Saturday, May 28, 2022

An early look at 2023 NFL head coaching candidates: Bills’ Ken Dorsey among five names to watch

Eight different NFL teams are looking for new head coaches ahead of the 2022 season, and the interview cycle is in full swing, with everyone from ex-Dolphins coach Brian Flores to former NFL quarterback Josh McCown among current candidates. A lot of questions have to be answered before the offseason can really get underway. But it’s never too early to start projecting future head coaching possibilities, considering how quickly the staff pipelines can move.

With that in mind, we’re looking way ahead to 2023. Don’t forget these five names, because they have a real path to potential head coaching gigs down the road:

Thomas Brown

Age: 35

Current job: Rams RBs coach/assistant head coach

He enters 2022 with just two years of NFL coaching experience, but he’s been patrolling sidelines since 2011, serving as the position coach during college breakouts for current pros like Nick Chubb and Melvin Gordon. In Los Angeles, now as Sean McVay’s right-hand man, he’s gotten the most out of the Rams’ run game, overseeing a combined 1,600-plus yards from the trio of Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown in 2020; then integrating Sony Michel this season. He also has offensive coordinator experience, holding that title with the University of Miami from 2016-18.

Ken Dorsey

Age: 40

Current job: Bills QBs coach/passing game coordinator

The former NFL QB will be a natural candidate to replace Brian Daboll as the offensive coordinator in the event the latter gets a head coaching job this year. But he’s already built a resume that’ll draw future teams, serving as the Bills’ QBs coach since 2019, the start of Josh Allen’s rise to MVP-level heights. Before that, he spent five years as the Panthers‘ QBs coach (2013-17), which just so happened to be the best and steadiest stretch of Cam Newton’s career. He’s also well-equipped for front-office relationships, serving as a pro scout from 2011-2012 and Florida International University’s assistant athletic director in 2018.

Pep Hamilton

Age: 47

Current job: Texans QBs coach/passing game coordinator

Houston isn’t exactly a wellspring of inspiration right now, but Hamilton got the most out of rookie QB Davis Mills on an otherwise barren roster in 2021. Besides that, he’s got a wealth of big-time experience, serving as Justin Herbert’s QBs coach with the Chargers (2020), Michigan’s assistant head coach/passing game coordinator under Jim Harbaugh (2017-18) and Andrew Luck’s offensive coordinator with the Colts (2013-15). His NFL coaching resume dates to 2003, and he recently led the now-defunct DC Defenders in the revived XFL, starting 3-2 as head coach and general manager.

Mike Kafka

Age: 34

Current job: Chiefs QBs coach/passing game coordinator

Call him the younger, slightly less experienced version of Dorsey. The former backup QB has spent his entire NFL coaching career under Andy Reid in Kansas City, going from QBs coach (2018-19) during Patrick Mahomes‘ emergence as a starter to passing-game coordinator — a title he earned in part to block the Eagles from hiring him as their offensive coordinator. Like Doug Pederson, Matt Nagy and Eric Bieniemy, he can’t fully be separated from the Reid/Mahomes machine, but there’s no denying the appeal of that pathway.

Shane Steichen

Age: 36

Current job: Eagles offensive coordinator

He might be the most underrated riser among young coordinators, though the Eagles’ 2022 performance holds sway over his next steps. Before guiding Jalen Hurts and one of the game’s top rushing attacks while sharing play-calling duties with head coach Nick Sirianni, Steichen served as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator for Justin Herbert’s Offensive Rookie of the Year debut, and as L.A.’s QBs coach from 2016-19, including Philip Rivers‘ final three Pro Bowl seasons. He was also a defensive assistant with the Chargers back in 2011-12 under Norv Turner.

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