Todd Bowles

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. With Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints, there are now nine full-time vacancies available this year. After Thursday’s news, two of those openings (Denver and Chicago) have been filled, and a major candidate in Dan Quinn has decided to remain in Dallas. Friday saw another name scratched off the list, with the Giants making their HC hire.

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

Updated 1-28-21 (10:0pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Raiders Request To Interview Todd Bowles

One of the most sought-after coaching candidates has received another interview request. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the Raiders have requested to meet with Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles

Bowles has already been linked to the HC vacancies in Chicago, Jacksonville and Minnesota. The buzz around him shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course, considering the work he has done in Tampa Bay. In three years, he has overseen one of the league’s top defenses, which played a crucial role in the team’s Super Bowl championship last season. He signed an extension to stay on in his current role with the Bucs, but the door has always remained open for him to take a head coaching job if possible.

The Raiders, of course, have been connected to Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh since the beginning of the hiring cycle. They’ve also given interim coach Rich Bisaccia a chance to get the full-time position, as he interviewed last week to stay on board. Schefter adds that the interview with Bowles is set to take place in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Bowles, 58, had an up-and-down stint as the head coach of the Jets prior to coming to Tampa Bay. Given the interest being shown in him now, however, there seems to be a very good chance he will get a second opportunity to lead his own staff.

 

Vikings Request Interview With Rams’ DC Raheem Morris

Another name has been added to the list of potential head coaching candidates in Minnesota. The team has requested an interview with Raheem Morris, the current Rams defensive coordinator (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Peter Schrager). 

Morris, 45, has an NFL coaching background dating back to 2002. He has spent time primarily as a defensive backs coach, serving in that role in Tampa Bay (on two different occasions, including the Super Bowl XXXVII-winning squad) and Washington. However, he also took over as the Bucs’ head coach after the firing of Jon Gruden in January of 2009. He had an encouraging year in 2010, posting a 10-6 record, but the one preceding and following that campaign saw the team put up a combined record of 7-25.

After a three year stint in Washington, Morris got his next prominent coaching positions in Atlanta. He served as an assistant head coach and pass game coordinator from his arrival in 2015 to 2019. Then, in 2020, he became the team’s DC until taking over as interim HC following Dan Quinn’s firing. He interviewed to remain in Atlanta on a full-time basis, but the team ultimately went with former Titans OC Arthur Smith.

This past offseason, Morris was hired by the Rams to take over for now-Chargers HC Brandon Staley as the team’s defensive coordinator. His work in L.A. has prompted many to expect more head coaching opportunities, so it was surprising this is the first request he has received in the 2022 coaching cycle.

The news brings the total number of candidates linked to the Vikings’ HC vacancy to ten. Here is the updated list:

 

Vikings Request Permission To Interview Todd Bowles

We’ve got our first definitive candidate for the Vikings head coaching gig. Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter), the Vikings have requested permission to interview Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

We haven’t heard a whole lot about potential candidates for the Minnesota HC job since Mike Zimmer was fired. There was a report that Doug Pederson was expected to interview for the gig, but it remains to be seen if that interview will actually happen. With today’s news, we definitively know that the Vikings at least have their eye on Bowles. The defensive guru does have a kinda-sorta relationship to Minnesota’s organization; Bowles and the Wilf family (who own the Vikings) are both from Elizabeth, New Jersey. Plus, as Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune tweets, Bowles was one of the Vikings’ leading candidates before they hired Zimmer eight years ago.

The DC is turning into a popular name on the HC circuit, as he’s already been connected to jobs in Chicago and Jacksonville. And for good reason, despite the fact that he would be a second-chance HC candidate. Following his Jets exit, he has overseen one of the league’s top defenses in Tampa Bay for the past three years. Bowles’ game plan helped the Bucs ground the high-flying Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

The Buccaneers gave Bowles an extension back in August, but the new pact didn’t “preclude him from taking another head coaching job.” There were rumblings that Bruce Arians would like Bowles to succeed him as Buccaneers head coach whenever he retires, but Arians might stick around too long for that to come to fruition.

Latest Bears’ Head Coach Interview Requests

The second wave of interview requests has begun for the teams who let go of coaches and executives yesterday. The busiest of those teams, so far, is the Chicago Bears. In addition to the requests they made on Monday after firing Matt Nagy, another seven interviews have been scheduled for the Head Coaching vacancy. 

[Related: Bears Request Interviews With Bills DC Leslie Frazier, OC Brian Daboll]

Just as the Bears are interested in both Bills’ coordinators, they have requested to interview both Buccaneers’ coordinators, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). OC Byron Leftwich has held his title since 2019, where he reunited with HC Bruce Arians. Leftwich was in charge of the Super-Bowl winning Bucs offense last season, and has helped the unit put up the second most points per game (30.1) in the league in 2021. DC Todd Bowles also reunited with Arians in 2019 in Tampa Bay, and played a crucial role in the Bucs’ smothering defensive performance in that Super Bowl victory.

Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter), another request was made to Colts DC Matt Eberflus, who has also been named as an interviewee with the Jaguars. After an impressive stint as the Cowboys’ linebackers coach from 2011-2017, Eberflus took the defensive coordinator position in Indy in 2018, and immediately helped turn that unit around.

Next on the list is Cowboys DC Dan Quinn (Twitter link via Pelissero). Quinn has since been linked with all four current Head Coaching vacancies, making him the most sought-after candidate so far. His work with Dallas’ defense in just one season – seventh in the league in points allowed per game, first in interceptions, to name a few statistics – has put him in line to get another HC gig one year after being fired by the Falcons.

Per Pelissero’s colleague Ian Rapoport, Doug Pederson will also be interviewed (Twitter link). Pederson was fired by the Eagles exactly one year ago, and has also been linked with multiple teams. The 2017 Super Bowl winner, like Quinn, seems to have a good chance at rejoining the Head Coaching ranks during this hiring cycle.

Another popular name is Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett, whom the Bears will interview on Friday or Saturday, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer (Twitter link). Breer notes that Hackett has also received requests from the Broncos and Jaguars, as the 42-year-old has overseen one of the league’s best offenses in Green Bay for the past two seasons.

Last, but certainly not least, recently fired Brian Flores has been added to the list of interviewees, according to Pelissero (Twitter link). After three seasons – including the last two with winning records – in Miami, Flores was let go in what has been the most surprising move of the coaching cycle so far. The Bears are not expected to be the only team interviewing the 40-year-old, though nothing has officially been lined up with any other clubs yet.

Latest On Jaguars’ Coaching Search

The Jaguars are breaking in the NFL’s new early interview process, and they are seeing some coaches greenlight the meetings and others opt to wait. Doug Pederson already interviewed, while Cowboys DC Dan Quinn passed on an early virtual meeting. More coaches landed in each camp this week.

Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles interviewed virtually this week, according to Mark Long of the Associated Press. Cowboys OC Kellen Moore also will interview this week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Colts DC Matt Eberflus joined Quinn in skipping an early virtual interview, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star adds.

Byron Leftwich, a 2003 Jaguars first-round pick who is in his third season as Bucs OC, may end up being part of the virtual interview process. Leftwich could interview with the Jags as soon as Friday, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Leftwich brushed aside questions about his pursuit of the Jacksonville HC gig last week, but whether a meeting occurs during the early interview window or after the regular season’s conclusion, the former quarterback is expected to be in the mix.

Leftwich, 41, played the first four seasons of his career in Jacksonville, starting 44 games in that span. Shad Khan was not yet in place as owner at that point, but the young coordinator certainly is familiar with the franchise.

Nathaniel Hackett, the Jags’ OC during part of Gus Bradley and Doug Marrone‘s HC tenures, will not be part of the early interview circuit, either. The third-year Packers OC will wait until after the regular season ends, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport adds. However, Hackett does have plans to be part of this process. He will meet with his former team next week, via the AP.

The Jaguars fired Hackett in November 2018. The second-generation NFL assistant has rebuilt his stock in Green Bay, with he and Matt LaFleur being the top offensive decision-makers during Aaron Rodgers‘ push for back-to-back MVPs.

Bowles would be a second-chance HC candidate. Following his Jets exit, he has overseen one of the league’s top defenses for the past three years. Bowles’ game plan helped the Bucs ground the high-flying Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Despite numerous injuries, the Bucs still rank 10th in scoring defense entering Week 18. The Cowboys, who chose to retain Moore as their play-caller despite hiring Mike McCarthy, lead the NFL in scoring. Moore, 33, is in just his fourth season as a coach. Hired during the brief window Josh McDaniels held the Colts’ HC reins, Eberflus is finishing up his fourth season in Indianapolis. Entering Week 18, the Colts rank 12th defensively. They have been a top-10 unit in two of Eberflus’ previous three seasons.

Pederson’s interview took place at Khan’s home, Rapoport adds. Also a coaching free agent, Jim Caldwell met with the Jags earlier this week. Here is how the Jags’ HC search looks as the early interview window winds down:

  • Todd Bowles, defensive coordinator (Buccaneers): Interviewed on 1/3
  • Jim Caldwell, former head coach (Lions): Interviewed on 1/4
  • Matt Eberflus, defensive coordinator (Colts): Declined early interview
  • Nathaniel Hackett, offensive coordinator (Packers): To interview after regular season
  • Byron Leftwich, offensive coordinator (Buccaneers): Expected to interview
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator (Cowboys): To interview
  • Doug Pedersonformer head coach (Eagles): Interviewed on 12/30
  • Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator (Cowboys): Declined early interview

This Date In Transactions History: Jets Fire Todd Bowles

Careful what you wish for. On December 30, 2018, Jets fans were overjoyed when they learned head coach Todd Bowles was canned. Fast forward three years, and fans have endured at least one head coaching failure and may be questioning whether they should have kept Bowles after all.

Bowles made a name for himself as a defensive backs coach, and following a two-year stint as the Cardinals defensive coordinator, he was hired by the Jets to replace Rex Ryan in New York. The organization clearly had high hopes for their hire; they gave Bowles a four-year pact despite his lack of heading coaching experience (he had a brief stint as interim HC with the Dolphins in 2011).

The Jets new on-field leader was inheriting a team that had dropped to 4-12 in 2014 … their worst record in seven years. Thanks to a reinvigorated defense that emerged as one of the best in the NFL (and thanks in part to Geno Smith‘s broken jaw, which thrust veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick into the starting lineup), the Jets improved to 10-6 during Bowles’ first season at the helm. However, the entire squad took a major step back in 2016 when they finished 5-11, and Bowles was firmly on the hot seat heading into the 2017 campaign.

The Jets had an identical record in 2017, but the Josh McCown/Bryce Petty-led offense wasn’t completely incompetent and bought Bowles another year. There was some optimism with first-round QB Sam Darnold taking over under center in 2018, but the Jets finished with only four wins, the worse showing of Bowles’ tenure and the organization’s worst record since, well, Ryan was fired. So, on this date three years ago, the organization fired Bowles and began their search for their 19th coach.

“After carefully evaluating the situation, I have concluded that this is the right direction for the organization to take,” Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement. “I would like to wish Todd, Taneka and their family only the best.”

We all know how this worked out. The organization initially decided to hang on to general manager Mike Maccagnan, and the organization settled on Adam Gase to replace Bowles. After allowing their GM to hire a new head coach, run the draft, and deal with the early wave of free agency, the organization curiously fired Maccagnan before the offseason concluded. Gase managed to improve the squad to a 7-9 record in 2019, but following a 2020 season that saw the Jets win the second-fewest games in franchise history (two), Gase was fired.

While the Jets are still trying to land on their feet, Bowles has made out pretty well for himself. The coach was hired as Bruce Arians‘ defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay in 2019, and Bowles has helped turned the Buccaneers’ defensive line into one of the best in the NFL. The Bucs ranked first in rushing yards allowed in both 2019 and 2020 (they’re third in 2021), and the defense has been top-10 in points allowed since the beginning of the 2020 season. Of course, Bowles also helped guide a defense that won a Super Bowl championship last season.

Bowles was a hot name on the HC circuit last offseason, as he was connected to gigs with the Lions, Falcons, and Eagles. He ended up getting an extension from Tampa Bay last offseason, but there’s still a chance he moves on; Bowles will interview for the first vacancy that’s opened in the NFL in Jacksonville.

While Bowles has clearly rehabilitated his image following an ugly few years in the New York, it remains to be seen whether he’s actually a viable NFL head coach. Similarly, following a COVID-filled year that saw the Jets turn to a rookie QB and an ancient Joe Flacco at QB (at least Mike White was fun!), it’s difficult to make any determination on Jets head coach Robert Saleh.

Sure, it’s plenty easy to second guess the Jets for how everything unfolded. However, until Bowles emerges as a capable HC (or New York beats him to the punch by returning to the playoffs under Saleh or someone else), it’s hard to be too critical of the Jets.

Jaguars Request Interviews With Todd Bowles, Byron Leftwich

The Jaguars have asked the Buccaneers for permission to interview offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for their head coaching vacancy (Twitter links via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). In addition to the Tampa duo, they’ve also requested an interview with Cowboys OC Kellen Moore and DC Dan Quinn (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com) and scheduled a meeting with ex-Eagles HC Doug Pederson for later this week (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero).

[RELATED: Jaguars GM Trent Baalke To Keep Job]

All five coaches have been connected to the Jaguars in recent weeks, with Pederson said to be especially interested in the job. Pederson, of course, had Carson Wentz playing at an MVP level through the first 14 weeks of the 2017 season, up until his fateful ACL tear. Then, with backup QB Nick Foles under center, he guided the Birds to their first ever Super Bowl ring. Pederson’s final Philadelphia season ended with a 4-11-1 mark, but he remains an attractive candidate nonetheless.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, meanwhile, would happily advocate for either one of his coordinators to get the job. He’s been especially supportive of Leftwich, who did not receive an HC interview in the last cycle.

The job he’s done…he coaches quarterbacks, he calls plays, he’s everything everybody says they are looking for,” Arians said in January (via Jon Ledyard of Pewter Report). “I was really hoping he’d get his first few interviews and maybe get a job out of it. I can’t speak for what the owners think and who they listen to sometimes, but it’s just a matter of time before he gets his.”

Buccaneers Extend DC Todd Bowles

As they get ready to defend their Super Bowl title, the Buccaneers are taking care of a key member of the organization. Tampa has given defensive coordinator Todd Bowles a three-year contract extension, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Schefter writes that this new deal replaces the one year Bowles had left on his old one, and “continues to make him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive coordinator.” Bowles has deservedly received a ton of praise for the heights he took the Bucs’ previously woeful defense to, as they became one of the best units in the league last year. The 57-year-old got some looks in head coaching searches this cycle, receiving interest from at least the Falcons, Lions, and Eagles.

It was also reported back in February that Bruce Arians would like Bowles to succeed him as Buccaneers head coach whenever he retires. He might not get that opportunity, since Schefter writes this new contract “doesn’t preclude him from taking another head coaching job,” and Bowles will likely be a hot candidate again this winter.

Bowles first broke into the league as a secondary coach with the Jets in 2000. 15 years later he would become New York’s head coach, a high profile role he held for the next four seasons.

His tenure there didn’t end well, but in recent years it’s been more or less accepted that the dysfunction had more to do with the Jets being, well… the Jets, than anything Bowles did wrong. It’s probably only a matter of time before he gets another head coaching opportunity, especially if Tampa’s defense keeps it up in 2021.

Buccaneers’ Bruce Arians Has Succession Plan For Todd Bowles

Will Bruce Arians retire after the Super Bowl? “Hell no,” the coach says. But, someday, the Buccaneers head coach plans to hand things off to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com

I think [our defense has improved by] lightyears,” Arians said of Bowles recently. “Just the mixture of all those guys in the secondary [and] solidifying the front. Again, going into last season, we had to get Shaq Barrett back [and] we had to get Ndamukong Suh back. Keeping everybody there [and] now getting Vita Vea back. And, that secondary was key. Getting guys that could play man-to-man, that were aggressive bump-and-run type people that could also play zone, rather than soft zone players. It took a while, but I think Todd has just done a tremendous job and we’ve been winning with defense.”

Bowles’ defensive prowess is undeniable — his units were stellar in Arizona and even his Jets defenses were decent. However, his win/loss record in New York was rough. In four years, he had only 24 wins in total, despite a 10-win campaign in 2015.

Meanwhile, speculation persists about Arians’ plans, despite his denials. The 68-year-old has retired twice before. His most recent “retirement” came in 2017, after leaving the Cardinals. Previous to that, Arians also claimed to be walking away in 2011, when he peace’d out on the Steelers. Today, win or lose, Arians says he’s coming back for at least one more season.