The NFL is preparing to wrap up what has been an unprecedented season due to the ongoing pandemic, and this offseason will reportedly look a bit different as well. On Tuesday evening, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported that a big change is coming to the NFL head coach hiring process -- and that change will reportedly happen this week! According to Pelissero, NFL teams searching for a new head coach may request and conduct virtual interviews with candidates employed by other teams starting on Wednesday. Teams can deny the request, but the proverbial carousel is about to start spinning.
It's worth noting, however, that this new rule allowing virtual interviews during the regular season up to two hours long applies specifically to head coaching vacancies only. According to Pelissero, restrictions apply to other positions, and no in-person interviews are permitted as long as the hiring club or the candidate's club is still playing football.
The Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans are paying special attention to this development, as they are the three teams currently without a head coach. There are other teams like the Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars who could find themselves in a similar boat soon, however.
When it comes to the top candidates for head coaching positions this offseason, two are the same elite candidates from last year. Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will try his hand at interviews again, while on the defensive side of things, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will be up for consideration yet again. Another coach that is sure to get some attention this offseason is Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who has turned quarterback Josh Allen into a star this season.
There are always a few darkhorses when it comes to head coaching searches, so let's mention a few you should keep an eye on. Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady appears to be a potential star on the rise, as he was a big reason for Joe Burrow's success at LSU. While the Panthers offense isn't necessarily tearing up the league, it's not like Matt LaFleur did much with the Tennessee Titans before becoming more than relevant with the Green Bay Packers! Another coach you should keep an eye on is Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who turned running back Derrick Henry into a legitimate MVP candidate and also helped Ryan Tannehill get his career back on track after being dumped by the Miami Dolphins.