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After Firing Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer, Miami Dolphins Should Swing for Fences

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Josh Boyer is out as Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator, fired by Mike McDaniel after the team went one-and-done in the NFL playoffs.

But Boyer wasn’t fired simply because Miami allowed 34 points to Buffalo in the Wild Card Round. This has been in the works for some time.

And it was needed. McDaniel inherited Boyer and a bunch of other defensive assistants from Brian Flores’ staff. It didn’t work. Now they’re gone, and McDaniel can fill his staff with his guys — which should be the right of all head coaches.

Miami Dolphins Fire Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer

Along with Boyer, McDaniel on Thursday fired safeties coach Steve Gregory, outside linebackers coach Ty McKenzie and assistant linebackers coach Steve Ferentz.

Boyer, Gregory and Ferentz were holdovers from the previous staff. McKenzie were new to the team in 2022.

Boyer spent four years in Miami, the last three as defensive coordinator. When McDaniel replaced Flores last winter, he was strongly advised to keep Boyer aboard.

McDaniel explained his thinking at the time on Dolphins flagship radio WQAM thusly:

“Here’s another simple formula. I feel like if you’ve coached offense your whole career, one litmus test is if you are deciding what defense you play, how awesome would it be if you didn’t want to play that defense? For it to be the defense you have? And the defense was miserable. They crushed us in 2020.”

That might have been true.

But the Dolphins’ defense didn’t crush much of anyone in 2022.

Miami allowed the ninth-most points (23.5) and forced the second-fewest turnovers (14).

Boyer also angered fans (not to mention a few players) by his overuse of blitzes, leaving a depleted secondary exposed.

Expect the next defensive coordinator to be more judicious.

But who will that coordinator be?

Miami Dolphins Should Hire Vic Fangio

The name atop most lists among people in Dolphins orbit is Vic Fangio, the 64-year-old former Broncos head coach who spent the last year as a defensive consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Fangio is one of the most respected defensive minds in football.

And it’s our understanding that he’ll be one of the most coveted assistants this cycle.

McDaniel needs to go to owner Stephen Ross and ask for a blank check. And make Fangio an assistant head coach for good measure, if that’s what it takes.

This year’s coaching staff could have used an elder statesman. Fangio — with more than three-dozen years of coaching experience — checks all the boxes.

McDaniel has never coached with Fangio. It shouldn’t matter. They must have dozens of common acquaintances.

And once he does his due diligence, McDaniel will likely determine that there’s no one better to maximize a talented but underachieving defense than a former NFL assistant of the year.

“I am grateful for Josh’s contributions this year and throughout his tenure with the Dolphins,” McDaniel said in the news release announcing the firings. “The defense made strides through the season, so coming to this decision was not easy, but ultimately I feel it is in the best long-term interests of the Miami Dolphins and the continued growth of our players and team.”



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Does Carolina Panthers’ HC Pick Strengthen Steve Wilks’ Class Action Suit? His Attorneys Weigh In

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Steve Wilks is first and foremost a football coach. And by all accounts, a quite capable one. He wanted to remain on as Carolina Panthers head coach after winning six of 12 games as the team’s post-Matt Rhule interim. That job ultimately went to Frank Reich, even though Wilks was a highly regarded finalist.

But Wilks is more than a football coach. He’s a complainant in an ongoing class action racial discrimination lawsuit. The defendants? The National Football League and their member clubs.

And while there is no evidence that the Panthers’ decision to hire the White candidate over the Black one was racially motivated, the move certainly doesn’t hurt his case.

Legal Impact of Carolina Panthers Passing Over Steve Wilks

Widgor Law, the firm that represents Wilks and Brian Flores in their suit against the NFL, released the following statement on Twitter shortly after the Panthers announced the hiring:

“We are shocked and disturbed that after the incredible job Coach Wilks did as the interim coach, including bringing the team back into Playoff contention and garnering the support of the players and fans, that he was passed over for the Head Coach position by David Tepper. There is a legitimate race problem in the NFL, and we can assure you that we will have more to say in the coming days.”

The Panthers surely knew there would be a PR blowback if they picked Reich over Wilks — particularly since the latter did a far better coaching job than the former in 2022.

Suspicions alone shouldn’t be enough to ensnare the Panthers into the broad suit. Proof is needed. Does Wilks have such proof? To be continued.

But at the very least, the Panthers’ decision is another potent data and talking point as Widgor builds the case that the NFL passes over minority candidates for head coaching positions because of the color of their skin.

MORE: 2023 NFL Head Coach, General Manager, and Coordinator Interview Tracker

Wilks and Flores both believe they were dismissed unfairly as head coaches by the Cardinals and Dolphins, respectively, and are suing the league and several teams to right those alleged wrongs. Longtime NFL assistant Ray Horton is also a complainant in the suit.

Wilks spent one year as coach of the Cardinals — 2018 — but was fired after a 3-13 season.

He claims in the lawsuit that the Cardinals never gave him a real chance to succeed, instead hiring him as a “bridge coach” who was “not given any meaningful chance to succeed.” A common, valid complaint by Black coaches is the opportunities they do get are often inferior, and the leeway they’re given to succeed is far shorter than their White peers.

The one-year anniversary of the suit’s filing is coming up, but it remains apparently far from any sort of resolution. A judge in the southern district of New York has yet to rule whether the case will proceed in open court or, as the NFL prefers, in arbitration.

Ironically, Flores — currently a defensive assistant for the Pittsburgh Steelers — is a candidate for the Cardinals’ latest head coaching vacancy.





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Projecting the Rest of the NFL Head Coaching Hires

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The Carolina Panthers became the first NFL team to fill their head coaching vacancy this offseason, announcing Thursday that they’ve hired former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich. Carolina conducted a wide-ranging search in which 10 candidates were interviewed, and Reich beat out interim head coach Steve Wilks for the job.

The Panthers’ position is now filled, but there are still four teams — the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts — still looking for their next head coach. How does Carolina’s decision to hire Reich affect those clubs’ searches, and who’s in the lead to fill those spots?

How the Panthers-Frank Reich Marriage Affects the NFL Head Coaching Circuit

Reich, who posted a 40-33-1 record as the Colts’ head coach from 2018-2022, was a quarterback for the Panthers during their inaugural season in 1995, so this is a homecoming of sorts.

The 61-year-old Reich had been viewed as a potential offensive coordinator candidate around the NFL, but he had also garnered head coaching interest from teams besides Carolina. The Cardinals interviewed Reich in mid-January, and he was mentioned as a candidate for the Broncos before Denver moved in a different direction.

Now that one head coaching domino has fallen, let’s run through the other vacancies and project who will emerge with top jobs in the coming days or weeks.

Arizona Cardinals

Leading candidate: Brian Flores

Arizona was the only team with a head coach opening that also had to hire a new general manager. The Cardinals landed former Titans executive Monti Ossenfort on Jan. 16, and their HC search didn’t really get going until he got to town.

Thus far, Arizona has met with six candidates. Dan Quinn is the only coach who’s interviewed with the Cardinals twice, indicating the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator has a legitimate chance to land this position.

MORE: Why New Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort Faces a Daunting Offseason

However, Flores stills seems to be the most likely hire. Currently the Steelers linebackers coach, Flores worked with Ossenfort during their time in New England. Given their overlapping experience in the Patriots’ scouting system, Flores and Arizona’s new GM look like a match made in heaven.

Flores also has personnel experience on his résumé. Before entering the coaching ranks, he began his NFL career as a Patriots scouting assistant and pro scout. That background could help the Cardinals revamp their roster, as Flores and Ossenfort would immediately be on the same page regarding what players and skill sets they’re looking for.

Denver Broncos

Leading candidate: DeMeco Ryans

Sean Payton appeared to be the favorite for the Broncos’ job, but there have been tea leaves suggesting Payton could return to FOX for another season before taking another crack at a head coaching job in 2023.

Instead, it looks like 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is now at the top of Denver’s list, as 9News’ Mike Klis reported on Thursday. While Payton, Quinn, and former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell are still in the mix, Ryans is at the forefront of the Broncos’ search.

If Ryans ends up landing the job, it will mark a turn of events in Denver. After the failed hiring of Nathaniel Hackett in 2021, the Broncos were thought to be prioritizing head coaching experience — which Ryans doesn’t have. He was one of only three Denver candidates (joining Ejiro Evero and Jerry Rosburg, both Broncos holdovers) without a head coaching turn at either the NFL or NCAA level.

Ryans is a defensive mastermind, but his offensive coordinator hire in Denver would be crucial. The Broncos’ next head coach must figure out a way to either fix Russell Wilson or find a develop the club’s next quarterback. Ryans should have plenty of offensive contacts — especially within the Kyle Shanahan tree — to sort through.

Houston Texans

Leading candidate: Jonathan Gannon

The Texans have interviewed eight head coaching candidates since firing Lovie Smith on Black Monday. Two candidates — Evero and Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka — have met with Houston twice.

Jonathan Gannon, meanwhile, has only interviewed with Houston once, but he’s still the frontrunner for the job in our eyes. The Eagles’ defensive coordinator was one of three finalists for the Texans’ gig last offseason, alongside Smith and former NFL quarterback Josh McCown, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Houston has circled back to Gannon this time around.

MORE: New York Jets Hire Nathaniel Hackett as Offensive Coordinator

Despite going through two head coaches in two years, nothing has changed about the Texans’ decision-making structure. Owner Cal McNair and general manager Nick Caserio were Gannon fans last year and are still in place. If they want Gannon, they can likely get him — because the 40-year-old isn’t on any other interview lists this offseason.

Whichever coach lands in Houston will probably capture some level of job security. It’s nearly unfathomable that an NFL team could fire three head coaches in three seasons. If Gannon gets a Texans offer, he should feel comfortable knowing he’ll get some time to overhaul the roster.

Indianapolis Colts

Leading candidate: Dan Quinn

The Colts’ head coaching search is the murkiest in the NFL. They’ve interviewed 13 candidates, which doesn’t include Jim Harbaugh (who might have been in the mix had he not stayed at Michigan) or Ryans, whom Indy still wants to meet with.

It feels like the Colts could go in several different directions. Quinn, Evero, Raheem Morris, and interim head coach Jeff Saturday all have or will conduct second interviews with Indianapolis. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone don’t have second interviews scheduled but are also considered finalists.

That Saturday is still in the race despite his lack of experience, and a 1-7 record down the stretch, remains inconceivable, but the former NFL center appears to have a real shot at becoming the Colts’ full-time head coach.

Projecting Indy’s next head coach involves far more guesswork than any of the other openings, but we’ll put money on Quinn for the time being. He has head coaching experience with the Falcons, has been a hot candidate both this year and last, and has proven himself as one of the league’s best coordinators in Dallas. Quinn is the sane move, but it remains to be seen which direction the Colts go.



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List of Current NFL Head Coaches (Updated 2023)

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In the wake of the regular season coming to an end, who are the current 32 NFL head coaches in 2023? Which coaches have been around for a while, and who are the new names to know?

Current NFL Head Coaches

Here are the current NFL head coaches around the AFC and NFC. First-year head coaches for this season are marked with an asterisk.

AFC Head Coaches

  • Baltimore Ravens | John Harbaugh
  • Buffalo Bills | Sean McDermott
  • Cincinnati Bengals | Zac Taylor
  • Cleveland Browns | Kevin Stefanski
  • Denver Broncos | Jerry Rosburg (Interim)
  • Houston Texans | Vacant
  • Indianapolis Colts | Jeff Saturday (Interim)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars | Doug Pederson*
  • Kansas City Chiefs | Andy Reid
  • Las Vegas Raiders | Josh McDaniels*
  • Los Angeles Chargers | Brandon Staley
  • Miami Dolphins | Mike McDaniel*
  • New England Patriots | Bill Belichick
  • New York Jets | Robert Saleh
  • Pittsburgh Steelers | Mike Tomlin
  • Tennessee Titans | Mike Vrabel

NFC Head Coaches

  • Arizona Cardinals | Vacant
  • Atlanta Falcons | Arthur Smith
  • Carolina Panthers | Frank Reich
  • Chicago Bears | Matt Eberflus*
  • Dallas Cowboys | Mike McCarthy
  • Detroit Lions | Dan Campbell
  • Green Bay Packers | Matt LaFleur
  • Los Angeles Rams | Sean McVay
  • Minnesota Vikings | Kevin O’Connell*
  • New Orleans Saints | Dennis Allen*
  • New York Giants | Brian Daboll*
  • Philadelphia Eagles | Nick Sirianni
  • San Francisco 49ers | Kyle Shanahan
  • Seattle Seahawks | Pete Carroll
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Todd Bowles
  • Washington Commanders | Ron Rivera

Which Teams Have Fired NFL Head Coaches Ahead of the 2023 Season

Throughout the 2022 NFL season, there was a lot of speculation on multiple NFL head coaches getting fired. Only three did, however, with Matt Rhule in Carolina, Nathaniel Hackett in Denver, and Frank Reich in Indianapolis getting let go early. Steve Wilks, Jerry Rosburg, and Jeff Saturday stepped in for the Panthers, Broncos, and Colts, respectively, at those positions for the remainder of the season as interim head coaches.

With the season coming to a close, two more teams have fired their head coaches. Lovie Smith is out in Houston and Kliff Kingsbury is out in Arizona.

We await to find out more on potential hires such as a Jim Harbaugh return to the NFL and  whether or not Dan Quinn leaves Dallas for his second stint as a head coach.



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