NFL Coaching Nominees for 2023: DeMeco Ryans, Lou Anarumo Among 10 Hot Merchandise, Ready for the Next Step

Back with my annual list of head coaching candidates for this year’s hiring cycle.

We know at least two teams will be interviewing coaches for their top job at the end of the year, with the Colts and Panthers currently on interims. Jeff Saturday and Steve Wilks can’t just be handed permanent positions on their respective teams, so interviews have to take place in Indianapolis and Carolina.

Elsewhere, the Denver Broncos look certain to open at the end of the year. The Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans could also be looking for new head coaches. And there’s always the possibility of a surprise layoff or retirement.

Below is a list of coaches I believe are (or should be) getting head coach interviews this cycle, including highlighting 10 of the top names (in no particular order). One thing to keep in mind about this list, as well as the GM list coming out next week, is that teams rarely hire a coach from a team that has had a losing season. I find that ridiculous because there are great coaches on teams that can lose for any number of reasons. So there will be a lot of names on those lists of people on teams that are currently under .500.

Lou Anarumo, Bengals defensive coordinator: The 56-year-old Staten Islander has Patrick Mahomes’ number. In their three games, Anarumo’s defense held Mahomes at these second-half numbers: 0 touchdowns, two interceptions, a 54.5 passer rating, and three losses. Mahomes in the second half against everyone else in the league since 2020: 59 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 106.4 passer rating.

Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator: The longtime Chiefs OC somehow got by, with nearly two-thirds of the league changing coaches in the last three seasons. He has a one-year contract with the Chiefs and is hoping this is finally the year. Without a top-three receiver in the league, Bieniemy was able to transform that Chiefs offense with Andy Reid and Mahomes to keep them among the best in the league.

Leslie Frazier, Bills defensive coordinator: We checked Frazier’s credibility a few weeks ago. Buffalo has the second-best defense in the league for 15 weeks of the season. Frazier is ready for his second chance at a stint as head coach.

Jonathan Gannon, Eagles defensive coordinator: As a finalist for the Texans’ performance a year ago, Gannon has a defensive ranking in the top three in yards allowed, touchdowns allowed, and interceptions. Since the bye in Week 7, no team has put more pressure on passing plays than the Eagles.

Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator: Moore caused quite a stir last year but didn’t get a starring role. This year, he’s making the Cowboys offense buzz again despite shortcomings at the wide receiver position. He was the voice in Cooper Rush’s ear as the backup went 4-1 while Dak Prescott was injured.

Sean Payton, former Saints head coach: Payton has clearly stated his intention to return to the sidelines. He only takes a job where he has a quarterback or has the ability to get one. Watching the Saints fall apart after his departure only boosted his asking price.

Dan Quinn, Cowboys defense coordinator: Quinn, the Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator for the Seahawks and near-Super Bowl-winning head coach for the Falcons, had a top seven defense in his two seasons with the Cowboys. No team has more takeaways this season than Dallas.

DeMeco Ryans, 49ers defense coordinator: His players can still remember his Pro Bowl season. At 38, Ryans is one of the hottest coaching candidates. He climbed the corporate ladder in San Francisco and won the 49ers defense.

Shane Steichen, Eagles offense coordinator: Steichen calls games by unbalancing the defense. I learned more about him in this week’s great article on Conor Orr, and teams with spots will want to speak to the 13-1 Eagles’ offensive play-caller.

Steve Wilks, interim head coach of the Panthers: If Wilks can get the Panthers into the playoffs after taking on a 1-4 team that traded Christian McCaffrey, the job should be obvious. A solid argument could be made that he has already done enough to earn the steady job. He’s hit the Panthers hard every week and the players are following his lead.

The rest: Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia; Titans OC Shane Bowen; Rams assistant head coach/tight ends coach Thomas Brown; Bengals OC Brian Callahan; Bills OC Ken Dorsey; Broncos DC Ejiro Evero; Lions DC Aaron Glenn; Raiders DC Patrick Graham; Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh; Cardinals DC Vance Joseph; Buccaneer OC Byron Leftwich; Patriots inside Linebackers coach Jerod Mayo; Rams DC Raheem Morris; former head coach of the Texans Bill O’Brien; former Colts head coach Frank Reich; former Stanford head coach David Shaw; Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo; Seahawks OC Shane Waldron; Bill’s defense coach Eric Washington.

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