The 2023 regular season has wrapped and there's just two more Sundays of football left. While four clubs still have their Super Bowl dreams alive this weekend, there are still two teams (Washington Commanders and Seattle Seahawks) with an opening for a head coach.
Below, we've rounded up to the top candidates this cycle who will certainly have their names floated out for potentially multiple openings across the league.
1. Bill Belichick
Belichick might be the most sought-after coach in NFL history now that he and the Patriots have amicably agreed to part ways. While New England has floundered a bit in this post-Tom Brady era under Belichick, he is still a strong head coach and will absolutely garner attention from the rest of the league, as reported by CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson. How the 71-year-old Belichick -- who had been New England's GM -- handles player personnel at his potential next stop will be an interesting angle to monitor as well, but from a head-coaching standpoint, he's still second to none and would bring whatever organization he lands with instant credibility.
2. Ben Johnson
Current position: Offensive coordinator, Detroit Lions
You can make the case that Ben Johnson is the top candidate this cycle and likely could've opted for a head-coaching gig last offseason as well. However, he decided to stick with the Lions and his stock has only risen with Detroit winning the division and reaching the playoffs in 2023. Johnson can hang his hat on the development of Jared Goff within his offense after coming over in a trade with the Rams. He also fits the mold of what has become the prototypical head-coaching candidate: He's young (37) and coaches on the offensive side of the ball. If a team with a young core is looking for a head coach, it could look to a guy like Johnson over Belichick.
3. Brian Johnson
Current position: Offensive coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have stumbled down the stretch of this season, but Johnson should be looked at as a top candidate. As the quarterbacks coach for the previous two seasons before ascending to the offensive coordinator role in 2023, Johnson deserves plenty of credit for developing Jalen Hurts into a legit MVP candidate and the explosion on offense in 2022. The former Utah quarterback fits the mold of a modern-day NFL coach, and at 36 years old could be an ideal candidate for a team that is bringing aboard a young quarterback.
4. Dan Quinn
Current position: Defensive coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
Dan Quinn decided to remain in Dallas last offseason, but interviewed with the Cardinals, Coltsand Broncos. He continues to have the Cowboys defense playing as one of the top units in the entire NFL, so it seems reasonable that his stock will remain high this hiring cycle. Quinn now has two stops as a defensive coordinator where he's built up dominant units on that side of the ball and has prior head coaching experience. He helped Atlanta reach Super Bowl LI and while he is a more defensive-minded coach, he has shown that he can oversee a top-flight offense with Matt Ryan winning MVP honors back in 2016.
5. Lou Anarumo
Current position:Defensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals
Anarumo has been a popular name over the last few hiring cycles and was reportedly the runner-up for the Cardinals job last offseason only to lose out to Jonathan Gannon. In the past, he's probably a top-five candidate, but Cincinnati's struggles defensively in 2023 push him just outside that threshold. That said, you can likely chalk up 2023 as a lost season for the Bengals as a whole and pay more attention to what Anarumo was able to put together in the previous two seasons. In 2021 and 2022, Anarumo led a Bengals defense that was top 10 in points and rushing yards. In 2022, the unit ranked as the seventh-best unit in total yards. He's still a top-tier defensive mind and a very worthy head-coaching candidate.
6. Bobby Slowik
Current position: Offensive coordinator, Houston Texans
Don't sleep on Bobby Slowik. I'd bet that he's the young offensive-minded coach that teams opine for this offseason. The 36-year-old comes from the ever-popular Kyle Shanahan coaching tree and is putting the finishing touches on his first year as offensive coordinator with the Houston Texans. Slowik has worked wonders with rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, who is the odds-on favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, and briefly even had the No. 2 overall pick in the MVP conversation. That alone will garner Slowik's attention across the league.
7. Brian Flores
Current position: Defensive coordinator, Minnesota Vikings
Brian Flores completely flipped the Vikings defense in 2023 to one of the more feared units in the league for opposing quarterbacks due to his frequent blitzing. His coaching -- particularly on defense -- continues to be top notch and will likely get a second go at being a head coach in the near future, and is expected to garner interest this offseason. During the interview process, Flores will likely need to answer how he's changed since coaching the Dolphins from 2019 to 2021 and what he plans to do on the offensive side of the ball.
8. Eric Bieniemy
Current position: Assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, Washington Commanders
Bieniemy left the Chiefs last offseason to get out from under Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes' shadow and give himself a better chance at becoming a head coach. He joined the Commanders as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach and did have Sam Howell playing at a serviceable level for most of the year. That said, it remains to be seen if what he was able to put together throughout this season will be enough to have a team actually spring to hire him as their next head coach.
9. Mike Macdonald
Current position: Defensive coordinator, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens defense is having a historic season under Macdonald, so it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to see him land inside a list of top head-coaching candidates. Baltimore's defense is allowing a league-best 16.4 points per game this season, 57 sacks and 29 takeaways while allowing 4.6 yards per play (second best in the NFL). Macdonald is still green at just 36 years old, but has led a group that is arguably the top unit in the league on that side of the ball. His background coaching under both Harbaugh brothers will also help his candidacy.
10. Mike Vrabel
Vrabel is one of the better in-game coaches that the league has to offer and is a former Coach of the Year winner. He also helped bring the Titans to the AFC Championship in 2019. Vrabel is 56-48 as a head coach.
11. Ejiro Evero
Current position: Defensive coordinator, Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers have been the worst team in the league in 2023 and saw the firing of head coach Frank Reich less than a year into his tenure. However, Evero has been able to coach up the Panthers defense into a solid unit. This season, Evero's defense ranks third in the league in passing yards allowed, six in passing touchdowns and third in total yards allowed. That carries over from when he was the defensive coordinator in Denver in 2022 where his unit ranked seventh in the league in total yards allowed. He's hitched his wagon to a couple of dud head coaches (Nathaniel Hackett in 2022 and Reich in 2023), but he should be a candidate worth interviewing.
12. Frank Smith
Current position: Offensive coordinator, Miami Dolphins
One thing that might go against Smith in this coaching search is that he doesn't call the plays on offense for the Dolphins. However, I don't think that's as big of a deal as that may seem. Mike McDaniel didn't call plays for the 49ers under Shanahan and Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell didn't call plays with the Rams under Sean McVay. Both have turned out to be strong head coaches in the league, so Smith should still be looked at in high regard, especially as he's overseen the Dolphins offense turn into one of the more lethal groups in the league.
As a seasoned enthusiast and expert in American football, particularly the NFL, I bring forth a wealth of knowledge and insight into the intricacies of coaching dynamics, player development, and team strategies. My expertise spans across various facets of the sport, from dissecting game plans to analyzing coaching philosophies and personnel decisions.
Now, let's delve into the article you provided, which highlights the top coaching candidates for NFL teams with coaching vacancies:
Bill Belichick: A legendary figure in NFL coaching, Bill Belichick's reputation precedes him. Despite the recent transitions within the New England Patriots organization, Belichick's track record as a master strategist and leader solidifies his status as a premier coaching candidate.
Ben Johnson: Johnson's tenure as the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions underscores his ability to foster player development and orchestrate effective offensive schemes. His role in Jared Goff's progression and the Lions' success in the 2023 season position him as a promising candidate.
Brian Johnson: With experience as both quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, Brian Johnson has demonstrated prowess in nurturing talent and maximizing offensive efficiency, notably with Jalen Hurts.
Dan Quinn: As the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Dan Quinn has consistently engineered formidable defensive units. His prior head coaching experience with the Atlanta Falcons, including a Super Bowl appearance, adds depth to his credentials.
Lou Anarumo: Anarumo's contributions as the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals highlight his adeptness in crafting resilient defensive strategies, despite challenges faced during the 2023 season.
Bobby Slowik: Hailing from the esteemed Kyle Shanahan coaching tree, Bobby Slowik's impact as the offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans resonates through his adept guidance of rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and the team's offensive proficiency.
Brian Flores: Known for his defensive acumen, Brian Flores has catalyzed significant improvements in the Minnesota Vikings' defensive performance, showcasing his adaptability and strategic prowess.
Eric Bieniemy: As the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator for the Washington Commanders, Eric Bieniemy's role in quarterback development and offensive innovation positions him as a compelling candidate for head coaching roles.
Mike Macdonald: The Baltimore Ravens' historic defensive success under Mike Macdonald's stewardship underscores his aptitude in fostering elite defensive units and strategic prowess.
Mike Vrabel: Vrabel's track record as a former Coach of the Year winner and his adept in-game coaching abilities solidify his standing as a seasoned candidate for head coaching positions.
Ejiro Evero: Despite challenges faced by the Carolina Panthers, Ejiro Evero's adept leadership as the defensive coordinator underscores his potential as a candidate for head coaching roles.
Frank Smith: Smith's oversight of the Miami Dolphins' potent offense highlights his capacity to cultivate offensive efficiency and adaptability, positioning him as a compelling coaching prospect despite not calling offensive plays.
Each candidate possesses distinctive attributes and accomplishments that render them viable contenders for coveted head coaching positions, reflecting the NFL's dynamic landscape and the diverse skill sets demanded of its leaders.