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 year's end, with the Colts and Panthers currently housing interims. Jeff Saturday and Steve Wilks can't just be handed the permanent job with their respective teams, so interviews must take place in Indianapolis and Carolina.
Elsewhere, the Denver Broncos seem sure to open at year's end. The Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans could also be looking for new head coaches. And there's always the potential for a surprise firing or retirement.
Below is a list of coaches I believe will (or should) get head-coaching 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 that's coming off a losing season. I think that's ridiculous because there are great coaches on teams that can be losing for myriad circumstances. So there will be plenty of names on these lists of people on teams currently below .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 losses. 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 gotten passed as nearly two-thirds of the league has changed coaches over the past three seasons. He's on a one-year deal with the Chiefs and he's hopeful 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 weeks ago. Buffalo has the league's second-best scoring defense through 15 weeks of the season. Frazier's ready for his second shot at a head-coaching gig.
Jonathan Gannon, Eagles defensive coordinator: A finalist for the Texans gig a year ago, Gannon has a defense ranking in the top three in yards allowed, passing touchdowns allowed and interceptions. Since the Week 7 bye, no team has generated more pressure on pass plays than the Eagles.
Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator: Moore had a lot of buzz last year but didn't land a head 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 clearly stated his intentions of returning to the sidelines. He'll only take a job where he has a quarterback or the ability to go get one. Seeing the Saints fall apart after his departure only drove up his asking price.
Dan Quinn, Cowboys defensive coordinator: The Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator with the Seahawks and nearly 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's climbed the ladder at San Francisco and has the 49ers defense winning games.
Shane Steichen, Eagles offensive coordinator: Steichen calls games by keeping the defense off balance. I learned more about him in this great Conor Orr piece this week, and teams with vacancies will want to talk with the offensive play-caller of the 13-1 Eagles.
Steve Wilks, interim Panthers 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 make a solid argument he's already done enough to earn the permanent gig. He's made the Panthers a tough out each week and players follow his leadership.
The rest: Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia; Lions OC Ben Johnson; Titans DC 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.