11 potential candidates for the next Commanders offensive coordinator

The Washington Commanders need an offensive coordinator after head coach Ron Rivera fired Scott Turner on Tuesday.

This is a critical hire for Rivera. Some may view coming to Washington as a one-year opportunity due to an expected change in ownership. Will a young up-and-comer, or someone with other options, want to hitch their wagon to Rivera, knowing 2023 could be his last season?

Yes and no. As former Washington head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday, it can be difficult for a new coordinator coming from the outside. However, most coaches have the mindset of coming in and succeeding, not concerning themselves with the head coach only being around for one year.

In the end, this is an opportunity. There are only 32 of these jobs in the world, and success as an offensive coordinator almost always leads to an opportunity to be a head coach.

We’ve compiled a list of 11 potential candidates to be Washington’s next offensive coordinator. One may not even come from this list, but it is a collection of rumored names and names who could be interesting hires.

Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs OC

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy talks with quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Your first question is, why in the world would Bieniemy leave the Chiefs for a lateral move? Bieniemy’s name has been mentioned in connection with Washington, but who knows if it is an actual possibility. Remember, Rivera worked for Andy Reid, and they remain close friends. Rivera could give Bieniemy play-calling duties, something he doesn’t have in Kansas City, which could accelerate his path to a head-coaching position if he succeeds.

Frank Reich

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich talks on the field Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, before a game against the Washington Commanders.

Reich was fired as head coach of the Colts in November after GM Chris Ballard’s inability to solve the quarterback position. Before Reich was head coach of the Colts, he was a tremendous offensive coordinator. If Reich doesn’t land a head-coaching job this cycle, which is doubtful, could he be a candidate for Washington? Rivera should make this call. Reich is an outstanding coach and will have options.

Bill O'Brien, Alabama OC

Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien watches quarterback Bryce Young. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Bill O’Brien was a successful NFL head coach for several seasons with the Houston Texans before he was involved with personnel. As a coach, O’Brien is good, but he’s not for everyone. After his firing, O’Brien went back to college at Nick Saban’s coaching rehab school down in Tuscaloosa. At one time, O’Brien did good work as Tom Brady’s offensive coordinator with the Patriots. And apparently, he and Rivera are fond of one another.

Pat Shurmur

New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Not the most exciting name on the list, but Shurmur is a longtime successful NFL coach. Shurmur is a two-time head coach and a four-time offensive coordinator. He’s had plenty of success and is respected. His son, Kyle, spent the 2021 season on Washington’s practice squad.

Ken Zampese, Washington QB coach

Washington Commanders quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Most believe Zampese is the favorite. Zampese is a longtime respected quarterbacks coach. He had one stint as an offensive coordinator with the Bengals, and it didn’t go too well. In fairness to Zampese, he didn’t have a lot to work with at the time. Zampese isn’t going to excite the fan base and will have fans questioning why Rivera even fired Turner.

Brian Johnson, Eagles QB coach

Florida Gators quarterback coach Brian Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Johnson is young, and as the current quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, he is going to be a hot commodity. Does that make him out of reach for Washington? The Commanders could hire an offensive coordinator like Johnson and build an offense around Sam Howell with a heavy emphasis on the RPO stuff. Johnson could be that guy, but he feels like a reach. Johnson probably wants more stability for his first OC gig.

Joe Brady, Bills QB coach

Bills quarterbacks coach Joe Brady, left, goes over plays with Josh Allen. Sd 073022

Joe Brady was the toast of the coaching world in 2019 when he helped lead Joe Burrow and LSU to a record-setting season. However, Brady’s first offensive coordinator stint in the NFL went horribly. But was that his fault? Brady has been a QB coach with the Bills this season — a perfect place to rebuild your reputation. Brady feels like a reach because he seemingly doesn’t fit with what Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew stated about the run/pass ratio. That would be silly to pass up Brady because of your offensive philosophy. Rivera is close with Sean McDermott, so this bears watching.

Brian Griese, 49ers QB coach

San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach Brian Griese. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The longtime former NFL quarterback is new to coaching after spending time in the broadcast booth after retirement. Have you seen what rookie Brock Purdy has done with the 49ers this season? Sure, Kyle Shanahan gets most of the credit, and deservedly so, but Griese will be on the rise. He’s unlikely here, but worth mentioning. He’d be an excellent mentor to a young quarterback and spent the past season working for Shanahan, which is often a precursor to becoming a head coach.

Mike Shula, Bills senior offensive assistant

Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula talks with head coach Ron Rivera during training camp at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Shula was Rivera’s offensive coordinator for his most successful period in Carolina. Overall, Shula spent seven seasons under Rivera in Carolina, the final five as offensive coordinator. Yes, Rivera fired him, but that was five years ago, and Shula would love to have a chance to coordinate an offense again. Shula would be a predictable hire but could be as good as it gets for the Commanders. Shula is a solid, respected coach.

Zac Robinson, Rams QB coach/pass game coordinator

Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Zac Robinson during minicamp at Cal Lutheran University. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With Sean McVay contemplating and apparently leaning toward stepping away as Rams head coach, he’s giving his coaching staff the chance to look for other opportunities. That leads us to Zac Robinson, the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. Is Robinson ready to be an offensive coordinator? The former Oklahoma State quarterback has spent four seasons as an NFL coach, all with the Rams, and each year with a different title. That tells you McVay likes Robinson if he’s giving him more responsibilities. The question is, is he ready to be an OC? McVay’s offense is similar to the Shanahan scheme from Washington, so running the ball is not a problem, and he has a modern grasp of the passing game.

Thomas Brown, Rams assistant head coach/tight ends coach

Running Backs Coach/Assistant Head Coach Thomas Brown and Jalen Ramsey. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Another intriguing name from the McVay tree. Brown, a former NFL running back, is young, hungry and respected. He has spent the past three seasons with the Rams and, like Robinson, added more responsibilities each season. He was the assistant head coach for the last two years and has a bright future. Much like with Robinson, Rivera should consider placing a call to Brown.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire