The NFL coaching hiring process has been a fun one, as not one, but two teams hired former players of their respective franchises. The Carolina Panthers announced on Jan. 26 that former Quarterback Frank Reich is the team’s new head coach. Then on Jan. 31, the Houston Texans announced that their new head coach is former Linebacker DeMeco Ryans.
Reich has quite the history with the Panthers, playing during the team’s first-ever NFL game all the way back in September 1995. Although the game resulted in a 23-20 overtime loss, it was still a monumental day for the NFL, as a new franchise was born. Nearly three decades later, the team announced that Reich is their new head coach.
This all comes full circle, as the player that helped set the foundation for the future of the Carolina Panthers, is now the man to lead the team. Reich had previously coached for the Indianapolis Colts, leading them to a 41-35-1 record in nearly five seasons with the team.
Ryans was drafted by the Texans in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft. During that season, He won defensive rookie of the year, while leading the league in solo tackles – an amazing start to what ended up being a very productive playing career. Ryans also served as the team captain of the Texans in 2011. Over a decade later, Ryans now has an even bigger role with the team. Ryans was previously the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, leading their defense to one of the best in football.
Not only were those two hires big moves, but there was also a third blockbuster move, which saw the New Orleans Saints trade former Super Bowl-winning Head Coach, Sean Payton, to the Denver Broncos. This comes a year after Payton announced his retirement from coaching. But, in the recent months, Payton’s name kept coming up as he was looking to get back into coaching with a different team. After numerous interviews with different teams, and a lot of speculation, the Broncos were the team that he agreed to coach.
The Saints agreed to send Payton to the Broncos for a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick, while also sending their own 2024 third-round pick to Denver. Payton is one of the more accomplished coaches in the NFL, so the cost to get Payton is well worth it. He has an incredible head coaching record of 161-97, while winning 9 playoff games and Super Bowl 44.
Payton looks to turn the disappointing Broncos into an immediate contender. His presence should be immediately felt in the locker room. A head coach like Payton can provide a spark to underperforming Quarterback Russell Wilson, and the entire offense in general.
It is hard to argue with any of these head coach hirings. Each team seemed like they got the right person for the job. Whether or not the teams’ fan bases agree, all three coaches have a proven track record of success. Ultimately, they will be judged on how they perform with the new team, not their previous resume.