It’s been a busy offseason for teams that missed the playoffs, with several coaching vacancies created and filled since the end of the regular season.
Let’s recap what jobs have been filled and who’s still searching after eight teams decided to revamp their coaching staffs.
Green Bay Packers: Matt LaFleur (replaces Mike McCarthy)
The Green Bay Packers made the first and one of the most stunning hires of the offseason by bringing on former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. LaFleur, 39, previously spent time on the Mike Shanahan coaching staff in Washington that also produced San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. He was also McVay’s offensive coordinator in L.A. in 2017.
The Titans finished 2018 with the NFL’s 25th-ranked offense. Despite that, the general belief is that the Packers are hoping to emulate the success the Rams have enjoyed with McVay by hiring a young, offensive-minded coach to work with Aaron Rodgers.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, left, is hit after passing by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, right, and linebacker Elijah Lee, bottom, during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bruce Arians (replaces Dirk Koetter)
While the Packers went off the board, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked to a proven commodity in former Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Arians retired in 2017 after compiling a 49-30 record in five seasons in Arizona and one partial season with the Indianapolis Colts.
Arians said he didn’t intend to return to the sidelines, then reportedly said he would consider the Cleveland Browns job before being enticed from retirement to Tampa Bay. He will look to resurrect the career of quarterback Jameis Winston along with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who reunite with Arians after working under him in Arizona.
Arizona Cardinals: Kliff Kingsbury (replaces Steve Wilks)
This one quickly replaced the LaFleur hire for the most shocking coaching move of the offseason. The Arizona Cardinals fired Steve Wilks after just one season and apparently surprised Kliff Kingsbury himself by offering him the job.
Kingsbury was fired at Texas Tech following three consecutive losing seasons and a 35-40 record before accepting the offensive coordinator position at USC. He apparently didn’t consider himself an NFL head coaching candidate. But with the Cardinals — like the Packers — apparently looking for the next McVay to guide young quarterback Josh Rosen, they rolled the dice that Kingsbury is the guy.
Cleveland Browns: Freddie Kitchens (replaces Hue Jackson)
The Cleveland Browns reportedly promoted Freddie Kitchens to head coach after a meteoric ascendance following the firing of head coach Hue Jackson midseason. Kitchens was promoted to offensive coordinator at the time, and his chemistry with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield yielded on-field success and a new job.
The Browns finished the season 6-2 after Jackson’s departure. Gregg Williams was the interim head coach, but the team ultimately decided that the man who worked directly with their promising young quarterback was the right coach to lead them forward.
Denver Broncos: Vic Fangio (replaces Vance Joseph)
After decades as a defensive coordinator and position coach in the NFL, 60-year-old Vic Fangio will reportedly get his shot with the Denver Broncos. It seems an ideal fit for a team that has built its identity on defense in recent years, including the 2015 team that won the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning at quarterback.
Fangio oversaw the Chicago Bears’ dominant defensive unit this season and will look to replicate that success with a team possessing premium defensive talent in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. After an ugly 5-11 season, Fangio gives Denver hope of regaining its identity and stature as an AFC West contender.
New York Jets: Adam Gase (replaces Todd Bowles)
The New York Jets languished under four mostly bad seasons with Todd Bowles and are looking to one of their most frustrating foes to turn things around. Adam Gase was fired after posting a 23-25 record in three seasons with the Miami Dolphins. But he went 5-1 against the Jets in that span and has the offensive background the Jets were seeking.
New York selected Sam Darnold with the No. 3 pick in April’s draft and are certainly looking to Gase to hone him into the franchise quarterback they hope he is. It’s a second chance in the AFC East for Gase and another shot to prove he’s the quarterback whisperer he’s been touted as.
Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins: Pending
That leaves two of the eight NFL coaching vacancies still unfilled. The Cincinnati Bengals are finally moving on from perhaps the greatest run of coaching mediocrity in NFL history after parting ways with Marvin Lewis after 16 seasons.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, pulled the plug on Gase after three seasons and will have another decision to make with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Neither team has a clear path moving forward. Who they choose as their next respective head coach will be a good indicator of what direction they’re looking.