Roundup: Who's interviewing for which NFL head coaching openings?

Shalise Manza Young
·Yahoo Sports Columnist

In case you’re finding it hard to keep up with all of the reports on who is interviewing where during this NFL head coaching hiring cycle, we’re trying to make it easy for you.

Here’s a roundup of which teams are interviewing which candidates (This post has been updated with new reports of interviews):

New York Jets

Popular guy: Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is scheduled to interview with four teams for their head coaching vacancies and turned down a fifth opportunity. (Getty Images)
Popular guy: Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is scheduled to interview with four teams for their head coaching vacancies and turned down a fifth opportunity. (Getty Images)

The Jets are clearly looking for someone who can help develop Sam Darnold, and all but one of the coaches they’ve reportedly requested interviews with have experience on the offensive side of the ball:

  • Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator: Bieniemy has become one of the hot names this hiring cycle thanks to the Chiefs’ success and specifically, Pat Mahomes’ success. This is Bieniemy’s first season as coordinator, but he doesn’t call the plays – Andy Reid does. Will that hurt him with teams? Yahoo’s Terez Paylor wrote a great profile of Bieniemy, who interviewed with the Jets on Wednesday.

  • Mike McCarthy, former Green Bay Packers head coach: McCarthy’s resume doesn’t need much rehashing. He spent the past 13 seasons with one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers. While many teams are showing interest, McCarthy is reportedly being picky on where he interviews, so he must like what he has seen from Darnold.

  • Todd Monken, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator: Monken had a weird season in Tampa Bay. Dirk Koetter stripped him of his play-calling duties in November, only to give them back a week later. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who worked with Monken with the Bucs, raves about him as a possible head coach.

  • Kliff Kingsbury, Southern California offensive coordinator: Kingsbury is drawing interest as an NFL head coach even though he’s never coached a day in the league. The NFL’s current offensive trend is the run-pass option, and Kingsbury has experience there.

  • Kris Richard, Dallas Cowboys passing game coordinator/cornerbacks coach: Richard helped turn around the Cowboys’ defense, and while he isn’t an offensive guy, the Jets have one of the best young secondaries in the NFL, and Richard coached the Legion of Boom in Seattle.

  • Adam Gase, former Miami Dolphins head coach: His inability to turn QB Ryan Tannehill into a success helped contribute to his demise in South Florida. The Jets, however, are giving him a shot, according to various media outlets that reported Gase will interview with the team.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos, unlike some teams, are speaking to several defensive coaches:

  • Vic Fangio, Chicago Bears defensive coordinator: Fangio is vastly different than the majority of hot candidates: he’s older (60) and he has spent his entire career on defense. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t make a good head coach, it’s just that many teams think they’re going to find the next Sean McVay or Matt Nagy, and, well, it’s just not that easy. Besides, defense still leads to success: seven of the top 10 defenses in terms of points allowed this season are in the playoffs.

  • Brian Flores, New England Patriots linebackers coach/de facto defensive coordinator: Flores was a finalist for the Arizona Cardinals’ job last year, before he was even calling the plays for New England (Bill Belichick’s history is to have a coach run the offense or defense for a year before formally bestowing the coordinator title). He’s a hot name this hiring cycle, beloved by his players.

  • Chuck Pagano, former Indianapolis Colts head coach: After a year away from coaching, Pagano has thrown his name back in the ring and interviewed with Denver on Wednesday. The 58-year-old is a Colorado native with a long background on defense but had success with the Colts before Andrew Luck’s injury and the terrible decision-making of GM Ryan Grigson did him in.

  • Zac Taylor, Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach: Taylor hits all the trendy boxes – he’s young, he coaches offense, he coaches a young, successful quarterback. And if other clubs can’t get McVay himself, why not try to get someone who works closely with him?

  • Mike Munchak, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach: A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a stellar left guard with the Houston Oilers, Munchak also has a previous head coaching stint on his resume, with the Tennessee Titans. He was 22-26 there from 2011-13.

Cleveland Browns

Former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is meeting with the Jets and Browns about their coaching vacancies. (AP)
Former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is meeting with the Jets and Browns about their coaching vacancies. (AP)

The Browns are certainly being thorough, with no fewer than six requests. Whether they go through all of them before making a decision remains to be seen:

  • Gregg Williams, interim head coach/defensive coordinator: Williams was the Browns’ first interview, and he earned it. Cleveland was 5-3 over the final eight games of the season with him as interim, the most wins it has had since 2014 (for the season the Browns were 7-8-1).

  • Freddie Kitchens, offensive coordinator: Kitchens’ star is rising quickly. Before a couple of months ago, he had never been a coordinator on any level, and now he’s interviewing to be a head coach. If he doesn’t get it, the man who is hired to be head coach might be wise to keep Kitchens if he has a strong relationship with Baker Mayfield.

  • Mike McCarthy: McCarthy so far has accepted interviews with only the Browns and Jets. Both have quarterbacks coming off their rookie seasons.

  • Dan Campbell, New Orleans Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach: Campbell entered the national NFL consciousness in 2015, when as Dolphins tight ends coach he was named interim head coach after Joe Philbin was fired; Miami was 5-7 on his watch. He has been with the Saints since 2016, and has gotten a few interview requests.

  • Brian Flores: Flores was pegged as a future coaching star by his Patriots coworkers a decade ago; is this the year he gets the chance to prove them right?

  • Kevin Stefanski, Minnesota Vikings interim offensive coordinator: The Vikings fired John DeFilippo in December and promoted Stefanski, considered an up-and-coming young coach. The Giants wanted him for their coordinator job last year, but Minnesota blocked the interview. The Vikings can’t block the 36-year-old from interviewing this year, since his contract is lapsing. Minnesota could bring him back as coordinator.

Miami Dolphins

Don Shula was, of course, a phenomenal coach. But the Dolphins are looking for their eighth full-time head coach (not counting interims) since Shula retired 23 years ago, after the 1995 season:

  • Eric Bieniemy: Beloved and no-nonsense, Bieniemy brushes off that as a former NFL running back he can’t coach quarterbacks, saying it’s all part of coaching offense.

  • Vic Fangio: The Dolphins definitely need help on defense because when that unit was bad, it was very bad. All but one of Miami’s nine losses this season was by double-digits, with an average point differential of 16.9 points per loss (5.4 point differential in wins).

  • Kris Richard: Richard could become the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, but he got his boss’ stamp of approval on Wednesday, with Jason Garrett telling reporters Richard is a “really, really good football coach.”

  • Brian Flores: Flores is familiar with the Dolphins’ strengths and weaknesses after seeing them twice a season with New England.

  • Dennis Allen, New Orleans defensive coordinator: Allen will reportedly interview with Dolphins’ brass on Saturday, his first known interview this cycle. The 46-year-old has coordinated the Saints’ defense since 2015, lifting it from dead last in the league statistically.

Arizona Cardinals

Coming off their worst season in years, the Cardinals opted to keep general manager Steve Keim but fired coach Steve Wilks after just one year. If Keim doesn’t nail this coaching search, both he and whoever he hires will be looking for new jobs:

  • Zac Taylor: He served as the Dolphins’ interim coordinator in 2015, after Bill Lazor was fired (which happened under Campbell, not Philbin). His father-in-law is former Packers head coach Mike Sherman.

  • Adam Gase: One report said Gase was not a fan of Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen when Rosen was in the draft last year, while another said Gase was “obsessed” with him. Either way, Gase made a name for himself working with Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler.

  • Kliff Kingsbury: Is it worth wondering why, if Kingsbury was fired by a Big 12 college team, he’s getting interviews with NFL teams?

  • Dan Campbell: Campbell considers three years of learning under Sean Payton as graduate-level education. Like Bieniemy, his career in the NFL makes him more relatable to players.

  • Jim Caldwell: Caldwell reportedly interviewed with the Cardinals on Thursday. He has worked with plenty of quarterbacks, and the one he worked with most recently, Matthew Stafford, had the best seasons of his career in terms of touchdown-to-interception ratio during Caldwell’s tenure with the Lions.

Green Bay Packers

Brian Flores is drawing a lot of attention after just one year as the New England Patriots’ defensive play-caller. (Getty Images)
Brian Flores is drawing a lot of attention after just one year as the New England Patriots’ defensive play-caller. (Getty Images)

The Packers aren’t in the market for a new head coach very often, and they’re casting a wide net in their search:

  • Joe Philbin, interim head coach/offensive coordinator: Philbin interviewed with the Packers to have the “interim” title removed. Hopefully Green Bay brass asked if Philbin has done any work on his approach to in-game challenges.

  • Jim Caldwell, former Detroit Lions head coach: Caldwell interviewed with Green Bay last week. He may not have a great personality in front of cameras, but it’s hard to quibble with his results: in seven seasons as a head coach, four with the Colts and three with the Lions, he posted a 62-50 record and four playoff appearances, including the 2009 season’s AFC championship with Indianapolis.

  • Chuck Pagano: Pagano, whose profile was raised nationally when he missed much of his rookie season as a head coach with the Colts in 2012 due to a battle with leukemia, wants another chance to run a team.

  • Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator: It’s surprising that McDaniels is getting interviews just a year after leaving the Colts at the altar. At least one report has him as the favorite to get the job in Green Bay, but can he be trusted this time around?

  • Brian Flores: It will be a little weird in Foxborough, Massachusetts on Friday – Packers brass will be in town to interview both McDaniels and Flores, who have been coworkers for years.

  • Pete Carmichael Jr., Saints offensive coordinator: Carmichael doesn’t call plays for the Saints – that’s Sean Payton – but he has still been involved with one of the league’s best offenses for over a decade.

  • Dan Campbell: Another awkward situation, as Campbell and Carmichael will also be interviewing for the same job.

  • Matt LaFleur, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator: Another under-40 offensive coach, LaFleur was the Rams’ offensive coordinator in 2017, but left for Tennessee a year later because Mike Vrabel gave him the opportunity to call plays.

  • Adam Gase: Gase is gaining in popularity as the days pass. There’s no date set, but he will reportedly interview with Green Bay as well, after meeting with the Jets and Cardinals.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals haven’t had to look for a head coach since 2003, when at least one of their candidates was just starting college. They’re interviewing three in-house candidates plus several others:

  • Hue Jackson, former Cleveland Browns head coach: Marvin Lewis gave Jackson, who joined the Bengals as “special assistant to the head coach” after being fired by the Browns, a ringing endorsement. Not exactly an inspiring hire for Cincinnati fans.

  • Darrin Simmons, special teams coach: Simmons has run the Bengals’ special teams since Marvin Lewis was hired, in 2003. While we don’t see special teams coaches hired as head coaches often, at least one man thinks it’s a no-brainer: Bill Belichick, who coached special teams before moving to defense, believes they’re natural fits as head coaches because they work with almost every player on a roster in their role.

  • Bill Lazor, offensive coordinator: Lazor ran the Bengals’ offense for the past two years, and was the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2016. Last season, Cincinnati was 26th in the NFL in points scored and 32nd in yards; this season, it was 17th and 26th, respectively.

  • Vance Joseph, former Broncos head coach: Joseph could be a favorite in Cincinnati. He spent 2014-15 with the team as defensive backs coach, before getting the chance to be Miami’s defensive coordinator in 2016. Joseph got a bad shake in Denver, saddled with a rotation of quarterback dreck in 2017 (Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch), and Case Keenum, who left his 2017 Cinderella season with the Vikings in Minnesota.

  • Zac Taylor: Taylor is still just 35, and despite the success of his current boss, McVay, other young coaches have struggled in their first go-around.

  • Eric Bieniemy: Bieniemy spent four of his nine years as a player in the NFL with the Bengals, so there’s likely a sentimental pull for him with this job.

  • Shane Waldron, Rams tight ends coach/passing game coordinator: One of the lesser-known names among this year’s list of candidates, the 39-year-old Waldron used his prep school connection – both he and Bill Belichick attended prestigious Phillips Academy Andover – to get a low-level job with the Patriots out of college. From there, he followed Charlie Weis to Notre Dame, though he returned to New England for a bit. He joined the Rams last year with McVay.

  • Josh McDaniels: The Patriots have been top-5 in scoring offense every year since 2012, the year McDaniels rejoined the team. Having Tom Brady certainly helps, of course.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s hard to get ahead in the NFL when you switch head coaches so quickly. The Buccaneers’ next head coach will be their sixth in the last decade.

  • Eric Bieniemy: The Buccaneers are the fourth of four teams Bieniemy is interviewing with; he declined the chance to meet with the Cardinals.

  • George Edwards, Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator: Mike Zimmer hired Edwards five years ago, when he was named head coach of the Vikings. Together, they’ve made Minnesota one of the best defenses in the NFL, top-9 in points allowed in each of the past four years, including 2017, when the Vikings were No. 1 in points and yards allowed.

  • Kris Richard: The 39-year-old Richard is also a former NFL player (six seasons as a cornerback for four teams), which usually helps with those he’s coaching because he’s been there.

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