In the midst of the NFL playoffs and now approaching Super Bowl Sunday, there is a storyline that goes somewhat unnoticed: the NFL Coaching Carousel. Some storylines that have progressed through the whole season have now come to a close with the firing and hiring of coaches. Yet there are still many rumors and vacancies that need a hire. Here’s an update on some of the important news:
Sean Payton is perhaps the biggest name on this list and is a main target for serval teams with head coaching vacancies. Currently on the FOX NFL Sunday crew, Payton is known for his time with the Saints from 2006-2021 where he won a Super Bowl and appeared in 3 NFC championship games. When asked in the FOX NFL studio what his likelihood is to stay in the studio next year on a scale of one to ten, Payton responded with ‘seven’. Even though the likelihood of Payton returning to coaching might be low, he is still nonetheless a huge get.
The two teams that stand out in my mind to grab Payton are the Broncos and the Cardinals.
It is clear that Russell Wilson could use a great coach after his rocky start in the mile high city. It was clear after Nathaniel Hackett’s week 1 decision to to kick a potential game winning 64 yard field goal that came up short (and his decision to pull Wilson off the field), it is clear there was no trust between the two right off the bat. Payton would provide some much needed experience for the head coaching position that was clearly lacking last year.
With the recent firing of Kliff Kingsburry and all the drama with Kyler Murray as well as Deandre Hopkins, the Cardinals could use some stability with a no-nonesense head coach like Payton.
In probably one of the most confusing coaching moves, the Jets have hired Nathaniel Hackett as their new offensive coordinator. With the very inconsistent and perhaps demise of Zach Wilson, along with the injuries to Breece Hall and Michael Carter at the running back position, Mike Lafleur and the offensive coordinator was not the only issue. Lafleur is now on his way to the Los Angeles Rams to be their new OC.
After being fired mid way through the year by the Indianapolis Colts, Frank Reich has found a new home with the Carolina Panthers. After the Panthers fired Matt Rule week 5 after a 1-4 start, Interim coach Steve Wilkes led the team to a 6-6 record the rest of the way. With many people thinking the team would remain with Wilkes, they make the change to Reich. Reich returns to the Charlotte where he quaterbacked the team in its inaugural season for three games before Kerry Collins took over in 1995.
After being fired by Dallas, Kellen Moore will be the new offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers fired former OC Joe Lombardi after being defeated by the Jaguars in a wildcard matchup. The Chargers blew a 27 point lead, the third largest in post season history in the 31-30 defeat. After scoring only 3 points in the second half compared to 27 in the first, the offense is an obvious problem to solve. Look for Moore to boost the Chargers offensive productivity as he did with the Cowboys in his four years. Dallas averaged 27.7 points per game in those four years and led the league with 32.1 points per game just last year.