NFL insider notebook: Top head coach and coordinator candidates entering 2022
Written by Lucky Wilson | KJMM.COM on January 11, 2022
Last week I took a good, long look at the top GM candidates for this year’s cycle.
This week … you guessed it … it’ll be head coaches, offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators. I enlisted a similar set of coaches, executives, agents and league sources in an anonymous polling over this past week-plus to cultivate the best list I could.
There could always be surprises, but it doesn’t feel like there’s going to be a ton of head-coaching turnover this season. The Raiders and Jaguars will obviously have new head coaches. The Bears will be in the market for one, and the Vikings may. And despite what their respective fan bases may be calling for, I’m told the Giants and Panthers will be standing pat this offseason.
All that said, here’s the list in alphabetical order.
Head coach candidates
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs OC: He’s been passed over two straight offseasons (and you could argue three) for HC jobs. Bieniemy is a key part of what the Chiefs have going.
Brian Daboll, Bills OC: He helped turn Josh Allen into a MVP runner-up and quarter-billion dollar man. Many around the league were stunned he didn’t get the Chargers job last season.
Matt Eberflus, Colts DC: Eberflus leads the most opportunistic defense in the NFL that just shut down Bill Belichick’s Pats.
Jerry Gray, Packers DBs coach/passing game coordinator: Gray could wind up being a top DC name if a head coach job doesn’t happen. He showed what he could do when he took over for Joe Barry in the Packers’ win against Arizona.
Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers OC: Leftwich should get multiple interviews this cycle and is ready to lead.
Mike McDaniel, 49ers OC: McDaniel is a Shanahan disciple who’s collaborated with Kyle to find creative ways to get playmakers the ball.
Josh McDaniels, Patriots OC: How things went down in Indianapolis can give a lot of team owners justifiable pause. He won’t just jump at any offer, though, considering how good he has it in New England.
Raheem Morris, Rams DC: Morris pulled the unusual duty of coaching both sides of the ball in Atlanta before the team made a turnaround with him as interim head coach in 2020.
Kevin O’Connell, Rams OC: The former NFL QB has been at Sean McVay’s side the last two years.
Doug Pederson: This Super Bowl-winning coach took the year off and should be a candidate for Jacksonville’s opening.
Dan Quinn, Cowboys DC: He’s whipped that struggling defense into form in just one year.
Offensive coordinator candidates
Joe Brady: The former Panthers OC was let go after less than two years at the position, but he’s already gotten calls and could very well reclaim an OC spot in a few weeks.
Josh Gattis, University of Michigan OC: Named the top assistant coach in the nation this year, Gattis has put together an impressive resume in just a decade in coaching.
Luke Getsy, Packers QB coach/passing game coordinator: He’s been with Green Bay since 2019 and would be in line to assume the OC gig there if Hackett leaves.
Pep Hamilton, Texans QB coach/passing game coordinator: Hamilton has been able to guide Andrew Luck and Justin Herbert. Hard to believe he’s not an OC right now.
Mike Kafka, Chiefs QB coach/passing game coordinator: The triumvirate of Andy Reid, Bieniemy and Kafka has the Chiefs’ offense humming again.
Zac Robinson, Rams assistant QB coach: His only coaching experience is three years with McVay in L.A., but he could get some looks.
Bobby Slowik, 49ers offensive passing game specialist: He comes from a family of coaches and has had his hands on a lot in that organization.
Duce Staley, Lions assistant HC/RB coach: The former Eagles great joined Dan Campbell’s staff this year and has been ready for an OC job.
Defensive coordinator candidates
Teryl Austin, Steelers senior defensive assistant/secondary coach: The longtime defensive assistant was one of the names most repeated to me for this exercise.
James Bettcher, 49ers senior defensive assistant/run game specialist: He’s carved out a role in San Francisco after being DC with the Cardinals and Giants.
Al Holcomb, Panthers defensive run game coordinator: The former Cardinals DC has a Panthers defense allowing just 4.1 yards per carry this season.
Jim Leonhard, University of Wisconsin defensive coordinator: The former safety has been a star coordinator at Wisconsin and turned down an opportunity with the Packers last season.
Jerod Mayo, Patriots ILB coach: Mayo could easily be on the head coach list after interviewing for the Eagles gig last season.
Aubrey Pleasant, Lions DBs coach/passing game coordinator: He’s navigated well a trying season with a young and injured secondary.
Kris Richard, Saints DBs coach: Richard made his name in Seattle before going to Dallas. He now oversees a stingy Saints defensive backfield.
Jay Rodgers, Chargers OLB coach/run game coordinator: A former college assistant who’s shown promise on the defensive side of the ball.
Eric Washington, Bills DL coach: Washington was Carolina’s DC before joining Sean McDermott in Buffalo, and he operates one of the deepest DLs in all of football.
Joe Whitt Jr., Cowboys secondary coach/defensive passing game coordinator: He’s been paired with Dan Quinn the last few years and has coached up Trevon Diggs.
Christmas song list
Because the notebook this week is full of lists, why not add one more?
As you and your family gather round the tree and yule log, make sure you’re playing these tunes as they are the top-five greatest Christmas songs of all time.
“This Christmas” — Donny Hathaway
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” — Barenaked Ladies (feat. Sarah McLachlan)
“The Christmas Song” — Nat King Cole
“All I Want For Christmas Is You” — Mariah Carey
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” — The Jackson 5
This list is final for 2021 and we will consider adjustments in 2022.
Week 16 picks
A very solid 12-4 week for your guy here brings me to 150-73-1 on the year. I took the Niners on Thursday night. With all the COVID issues going around the league, I’d like to officially reserve the right to change my picks from when this is published Friday morning until kickoff. Savvy?
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
The pick: Bengals
Bills at Patriots
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
Bill Belichick has the cheat code. The worst thing that could have happened to the Bills heading into this game was the Patriots losing to the Colts in the fashion that they did.
The pick: Patriots
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