2022 NFL head coach firings, tracking offseason coaching carousel

2022 NFL head coach firings, tracking offseason coaching carousel originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The 2022 NFL season is halfway finished and the offseason coaching cycle is already underway.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule was the first boss sent packing, as Carolina fired the 47-year-old after its latest loss to the San Francisco 49ers. And next was Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts who was fired after a 3-5-1 start to the 2022 season.

 

Even though Rhule was the first coach fired in 2022, he certainly won’t be the last. There were 10 head coaching changes from 2021 to 2022, so this is only the beginning.

Here’s a look at candidates to monitor, plus some of the teams that could be in the market for a new coach:

Who are the best available offensive coaches?

Six of the 10 new head coaches in 2022 have an offensive background. From veterans like Doug Pederson and Josh McDaniels to upstarts like Brian Daboll and Kevin O’Connell, offensive coaches ruled the 2022 hiring cycle.

In the modern age of scoring in the NFL, teams have leaned toward hiring from that side of the ball. Super Bowl-winning head coach Sean McVay deserves much of the credit for that. Teams are eager to find the next McVay, even if the odds of that are slim to none.

Here are the best offensive coaches available for hire:

Sean Payton, former Saints head coach: Payton will be the hottest commodity this offseason after retiring from the Saints last season. The 58-year-old went 152-89 in 15 years with New Orleans, winning Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.

Ken Dorsey, Bills offensive coordinator: The Bills’ offense didn’t miss a beat after transitioning from Daboll to Dorsey in 2022. As long as Josh Allen and Co. keep putting up numbers, the 41-year-old Dorsey will be a head coaching candidate.

Eric Bienemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator: Bienemy, 53, is the only NFL OC that Patrick Mahomes has ever played for. The time could finally be right for Bienemy to get a team of his own.

Shane Steichen, Eagles offensive coordinator: In three years as an OC, Steichen has developed rookie Justin Herbert and rising star Jalen Hurts. If the Eagles keep up their current pace, the 37-year-old Steichen will get plenty of interviews this winter.

Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator: Just 33 years old, Moore is the type of young mind that franchises like to take chances on. The Cowboys stayed afloat with backup quarterback Cooper Rush for 5 games this year, which is a testament to Moore’s system.

Duce Staley, Lions assistant head coach: One of the stars of “Hard Knocks” this season, Staley is in his fifth year as an assistant head coach (three with the Eagles, two with the Lions).

Who are the best available defensive coaches?

Even though the last three Super Bowl-winning coaches were offensive-minded, this sport was built on defense. From Don Shula to Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, some of the greatest coaches in football history have defensive ties.

Four teams turned to defensive coaches in the latest coaching cycle, and they’ve had varying degrees of success so far in 2022. Todd Bowles (Bucs) and Dennis Allen (Saints) have their teams in the playoff mix, while Lovie Smith (Texans) and Matt Eberflus (Bears) are tasked with rebuilding projects.

Here are the best defensive coaches available for hire:

DeMeco Ryans, 49ers defensive coordinator: In his second season running the 49ers’ defense, Ryans has only gotten better. Between Ryans’ play-calling, schemes and leadership qualities, he’s a near-lock to get hired after he was a finalist for the Vikings job last year.

Brian Flores, Steelers senior defensive assistant: The former Dolphins head coach could be back in the mix even after filing a racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL. He’s proven to be a strong leader and coach, going 24-25 with Miami despite having limited talent on the roster.

Leslie Frazier, Bills defensive coordinator: Frazier went 21-32-1 as Vikings head coach from 2010 to 2013, but teams have shown interest in him lately thanks to his strong run as Bills DC. At 63 years old, Frazier would instantly become one of the league’s oldest head coaches.

Dan Quinn, Cowboys defensive coordinator: After being fired by the Falcons, Quinn landed on his feet in Dallas and transformed the Cowboys’ defense. He’s proven to be a top-tier DC after leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl in 2016.

Jonathan Gannon, Eagles defensive coordinator: As long as the Eagles continue to win, the more likely it is that their staff gets poached this winter. Gannon, 39, interviewed for head coaching jobs last year and Philly’s defense is even better in 2022 so far.

Patrick Graham, Raiders defensive coordinator: Graham, 43, is another young mind who got interviews last year. Now with the Raiders after years with the Patriots, Dolphins, Giants and Packers, Graham has paid his dues by working all across the league.

Lou Anarumo, Bengals defensive coordinator: The Bengals’ offense got the publicity during their Super Bowl run, but Anarumo’s defense deserved more credit after stopping Mahomes and the Chiefs. Anarumo, 56, interviewed for the Giants’ job last year before sticking with Cincinnati.

Jerod Mayo, Patriots defensive assistant: Belichick’s assistants are always sought after, even if the Patriots aren’t what they once were. Mayo has been on New England’s defensive staff since 2019, interviewing for multiple head coaching gigs over the years.

Which NFL teams need a new head coach?

So far this season, the NFL has two head coaching vacancies. First, it was the Carolina Panthers’ Matt Rhule, and now the Indianapolis Colts’ Frank Reich.

After a 3-5-1 start to the 2022 season, Indianapolis announced Reich's departure on Monday via Twitter. Colts owner Jim Irsay announced that former center Jeff Saturday will step in as the team’s interim head coach.

Carolina fired Rhule after two-plus seasons, where he compiled an 11-27 record while starting five different quarterbacks. He initially signed a seven-year contract after departing from Baylor University, so the Panthers are on the hook for some extra cash before ridding themselves of Rhule.

Beyond the Colts and Panthers, there are several teams that could look for a new coach in 2023.

Ron Rivera of the Washington Commanders figures to be on the hot seat as losses stack up. Washington won seven games in each of Rivera’s first two seasons with the team, but things have fallen apart in 2022.