NFL coaching changes 2023: Latest firings, hirings and rumors

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Monday, January 8, 2024

Three teams already fired their head coaches before the 2023 NFL regular seasoncame to a close on Sunday.

The Raiders started the coaching carousel on Nov. 1, parting ways with coach Josh McDaniels and general managerDave Ziegler. On Nov. 27, the Panthers fired Frank Reich, who has now been fired in back-to-back seasons. Then, on Dec. 15, the Chargers dismissed coach Brandon Staley and GM Tom Telesco, while the Falcons dismissed Arthur Smith after their season finale on Sunday. The Commanders then fired coach Ron Rivera on Monday morning.

Plus, four coordinators have been let go over the past two months, and there will be more openings soon.

Here's everything you need to know about the latest NFL head coach movement, with news and intel on open jobs, pros and cons for each opening and candidates who could be in the mix for interviews.Plus, we have updates on offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator openings.

Jump to an opening:

Chargers | Panthers | Raiders | Falcons | Commanders

Coordinators who have been fired

Head coach openings

Washington Commanders

Former coach: Ron Rivera (fired Jan. 8)

Record with Commanders: 26-40-1 over four seasons

What happened:New Commanders owner Josh Harris made his first major staffing move since buying the franchise last summer, firing Rivera after four seasons with the team. The Commanders finished the 2023 season 4-13 after a loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the season finale Sunday.

Pros of the Washington job:Washington has a new owner with a reputation for providing resources and for being patient. The Commanders are in a far better spot under Harris than they were with previous owner Dan Snyder. Also, they have the second overall draft pick and five selections in the top 100. Plus based on early salary cap projections, they'll have the most space in the NFL.

Cons of the Washington job:Washington needs to rebuild both lines and find a quarterback. The roster needs work, which it can address in the draft. The stadium needs upgrades and the team will be there for at least another six years. The team facility is small and, despite recent improvements, considered outdated. They might not build a new one for several more years.

Latest intel: Harris has hired two prominent executives -- former Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers and former Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman -- to assist his ownership group with searches for a new head of football operations and a head coach, franchise officials told ESPN. Myers, the architect of four championships with the Warriors and a current ESPN NBA analyst, and Spielman, a 30-year NFL front-office executive, will work with Harris and his limited partners as part of an advisory committee designed to reshape the Commanders' front office and coaching staff, team officials told ESPN.-- John Keim

Atlanta Falcons

Former coach: Arthur Smith (fired Jan. 7)

Record with Falcons: 21-30 over three seasons

What happened:The Falcons fired Smith after a season-ending 48-17 loss to the rival Saints knocked them out of the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season. The Falcons dropped four of their last five games to finish third in a winnable NFC South and miss the playoffs. Atlanta finished 7-10 in each of Smith's three seasons and could never figure things out at quarterback, volleying back and forth between second-year man Desmond Ridder and veteran Taylor Heinickethis season, with little success.

Pros of the Atlanta job: The Falcons assembled a good roster over the past three seasons under Smith, including Pro Bowlers in right guard Chris Lindstrom and safety Jessie Bates III, along with offensive playmakers Bijan Robinson, Drake London and Kyle Pitts. There is also some cap flexibility with over $40 million in cap space, according to ESPN's Roster Management System.

Cons of the Atlanta job: The quarterback position is a problem if you're a coach who wants to go into a situation with an established QB in place. It starts there. The team's defensive line and edge rushers might also need an overhaul. And depending on what you're looking for, having the team's facility an hour north of the city could be a detractor. Also, the franchise hasn't had a winning season since 2017, and as a result,the fan base sometimes doesn't show up.

Latest intel:A lack of quarterback success and inconsistency on the field did Arthur Smith in on the field. While Arthur Blank is known around the league as a patient owner, this will now be his third head coach this decade, and the first mandate for the new coach is likely to be solidifying the quarterback position. -- Michael Rothstein

Los Angeles Chargers

Former coach: Brandon Staley (fired Dec. 15)

Record with Chargers: 24-24 over three seasons

What happened:After 2 seasons highlighted by lofty expectations and routine letdowns, the Chargersfired Staley and Telescoafter their 63-21 drubbing by theLas Vegas Raidersin Week 15.

The Chargers reached the playoffs once under Staley (2022), exiting in the wild-card round with a 27-point blown lead to theJacksonville Jaguars, the third-largest comeback in playoff history. He became the second Chargers head coach to be fired midseason since 1970, joining Kevin Gilbride, who was fired in 1998. The Chargers hired Staley because of his success as a defensive coordinator with theLos Angeles Ramsin 2020, but his defenses struggled the past three seasons.

Pros of the L.A. job: With Justin Herbertlocked into a long-term deal, the new coach will inherit one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in his prime. Los Angeles might also be picking in the top 10 of April's NFL draft, where it could select an impact player.

Cons of the L.A. job:The Chargers are projected to be $34.8 million over the salary cap next year, according to ESPN's Roster Management System. The new general manager might have to restructure or trade the contracts of some of the team's stars, including Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Khalil MackandJoey Bosa. There's also the Chargers' place in Los Angeles' sports landscape, where they are somewhat of an afterthought. They essentially play 17 road games, as opposing fans dominate SoFi Stadium, and they rely on a silent snap count at home.

Latest intel:The Chargers named outside linebackers coach Giff Smith the interim coach and JoJo Wooden interim general manager. It was the first time they fired a coach and general manager midseason, and team owner Dean Spanos said it was because they "are clearly not where we expect to be" and needed a new vision. "Doing nothing in the name of continuity was not a risk I was willing to take," he said. -- Kris Rhim

Carolina Panthers

Former coach: Frank Reich (fired Nov. 27)

Record with Panthers: 1-10 in lone season

What happened: Team owner David Tepper fired Reich less than 24 hours after the owner left the locker room muttering an expletive following a17-10 lossto theTennessee Titansin Week 12.

Reich's tenure at Carolina ended with an NFL-worst 1-10 record, including an 0-6 mark on the road. He also becomes the first NFL head coach since the 1970 merger to be fired in back-to-back seasons after last year's dismissal from theIndianapolis Colts.

Special teams coach Chris Tabor was appointed as interim coach, while offensive coordinator Thomas Brown assumed playcalling duties with help from senior assistant Jim Caldwell.

Pros of the Carolina job: The Panthers have a quarterback who will be entering the second year of a rookie deal and almost $40 million in cap space to build around him. They have the nucleus of a solid defense in Brian Burns, Derrick Brown and Jaycee Horn. They have the NFL's second-wealthiest owner who is willing to pay top dollar for the coach and staff.

Cons of the Carolina job:Tepper has changed coaches three times in five seasons, so he has shown a lack of patience. He also has a reputation for being too hands-on in terms of football decisions. The offensive line is a mess, the receiving corps is below average and Young still has to prove he can be the franchise player the Panthers felt he would be when they picked him No. 1 in the 2023 draft.

Latest intel:Being caught on video apparently throwing a drink in the direction of Jaguars fans during Sunday's 26-0 loss won't help Tepper in his search for a new coach, one NFL executive told As the executive noted, Tepper now must convince a coach to join an organization that has six straight losing seasons under an owner who has made three coaching changes since 2019 and now has an image problem from his own off-the-field behavior. -- David Newton

Las Vegas Raiders

Former coach: Josh McDaniels (fired Nov. 1)

Record with Panthers: 9-16 over two seasons

What happened: TheRaidersfired McDaniels and general manager Dave Zieglerone day after losing 26-14atDetroiton "Monday Night Football," their second consecutive defeat in which the team's offense could get no traction. With the defeat, the Raiders dropped to 3-5.

McDaniels and Ziegler, both hired in January 2022, inherited a 10-7 team that made an unexpected run to the playoffs during the 2021 season.The Raiders named linebackers coach Antonio Pierce as their interim coach. The team also said that assistant general manager Champ Kelly will serve as interim GM.

Pros of the Las Vegas job: The Raiders play in a state-of-the art stadium that will host the Super Bowl in February, and their home base is the "Taj Mahal" of NFL facilities, per Patriots coach Bill Belichick. There is elite talent under contract on both sides of the ball, from receiver Davante Adams to edge rusher Maxx Crosby to specialists AJ Cole, the punter, and Daniel Carlson, the kicker. Plus, there is no state income tax in Nevada.

Cons of the Las Vegas job:The franchise is snakebit, with only two playoff appearances in the past 20 seasons, and continuity is a foreign concept as the Raiders have had 13 different coaches, regular and interim, in the same time frame. The team has given rookie Aidan O'Connell every opportunity to win the starting quarterback gig, but the jury is still out, at best. To move up in the 2024 draft to grab one of the top two QB prospects, the Raiders would probably have to trade Adams, and that probably defeats the purpose for immediate success, especially in a division that is also home to the Chiefs. Which means any coach probably needs a three-year window to implement his plan.

Latest intel:Heading into Sunday's season finale against the Broncos, Pierce has gone 4-4 as the Raiders interim coach since replacing the fired Josh McDaniels on Nov. 1. He's impressed with the way he's changed the culture, had players buy in to his leadership style -- All-Pro WR Davante Adams said he would "run through a wall for that man" -- and had impressive wins against division rivals in the Chargers (63-21) and Chiefs (20-14). But Pierce's inexperience in game situations (clock management, timeout management, perhaps sticking with rookie QB Aidan O'Connell too long in winnable games they lost to the Vikings and Colts) leaves just as much to be desired.

Many still see Pierce as the clubhouse leader, though, so long as he upgrades at offensive coordinator and quarterback. But now Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who hired Don Yee as his agent, is starting to be linked to the Raiders. Yee is also the agent for Tom Brady, who has become one of Raiders owner Mark Davis' chief confidants. And remember, Harbaugh began his coaching career with the Raiders in 2002.

And don't forget about Jon Gruden, who will have his day in court next week in Las Vegas to see if his lawsuit against the NFL can go forward. As his lawyer said in court in May 2022, Gruden would drop the suit if he was given his job back. Plus, Davis never really wanted to part ways with Gruden in the wake of his email controversy in October 2021. Still, no matter which direction Davis goes, he is required to interview at least two external minority candidates to be in compliance with the NFL's Rooney Rule. -- Paul Gutierrez

Coordinator openings

Washington Commanders

Former defensive coordinator: Jack Del Rio (fired Nov. 24)

The Commanders fired Del Rio after a 45-10 loss to the Cowboys, which was their eighth loss in 10 games. They had hoped the defense would be a consistent force, but instead, the defense became an albatross, as the team ranked worst in points allowed. Coach Ron Riveratook over the defensive playcalling for the rest of the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Former offensive coordinator: Matt Canada (fired Nov. 21)

Citing offensive inconsistencies and lack of improvement, the Steelers fired Canada, who hadbeen the Steelers' offensive coordinator since 2021. Pittsburgh's offense struggled through Canada's tenure as offensive coordinator, never eclipsing 400 yards of offense in his 45-game career, including the playoffs. Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner took over offensive coordinator duties, but quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan will take the "bulk" of the playcalling responsibilities.

Buffalo Bills

Former offensive coordinator: Ken Dorsey (fired Nov. 14)

TheBillsmade a big change amid a downward turn to a season trending below expectations, firing Dorsey and naming quarterbacks coach Joe Brady as his interim replacement.The move came hours after Buffalo's loss to theDenver Broncoson "Monday Night Football," as theBills turned the ball over four times and had a season-high four drops.

Las Vegas Raiders

Former offensive coordinator: Mick Lombardi (fired Nov. 1)

When the Raiders parted ways with coach McDaniels and general manager Ziegler, they also firedLombardi, with quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree being promoted to offensive coordinator. At the time,the Raiders had the No. 31 total offense in the NFL, ranked No. 32 in rushing yards per game (70) and ranked No. 30 in points per game (15.8).

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