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NFL Coaching Carousel: What We’re Hearing on Cardinals, Texans, Colts, Broncos

The playoffs and league rules are slowing down the process with five head coach openings and more than 10 offensive and defensive coordinator positions still available.

This is a good time to reset the coaching carousel and, as it stands, there are two general manager jobs filled, and none open, with five head coach openings, and none filled. Even all 10 of the offensive coordinator openings out there remain. The easy explanation for why things have played out this way over the past couple of weeks is that, with rules getting more and more stringent around coaches, especially those who are in the playoffs, it’s much easier to expedite a GM search than it is a coaching search.

So as we set up the third week of the coaching carousel, here are some things to look out for …

Former Saints coach Sean Payton will have a second interview with the Broncos.

Payton is headed for a second interview with the Broncos, according to a report.

• The hire of Monti Ossenfort as GM in Arizona resets the Cardinals’ coaching search to a degree and should help Brian Flores, the Steelers’ senior defensive assistant/linebackers, in his pursuit of another shot at becoming a head coach. The baseline here is that Flores interviewed in Arizona in 2018, was runner-up for the job behind Steve Wilks and did well enough to where owner Michael Bidwill raved to other owners about him, which resulted in four interviews and Flores landing the Dolphins job in ’19. And then there’s the fact that Ossenfort and Flores came up together in New England’s scouting department. So Flores interviewing with the Cardinals Monday bears watching. We’ll see whether things accelerate a bit thereafter on Arizona’s coaching search.

• Two other names I’d bet Ossenfort would want to interview but are still in the playoffs—Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan and Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. They won’t be able to interview until the Super Bowl bye week (which is next week).

• Ryans and Gannon remain strong candidates in Houston, too, with the former’s ties to the owner and the latter’s links to the GM being the basis for that.

• Of the 10 OC openings, I think the Rams could fill their job first. We mentioned Jets OC Mike LaFleur for the position, one that Liam Coen vacated (to return to Kentucky) at season’s end a couple of weeks ago. And my sense is that’s still the direction this is going in, with much of the process already completed—Sean McVay’s already interviewed Eagles QBs coach Brian Johnson and former Colts OC Marcus Brady for the job, too.

• It sure looks like Jeff Saturday remains in the running for the Colts job, even after Saturday’s really rough run as the interim coach. Jim Irsay, obviously, likes the guy. If Saturday’s going to win the job, he will have to be able to put together a high-level staff.

• I’d call Rams pass-game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson the front-runner for the Chargers’ OC job. Remember, Brandon Staley wanted to hire Kevin O’Connell from Sean McVay’s staff in 2021, and O’Connell was blocked from going. Robinson, as a former NFL QB, brings a lot of the same qualities O’Connell, along with the system, from McVay that I believe Staley would ideally like to have Justin Herbert running.

• Cowboys DC Dan Quinn is now fully available and, I’d think, that would probably mean he’ll go meet with the Broncos in person soon. Quinn was on the coaching staff in Seattle with Russell Wilson, is tight with Denver GM George Paton and nearly was their hire last year. Since Jim Harbaugh is out, and Sean Payton might be, too, Quinn is positioned nicely.

• The longer things drag out with Payton, I think the more likely it becomes that he stays with Fox instead of coaching in 2023. Geography (meaning close to Los Angeles) and quarterback are most important to him, on top of the money, and I’m not sure there’s a place that sufficiently checks the box for him right now.

• A lot of people think Ron Rivera is going to hire quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese to be the Commanders’ next offensive coordinator.

• Vic Fangio is a name you’ll hear a lot in the coming weeks for DC positions. I’d expect Mike McDaniel and the Dolphins to make an aggressive play, as would the Eagles if they lose Gannon.