With the NFL hiring cycle in full swing, five teams have launched searches for their next head coach. Meanwhile, eight teams have retained their head coaches but are making changes at offensive coordinator.
the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans other Washington Commanders all have begun interviewing candidates for these openings. That number will obviously increase once the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans other Indianapolis Colts fill their head coach openings. And it’s possible some playoff teams could make changes in this department, as well.
One of the highest-profile assistant positions in the league, offensive coordinator often serves as a springboard for head coaching careers because the job requires a hands-on approach with the quarterback and is often the driving force behind offensive production in this pass-heavy league .
All offensive coordinator positions are not created equal, however. Resources, support and creative freedoms vary, which means the chances for success also vary.
So which teams in the market for OCs (or soon to be) have the most to offer? Which job is the most attractive?
How the openings stack up from best to worst:
Most NFL coaches view this as the top opening. The new OC gets to work with a young, unquestioned star in starting quarterback JustinHerbertwho has already garnered Pro Bowl honors just three seasons in. The coordinator also inherits a unit that features talented wide receivers mike williams other Keenan Allenand gifted running back Austin Ekeler. With those building blocks already in place, the opportunity for success seems high.
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With Sean McVay returning, continuity is ensured, and the coordinator gets to work with Matthew Stafford (the second-best quarterback in this field), Cooper Kupp and other talented pieces. More than anything, though, this is a chance to work with one of the brightest young head coaches in the league and get on that head coaching track. This position has served as a springboard for previous top offensive assistants Matt LaFleur, Zac Taylor and Kevin O’Connell. The only drawback to some is that McVay serves as his own play caller. However, that hasn’t prevented teams from swiping his OCs in hopes of duplicating McVay’s success. So, if you’re a young offensive mind with head coaching aspirations, you take this opportunity understanding that getting the McVay cologne on you outweighs the chance to call plays.
The Bucs appear headed for a reboot at quarterback, with Tom Brady seemingly moving on. But attractive elements remain, including wideouts Mike Evans other Chris Godwinand running back Rachaad White. Quality veteran offensive linemen return, although they didn’t perform well this season. Maybe another offensive coordinator can get more out of them while instilling more balance. A sticky salary cap situation (which means impending roster purges) and a mystery at quarterback raises questions about this position. But some around the league expect the Bucs to attempt another aggressive move for a talented veteran if Brady does leave (Derek Carr, perhaps). Going that route rather than rolling the dice with an unproven passer or journeyman would make this job even more promising.
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This could be an extremely attractive job if Lamar Jackson remains the centerpiece or a gig with shaky prospects without him. Because of that degree of uncertainty and how dependent the Ravens are on Jackson, we place them fourth, though this could theoretically rank higher. Ravens GM Eric DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh both said Thursday that Jackson will have input in the hiring of the new offensive coordinator and draft and free agency plans. So, they’re at least operating as if he will remain in Baltimore. One concern: There are not a lot of top-flight, consistent weapons outside of Mark Andrews. Jackson does elevate everyone’s game and makes this squad a consistent contender. But he needs more around him.
If we’re just going off personnel, then this is a pretty intriguing job. The offensive coordinator inherits three talented wideouts (Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel other Jahan Dotson), a solid tight end in Logan Thomas and a promising running back in Brian Robinson Jr. Despite instability at quarterback, Washington still flirted with a playoff berth. But, the uncertainty engulfing the franchise makes this job less attractive. There are questions about the next quarterback. is it Sam Howell or an established veteran currently on another roster? Ron Rivera is entering Year 4, but with a sale expected soon, there’s no telling if the next offensive coordinator is signing up for a one-and-done job. A new owner could possibly clean house if a 2023 campaign proves unsatisfactory.
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The chance to work with Bill Belichick makes this job enticing. His teams are always competitive, so that also means eyeballs are always on his assistants and their bodies of work. Belichick didn’t give MacJones a glowing review when asked about the second-year pro’s future. However, the team at least has a young passer who has displayed some promise. There are questions about the rest of the offensive personnel, as well as questions about how much freedom the future Hall of Fame coach will give his coordinator. But again, because the Patriots always manage to compete, this seemingly is a promising gig.
The opportunity to come in, help select a quarterback with a high draft pick and design an offense around him makes this an attractive opportunity. But if someone is looking to come in, thrive right away and position himself for a head coaching gig, this isn’t the project for him. The Panthers already have solid talent at running back and wide receiver, and a decent offensive line. But grooming the quarterback while adding more playmakers will be a process. The good thing about that? The coordinator won’t have to deal with the pressure that comes with a team in win-now mode.
This job presents conflicting feelings. On one hand, Mike Vrabel’s teams are consistently competitive, and the AFC South isn’t the strongest, so that all helps in terms of stability and opportunity to prove oneself. But … and they’re a couple of big buts: Tennessee has questions at quarterback. Want Ryan Tannehill return? is Malik Willis ready to take over? Or is it Joshua Dobbs? The Titans have a strong run game, but how many great years does Derrick Henry have left? Do you love the young wide receivers who flash at times but also remain streaky? This gig might not be as good as it appears on the surface.
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Kyler Murray seems to underperform in stretches, and he has durability issues. But when healthy, he’s a special talent, as are wide receivers De Andre Hopkins other Marchioness Brown. James Conner is also a reliable running back, and so the building blocks are in place for a successful offensive attack. But, again, Murray’s inconsistencies and questions about his leadership abilities give some around the league pause.
Which Russell Wilson shows up in 2023? The one who looked like a shell of himself for much of last year, or the older, yet still effective, version of the versatile field general we saw in Seattle for a decade? Wilson did look a little better after the Broncos fired Nathaniel Hackett, so maybe it was just a bad fit. Overall, the Broncos have a solid roster, wide receivers Jerry Jeudy other Courtland Sutton are indeed impact players, and Denver’s defense offers quality support. So the opportunity for a quick turnaround seems to exist if Wilson has enough left in the tank for a rebound.
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Houston has plenty of premium draft capital. The Texans will draft one of the best quarterbacks, and they’ll use other high picks to surround that passer with talent to grow alongside. But this is an organization that’s poorly run by owners who have demonstrated they have no concept of patience or loyalty. After back-to-back one-and-done head coaches, any potential candidate would have to think long and hard about signing on.
The positives: 1) Energetic and sharp defensive head coach willing to let his offensive coordinator run that side of the ball. 2) Promising youngsters like Breece Hall other Garrett Wilson. 3) The backing of a good defence. … The negatives: Uncertainty over the quarterback position and head coach Robert Saleh’s long-term future. Zach Wilsonthe second pick of the 2021 draft, looks like a bust. Mike White looks like a place-holder and not an answer. So, unless the Jets go out and get someone like Carr or Brady, then the prospective offensive coordinator could be working with scraps or yet another rookie. And if things don’t pan out for Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas in 2023, the Jets OC could possibly be signing up for a short-term deal.
They don’t really know who their quarterback is. They don’t know who their head coach is. Their offensive line isn’t the strength of the roster like it once was. They do have Jonathan Taylor. And they do have Michael Pittman Jr. But there are so many questions, making it hard to pick this job above the others.
(Top photo of Chargers QB Justin Herbert: Courtney Culbreath / Getty Images)