NFL head coaching searches could bring teams to first-timers
The Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins (and maybe soon the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars) are looking for new head coaches as they prepare for the offseason in 2020.
While the Redskins are reportedly hiring former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera for their position, the rest of the teams are looking at the possibility of hiring someone who will have their first head coaching gig in the NFL.
Take a look at some of the candidates who are in the mix for their NFL head coaching jobs as teams decide how they want to move forward with their futures.
Matt Rhule is the current head coach of the Baylor Bears in college football and has been linked to several jobs over the last two offseasons. Rhule was an assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants after several stops in college football. He was a linebackers coach at Albright College, an assistant at Buffalo, UCLA and Western Carolina and was an assistant at Temple.
After his stint with the Giants, he was hired as Temple’s head coach in 2012. In 2016, he moved on to Baylor where he went from 1-11 in 2017 to 7-6 in 2018 and then 11-2 in 2019 in which he helped the team to a Sugar Bowl berth. The Bears were also in the running for a College Football Playoff spot for a short time.
Greg Roman has been in and out of the NFL for several years. He broke into the league as a defensive quality control coach for the then-expansion Carolina Panthers in 1995 and had guided a Colin Kaepernick-led offense to the Super Bowl during the 2012 season.
His work with Lamar Jackson in his first year as offensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens in 2019 is leading to a ton of interest around the league. He’s also coached with the Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans and Stanford in college. He has never been a head coach in any of those stops.
Eric Bieniemy received some head coaching interest last offseason but no team pulled the trigger and made him their leader after spending one season as the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator. Bieniemy again led the Chiefs’ offense and Patrick Mahomes to the playoffs and a No. 2 seed, which could carry even more weight as teams interested in a head coach request to interview him.
Bieniemy has been with the Chiefs since the 2013 season as a running backs coach. He’s had previous stops with the Colorado and UCLA in college and was a running backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings from 2006 to 2010.
Kris Richard was another coach that has had teams interested last season but no one pulled the trigger. Several teams have already expressed interest in bringing Richard in for interviews as they try to determine who will be their next head coach.
Richard, a former NFL defensive back, was the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator from 2010 to 2017. He joined the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 as a defensive backs coach and that’s where he was in 2019 as well. He got started as a graduate assistant at USC in 2008 and 2009.
Robert Saleh has been in the coaching game since 2002 when he was a defensive assistant at Michigan State. He served four years total in college with the Spartans, Central Michigan and Georgia before getting his first pro gig with the Houston Texans in 2005 as a defensive intern. He moved up to defensive quality control in 2007 and assistant linebackers coach in 2009.
Saleh then spent 2011 to 2013 as a defensive quality control coach with the Seattle Seahawks and a linebackers coach from 2014 to 2016 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He took a defensive coordinator position with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 and in 2019 guided the Niners’ defense to becoming one of the top defenses in the league. San Francisco finished 2019 second in fewest yards allowed and eighth in fewest points.
Kevin Stefanski has spent his entire coaching career with the Minnesota Vikings. He moved up the ranks from the lowly assistant position to become the team’s offensive coordinator in 2019. In between that, he was an assistant quarterback coach, a tight ends coach, running backs coach and quarterbacks coach.
Stefanski may not have a great shot this year to get a head coach job, but the small interest shown in him this offseason by some teams may mean he could have a better chance when more jobs open up in the future.
Don “Wink” Martindale is another member of the Baltimore Ravens’ coaching staff who’s receiving head coaching interest. According to at least one report, Martindale has an idea to bring LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady with him to a new team should he get a head coach job. It’s unclear at this point whether Brady would take the leap to the NFL under Martindale.
Martindale helped make the Ravens a Top 10 defense in the NFL in 2018 and 2019. He was promoted to the job after spending 2012 to 2017 as a linebackers coach. Martindale has had previous stops with the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders in the NFL and Division III Defiance, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Western Illinois and Western Kentucky in college.
Brian Daboll was among the names that at least one team has requested to interview. Daboll, the current Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator, is also among the coaches who have had many stops along the way.
Daboll started with William & Mary as a restricted-earnings coach in 1997. He moved onto Michigan State for the 1998 and 1998 seasons. He spent 2000 to 2006 as a defensive assistant and wide receivers coach for the New England Patriots. From 2007 to 2017 he’s made stops with the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, and Kansas City Chiefs and again with the Patriots. He was an offensive coordinator for Alabama in 2017 before latching on with the Bills in 2018.
Urban Meyer may have retired from college football but his name has popped up for at least two head coaching jobs – the Cowboys and the Browns. Everyone knows of his success at the college football level but if any team could wrangle him to the NFL it would be either the Cowboys or Browns.
He’s never held a coaching position in the NFL.