The NFL coaching carousel has wasted almost zero time in reaching peak spin, with teams firing coaches almost as soon as the regular season ended and setting up interviews with replacements soon thereafter. Here’s a look at the reported targets for each of the eight NFL teams with openings.
Vance Joseph, recently fired by the Broncos, is traveling to Cincinnati on Wednesday to interview for the Bengals’ head coaching job. His discussions will stretch over Thursday and Friday (via ESPN’s Josina Anderson). Joseph spent two seasons as Cincinnati’s defensive backs coach in 2014 and 2015 and reportedly has a “strong relationship” with team owner Mike Brown. Cincinnati is searching for its first new head coach since 2003.
But what if the Bengals already have made up their mind to hire Hue Jackson, who came to Cincinnati as an assistant to Marvin Lewis after his midseason firing by the Browns? Would that mean Joseph is interviewing to become the Bengals’ new defensive coordinator, as Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio posited Tuesday? According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Cincinnati’s interview with Jackson could happen as soon as Wednesday. The Bengals already have interviewed in-house candidates Darrin Simmons and Bill Lazor, according to Rapoport.
The Bengals also will sit down with very busy Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on Friday (via Rapoport). Bieniemy has spent just one year as Andy Reid’s top offensive assistant but seems likely to follow the path of Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy — his predecessors in Kansas City — in landing a head coaching job.
Cleveland is looking for its ninth full-time head coach since 1999, and one prospect already has had an extended audition: Gregg Williams spent the second half of the season as the team’s interim head coach after Hue Jackson’s firing. He interviewed for the permanent role on Tuesday (via Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot).
But Cleveland is casting a pretty wide net, reportedly reaching out to at least six candidates. Mike McCarthy, deposed as Packers coach toward the end of the regular season, will sit down with the Browns on Thursday (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky), one day before they chat with Saints tight ends coach/assistant head coach Dan Campbell (via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). Kevin Stefanski, currently the interim offensive coordinator in Minnesota, will interview with Cleveland officials on Monday (Rapoport).
Whoever takes the reigns in Denver will be the Broncos’ fourth head coach in six seasons. Chuck Pagano, who spent six seasons leading the Colts, will interview Wednesday and perhaps into Thursday (Rapoport). Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will sit down with John Elway and Co. on Monday (Rapoport).
One of the more intriguing names to emerge on this year’s coaching carousel popped up Tuesday, with David Haugh of 670 the Score in Chicago reporting that Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly is “a coach of interest to the Buccaneers.” Kelly interviewed with the Eagles after the 2012 season, when he led the Fighting Irish to the BCS title game, and his stock again is high following Notre Dame’s appearance in the College Football Playoff semifinals this season.
The Buccaneers have been down this path before, hiring Greg Schiano away from Rutgers in 2012. Two years and an 11-21 record later, they moved on to someone else.
Tampa Bay also will sit down with Bieniemy on Wednesday (Rapoport) and with Campbell at some point this weekend (Pelissero). Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards will travel to meet with Bucs officials on Friday (Anderson).
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, meanwhile, reported that the Bucs might be slow-playing their hire so they can wait and see whether they can get Ravens Coach John Harbaugh via trade, which is about the only viable way to make it happen considering he’s under contract through next season. However, the Ravens announced just before Christmas that Harbaugh would be back in 2019 and that the two sides were working on a contract extension. In any case, it’s something to keep tabs on, especially if the Ravens bow out to the Chargers in the wild-card round on Sunday.
Kliff Kingsbury has popped up on the radar of NFL teams and will interview for Arizona’s head coaching job (via Yahoo’s Charles Robinson). Just 39, Kingsbury spent the last six seasons as head coach at Texas Tech but was fired in November after the Red Raiders’ third straight losing season and a 35-40 overall record. Less than two weeks later, USC hired him to be its offensive coordinator. Despite his lackluster record as a college head coach, Kingsbury is seen as a coach with a keen eye for spotting and/or developing young quarterbacks (Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum come to mind), and one whose offensive skill set could work well in the modern NFL.
Arizona also will sit down with Campbell “before the weekend’s over” (Pelissero).
With the Miami job seen as one of the least-desirable openings, whoever accepts the position will come into the role knowing that owner Stephen Ross has had something of an itchy firing finger over the years. One candidate certainly knows all about this: Darren Rizzi, who has been a Dolphins assistant since 2010 — working under three head coaches — and will interview for the top job at some point soon (via MMQB’s Albert Breer).
Bieniemy’s interview with Miami is Thursday (Rapoport). Fangio will interview on Monday (Rapoport). Among the other reported candidates: Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak and Cowboys secondary coach Kris Richards.
And then there’s the other Harbaugh, the one coaching at Michigan (Ross’s alma mater). Jim Harbaugh’s name usually pops up at this time of year, and former NFL scout and executive Mark Dominik tweeted Monday that Miami will be the team “that will try the hardest” to lure Harbaugh back to the NFL.
On the one hand, Harbaugh has been pretty adamant that he has no plans to leave Michigan. On the other hand, he’s never stayed more than four years at any of his previous head coaching jobs, and he recently finished his fourth season in Ann Arbor, one that ended with disappointing losses to Ohio State and Florida.
With a promising young quarterback in Sam Darnold, the No. 3 pick in the upcoming NFL draft and lots of salary cap room, the Jets have plenty to offer their new head coach. Bieniemy interviewed with New York officials on Wednesday, the team announced.
New York also has requested to interview Todd Monken, who spent last season as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator under the recently fired Dirk Koetter. Monken started the season calling plays, had that role taken away from him midway through the season, then had that power restored to him later on.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweeted Wednesday that Jets fans also should “keep an eye on” Matt Rhule, who got scandal-ravaged Baylor back to a bowl game this season, his second in Waco after a four-year run at Temple.
Green Bay seems to have one person as its main target in its first head coaching search since 2006: Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who nearly took the Colts head coaching job last year before backing out. A source told Zachary Jacobson that McDaniels is the team’s leading candidate, and that the only way he doesn’t take the job “is if he doesn’t want it.” Rapoport reported that he’s expected to interview on Friday.
But the Packers reportedly aren’t limiting their search and will interview Campbell on Saturday (Pelissero). Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that the Packers also have interest in Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr.
One potential target has taken his name out of the running, with Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald publicly proclaiming that he would remain in Evanston after the Wildcats’ win over Utah in the Holiday Bowl on Monday night.