NFL executives in need of new head coaches flew hither and yon in the week after the end of the regular season, conducting interviews with what seemed to be everyone and anyone. Now comes the hard part: actually deciding on a new head coach. Here’s where the eight coach-less NFL teams stand.
THEY GOT THEIR GUY
Fired: Steve Wilks
Hired: Kliff Kingsbury is the new man in Arizona, the team announced Tuesday night.
Kingsbury, whom Texas Tech fired as its head coach after this past season, had accepted the job as Southern Cal’s offensive coordinator, but it’s unclear whether he remained in that role this week. The school originally had blocked Kingsbury from interviewing with NFL teams but apparently relented. Either that or Kingsbury has resigned. The school has yet to clear that up.
As for why the Cardinals would take an interest in a 39-year-old coach who compiled just a 35-40 record at the NCAA level, MMQB’s Albert Breer talked to an unnamed AFC scouting director.
“I’m not surprised at all,” the person said. “He’s a really innovative offensive coach, he’s charismatic, he has that kind of feel to him. I think he’s kind of what the new age of these offensive coaches are now. Everyone’s trying to find the next McVay. … He produced a really good offense every year, and fell victim to the same thing the rest of the conference falls victim to. And try and get a kid to go to Lubbock.”
Fired: Dirk Koetter
Candidates: Bruce Arians will be returning to an NFL sideline as Tampa Bay’s coach, the team announced Tuesday. Arians stepped down as coach of the Cardinals after the 2017 season in part because of his health, and Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported Monday that the Bucs made Arians, 66, undergo a complete physical at a Tampa hospital Saturday and talked with his personal physician as part of the interview process.
Here’s the Post’s Mark Maske on the hire:
“[H]e is a respected offensive mind and a quarterback whisperer in his own right. So the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope he will be the coaching remedy to whatever has ailed their would-be franchise quarterback, Jameis Winston, throughout his NFL career.”
Fired: Mike McCarthy
Hired: Matt LaFleur, who spent this past season as the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator. Only a little more than four years older than Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay quarterback who will seek to re-energize a Hall of Fame career under his guidance, the 39-year-old LaFleur has worked alongside Kyle Shanahan in Washington and Atlanta and Sean McVay with the Rams but has spent just the one season in Tennessee as his team’s play-caller. Still, just about anything will be more innovative than McCarthy’s “rudimentary stuff,” as described by USA Today’s Doug Farrar.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio posits that Green Bay moved so fast on LaFleur perhaps because the team feared some other team would swoop in, but a league source told him no other team had formally requested permission to interview LaFleur.
LaFleur’s hiring in Green Bay seemingly means that Josh McDaniels will remain in New England as Bill Belichick’s offensive coordinator. McDaniels’s only known head coaching interview was with the Packers, according to Ian Rapoport, who adds that Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken “was the other really strong candidate” in Green Bay.
“I’ll be here moving forward,” McDaniels said Tuesday, adding that “the book is closed” on his interviews for 2019.
Fired: Marvin Lewis
Candidates: Per various reports, Cincinnati has cast a wide net, interviewing eight candidates, including in-house applicants Hue Jackson (who served as a special assistant to Lewis after getting fired by the Browns), Darrin Simmons (special teams coordinator) and Bill Lazor (offensive coordinator). Former Broncos coach Vance Joseph, Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken also reportedly have interviewed.
Fired: Hue Jackson
Candidates: Cleveland nearly has matched its fellow Ohioans, talking to seven people about its job opening. Freddie Kitchens, the team’s offensive coordinator after Jackson’s firing, interviewed Monday and is getting “strong consideration,” Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday. Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, meanwhile, wrote Tuesday that Kitchens “has a good chance of being named head coach.” Interim coach Gregg Williams, former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell, former Vikings interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell, Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores and Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus also are in the mix.
Fired: Vance Joseph
Candidates: Longtime Denver sports journalist Mike Klis says the Broncos apparently are down to either Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio or Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak.
Fired: Adam Gase
Candidates: Bieniemy, Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard and Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen all have interviewed, but Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald says Flores “is near if not at the top of the Dolphins’ list.” The Patriots’ defensive play-caller interviewed with the team Friday and reportedly made a strong impression on owner Stephen Ross and GM Chris Grier. But Miami will have to wait until after the Patriots’ season is over to make any sort of announcement on Flores, if he is indeed whom it’s targeting.
Fired: Todd Bowles
Candidates: MMQB’s Albert Breer says Kingsbury interviewed for the New York job on Monday, and Florio suggested Tuesday that the talks may still be happening. McCarthy was thought to be a strong possibility at one time but has fallen off the radar, the New York Post’s Brian Costello reports, while Gase’s stock seems to be rising.
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