Top 10 NFL head coach candidates
NFL teams are in a state of turnover now that the regular season has ended. Many franchises will be looking for their next head coach and will be interviewing candidates. As we get set for teams to begin the process of finding new head coaches, it’s time to get familiar with these 10 names.
Here’s a look at 10 head coaching candidates (in no particular order):
1. Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator, New England Patriots
McDaniels is considered among the best offensive minds in all of football and is a consistent name when it comes to discussing potential head coaches. He had an opportunity to lead the Denver Broncos in 2009, but lasted only a year and a half before being fired with an 11-17 record. That may be a stain on his resume, but McDaniels has been wildly successful in his two stints with the Patriots and has five Super Bowl rings to show for his efforts. At some point or another, McDaniels will get a second chance at a head coaching job. 2018 may finally lead to that opportunity. McDaniels received plenty of interest last season but turned down all jobs to remain with the Patriots. Is he just waiting for Belichick to retire?
2. Jim Schwartz, defensive coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles
Schwartz has coordinated some strong defenses with the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans, and he is currently doing a good job with the Eagles. He also has some quality head coaching experience, having led the Detroit Lions from 2009-2013. And while he concluded that stint with an ugly 29-51 record, he did finish 10-6 in 2011, earning a playoff appearance. Like McDaniels, Schwartz will eventually find a second opportunity, and it doesn’t hurt that the Eagles are now the class of the NFC. If Philadelphia plays well on defense in the playoffs, it will only boost Schwartz’s chances of landing a head coaching interview or two.
3. Matt Patricia, defensive coordinator, New England Patriots
Patricia has slowly climbed the ranks of potential head coaches, but his biggest hurdle comes in the form of his coordinator counterpart: Josh McDaniels. McDaniels is considered the more ideal candidate, but Patricia is not that far behind. The Patriots’ early defensive struggles this year aside, Patricia has long been a top lieutenant for Bill Belichick, a defensive-minded coach in his own right, and has a long and impressive resume to show for it. He also boasts additional and versatile experience, having coached multiple different positional units, including offensive line, linebackers and safeties. He has already been linked to the Lions job.
4. Dave Toub, special teams coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs
The 55-year-old Toub may have no head coaching experience to speak of, but he’s quietly become a popular name when discussing the NFL’s next round of coaches. He interviewed with both the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs last season, and has a powerful voice in his corner with Andy Reid. With special teams performance also now considered a premium, Toub has that ace up his sleeve. He also has experience coaching the defensive line and has done work in strength and conditioning. Toub may lack the top-end experience, but he’s a mixed bag of value and still relatively young. For reference, John Harbaugh made the leap from special teams coordinator to head coach and has been successful with the Ravens.
5. John DeFilippo, quarterbacks coach, Philadelphia Eagles
DeFilippo would make perfect sense for any team looking to hire a head coach that helps develop quarterbacks. He’s done that dating back to his days at Fordham through his time at Notre Dame and into the NFL with the Raiders, Jets and Eagles. He also has a little experience as a coordinator, having run the offense for the Cleveland Browns in 2015. The 39-year-old may not be at the top of the list for many coach-needy teams, but DeFilippo is ascending, will get some looks, and may be a dark horse to land a head coaching job in 2018.
6. Steve Wilks, defensive coordinator, Carolina Panthers
The 48-year-old Wilks has a resume that reads with the best of them. He found success in college with multiple teams, from Johnson C. Smith to Notre Dame, and has coached the secondary in Washington, Chicago, San Diego and Carolina. He took over as the Panthers’ assistant head coach in 2015 and as the team’s defensive coordinator in 2017. Wilks sports a very aggressive defensive gameplan, which was in stark contrast to that of Ron Rivera before him, and it’s paid off. And with former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman being hired by the Giants, it’s possible he ends up leading Big Blue in 2018.
7. Matt Nagy, offensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs
Nagy will be an intriguing potential option for several teams because of his wealth of experience at such a young age (39). He broke into the coaching ranks in 2008 as an intern with the Eagles, and has since followed Andy Reid to Kansas City. Now the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator, Nagy can be credited with developing a quality offense around Alex Smith, who is widely considered a game-manager at quarterback. The Chiefs finished in the top 10 offensively in 2017, which is quite a testament for Nagy, who had never before held the position of coordinator. For any team looking to go young and bold — a trend in the NFL of late — Nagy could be their guy.
8. Teryl Austin, defensive coordinator, Detroit Lions
It’s no longer a matter of “if” Austin will land a head coaching job, but when. He’s been considered an option for many teams in recent years, interviewing with the New York Giants and several others for their vacancies. More than just an option to satisfy the Rooney Rule, Austin is primed to take that next step from coordinator to coach. He’s done an admirable job with the Lions’ defense, has a high football IQ, and is considered a leader of men. All of those qualities will someday translate to head coach, and 2018 could finally be that year. The Lions already plan to interview him.
9. Mike Vrabel, defensive coordinator, Houston Texans
At just 42 years old, Vrabel, not that far removed from his 14-year NFL career, is considered a rising star in the coaching world. He cut his teeth with the Ohio State Buckeyes, coaching the linebackers and defensive line from 2011-2013 before joining the Texans as their linebackers coach in 2014. This past season he took over as the team’s defensive coordinator, and despite their underwhelming season, gained a lot of valuable experience. Vrabel will likely receive consideration from some teams (see: Broncos) looking to go young and energize their rosters.
10. George Edwards, defensive coordinator, Minnesota Vikings
In four years, Edwards has helped mold the Vikings defense into one of the most dominant units in the entire league. That defense has carried Minnesota to one of the best records in the NFC and a very legitimate chance to chase a Super Bowl title. Edwards also has a wealth of experience coaching linebackers and the defensive line, adding to his impressive resume. With a bye week entering the playoffs, it’s very likely Edwards will be a requested interview.