By Stephen Juza
January 2nd, 2023
With each NFL season, about 25% of the teams will fire their head coach and begin searching for their next franchise savior. In this series, we will look at the top coaching candidates that will be considered for a head coaching opportunity. Today we look at the top former head coaches likely to get a look in the coming weeks:
Playing Career: Payton played college football at Eastern Illinois and was undrafted out of college. He played for a variety of teams throughout the Arena Football League, Canadian Football League, and the UK Budweiser National League, and played three games in the NFL during the NFL strike of 1987.
Current Job: Payton joined Fox to work in the studio throughout 2022 after stepping down last season as the head coach of the New Orleans Saints.
Years of NFL Coaching Experience: Twenty-four seasons in the NFL.
Head Coach Experience: Fifteen seasons, 152-89-0, 9-8 in the playoffs. Payton has the highest winning percentage in Saints history (63%), and was the winner of the 2006 Coach of the Year award, and led the team to a Super Bowl victory to finish the 2009 season, the first in franchise history.
Coaching Trees: Before he was a head coach, Payton spent two years as a member of Ray Rhodes' staff, four years as a member of Jim Fassel's staff, and three years as a member of Bill Parcells' staff. Two of his former assistant coaches are active head coaches in the NFL, Dan Campbell and Dennis Allen.
Award-winning Players: Drew Brees, 2008, AP Offensive Player of the Year, New Orleans Saints; Drew Brees, 2011, AP Offensive Player of the Year, New Orleans Saints; Alvin Kamara, 2017, AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, New Orleans Saints; Marshon Lattimore, 2017, AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, New Orleans Saints
Parting Thoughts: Sean Payton may be the best coaching candidate available this offseason and will have his choice of the jobs should he want to re-enter the coaching ranks. Any team that signs him will also need to trade the Saints for his coaching rights due to his contract and retirement last offseason with the Saints.
Current Job: Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator, Buffalo Bills. Frazier has spent the last six seasons in Buffalo leading the defense.
Bills Record: 11-3-0
Years of NFL Experience: Twenty-four seasons in the NFL.
Head Coach Experience: Three seasons, 18-29-1, 0-1 in the playoffs. He also served as the interim head coach of the Vikings during the 2010 season.
Coaching Trees: Before he was a head coach, Leslie Frazier spent four years as a member of Andy Reid's staff, two years as a member of Marvin Lewis' staff, two years as a member of Tony Dungy's staff, and four years as a member of Brad Childress' staff. Since his first head coaching stint, he has also spent two years as a member of Lovie Smith's staff, one year as a member of John Harbaugh's staff, and six years as a member of Sean McDermott's staff.
NFL Playing Career: Frazier played defensive back for the Chicago Bears from 1981-1985, including winning the Super Bowl XX. Frazier led the team in interceptions that season, but his career was cut short during a knee injury suffered during the Super Bowl.
Parting Thoughts: While Frazier did not have much success during his initial head coaching stint, he has had a lot of success with the Bills defense more recently and has likely coached his way into another shot as a head coach.
Current Job: Defensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys Record: 12-4-0
Years of NFL Experience: Twenty seasons in the NFL.
Head Coach Experience: Six seasons, 47-49-0, 3-2 in the playoffs, with a loss in the Super Bowl at the conclusion of 2016.
Coaching Trees: Quinn spent two years as a member of Steve Mariucci's staff, two years as a member of Dennis Erickson's staff, two years as a member of Nick Saban's staff, two years as a member of Eric Mangini's staff, one year as a member of Jim L. Mora (Jr.)'s staff, three years as a member of Pete Carroll's staff.
Parting Thoughts: Quinn has coached in big games, and while the Falcons regressed the longer he was with the team, we have previously written about coaches like him who have been able to have very successful coaching careers after their first failed stint. Quinn fits the profile of ‘the “Bill” ’ described in a previous blog post: A coach that had flashes of success with their first stint and coached for at least five seasons.
Current Job: Linebackers Coach/Senior Defensive Assistant Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers Record: 8-8-0
Years of NFL Experience: Nineteen seasons in the NFL, including four Super Bowl victories as an assistant coach or scouting assistant.
Head Coach Experience: Three seasons, 24-25.
College Playing Career: Flores played linebacker for Boston College, but a leg injury prevented him from playing professionally.
Parting Thoughts: Last offseason, Flores was fired from the Dolphins despite back-to-back winning seasons. Despite his firing, he still garnered interviews with several teams for the head coach position last offseason.
Previous Job: Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts
Colts Record (with him at the helm): 4-11-1
Years of NFL Experience: Seventeen seasons in the NFL
Head Coach Experience: Five seasons, 41-39-1, 1-2 in the playoffs.
Coaching Trees: Reich spent one year as a member of Tony Dungy's staff, three years as a member of Jim Caldwell's staff, one year as a member of Ken Whisenhunt's staff, three years as a member of Mike McCoy's staff, and two years as a member of Doug Pederson's staff. Two of his former assistant coaches, Matt Eberflus and Nick Sirianni, are currently head coaches.
Playing Career: Reich was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1985 draft, and played quarterback in the NFL for the Bills, Panthers, Jets, and Lions. During his career, he primarily was the backup quarterback for these teams, although saw his most game action during the 1996 season with the Jets.
Parting Thoughts: Reich was only recently fired from the Colts, but a series of short-term quarterback decisions doomed the franchise to instability. Three winning seasons out of five should be enough to warrant Reich an interview, if not another shot at the top job.
Check out the other two posts in the series:
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