All five of the NFL head coaching vacancies from this offseason have been filled. Teams did not waste time finding their next head coach as every vacancy was filled by the Tuesday following Super Bowl Sunday.

In seemingly every offseason there are coaching candidates to land jobs that excite fans and those that leave fanbases scratching their heads. Some of the premier coaching candidates have been talked about all off-season land jobs while there are also new head coaches that mainstream media and the average NFL fans are being introduced to for the first time.

Every team that a new head coach hopes that they brought in the person who could turn the franchise around. Unfortunately, not all of the new head coaches will be able to achieve their goal of turning their franchises into contenders.

Here are early evaluations for the new head coaches that were hired during the 2023 NFL offseason.

New Team: Carolina Panthers

Former Job: Indianapolis Colts Head Coach (2018-22)

Previous Coaching Experience: Indianapolis Colts Quarterbacks Coach (2009-10, Indianapolis Colts Wide Receiver Coach (2011), Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver Coach (2012), San Diego Chargers Quarterbacks Coach (2013), San Diego Chargers Offensive Coordinator (2014-15), Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator (2016-16)

The first domino to fall in this head coaching cycle was Frank Reich becoming the new head coach for the Carolina Panthers. Many were shocked by this hiring for two reasons. It was expected that the first head coach to be hired this cycle would be former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. Secondly many thought that interim head coach Steve Wilks had done enough to hold onto this job for another year. Instead, Reich beat out Wilks in the final interviews to land the job.

What Wilks had done over the last 13 weeks of this season was extremely impressive. He got a team who had just fired their head coach after an awful start to the year to finish with a 6-6 record. They were within a game of winning the NFC South. However, Carolina made the tough decision of going with Reich as their head coach. When evaluating what Reich brings to the table, it is hard to blame Carolina for going in this direction.

The Panthers needed a new staff to bring this team to become possible contenders down the road. Wilks could have gotten this team to 9-8 or 8-9 next year. That could even be enough to win this division. But Panthers owner David Tepper wants to win and wants this team to be a perennial contender. Reich not only achieved success as an NFL head coach, but he is also an offensive-minded coach. He is actually the first offensive-minded head coach in the history of the Carolina Panthers franchise.

2023 NFL Coaching Cycle
Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich didn’t waste time landing another opportunity to be a head coach with the Carolina Panthers (Courtesy of USAToday Sports)

Since Tepper bought the team in 2018, he has wanted a franchise quarterback. It is very likely after kicking the tires on Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield that the Panthers (attempt to) draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. There is a case that Reich was the best coaching candidate for a team looking to build and develop offensive skill players (outside of Sean Payton).

Even though Wilks would have been a popular hire for the Panthers’ players and fans, Reich is the right head coach for what they are looking to achieve. It is fair to say that Reich was made the scapegoat for Indianapolis Colts general manager putting band-aids over the team’s quarterback situation since Andrew Luck’s retirement in 2019. He did the best he could with the situation he was dealt with in Indianapolis. Reich made the playoffs in two of his five seasons in Indianapolis despite inconsistent quarterback play. He also finished with a 40-33-1 record across those five seasons.

Following his hiring Reich mentioned his excitement to coach in Carolina stems from his roots. Reich had actually been the first starting quarterback in the history of the Panthers franchise back in 1995. He also was a pastor in Charlotte, New Carolina prior to moving to Indianapolis. His brother is also the head coach of Wingate University in North Carolina.

Panthers fans should be excited about how Reich is building his coaching staff. His staff features names like Duce Staley, Ejiro Evero, Dom Capers, Jim Caldwell, and Josh McCown. That staff features two former head coaches and four coaches that have received head coaching interviews over the past three seasons.

Grade: A-

New Team: Denver Broncos

Former Job: New Orleans Saints Head Coach (2006-11, 2013-21)

Previous Coaching Experience: Philadelphia Eagles Quarterbacks Coach (1997-98), New York Giants Quarterback Coach (1999), New York Giants Offensive Coordinator (2000-02), Dallas Cowboys Assistant Head Coach & Quarterbacks Coach (2003-05)

The most anticipated hire of the offseason happened a few weeks into the coaching cycle as the Denver Broncos traded for the right to name Sean Payton their new head coach. Denver traded the first-round pick acquired in the mid-season Bradley Chubb trade from Miami and their 2024 second-round pick to the New Orleans Saints for Payton and New Orleans’ 2024 third-round pick. In the days prior to the agreement between Payton and the Broncos, it seemed extremely likely that Payton was going to return to FOXSports for another year and possibly wait for the 2024 coaching cycle. However, Denver’s brass convinced Payton to come out of retirement to coach their team.

Payton is not walking into a situation where the team was close to being contenders the year prior like he ultimately anticipated he would when he discussed his return to the league. Last year the Denver Broncos were a mess on the offensive side of the ball. Russell Wilson regressed in a major way from the bonified top-10 quarterback he had been in recent years. Former head coach Nathaniel Hackett was let go after Week 16 in his first season as the team’s head coach. Denver averaged the fewest points in the league last season averaging 16.9 points per game. However, the Broncos’ defense was outstanding last season. If their offense was able to score at least 21 points in all of their games this season they would have gone 11-7 instead of 5-12 and would have been a wild-card team.

2023 NFL Coaching Cycle
Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton came out of retirement to try to turn around the Denver Broncos (Courtesy of USAToday Sports)

The number one priority of not only Payton, but the organization as a whole will be to improve this offense. This team is loaded with talented players on that side of the ball including Russell Wilson, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and Javonte Williams. Payton must figure out how to get the best production out of the team’s offensive personnel. He will also likely add players this offseason that he feels could fit in his offensive scheme and improve this offense.

It isn’t a sure thing that Payton could turn this team that was a mess a season ago into contenders. But he should absolutely get more production out of this team on the offensive side of the ball and keep them competitive in games. It was risky of Payton to return out of retirement to take this job when he seemed to be a lock to be a Hall of Famer in a few seasons. But Payton could establish himself as one of the greatest offensive coaches of all time if he turns the Broncos into a juggernaut similar to how the Saints were under him for the better part of two decades.

Grade: A-

New Team: Houston Texans

Former Job: San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator (2021-22)

Previous Coaching Experience: San Francisco 49ers Defensive Quality Control Coach (2017), San Francisco 49ers Inside Linebackers Coach (2018-20)

Shortly after the announcement of Payton’s hiring in Denver the Houston Texans announced that DeMeco Ryans would be the next head coach of the team. The 2022-23 AP Assistant Coach of the Year landed himself a head coaching job. He walks into a situation where the team has had four head coaches (including interim) in the past three seasons. However, Ryans has embraced the challenge of rebuilding the Houston Texans and it appears that the organization and fan base has embraced him back.

At first glance, it may be concerning to see that a new head coach of a dysfunctional franchise lacks many years of high-end or much coaching experience. However, Ryans brings to the table something that many coaching candidates cannot and it is experience playing in the NFL at the highest level. Ryans had a 10-year NFL career that included accolades like Defensive Rookie of the Year (2006), two Pro Bowl appearances (2007 & 2009), and First Team All-Pro (2007). He actually began his career with the Texans who drafted him in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Ryans was later traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012.

For the first time since the Texans let go of Bill O’Brien, it appears that the team has committed to a leader and a direction. Ryans was the leader of the league’s best defense this past season and could have landed any coaching job he wanted or continued coaching job the dominant 49ers defense. Instead, he took on the challenge of being the face of a rebuild and hopefully a new generation of Texans football.

2023 NFL Coaching Cycle
Former San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator Demeco Ryans makes his return to Houston as the team’s new head coach. (Courtesy of Houston Chronicle)

Similar to his predecessor in San Francisco Robert Saleh, Ryans is a players coach. He is beloved by his locker room for being a very motivating force for them. He also is one of the brightest young defensive-minded coaches in the league after playing middle linebacker in the NFL for a decade. Ryans should have no problem recruiting free agents from the San Francisco 49ers to play for him once again in Houston. His ability to recruit free agents overall should help speed up the team’s rebuild. Especially with Jack Easterby out of the building.

Ryans has hired former 49ers offensive pass game coordinator Bobby Slowik to be his offensive coordinator. He also brought in Arizona Cardinals defensive line coach Matt Burke to be his defensive coordinator. Slowik and Burke may not be household names but they’re up-and-coming coaches that could make a name for themselves being a part of this staff.

It is unlikely that Ryans could turn around this team quickly. This rebuild will likely require a couple of years to turn this roster into a playoff contender. But the Texans appear to be committed to Ryans as they should be. This was an outstanding hire by an organization that hasn’t deserved a leader like Ryans based on the controversial reports that have come out in recent years. Ryans embraces the challenge of returning the Texans to relevancy.

Grade: A

New Team: Indianapolis Colts

Former Job: Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator (2021-22)

Previous Coaching Experience: Cleveland Browns Quality Control Coach (2014-15), San Diego Chargers Offensive Quality Control Coach (2013-15), Los Angeles Chargers Quarterbacks Coach (2016-19), Los Angeles Chargers Offensive Coordinator (2019-20)

After an absurdly long search to find their next head coach the Indianapolis Colts hired Shane Steichen to be their next head coach. This news was announced days after Steichen’s former team the Philadelphia Eagles lost in the Super Bowl. There was speculation that the Colts were holding out for Steichen to finish out his playoff run with the Eagles before signaling that he would be their next head coach.

Steichen was the offensive coordinator for one of the league’s most explosive and dominant offenses this past year. That offense was led by Jalen Hurts who finished second in MVP votes this season. Along with Hurts, A.J. Brown, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Miles Sanders, and Landon Dickerson were all named Pro Bowlers for this Eagles offense. Also, DeVonta Smith, Jordan Mailata, and Isaac Seumalo were named Pro Bowl alternates. Steichen has played a huge role in developing the young talent on this offense.

Along with his work in Philadelphia, Steichen was Justin Herbert’s offensive coordinator during his rookie season where he won Offensive Rookie of the Year setting records like most passing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback in a single season (31 passing touchdowns), most passing yards per game by a rookie quarterback in a single season (289.1 passing yards per game), and most completions by a rookie quarterback in a single season (396 completed passes).

Despite Steichen’s track record of coaching up young offensive players, this hiring feels weird. Indianapolis hired the offensive coordinator of a team whose head coach was the offensive coordinator of the head coach they just fired mid-way through the season. The simplest way to put that is that Steichen was the offensive coordinator for Nick Sirianni who used to be the offensive coordinator for former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich. On top of that Steichen’s former head coach Nick Sirianni made headlines by taking a shot at the Colts organization following their 17-16 victory over them in Week 11.

2023 NFL Coaching Cycle
Former Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen is now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts (Courtesy of

It just feels odd that the Colts would hire someone in Steichen whose coaching tree is very close to their former head coach. On top of that Steichen coached alongside Reich with the Chargers from 2013-15. This brings up the take that there is a chance that deep down Chris Ballard and Jim Irsay knew Reich wasn’t the issue and made him the scapegoat for their troubles early in the year. They also could regret letting go of Reich after seeing the other available options so they decided to bring in the next best thing.

The Philadelphia Eagles have a track record of this kind of hire. They hired Doug Pederson in 2016 after he worked with their former head coach Andy Reid for six years. After seeing what a disaster Chip Kelly was, it was clear Philadelphia missed Reid who was having early success in Kansas City. Philadelphia did something similar when they hired Nick Sirianni, who similar to Steichen, was the offensive coordinator to a head coach that was the offensive coordinator to the team’s former head coach. Sirianni was the offensive coordinator for Frank Reich who previously was the offensive coordinator for Doug Pederson in Philadelphia. Pederson was believed to be a scapegoat for Carson Wentz’s struggles so the team decided to hire someone who has coached with those close to Pederson in Sirianni.

Despite having an extremely talented roster the Colts appear to be a mess. Despite the weird connection, Steichen was to the organization the main thought of bringing him in is to develop a rookie quarterback that the team is expected to draft in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Based on the quarterbacks he has worked with closely, look for Indianapolis to draft an athletic quarterback that may be viewed as a raw prospect entering the league. Kentucky’s Will Levis and Floirida’s Anthony Richardson could be the perfect fit for what Steichen would want to do with the Colts.

Grade: B-

New Team: Arizona Cardinals

Former Job: Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator (2021-22)

Previous Coaching Experience: Atlanta Falcons Quality Control Coach (2007), Tennessee Titans Defensive Quality Control Coach (2012-13), Minnesota Vikings Assistant Defensive Backs Coach (2014-17), Indianapolis Colts Defensive Backs Coach (2018-20)

A story that was overshadowed by the playoff drama and hype for the Super Bowl was what went on during the Arizona Cardinals head coaching search. Seemingly out of nowhere, the Arizona Cardinals hired Jonathan Gannon to be their next head coach. This hiring shocked many fans and around the league because Gannon wasn’t even reported as a finalist for the job until seemingly hours prior to landing the job. There seems to be a lot of steps to how Gannon landed this job which includes a lot of rejection.

It is no secret that Arizona’s Plan A at head coach was to bring in Sean Payton. That made a lot of sense considering Payton would then be coaching the most talented young quarterback whose team did not have a head coach in Kyler Murray. However, Payton ended up taking the Denver job. Many believe he would rather attempt to fix Russell Wilson than coach up Kyler Murray. Carolina Panthers’ new head coach Frank Reich took the job with the Panthers following his interview with Arizona. Then DeMeco Ryans canceled his interview he had scheduled with Arizona weeks before landing the Texans head coaching job.

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn interviewed for Arizona’s head coaching vacancy and was a favorite for the position at one point. But then stunned the league by announcing his return to Dallas for at least one more season. Both Ejero Evero and Brian Flores decided to take Defensive Coordinator positions with the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings respectively rather than continue in the hiring process for the Cardinals head coaching job. Flores was considered a finalist for the job but pulled himself out of consideration for the job by taking the defensive coordinator job with the Vikings.

This left New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo as the remaining two finalists for the Cardinals head coaching job according to NFL reporter Albert Breer. Then out of nowhere, the Cardinals interviewed Gannon the day after the Super Bowl. The next day Arizona decided to name Gannon their next head coach. Not to take anything away from Gannon as a coach, but it is very unorthodox for a team to run their head coach hiring process like this and end up hiring a coach they entered into the equation extremely late into the hiring process.

2023 NFL Coaching Cycle
Former Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon is now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals (Courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer).

The reasons why coaching candidates were likely turned off from the Cardinals’ job are Michael Bidwell and Kyler Murray. Bidwell is not the easiest owner to work for according to many sources. No coach has held the head coaching position with the team for longer than six years since Bidwell has owned the team. Murray may be talented but it is extremely evident and public that he has an attitude problem. He appears to lack respect for coaches and players on his team seemingly thinking he is better/more important than them. He also is viewed as a lazy player who doesn’t focus enough on developing his game as a player. On top of that Murray is expected to miss at least half, if not the whole season, with a torn ACL.

Gannon appears to have his hands full in Arizona but is a qualified candidate to be a head coach. He led one of the league’s best defenses this past season. His defense in Philadelphia challenged for the NFL single-season sack record putting up 70 sacks during the regular season. Gannon’s defense was the first in NFL history to feature four players with double-digit sack totals. He has worked under defensive gurus like Mike Zimmer and Matt Eberflus. Even though Gannon’s front seven was dominant this past year, his specialty is developing defensive backs. During his time with the Vikings, Colts, and Eagles he has developed some of the league’s best defensive backs to play at an extremely high level. Those players include Xavier Rhodes, Kenny Moore, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

This is a tough task for Jonathan Gannon to help turn this team around. Many feel that he could be in over his head when it comes to what it will take to turn this team around. However, Gannon does fit the tough attitude culture that new general manager Monti Ossenfort wants to install in this locker room. This whole hiring process by Arizona is a mess and they may not have landed the best candidate for their job because of the top candidates’ unwillingness to coach this team.

Grade: C+