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Ranking Each Team’s Best Fits for Head Coach – Sports Illustrated

Head coaching interviews for the five open spots for the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts are underway and now seems as good a time as ever to throw our own opinions into the ring. Here, we’re going to list the best fit and a couple of honorable mentions for each, as well.

Let’s not waste any more time and get into it.

Arizona Cardinals: Brian Flores

Cardinals’ fans will either love this move or hate it. I fall into the former of the two options and believe that Flores would be a terrific fit for the Cardinals.

Flores had an unceremonious departure from the Miami Dolphins a year ago, but I place the blame on ownership that encouraged tanking. It’s easy to forget that Flores has two winning seasons in three years with the Dolphins and he’s absolutely a player’s coach who is easy to gravitate to. This sounds exactly like what the Cardinals need.

Flores brings a winner’s mentality to an organization that is typically on the opposite spectrum and will inject a new passion for the game for the team to rejuvenate and encourage this team to rebound within a few years.

Honorable Mentions: Vance Joesph, Frank Reich

Carolina Panthers: Dan Quinn

Do the Panthers want to take a chance on another unproven head coach after the failure of Matt Rhule? It’s a conversation worth having, but I feel like the team may be better suited to going the route of a candidate who already has head coaching experience.

Quinn enjoyed good success with the Atlanta Falcons before slumping towards the end with an aging roster and being subsequently fired. That being said, he’s beyond proven as a defensive guru as the defensive coordinator for both the Seattle Seahawks during the heydays of the Legion of Boom and most recently the Dallas Cowboys. The Panthers also have some exciting young talent on defense like Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, and Jaycee Horn for him to play with.

Quinn feels like a safe option for the Panthers and someone with a high floor to get them back on track. This is one of my favorite landing spots if I am being completely transparent.

Honorable Mentions: Frank Reich, Brian Flores

Denver Broncos: Jonathan Gannon

The Nathaniel Hackett experiment burned the Broncos badly and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them return to the defensive side of the ball for their next head coach. While I could see the Broncos taking a similar route to the Panthers and going with someone who already has head coaching experience, I believe Gannon to be another candidate worth a gamble.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ defense achieved some historic success in 2022 including an insane 70 team sacks with four(!) players recording at least 11 sacks and 27 turnovers. The Eagles are also playing in the NFC Championship game this weekend and have their marvelous defense to thank for their efforts.

The Broncos possess fun weapons for Gannon to use and the unit was one of the top defenses in 2022 already. This is another good fit and the Broncos’ defense can carry over their momentum from 2022 into 2023.

Honorable Mentions: Sean Payton, DeMeco Ryans

Houston Texans: DeMeco Ryans

This fit makes a lot of sense for several reasons, but maybe none more so than the reunion between Ryans and the team that drafted him. While the split between the two parties wasn’t exactly ideal, time heals all wounds and a head coaching opportunity might be too much to pass up for Ryans.

The Texans host one of the worst rosters in the NFL, but they do possess two top 12 picks, three picks in the top 33, and five picks in the top 75. Couple it with having the fifth-most cap space in the NFL and there is a lot of opportunity for Ryans to begin improving this team drastically and even begin making this team in his image.

This fit checks several boxes for me, but maybe most importantly it’s a high-risk, high-reward higher that the Texans have been avoiding for several years now. It’s far time the team puts more effort into an exciting head coach and Ryans feels like a great opportunity to do so.

Honorable Mentions: Shane Steichen, Jonathan Gannon

Indianapolis Colts: Shane Steichen

Jim Irsay is always looking for a splash move for his organization and there is perhaps none bigger than Steichen to excite not only the Colts’ fan base but also make waves throughout the league.

Steichen coached an Eagles team that had six Pro Bowlers on offense, including an MVP finalist in Jalen Hurts. The Eagles are heavy-weight Super Bowl favorites thanks to the coaching of both coordinators, but Steichen has firmly entrenched himself as one of the hottest names on the head coaching market.

For the Colts, they provide Steichen with some young cornerstones like Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr., and Quenton Nelson plus an opportunity to draft the quarterback of his choosing with the fourth overall pick. The team would also likely be willing to move up for Steichen’s guy if he requests. All in all, this feels like a Colts’ move and would be the move that rocks the NFL landscape this offseason.

Honorable Mentions: Ken Dorsey, Brian Callahan 

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