2023 NFL coaching candidates: DeMeco Ryans, Lou Anarumo among 10 hot commodities ready for next step

Back again with my annual list of head coaching candidates for this year’s hiring cycle.

We know that at least two teams will be interviewing coaches for their top job at the end of the year, with the Colts and Panthers currently as interims. Jeff Saturday and Steve Wilks can’t just land the permanent job with their respective teams, so interviews will have to take place in Indianapolis and Carolina.

Elsewhere, the Denver Broncos look set to open by year’s end. The Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans may also be looking for new head coaches. And there is always the potential for a surprise firing or retirement.

Below is a list of coaches I think will (or should) get executive interviews during this cycle, including highlighting 10 of the top names (in no particular order). One thing to keep in mind on this list — as well as the GM list that will appear next week — is that teams rarely hire a coach from a team coming off a losing season. I think it’s ridiculous because there are good coaches on teams that can lose for countless circumstances. So there will be a lot of names on these lists of people on teams currently under .500.

Lou Anarumo, Bengals defensive coordinator: The 56-year-old Staten Island native has Patrick Mahomes’ number. In their three meetings, Anarumo’s defense has held Mahomes to these second-half numbers: 0 touchdowns, two interceptions, a 54.5 passer rating and three turnovers. Mahomes in the second half against everyone else in the league since 2020: 59 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 106.4 passer rating.

Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator: The longtime Chiefs OC has somehow been passed over as nearly two-thirds of the league has changed coaches in the last three seasons. He has a one-year deal with the Chiefs, and he’s hoping this is finally the year. Without a top-three receiver in the league, Bieniemy has been able to transform this Chiefs offense with Andy Reid and Mahomes to keep it as one of the league’s best.

Leslie Frazier, Bills defensive coordinator: We took a look at Frazier’s bona fides a couple of weeks ago. Buffalo has the league’s second-best scoring defense through 15 weeks of the season. Frazier is poised for his second shot at a head coaching gig.

Jonathan Gannon, Eagles defensive coordinator: Gannon, who was a finalist for the Texans game a year ago, has a top-three defensive rating in yards allowed, passing touchdowns allowed and interceptions. Since the Week 7 bye, no team has generated more pressure in the passing game than the Eagles.

Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator: Moore had a lot of buzz last year, but didn’t get a headlining gig. This year, he has the Cowboys offense humming again despite deficiencies at the wide receiver position. He was the voice in Cooper Rush’s ear when the backup went 4-1 while Dak Prescott was injured.

Sean Payton, former Saints head coach: Payton has made clear his intentions to return to the sidelines. He will only take a job where he has a quarterback or the opportunity to get one. Seeing the Saints fall apart after his departure only drove up the asking price.

Dan Quinn, Cowboys defensive coordinator: The Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator with the Seahawks and near-Super Bowl-winning head coach with the Falcons, Quinn has had a top-seven scoring defense in his two seasons with the Cowboys. No team has more takeaways than Dallas this season.

DeMeco Ryans, 49ers defensive coordinator: His players can still remember his Pro Bowl playing days. At 38, Ryans is one of the hottest coaching candidates. He has climbed the ladder in San Francisco and has the 49ers defense winning games.

Shane Steichen, Eagles offensive coordinator: Steichen calls plays by keeping the defense off balance. I learned more about him in this great Conor Orr piece this week, and teams with open positions will want to talk to the offensive play-caller of the 13-1 Eagles.

Steve Wilks, Panthers interim head coach: If Wilks can get the Panthers into the playoffs after taking over a 1-4 team that traded Christian McCaffrey, the job should obviously be his. One could argue that he has already done enough to earn the permanent gig. He has made the Panthers a tough match every week and the players follow his leadership.

The rest: Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia; Titans OC Shane Bowen; Rams assistant head coach/tight ends coach Thomas Brown; Bengals OC Brian Callahan; Bills OC Ken Dorsey; Broncos DC Ejiro Evero; Lions DC Aaron Glenn; Raiders DC Patrick Graham; Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh; Cardinals DC Vance Joseph; Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich; Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo; Rams DC Raheem Morris; former Texans head coach Bill O’Brien; former Colts head coach Frank Reich; former Stanford head coach David Shaw; Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo; Seahawks OC Shane Waldron; Bills defensive line coach Eric Washington.

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