It’s that time of the year. The time NFL teams make franchise-altering decisions on the future direction of their team. There are always plenty of reasons to fire a coach, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. While there are plenty of well-known names on the short list of popular candidates, not all of them should be that sought after. Let’s rank the hottest candidates on the market.
The Most Desirable NFL Head Coach Candidates
1. Jim Harbaugh – University of Michigan Head Coach
The current Michigan Wolverines Head Coach is undisputedly on top of this list for likely many vacancies across the league. Harbaugh was close to making his return to the league last year, but Dean Spanos and the Chargers’ management elected to keep Brandon Staley for one more season. With the Wolverines finally making the College Football Playoff National Championship, this could be an ideal time for Harbaugh to jump ship.
He has a proven track record in the NFL with a 59-36-1 record as the Head Coach for the San Francisco 49ers and even led them to a Super Bowl in 2013. Since that time, he’s rekindled the Wolverines into a college football powerhouse. Although he’s known to have a knifing personality, Harbaugh could certainly get any team headed in the right direction.
2. Ben Johnson – Detroit Lions Offensive Coordinator
Johnson, the current offensive coordinator for Detroit is likely the hottest offensive mind in the entire league. He’s been a huge reason Jared Goff has been able to resurrect his career. Ever since Goff got to Detroit with Johnson’s play calling, he’s had two seasons with over 4,400 passing yards with an interception ratio of 59-19. Overall, Johnson’s offense ranks top five in every important offensive stat.
Although he had an opportunity to become a head coach last year for the Panthers, he opted to stay in Detroit for another year. Although that move was risky, it paid off. Johnson will likely now be the most sought-after offensive mind – something owners are more and more in search of.
3. Bill Belichick – New England Patriots Head Coach/General Manager
After decades of coaching in New England, it looks like the legendary head coach’s time may be coming to an end. Assuming he still wants to coach, he should be a hot commodity. Many will argue that Belichick deserves to be higher on this list, which he would be if he were interested in JUST being a head coach. He still has tremendous value as a game-day coach, but his front-office decisions leave much to be desired.
Almost the entire downfall of the Patriots’ organization goes back to decisions made by Belichick in past free agencies and drafts. If a franchise can hire the Super Bowl-winning coach where he doesn’t have the final say over personnel, nearly all teams with a vacancy will reach out to trade for him.
4. Eric Bieniemy – Washington Commanders Offensive Coordinator
It wouldn’t be an NFL head coaching cycle if Eric Bieniemy wasn’t involved. The former NFL running back took his talents to Washington where he had mixed success this season. He was able to develop Sam Howell to look like an above-average quarterback at the time this season, although it wasn’t always pretty.
His real coaching highlights come from his time in Kansas City as offensive coordinator from 2018-2022. During the prime of the Chiefs offense, he helped mold Patrick Mahomes into the best quarterback in the league. In both 2018 and 2022, he helped call plays for the best-scoring offense in football. While he was considered for many vacancies over time, nothing ever materialized. After spending a year in Washington, the time could be now for Bieniemy.
5. Brian Flores – Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator
Minnesota’s defensive coordinator is up for multiple head coaching jobs, per The Athletic. Flores certainly had his bright spots as the head man in Miami from 2019-2021. He’s known as one of the greatest leaders among coaches and runs one of, if not the most unique defense in the league. The Flores defense is famous for blitzing more than nearly anyone in the league. Thanks to this, Minnesota’s defense was able to hold opposing offenses to 3.8 yards a carry which ranks fourth best.
If any organization needs a hard cultural reset, Brian Flores should be a strong consideration. One can argue he never got a fair shot in Miami and deserves a solid second chance somewhere.
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