GM search and the team’s fortunes moving forward.

Now for more from the Texans:

  • If quarterback Deshaun Watson has it his way, the new Texans head coach will retain current offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. Kelly has been with the organization since 2014 and was elevated to OC last year. Amidst an otherwise difficult 2020 campaign, Watson is enjoying a career year, and he gives his 34-year-old coordinator a great deal of credit for that. We previously heard that McNair would consider Watson’s input with respect to the HC search, so it stands to reason that he would also value his star QB’s opinion on his OC.
  • The Hopkins trade, along with assorted injuries and suspensions, have decimated Watson’s WR corps. Randall Cobb has been on IR since late November with a significant toe injury, and according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, surgery is a possibility. Cobb, 30, has an outside chance of returning this year, but with the Texans well out of the playoff picture, it probably makes more sense for him to start preparing for 2021.
  • The Texans selected cornerback John Reid in the fourth round of this year’s draft, but even after the Bradley Roby suspension and with Houston already looking ahead to next year, Reid is unlikely to see more defensive snaps, per Wilson. Defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver confirmed as much, saying that while he believes Reid has a great career ahead of him, he is not quite ready for a larger role. Reid has played just 60 defensive snaps on the season, and 32 of those came in Week 1.
  • LB Reggie Gilbert and DL Willie Henry are visiting the Texans, per Wilson. Gilbert and Henry were recently cut by the Jaguars and 49ers, respectively, and Houston will see if they can get anything out of two defenders who at one time showed they might be worthwhile pieces of an NFL roster.

Texans HC Bill O’Brien To Be More Involved In Play-Calling

Texans head coach/GM Bill O’Brien has come under intense scrutiny for his management of his club’s roster, especially after this offseason’s infamous DeAndre Hopkins trade. O’Brien did cede play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, but in the wake of Houston’s 0-3 start to the season, the head coach is renewing his involvement in that side of the operation.

As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, O’Brien will take on an increased role in game-planning and play-calling. Kelly will continue to relay the plays to QB Deshaun Watson, but O’Brien will have significant input into which plays are called. That means that Houston’s offense will run more like it did in 2019, which ended in a trip to the divisional round of the playoffs.

The Texans’ offense has sputtered without Hopkins, and the team currently ranks near the bottom of the league in terms of total offense and yards per game. Still, the club has more offensive talent than that showing would suggest, and O’Brien apparently believes he can help get more production out of that unit.

Houston has started the season in an 0-3 hole, but since its first three opponents have a combined 8-1 record, no one is panicking just yet. Still, an 0-4 start would put an even bigger damper on the Texans’ playoff aspirations, and O’Brien is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. His club will take on the Vikings this afternoon in a battle of talented but winless outfits.