Under the Radar Coaching Candidates For 2022
Demeco Ryans 49ers Defensive Coordinator
Just like the players, coaches can improve. Not to say that Demeco Ryans was ever a bad defensive coordinator, but his improvement and progression throughout the 2021 season have been quite obvious. He has been able to develop players like Azeez Al-Shaair, Arden Key, and Samson Ebukam into really good players. Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Nick Bosa, and DJ Jones are all having the best seasons of their careers in Ryans' first year as defensive coordinator for the 49ers. Ryans' decision-making as a defensive play-caller has progressed exponentially every game. He has a really good feel for the flow of the game and has strategically been able to dial up pressure with both four-man rushes and when bringing players from the secondary. When it comes to responding to adversity, Ryans has been able to fill the void left by Jason Verrett tearing his Achilles in week one. While Josh Norman and Ambry Thomas haven't been perfect by any means, both of those cornerbacks have gotten better since Emmanuel Moseley and Verrett have been injured. Gaining respect from all-pro players like Fred Warner and Nick Bosa isn't easy, but everybody on the team respects and follows Ryans. He remains poised in difficult times and he has done a phenomenal job filling in for Robert Saleh. Ryans is a young prospect who will be a coach in the league someday even if it isn't this year.
Dennis Allen Saints Defensive Coordinator
I am a firm believer that everybody deserves a second chance and that includes Dennis Allen. When Allen got his first opportunity as head coach for the Raiders in 2012, he was only 39 years old. His team was led by Terrelle Pryor at quarterback and it was his first time ever being a head coach at any level. After he was fired by the Raiders in 2014, he joined the New Orleans Saints as their defensive coordinator. Allen was taking over arguably the worst defense in NFL history, but he has since turned it into a top-ten defense. This year, the Saints have allowed the sixth least points per game and have swept the 2020 Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We've seen coordinators have breakout games that put them over the top for a coaching job, but none top Allen's Week 15 win over the Bucs. Allen coached a perfect game that resulted in Tom Brady's first shutout in over a decade. Allen has coached Marshon Lattimore, Cameron Jordan, Marcus Williams, Demario Davis, and Ceedy Duce into pro-bowl/all-pro caliber players. Allen is now 49 years old and deserves an opportunity to be a head coach once again.
Byron Leftwich Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator
It isn't easy to completely change your offensive philosophy for one player, but when that one player is Tom Brady, you build your offense around him. That is exactly what Leftwich did in the offseason going into the 2020 season. That flexibility and willingness to change resulted in a Super Bowl ring. While it is easy to give Brady all of the credit for the Bucs offense in 2020, Leftwich deserves a lot of credit too. In the past two years, he has revived the careers of Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown. Leftwich has command of the Buccaneers' offense and brings out the best in his players. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are both all-pro caliber players and Tristian Wirfs has developed into the best young tackle in the National Football League. I would love to see Leftwich with a team like the Bears. Justin Fields is a young quarterback that would benefit from having a like-minded head coach. Fields is wildly talented and I believe that Leftwich would help bring the best out of him.
Matt Eberflus Colts Defensive Coordinator
A coach should represent someone you are willing to go to war for, Matt Eberflus is a guy whom all of his players would take a bullet for. Originally hired to coach under Josh McDaniels, Eberflus stayed put even with McDaniels' last-second change of heart. Eberflus has done an amazing job transforming the Colts' defense into one of the best defenses in the NFL. He has been able to help develop Kenny Moore into the best slot cornerback in the NFL and Darius Leonard into arguably the best defensive player in the entire league. Eberflus is also a huge culture guy; I love the fact that he stayed loyal to Jim Irsay and the Colts organization even with McDaniels flipping. Eberflus would be a perfect fit for a team like the Raiders. After everything that has happened to this organization in the past year, Ebeflus is the perfect guy to lead this organization. If hired, I could see Eberflus bringing over Colts running backs coach Scottie Montgomery or quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich as the offensive coordinator. The Raiders need a coach that their players will respect and respond to, I believe Eberflus is the perfect guy for that job.