Overview of Potential Head Coach Candidates: Former NFL Players

By Stephen Juza

January 3rd, 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 former players who are currently assistant coaches throughout the league.

Aaron Glenn:

Prior Interviews: Glenn interviewed for the Saints and the Broncos head coaching jobs at the conclusion of the 2022 regular season.

Current Job: Defensive Coordinator, Detroit Lions

Lions Record: 8-8-0

Years of NFL Coaching Experience: Eleven seasons in the NFL, including two seasons as a coordinator.

Coaching Trees: If hired, Aaron Glenn will be a new branch in the Pettine, Payton, and Campbell coaching trees. Glenn spent two years as a member of Mike Pettine's staff, five years as a member of Sean Payton's staff, and two years as a member of Dan Campbell's staff.

College Playing Career: After originally playing at Navarro College, he transferred to Texas A&M for his final two seasons. Glenn was a consensus All-American in 1993 and two-time All-SWC.

NFL Playing Career: Glenn played cornerback. He was drafted in the first round in the 1994 draft. Glenn had a long, successful career in the NFL, playing fifteen seasons across five different teams. His best years were with the New York Jets, where he received two of his three Pro Bowl nominations. After his run with the Jets, he was acquired by the Houston Texans during the 2002 expansion draft.

Parting Thoughts: Glenn garnered serious interest last offseason from multiple teams, and he will likely get more consideration this offseason. While the Lions’ turnaround this season has been impressive, it has been largely driven by offensive improvements, not the defense

Ken Dorsey:

Prior Interviews: Dorsey has not interviewed for any head coaching jobs before this season.

Current Job: Offensive Coordinator, Buffalo Bills

Bills Record: 12-3-0

Years of NFL Coaching Experience: Nine seasons in the NFL, with one as a coordinator.

Coaching Trees: If hired, Ken Dorsey will be a new branch in the Rivera and McDermott coaching trees. Dorsey spent five years as a member of Ron Rivera's staff and four years as a member of Sean McDermott's staff.

College Playing Career: Dorsey was a 2x Heisman Trophy finalist after a standout career in Miami. He was a first-team All-American in 2002, and the national championship winning squad in 2001 is considered one of the most talented college football teams ever.

NFL Playing Career: After Miami, Dorsey was drafted in the seventh round of the NFL draft. He played for seven seasons between the NFL and the CFL, mostly as a backup quarterback. He did start 13 games in his career, most of them in 2004 for the 49ers.

Parting Thoughts: Dorsey’s spent time working with two different standout quarterbacks during their best years of their career (Cam Newton and Josh Allen). In a quarterback driven league, Dorsey’s experience could be invaluable in turning around a franchise in 2023.

Kellen Moore:

Prior Interviews: Moore interviewed for several potential head coaching jobs last offseason, including Jacksonville, Denver, Miami, and Minnesota.

Current Job: Offensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Record: 12-4-0

Years of NFL Coaching Experience: Five seasons in the NFL, including four as a coordinator.

Coaching Trees: If hired, Kellen Moore will be a new branch in the Garrett and McCarthy coaching trees. Moore spent two years as a member of Jason Garrett's staff and three years as a member of Mike McCarthy's staff.

College Playing Career: Moore set numerous records during his time in Boise. He was the first QB in FBS history to win 50 games as a starting quarterback. He was also very careful with the ball, setting the NCAA record for the lowest percentage of his passes being intercepted in his career. Beyond his records, he also won countless awards, including a three time conference offensive player of the year and two time quarterback of the year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus.

NFL Playing Career: After Boise State, Moore went undrafted and signed with the Detroit Lions in 2012. During his six years in the NFL, he saw the field one season. In 2015, Moore started two games late in the season after starter Tony Romo broke his collarbone.

Parting Thoughts: Moore has spent almost his entire professional career in the Cowboys organization. Moore has helped guide the Cowboys’ offense through a difficult season after starting quarterback Dak Prescott missed five games with injury. However, the Cowboys went 4-1 with backup quarterback Cooper Rush under center. Teams looking for offensive experience will give Moore strong consideration in the coming weeks.

DeMeco Ryans:

Prior Interviews: Ryans interviewed with the Minnesota Vikings last offseason for their vacant head coaching position, and turned down an opportunity to have a second interview with the organization to return to the 49ers.

Current Job: Defensive Coordinator, San Francisco 49ers

49ers Record: 12-4-0

Years of NFL Experience: Six seasons in the NFL, including two as a coordinator.

Coaching Trees: If hired, DeMeco Ryans will be the third branch in the Shanahan coaching tree. Ryans spent six years as a member of Kyle Shanahan's staff.

College Playing Career: Ryans won various awards during his seasons with the Alabama Crimson Tide - the Lott Trophy to highlight both his on-field and academic accomplishments, first team All-American, and SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

NFL Playing Career: After his time in Alabama, Ryans was drafted in the second round, 33rd overall, by the Houston Texans. Ryans was named Rookie of the Year in 2006, and followed that with his only nomination to the All-Pro team in 2007. After his playing career ended, he took a season off and began his coaching career with the 49ers.

Parting Thoughts: Similar to Moore, Ryans has spent his entire coaching career with the San Francisco 49ers. This season, Ryans has helped lead the top ranked defense in the league. While offensive coaches will get more consideration this offseason, Ryans will likely be Kyle Shannahan’s second defensive coordinator hired to the top job.

Jerod Mayo:

Prior Interviews: Mayo interviewed with the Broncos and the Raiders last offseason for their head coaching opportunities, falling short in both interviews.

Current Job: Inside Linebackers Coach, New England Patriots

Patriots Record: 8-8-0

Years of NFL Coaching Experience: Four seasons in the NFL, all as a position coach.

Coaching Trees: If hired, Jerod Mayo will be the eleventh branch in the Belichick coaching tree. Mayo spent four years as a member of Bill Belichick's staff.

Family History: Mayo is the brother of current New England Patriots strength and conditioning assistant coach Deron Mayo.

College Playing Career: Mayo played college football at Tennessee where he was named first-team All-SEC and second-team All-American in his junior year before declaring for the NFL draft in 2008.

NFL Playing Career: Mayo was drafted by the Patriots with the tenth overall pick in the NFL draft. He excelled right out of the gate, receiving 49 of 50 possible votes for Rookie of the Year. During his career, he was named to the All-Pro team once (2010) and made two Pro Bowls (2010, 2012).

Parting Thoughts: Mayo has spent his entire NFL life under Bill Belichick, which may cause concern for some teams. Belichick’s coaching tree leaves a lot to be desired, but another former Patriots’ linebacker (Mike Vrabel) has found success as a coach.

Eric Bieniemy:

Prior Interviews: Bieniemy has interviewed for a variety of jobs over the last four years, including the Saints and the Broncos last offseason.

Current Job: Offensive Coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs Record: 13-3-0

Years of NFL Coaching Experience: Fifteen seasons in the NFL, including five as a coordinator.

Coaching Trees: If hired, Eric Bieniemy will be a new branch in the Childress and Reid coaching trees. Bieniemy spent five years as a member of Brad Childress' staff and ten years as a member of Andy Reid's staff.

Award-winning Players: Patrick Mahomes, 2018, Most Valuable Player, Kansas City Chiefs; Patrick Mahomes, 2018, AP Offensive Player of the Year, Kansas City Chiefs.

College Playing Career: Bieniemy played running back for the University of Colorado. During his time in Colorado, he was named an All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist.

NFL Playing Career: After college, he was drafted in the second round by the San Diego Chargers. He played nine seasons in the NFL, four with the Chargers, four with the Bengals, and one with the Eagles. His last season (1999) was Andy Reid's first season as a head coach in Philadelphia.

Parting Thoughts: Bieniemy has been interviewing for a head coaching position for several years, but hasn’t been able to break through despite coaching excellent offenses in both of his assistant stops. One possible thought is that despite his success as a coach, Andy Reid is still dictating much of the offensive strategy. Teams also could be more hesitant to hire another of Reid’s offensive coordinators after watching Matt Nagy struggle with the Bears.

Check out the other two in the series:

Next Article: Overview of Potential Head Coach Candidates: First Time Candidates

Prior Article: Overview of Potential Head Coach Candidates: Former Head Coaches

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