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NFL Head Coach News: Colts Moving Fast, Payton and Harbaugh, Hot Coordinators, More

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With the Wild Card Weekend in the books (save for tonight’s Cowboys-Buccaneers game), it’s time to take a spin on the NFL coaching carousel.

News of coaching changes in interview requests has swirled around for the past week. It can be tough to keep track of all the happenings. So, we’re going to gather up all of the known interviews and requests in one location.

Cardinals Head Coach Job

With Kliff Kingsbury out (and spending some time away in Thailand), the Cardinals are searching for a new head coach.

Arizona has requested interviews with the following candidates:

  • Brian Flores, Steelers linebackers coach
  • Sean Payton, former Saints head coach
  • Vance Joseph, Cardinals defensive coordinator
  • DeMeco Ryans, 49ers defensive coordinator

The Cardinals have Sean Payton on their list of potential head coaches, as any NFL team should. Payton was viewed as one of the better coaches in the game, and he’s ready to return to the sideline. The Cardinals can’t interview Payton until tomorrow per league rules. Expect that interview to take place sometime this week.

DeMeco Ryans and Vance Joseph check the box for the defensive minded head coaches, as does Brian Flores. Ryans is a hot name this cycle and his 49ers defense has been stellar this season. Flores and in-house candidate Vance Joseph both have head coaching experience.

Joseph coached the Broncos for two seasons (2017, 2018) and Brian Flores coached the Dolphins for three (2019-2021).

Panthers Head Coach Job

Interim head coach Steve Wilks seems like a strong candidate to remain in Carolina, but the Panthers are conducting a full external search as well.

The Panthers have requested interviews with the following candidates:

  • Jim Caldwell, former Lions and Colts head coach
  • Ken Dorsey, Bills offensive coordinator
  • Ejiro Evero, Broncos defensive coordinator
  • Jim Harbaugh, Michigan head coach
  • Ben Johnson, Lions offensive coordinator
  • Mike Kafka, Giants offensive coordinator
  • Jerod Mayo, Patriots linebackers coach
  • Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator
  • Frank Reich, former Colts head coach
  • DeMeco Ryans, 49ers defensive coordinator
  • Shane Steichen, Eagles offensive coordinator
  • Steve Wilks, Panthers interim head coach

Steve Wilks and Frank Reich have already interviewed with the Panthers last week. Jim Harbaugh has spoken with Panthers owner David Tepper, although no formal interview has taken place.

We know that Lions OC Ben Johnson will interview with the Panthers on Wednesday, and Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo declined to interview. We also know that Eagles OC Shane Steichen interviewed with the Panthers on Saturday.

That leaves a bevy of coordinators that become eligible to interview after the Cowboys-Buccaneers game wraps tonight. Overall, the Panthers have cast a pretty wide net thus far.

Broncos Head Coach Job

With Broncos new ownership looking for an experienced football voice, both Sean Payton and Jim Harbaugh are in the mix. But will they want to take on the challenge that Denver presents?

Denver has requested interviews with the following candidates:

  • Jim Caldwell, former Lions and Colts head coach
  • Ejiro Evero, Broncos defensive coordinator
  • Jim Harbaugh, Michigan head coach
  • Raheem Morris, Rams defensive coordinator
  • Sean Payton, former Saints head coach
  • Dan Quinn, Cowboys defensive coordinator
  • DeMeco Ryans, 49ers defensive coordinator
  • David Shaw, former Stanford head coach

We’ve discussed the possibility of Payton and Harbaugh heading to Denver. The Broncos will interview Sean Payton today and conducted a virtual interview with Harbaugh last week. The Broncos have also already interviewed with in-house candidate and defensive coordinator, Ejiro Evero.

Veteran NFL head coach Jim Caldwell seems to check the boxes that Denver is looking for and will interview eventually. Denver will meet with Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris on Tuesday and plan to meet with Dan Quinn and DeMeco Ryans eventually.

Former Stanford head coach David Shaw has also emerged as a candidate and was interviewed last week, per Adam Schefter.

Texans Head Coach Job

The Texans are searching for their third head coach in three years after back-to-back one-year experiments with David Culley and Lovie Smith.

The Texans have requested interviews with the following candidates:

  • Thomas Brown, Rams assistant head coach/tight ends coach
  • Ejiro Evero, Broncos defensive coordinator
  • Jonathan Gannon, Eagles defensive coordinator
  • Ben Johnson, Lions offensive coordinator
  • Mike Kafka, Giants offensive coordinator
  • Sean Payton, former Saints head coach
  • DeMeco Ryans, 49ers defensive coordinator
  • Shane Steichen, Eagles offensive coordinator

Houston has Sean Payton on their list, but that might be simply due diligence. No interview has taken place or been scheduled on that front.

The Texans already completed interviews with Lions OC Ben Johnson, Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon, and Eagles DC Shane Steichen last week. Houston plans to interview Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero this week.

The Texans have also been linked to multiple other coordinators, such as Thomas Brown, Mike Kafka, and DeMeco Ryans, though no interviews have been conducted with that group.

Colts Head Coach Job

The Colts are probably the only team not to be linked to Sean Payton or Jim Harbaugh outside of pure speculation, but they’ve got a wide net cast nonetheless.

Indianapolis has requested interviews with the following candidates:

  • Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator
  • Ejiro Evero, Broncos defensive coordinator
  • Aaron Glenn, Lions defensive coordinator
  • Ben Johnson, Lions offensive coordinator
  • Raheem Morris, Rams defensive coordinator
  • Shane Steichen, Eagles offensive coordinator
  • Bubba Ventrone, Colts special teams coordinator
  • Jeff Saturday, Colts interim head coach

The Colts aren’t wasting time on chasing Payton and Harbaugh, and they might be better off for it. Indianapolis has moved fast on a reported eight-candidate list that includes interim head coach Jeff Saturday and special teams coach Bubba Ventrone.

The Colts have already interviewed everyone on their list of candidates. Unless new names emerge this week, Indianapolis seems ready to move to the second round of interviews.



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.