As the NFL enters its final weekend, the day known as Black Monday looms.
Three teams – Houston, Atlanta and Detroit – already have fired their head coaches, and more figure to follow. Matt Nagy (Chicago), Anthony Lynn (Chargers), Doug Marrone (Jags), Adam Gase (Jets) and Doug Pederson (Philadelphia) all seemingly are on the hot seat. And every few years, a team seems to deliver a surprise firing.
Meanwhile, the rumor mill, which has already begun to gradually crank up, soon will kick into high gear as teams begin lining up interviews with candidates.
Here’s a look at 25 coaches (in alphabetical order) regarded by many around the league as the leading candidates for head coaching consideration this offseason.
Dennis Allen – The Saints defensive coordinator boasts 19 years of NFL coaching experience (three as a head coach in Oakland, 2012-14), and a Super Bowl ring as secondary coach in New Orleans (2009). He has directed top-10 defenses in five of the last six seasons.
Eric Bieniemy – Co-mastermind of one of the most potent attacks, the former running back is concluding his third season as Kansas City offensive coordinator, and 13th NFL coaching season overall. Bieniemy is regarded as one of the top candidates this offseason.
Todd Bowles – A 21-year NFL coaching veteran, Bowles has four seasons of head coaching experience (Jets, 2015-18). He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as defensive coordinator in 2019, directing a top-5 unit the last two seasons. Bowles played nine seasons in the NFL as a defensive back.
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Joe Brady – One of the youngest candidates in the field, the 31-year-old Brady has drawn praise in first season as offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. He has three years of NFL coaching experience, and five in college (William & Mary 2013-14, Penn State 2015-16, LSU 2019).
Jim Caldwell – A two-time Super Bowl winner as an offensive coordinator (Indianapolis and Baltimore), and Super Bowl runner up as a head coach (Indianapolis), Caldwell ranks among the most experienced candidates with 18 NFL seasons and 24 college seasons under his belt. The 65-year-old is regarded as a strong quarterback tutor and offensive mind.
Romeo Crennel – The Houston Texans’ interim head coach, Crennel boasts 38 years of NFL coaching experience, on top of 13 college seasons. The 73-year-old won three Super Bowls as Patriots defensive coordinator two Super Bowls with the Giants as defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator.
Brian Daboll – The 45-year-old Daboll has received praise for his work with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills’ offense, which have both steadily improved the last three seasons and now ranks among the top units in the league. Daboll has seven seasons of offensive coordinator experience, and spent 11 years under Bill Belichick in New England as a defensive assistant, receivers coach, and tight ends coach
Matt Eberflus – Concluding his third season as Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator, the 50-year-old Eberflus has 12 NFL seasons (prior stints as linebackers coach in Dallas and Cleveland), and 17 college seasons to his claim.
Tony Elliott – As co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach at Clemson, Elliott has helped the Tigers to two national titles and is praised as an innovative offensive mind. The 41-year-old, who played wide receiver at Clemson, has a total of 15 college seasons of experience.
James Franklin – Penn State’s head coach has been on NFL radars for some time; yet, he has remained on the college ranks, concluding his seventh season with the Nittany Lions before coaching Vanderbilt for three seasons before that.
Leslie Frazier – Buffalo’s defense has thrived under Frazier’s direction the last four seasons, and his 22 years of NFL experience, which includes a head coaching stint with the Vikings, a Super Bowl ring as a member of Tony Dungy’s staff in Indianapolis, and 11 college seasons make him attractive.
Patrick Graham – A member of the Bill Belichick coaching tree, Graham has caught the eye of NFL decision-makers as Giants assistant head coach/defensive coordinator this season, and Dolphins defensive coordinator in 2019. Graham spent seven seasons on Belichick’s staff and won a Super Bowl in 2015 as linebackers coach.
Pep Hamilton – The long-time quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator deserves a lot of credit for Justin Herbert’s success as a rookie for the Chargers. Hamilton has one season of head coaching experience with the XFL’s D.C. Defenders.
Byron Leftwich – The former NFL quarterback has transitioned nicely into the coaching ranks. After two seasons as quarterbacks coach in Arizona, he followed Bruce Arians to Tampa Bay where he has served as offensive coordinator the last two years.
Marvin Lewis – Lewis seems poised for a return to the NFL after spending the last two seasons on Herm Edwards’ Arizona State staff. As head coach of the Bengals, Lewis took his team to the playoffs seven of 16 seasons. He won a Super Bowl as Ravens defensive coordinator in 2000.
Josh McDaniels – The Patriots offensive coordinator is expected to draw interest despite the fact that he backed out of the Colts’ head coaching job three seasons ago. McDaniels helped the Patriots to five Super Bowl victories during his 16 seasons in Foxborough.
Urban Meyer – The winner of two national titles at Florida (2006, 2008) and one at Ohio State (2014), Meyer hasn’t coached since 2018, yet, he always seems to have his name linked to high profile NFL jobs. Some league insiders question both his fit and interest in pro football, but that might not keep some teams from trying.
Todd Monken – The 54-year-old has bounced back and forth between the pro and college games for the last 32 years, most recently serving as offensive coordinator at Georgia following four straight seasons as OC for the Buccaneers (2016-18) and Browns (2019).
Raheem Morris – The Atlanta Falcons interim head coach ranks among the most versatile candidates in the field. He has three seasons worth of experience as a head coach (Tampa, 2009-11), as well as defensive backs, defensive coordinator, wide receivers and offensive passing game coordinator stints on his resume.
Greg Roman – The Ravens offensive coordinator is credited for his creativity with Lamar Jackson the last two seasons. Roman, a 23-year NFL coaching vet, has six prior seasons of OC experience with Buffalo and San Francisco.
Robert Saleh – San Francisco’s defensive coordinator will rank among the most sought-after coaches on the market. Even this year, with his best players from the Super Bowl contender either lost to injury or free agency, Saleh still has the 49ers defense ranked among the top 10.
Brian Schottenheimer – The son of long-time NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer, Brian Schottenheimer has served as the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator the last three seasons and has 10 previous seasons as a play-caller to his resume.
Arthur Smith – The 38-year-old Titans offensive coordinator replaced Matt LaFleur, when he left for Green Bay two seasons ago, and has since only elevated Tennessee’s unit. Smith’s Titans ranks top five in yards and points.
Steve Spagnuolo – Spags helped the Chiefs win the Super Bowl in his first season as defensive coordinator. He also directed a Super Bowl-winning defense with the Giants (2007). He has 21 total years of NFL coaching experience including three as a head coach (St. Louis, 2009-11) and eight as a DC.
Mel Tucker – The Michigan State head coach boasts 10 years of NFL experience as a defensive coordinator (Chicago, Jacksonville, Cleveland) and defensive backs coach (Cleveland). He served as head coach at Colorado before making the move to Michigan State this season.
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