For the second year in a row, the Houston Texans have entered the market in search of their next head coach. The team fired Lovie Smith after one year in the position, making him the second straight one-and-done headman for a beleaguered Houston organization.
Despite the back-to-back firings, general manager Nick Caserio will apparently get the chance to hire a third head coach. He cannot afford to miss again.
After roughly a decade coaching in the college ranks, Thomas Brown graduated to the Los Angeles Rams as a running-backs coach under Sean McVay. Brown added assistant head coach to his title after one season, eventually expanding his résumé with a move to tight-ends coach. If not for Raheem Morris, Brown would probably hold the inside track to become the next headman to come out of the McVay coaching machine.
Despite all of the Denver Broncos’ issues in 2022, their defense performed impressively throughout. That play came in large part thanks to defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. When Denver removed Hackett with multiple weeks left in the season, the team initially turned to Evero to replace him on an interim basis. Evero reportedly declined in order to focus on the defense and limit disruption. Regardless, he has garnered interest from multiple franchises in this cycle, not just the Panthers.
Jonathan Gannon received some head-coaching interest a year ago, but his stock soared in 2022 as the Philadelphia Eagles took major strides on defense. Gannon has coaching influences ranging from Vic Fangio to Matt Eberflus which should help him adapt to the personnel he could inherit.
The New York Giants had little plus offensive talent outside of Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley and stud left tackle Andrew Thomas. However, that didn’t stop Mike Kafka from directing a top-10 offense by DVOA and helping guide Daniel Jones to his best season in the NFL. While Kafka became a hot name as the OC for head coach Brian Daboll, he has spent most of his coaching career under Andy Reid with the Kansas City Chiefs. That diverse résumé could help him land a head-coaching job in the near future.
The belle of the ball, former New Orleans Saints headman Sean Payton has received interview requests from nearly every team with an opening. Payton has a well deserved reputation as one of the game’s premier offensive minds and a Super Bowl ring on his résumé. Because he remains under contract with the Saints, any club interested in hiring him will have to provide compensation (presumably draft picks) in addition to the hefty salary Payton will command.
In a short amount of time, DeMeco Ryans has established himself as one of the NFL’s premier defensive coordinators with the San Francisco 49ers. The team has reached the NFC Championship Game for the second straight year thanks in large part to Ryans’ unit. And while the 49ers possess immense talent on defense — including Defensive Player of the Year front-runner Nick Bosa — Ryans’ play-calling and in-game tweaks have largely negated weaknesses in the secondary. Ryans drew interest for head-coaching positions last year and has interviewed for multiple teams in this cycle.
For a 37-year-old coach, Shane Steichen offers plenty of experience. A one-time defensive assistant, Steichen earned his stripes as a quarterbacks coach and later offensive coordinator with the Los Angeles Chargers. He then caught on with Nick Sirianni’s staff in Philadelphia, bringing his offensive creativity with him. This cycle represents Steichen’s first as a head-coaching candidate, so he could realistically have to wait another year before landing in the big chair.
Who should the Texans hire as their next head coach?
Given the likelihood that the Texans draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick, hiring an offensive-minded head coach would make plenty of sense. Still, DeMeco Ryans has strong ties to the organization and can realistically pull a quality offensive coordinator out of the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree to cover that side of the ball. On defense, Houston probably doesn’t have a better option.