These teams could look to steal Cowboys assistants for head coach jobs

With Week 14 commencing Thursday night, there are just five games remaining for teams to get in playoff position. Right now, 23 teams have reason to believe they can make the dance, even if some are significant longshots. Meanwhile the other nine NFL teams fall into various categories of non-competitiveness. Some are disappointments, but others have started a journey of rebuilding and have a plan that spans a couple of seasons.

Some of those longshots, and even some of the teams with realistic shots of making this postseason will not be satisfied with the results of their season. Owners have been getting more and more impatient during this recent cycle and it could lead to a lot of head coach openings come January.

In 2020 there were five new hires in the league, followed by seven in 2021 and a whopping 10 in 2022. How many will there be in 2023? It could be as many as nine of some surprise changes happen. And due to their soon-to-be back-to-back playoff appearances, the Dallas Cowboys have assistants who will be under heavy consideration.

OC Kellen Moore

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Moore continues to shine despite a contingent of Cowboys’ fans that demand perfection when no one else in the league has done what he has. Moore’s offense ranked No. 1 in points and yards in 2021, after finishing first in 2019. This season, the Cowboys have the best offense since Dak Prescott returned from his hand injury in Week 7 after putting together an opportunistic offense during Cooper Rush’s 4-1 stretch.

Rush is extremely limited as a quarterback, but Moore was able script the Cowboys to early leads in four straight games, and when challenged with being tied or losing the lead, immediate scores to regain control. His ability to lead a team may be an unknown, but the Dallas offense is as diverse as any in the league right now.

DC Dan Quinn

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Meanwhile Quinn brought the Dallas defense from the doldrums to dominance. Last year Dallas thrived on creating turnovers at a ridiculous pace. This year they still get turnovers, but are also pressuring the quarterback at laughable levels. Quinn thought he had a job last year that didn’t get offered, but Dallas sits atop too many statistical categories to ignore.

Quinn’s forte is the defensive line, and the pass rush is as insane as it can get with 48 sacks through 12 games, with one of the league’s best players at each level of the defense in DeMarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs. Dallas could have as many as six defensive starters make the Pro Bowl in February and Quinn will certainly get some interviews again this offseason.

 

Who might be interested?

While either coordinator could be of interest to any team looking for a coach, oftentimes a team will look away from their better unit (if they have one). A strong defensive team may be more inclined to want fresh ideas infused into their offense and favor Moore. A strong offense might think an immediate infusion of defensive prowess, like what Dallas experienced from 2020 to 2021, is what they need. They’d likely favor Quinn.

Here’s a look at who could be calling either’s agents come January, and no, Dallas doesn’t have to provide permission to interview them.

Houston Texans (1-10-1)

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PFF Offensive Grade: 53.5 out of 100 (32nd)
PFF Defensive Grade: 48.0 out of 100 (31st)
FiveThirtyEight Playoff Odds entering Week 14: 0%
Quinn Interest? Yes
Moore Interest? Yes

The Texans are eliminated and even though they’ve had three coaches in three years, they could walk away from Lovie Smith after the season.

 

Denver Broncos (3-9)

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PFF Offensive Grade: 64.2 out of 100 (31st)
PFF Defensive Grade: 79.4 out of 100 (4th)
FiveThirtyEight Playoff Odds entering Week 14: <0.1%
Quinn Interest? Yes
Moore Interest? Yes

Everyone thought Quinn was out of Dallas last year and on his way to Denver, but the deal never materialized. After the abject failure that has been Nathaniel Hackett’s one season at the helm, they could go in either direction in 2023.

New Orleans Saints (4-9)

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PFF Offensive Grade: 73.7 out of 100 (16th)
PFF Defensive Grade: 65.1 out of 100 (19th)
FiveThirtyEight Playoff Odds entering Week 14: 0.6%
Quinn Interest? Yes
Moore Interest? Yes

 

Carolina Panthers (4-8)

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PFF Offensive Grade: 66.4 out of 100 (27th)
PFF Defensive Grade: 63.8 out of 100 (22nd)
FiveThirtyEight Playoff Odds entering Week 14: 8%
Quinn Interest? Yes
Moore Interest? Yes

The Panthers are already on an interim coach in Steve Wilks, so suffice to say there will be a search this offseason. Thanks to trading away Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson, they have some quality draft picks over the next couple of seasons of low expectations, just what a new coach could ask for.

Arizona Cardinals (4-8)

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PFF Offensive Grade: 64.6 out of 100 (30th)
PFF Defensive Grade: 58.3 out of 100 (25th)
FiveThirtyEight Playoff Odds entering Week 14: 1%
Quinn Interest? Yes
Moore Interest? Yes

Could Kingsbury be shown the door? It’s possible after such a major regression from making the playoffs in 2021. Both sides of the ball are struggling this season, but it’s a roster with some talent to work with. The club invested in QB Kyler Murray so the only major shakeup they could make is at HC.

Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1)

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PFF Offensive Grade: 64.7 out of 100 (29th)
PFF Defensive Grade: 71.5 out of 100 (11th)
FiveThirtyEight Playoff Odds entering Week 14: 0.9%
Quinn Interest? No
Moore Interest? Yes

If Jim Irsay was impressed enough to hire Jeff Saturday because of his drinking acumen, imagine what he thought watching Dallas on Sunday night? He’s leaned offensive-minded head coach and the offense still can’t get right so he’s likely going to continue that direction.

Cleveland Browns (5-7)

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PFF Offensive Grade: 81.4 out of 100 (5th)
PFF Defensive Grade: 55.2 out of 100 (28th)
FiveThirtyEight Playoff Odds entering Week 14: 10%
Quinn Interest? Yes
Moore Interest? No

This is a longshot but isn’t completely out of the realm of possible openings. Even with Jacoby Brissett under center, the Browns have been solid, but the defense has been horrible. Still, with the trend towards offensive-minded coaches, Stefanski is likely safe and it’d be an even bigger shocker if he was replaced by another offensive guy.

Las Vegas Raiders (5-8)

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PFF Offensive Grade: 78.1 out of 100 (9th)
PFF Defensive Grade: 64.3 out of 100 (20th)
FiveThirtyEight Playoff Odds entering Week 14: 5%
Quinn Interest? Yes
Moore Interest? Yes

This one had lost steam before Thursday night. A month ago it looked like Josh McDaniels was on his way out, but after three wins in a row, the Raiders completely collapsed against the Rams when Baker Mayfield had two days of practice. Insane. They could easily lose three of, or all four of their final games and that might bring the conversation back to the forefront. The misuse of Davante Adams (four games with four targets or less) is maddening.

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New England Patriots (6-6)

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PFF Offensive Grade: 61.9 out of 100 (21st)
PFF Defensive Grade: 71.2 out of 100 (12th)
FiveThirtyEight Playoff Odds entering Week 14: 25%
Quinn Interest? Yes
Moore Interest? Yes

No, Bill Belichick isn’t getting fired, but he could retire. If he does, Bob Kraft could go in any direction. Want a coach on his second stint like Belichick? Quinn’s the guy. Want a younger coach who could potentially last for 20 years? That’s Moore.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire