Winners and Losers of the 2024 NFL Coaching Cycle
Kristopher LogoCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2024

Winners and Losers of the 2024 NFL Coaching Cycle

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    New Commanders head coach Dan Quinn

    New Commanders head coach Dan QuinnJonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    The 2024 NFL hiring cycle has unofficially come to an end. While the dust hasn’t completely settled on the coaching carousel, all head coaching vacancies have been filled.

    The Washington Commanders are set to hire Dan Quinn as their next head coach, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Washington was the lone team without a head coach following the Seattle Seahawks’ hiring of Mike Macdonald on Wednesday.

    The immediate winners of the latest hiring cycle are the fans. Teams parted with their previous coaches because the results weren’t good enough. While the new additions have plenty yet to prove, their arrivals bring a sense of hope to their respective franchises.

    Of course, fans are far from the only ones impacted by coaching changes. Here, we’ll dive into some of the biggest winners and losers of the 2024 hiring cycle based on factors like coaching experience, franchise familiarity, scheme fit and relevant recent results.

    First, though, let’s take a quick look at how the head coaching carousel unfolded.

2024 Head Coaching Changes

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    Patriots franchise owner Robert Kraft and new head coach Jerod Mayo

    Patriots franchise owner Robert Kraft and new head coach Jerod MayoMaddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Atlanta Falcons

    Out: Arthur Smith

    In: Raheem Morris, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator

    Carolina Panthers

    Out: Chris Tabor (interim)

    In: Dave Canales, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator

    Las Vegas Raiders

    Out: None

    In: Antonio Pierce, Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach

    Los Angeles Chargers

    Out: Giff Smith (interim)

    In: Jim Harbaugh, University of Michigan head coach

    New England Patriots

    Out: Bill Belichick

    In: Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots inside linebackers coach

    Seattle Seahawks

    Out: Pete Carroll

    In: Mike Macdonald, Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator

    Tennessee Titans

    Out: Mike Vrabel

    In: Brian Callahan, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator

    Washington Commanders

    Out: Ron Rivera

    In: Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator

    *A full list of coaching hires, including coordinators and assistants, can be found at

Winner: Eagles Coach Nick Sirianni

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    Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni

    Eagles head coach Nick SirianniMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Following a late-season collapse and a loss in the Wild Card Round to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Nick Sirianni’s job could easily have been in jeopardy. Sirianni was spared, however, and his offensive and defensive coordinators took the blame for Philadelphia’s disappointing season.

    Defensive coordinator Sean Desai was replaced by Matt Patricia as the play-caller in-season, while Brian Johnson was fired after the season. Vic Fangio and Kellen Moore were subsequently hired as defensive and offensive coordinator, respectively.

    The expectation is that Fangio and Moore will get more out of a loaded Eagles roster than their predecessors did.

    “Just let us do what we do,” wide receiver DeVonta Smith told Kay Adams of Fanduel TV’s Up & Adams.

    The change should be good for the Eagles players, who, as a unit, weren’t performing up to their potential in 2023. It’s definitely good for Sirianni, who gets another year on the job to show that he wasn’t the problem during Philly’s December collapse.

    Of course, Sirianni’s challenge comes with immense pressure to turn things around in 2024. However, a few very good coaches weren’t given the same opportunity.

Loser: Cowboys Coach Mike McCarthy

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    Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy

    Cowboys coach Mike McCarthyKara Durrette/Getty Images

    The Dallas Cowboys didn’t collapse late in the season the same way that the Eagles did. However, Philly’s NFC East rival did fall flat in the Wild Card Round, getting routed by the upstart Green Bay Packers.

    Heading into the postseason, there was some buzz that Cowboys franchise owner and president Jerry Jones could make a coaching change if McCarthy didn’t lead a successful playoff run. That didn’t happen, as Jones decided to stick with McCarthy for another season.

    “Everybody has options,” Jones said, per Nick Harris of the team’s official website. “This is one I’m very comfortable with. I felt good during the year with the job that Mike was doing.”

    Like Sirianni, though, McCarthy will face a ton of pressure in 2024. He’s delivered three straight 12-win seasons, but the Cowboys haven’t advanced beyond the divisional round since 1995. At some point, getting to the dance won’t be enough.

    Thanks to Washington’s decision, McCarthy will now have to win in the playoffs without one of the top defensive coordinators in the league. Yes, Quinn’s unit struggled mightily against Jordan Love and the Packers in the playoffs, but it also finished the year ranked fifth in both yards and points allowed.

    Losing a top coordinator to a division rival is never easy, and it will make it that much harder for McCarthy to get over Dallas’ proverbial postseason hump.

Winner: Panthers QB Bryce Young

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    Panthers QB Bryce Young

    Panthers QB Bryce YoungGrant Halverson/Getty Images

    Former Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich, who was fired in-season, never seemed comfortable with rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young. The Alabama product floundered under Reich’s guidance, and he wasn’t much better under interim coach Chris Tabor.

    However, the hiring of Dave Canales should thrill the 22-year-old signal-caller. As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator in 2023, Canales helped Baker Mayfield resurrect his career. As the Seahawks quarterbacks coach in 2022, he did the same for Geno Smith.

    Canales is a bright offensive mind who runs a very quarterback-friendly scheme. That was especially apparent in Tampa, where Mayfield played more decisively and made fewer glaring mistakes than he did in recent years.

    Mayfield, who was released by Carolina during the 2022 season, threw for 4,044 yards and 28 touchdowns this past season while being named a Pro Bowl alternate and leading the Buccaneers to the divisional round. Canales should get more out of Young’s talents, and he fully believes in them.

    “He’s the right guy. We all talk about when we have that quarterback, that face of the franchise type of player, and that got me really excited,” Canales told reporters.

    We’ve seen plenty of talented quarterbacks struggle as rookies before finding their way—with Trevor Lawrence serving as a great recent example. Canales just so happens to know exactly how to put a signal-caller on the right track.

Loser: Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield

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    Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield

    Buccaneers QB Baker MayfieldNic Antaya/Getty Images

    Getting to work with Canales may do wonders for Young’s career. Losing his guidance could be a major problem for Mayfield, however. Mayfield is an impending free agent, but he has stated his desire to return to Tampa Bay.

    “It would mean a lot for me to be back and for one or two pieces to get brought back and keep this together,” Mayfield said, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

    Mayfield flourished under Canales, but that’s not the only piece of the equation here. Had the duo returned to Tampa in 2024, it would have provided the 28-year-old quarterback with the sort of stability he simply hasn’t had in the NFL.

    Between tenures with the Panthers, Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns, Mayfield played for eight different head coaches (including interim coaches) in just six seasons.

    The most stability Mayfield found came in two seasons under Browns head coach and offensive play-caller Kevin Stefanski—though he spent most of the second year battling a shoulder injury.

    Mayfield is guaranteed to face another coordinator change whether he stays in Tampa or not.

    This doesn’t guarantee that Mayfield will regress, but it will make it more difficult for him to build on his breakthrough campaign.

Winners: Raiders Players

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    Raiders edge Maxx Crosby

    Raiders edge Maxx CrosbyJordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    When the Las Vegas Raiders fired head coach Josh McDaniels midseason, they handed the interim job to linebackers coach Antonio Pierce. The Raiders quickly became a more competitive team under Pierce and went 5-4 under his watch after starting the year 3-5.

    Down the stretch, wideout Davante Adams made it clear that they wanted Pierce to stay permanently.

    “I think having A.P. here will be good for this organization. He kind of embodies what it means to be a Raider,” Adams said, per ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez.

    Pass-rusher Maxx Crosby went even further, declaring that he didn’t want to stay in Las Vegas without Pierce as his coach. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, Crosby planned to “explore a trade request” if Pierce wasn’t hired as Las Vegas’ full-time head coach.

    Fortunately for players like Adams and Crosby, Raiders franchise owner Mark Davis made the desired decision and removed the interim tag from Pierce.

    This is a win for the players because it gives them a real chance to build on the success they had late in the regular season and avoids a reset. That late stretch, it should be noted, included a decisive win over the rival Kansas City Chiefs, who are representing the AFC in Super Bowl LVIII.

Loser: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson

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    Ravens QB Lamar Jackson

    Ravens QB Lamar JacksonPerry Knotts/Getty Images

    This one might not seem obvious at first blush because the Baltimore Ravens didn’t lose a key member of the offensive staff like the Buccaneers did. However, Baltimore did lose its defensive coordinator to Seattle, along with secondary coach Dennard Wilson, who was hired as the Tennessee Titans’ defensive coordinator.

    This could lead to a pretty big adjustment period for a Ravens defense that finished the regular season ranked first in points allowed. That isn’t great news for quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is still searching for sustained postseason success.

    While Jackson appears poised to win his second regular-season MVP award, he’s just 2-4 in the postseason and has never reached the Super Bowl.

    Plenty of elite quarterbacks took time to find postseason success—Peyton Manning didn’t reach the Super Bowl until his ninth year. Fair or not, though, Jackson is starting to earn a reputation as a great regular-season QB who can’t deliver in the playoffs.

    “This is who Lamar Jackson is, and he is never going to have a better chance to go to the Super Bowl than he did [Sunday],” ESPN’s Paul Hembekides said on Mike Greenberg’s Greeny podcast (beginning at the 1:59 mark).

    At this point, Jackson will have to reach the Super Bowl to change the narrative surrounding him. That will be a much bigger challenge in 2024 if Baltimore doesn’t again feature one of the NFL’s top defenses.

    In 2021, the year before Macdonald was hired, the Ravens ranked just 25th in total defense.

Winner: Patriots Franchise Owner Robert Kraft

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    Patriots franchise owner Robert Kraft

    Patriots franchise owner Robert KraftMaddie Meyer/Getty Images

    The New England Patriots parted with head coach Bill Belichick after 24 years and six Super Bowl wins. That’s quite a run for any franchise, but it seems that Belichick’s long tenure wasn’t always positive for franchise owner Robert Kraft.

    “Like he did with many people, according to a team source, Belichick would walk past Kraft in the halls of Gillette Stadium without saying a word,” Chad Graff of The Athletic wrote. “They only chatted when necessary for work reasons. Belichick seemed to go out of his way to needle his boss.”

    It all worked when the Patriots were winning, but New England’s last playoff victory came in the 2018 season, when Tom Brady was still the team’s quarterback. Belichick delivered one postseason appearance after Brady departed for Tampa Bay, and he had just 12 wins over the last two seasons.

    Now, New England gets to go in a different direction, though not an entirely unfamiliar one. Inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo was promoted to replace Belichick, a decision that was written into Mayo’s last contract.

    Mayo will likely retain some of the fabled “Patriot Way,” but he isn’t likely to be the same authoritarian coach that Belichick was. He’s also likely to bring concepts to the field that are different than those that worked for New England in the past—and that haven’t over the last few years.

    “Mayo wants the Patriots to run the kind of quarterback-friendly scheme popularized by Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan,” Graff wrote. “Almost every offensive coordinator he has considered has spent some time working in one of those systems.”

    The Patriots are getting a coach they know well. However, the change should still bring a breath of fresh air for the organization and especially for Kraft.

Losers: Bill Belichick and Mike Vrabel

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    Bill Belichcik

    Bill BelichcikJohn Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    When the Patriots first announced Belichick’s departure, it was easy to assume that the greatest coach of this era would quickly find a new home. However, that didn’t happen.

    Belichick interviewed with the Atlanta Falcons, but that job went to Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. No other teams conducted a formal interview with Belichick, who was effectively frozen out of this hiring cycle.

    Mike Vrabel was interviewed by Atlanta, Carolina and the Los Angeles Chargers after being fired by the Titans. However, he too will have to wait at least a year for another head coaching opportunity.

    While Vrabel hasn’t had the storied success that Belichick has experienced, he was a proven commodity who had led Tennessee to three playoff appearances in six seasons.

    However, this year’s cycle favored up-and-coming coordinators more than experienced head coaches. Of the eight hires, only Quinn, Morris and Jim Harbaugh had previously been head coaches on a non-interim basis at the NFL level.

    As a result, both Belichick and Vrabel lost out on new opportunities—Pete Carroll is expected to stay with the Seahawks as an adviser, and it’s unclear if he’s interested in another head coaching gig.

    Things could change in 2025, but there’s no guarantee that it will—especially if young coaches like Macdonald and Canales find fast success.

Winner: Chargers QB Justin Herbert

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    Chargers QB Justin Herbert

    Chargers QB Justin HerbertAndy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    Though Harbaugh hasn’t been an NFL coach since the 2014 season, he was arguably the biggest prize of this year’s hiring cycle. Fresh off a national title with the Michigan Wolverines, Harbaugh has proved that he can find success at any level.

    In his last NFL stint with the San Francisco 49ers, Harbaugh found that success quickly. San Francisco was in the NFC title game in Harbaugh’s first season and in the Super Bowl in Year 2.

    That track record is great news for the Los Angeles Chargers and, specifically, for quarterback Justin Herbert.

    Herbert has flashed plenty of talent during his first four NFL seasons. He was Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020, a Pro Bowler in 2021 and a playoff starter in 2022. However, the Chargers have struggled to put a championship-caliber team around Herbert—something Harbaugh knows exactly how to accomplish.

    And Harbaugh is eager to put Los Angeles on a championship path.

    “I love Michigan, but I love the NFL too,” Harbaugh said on NFL on CBS (beginning at the 16-second mark). “There’s no Lombardi Trophy in college football.”

    Harbaugh also has a track record of developing quarterbacks. He won with both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and helped develop Andrew Luck at Stanford. More recently, he has helped develop Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy into a potential high draft pick.

    The entire Chargers organization and its fanbase should be excited to have Harbaugh in the fold. However, Herbert is the big winner because his career may be set to take a significant and positive arc.

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