These offensive coordinators deserve to have a head coaching opportunity
By: Menachem Ickovitz
With the 2021 NFL Regular Season coming towards a close it’s a good time to look at potential head coaching candidates for next year. Currently, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders have already made coaching changes, and depending on how the next few weeks transpire, as many as seven more teams might be changing coaches.
Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs
Bieniemy’s name has been put out there for the past few seasons. With the continued success of the Kansas City Chiefs, their offensive coaching staff is often amongst those mentioned for job openings. Bieniemy is a former NFL running back and has coached in both college and the Pros since 2001.
Former Andy Reid assistants Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy have parlayed their opportunity to be the OC in Kansas City to head coaching spots. Pederson went on to win a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles, but is currently unemployed and Nagy led the Chicago Bears to the playoffs, but is amongst the current head coaches who may be losing their job.
If the Bears do fire Nagy, they might not be interested in bringing in another Reid disciple, but any other team looking for a new coach should be interested in Bieniemy.
Brian Daboll, Buffalo Bills
Brian Daboll has been an assistant coach in both college and the Pros since 1997. He has worked under Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, winning five Super Bowls and the College Football National Championship. Most recently, he has been the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills.
In 2020, Daboll was named the AP NFL Assistant Coach of the Year and the best thing he could point to is the development of quarterback Josh Allen. Daboll has been working with Allen since the Bills drafted Allen in 2018. Allen has improved each season of his career and Daboll is the reason why.
Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys
Kellen Moore is one of the young former quarterbacks who is currently a hot name in the offensive coordinator group. He is currently the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. In just four seasons as an assistant coach, third as OC, Moore has already positioned himself as a top head coach candidate.
One big issue with Moore that would be less of an issue for some of the other options is who he will fill his staff with. He has only been coaching for four seasons and doesn’t have the same connections that someone like Bieniemy or Daboll has.
Dallas’ offense, with a healthy Dak Prescott at quarterback in 2021 is ranked 3rd in point differential and 5th in yards differential. With some capable players on offense, Moore has shown what he can do. Two teams that could be good fits for Moore are the Las Vegas Raiders or the Minnesota Vikings, if they move on from Mike Zimmer.
Kevin O’Connell, Los Angeles Rams
Much like Kellen Moore, Kevin O’Connell is a young former quarterback who is one of the hot names. The big difference between the two is that O’Connell has been an assistant coach since 2015 and has been with four different teams. Those connections from the different teams he has been with can be valuable when hiring a staff.
Currently, he is with the Los Angeles Rams, coaching under Sean McVay. Four of McVay’s former assistant coaches, Matt LaFleur, Zac Taylor, Jedd Fisch and Brandon Staley are currently head coaches. Three in the NFL and Fisch with the Arizona Wildcats.
Byron Leftwich, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Another former NFL quarterback and current offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is one of the hottest names out there. Even before QB Tom Brady became a member of the Buccaneers, Leftwich had the Buccaneers offense moving in the right direction.
One of the worst kept secrets is that he might get hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team that drafted him in 2003. Leftwich might be perfect for the Jaguars for multiple reasons. Most importantly, he can help the development of rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Additionally, after the craziness that surrounded Urban Meyer, bringing in a coach who has a connection to the Jaguars would be very beneficial.
Wherever Leftwich ends up coaching, the team will be lucky to have a smart, young and accountable head coach.