Earlier today, Acme Packing Company took a look at the candidates that the Green Bay Packers interviewed for their 2021 defensive coordinator vacancy, following the firing of defensive coordinator Joe Barry. That’s one good way to start a list of potential coaching candidates for the opening in 2024.
Another good way to figure out who might be in the race for the job is by looking at who is interviewing for other jobs around the league. Below is a full list of the candidates who have reportedly been requested to interview for a defensive coordinator vacancy, along with some background on the potential coordinators and information on which teams they plan to or have interviewed with.
Derrick Ansley, defensive coordinator — Chargers
The former Nick Saban Alabama assistant first cut his teeth in the NFL as the defensive backs coach of the 2018 Oakland Raiders, a team which Packers assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia held the same position for. Ansley later was the defensive backs coach for the 2019-2020 Tennessee Titans and 2021-2022 Los Angeles Chargers, on top of being the defensive coordinator for the 2019-2020 Titans and 2023 Chargers. Ansley didn’t call plays for the Titans and was not a play-caller for the Chargers until head coach Brandon Staley was fired in-season. Following the team giving up 63 points to the Raiders, Staley was let go and the Chargers gave up just 53 points (18 ppg) in their final three games of the year to finish 2023, though, all three were losses.
Joe Barry, defensive coordinator — Packers (fired)
Barry was formerly the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator up until this offseason. Before his stint in Green Bay, he was defensive coordinator of the 2007-2008 Detroit Lions, 2015-2016 Washington Redskins and was the assistant head coach and linebackers coach of the 2017-2020 Los Angeles Rams.
Shane Bowen, defensive coordinator — Titans
Bowen is currently the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans, but it’s uncertain if he will return to the team in 2024 under new head coach Brian Callahan. He first got a full-time role in the NFL back in 2018, when he was named the Titans’ outside linebackers coach. That same season, he was in the Titans’ facility with then-offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. In 2021, Bowden was promoted to defensive coordinator, though, after being given play-calling duties by Mike Vrabel. Over the last four years with Bowen calling plays, the Titans have ranked 24th, 6th, 14th and 16th in points allowed per game.
Mike Caldwell, defensive coordinator — Jaguars (fired)
Caldwell played a decade-plus in the NFL and received his first full-time job as an on-field assistant in 2011, when he was a linebackers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. After two years on the job, he moved on to the Arizona Cardinals, where he was an inside linebackers coach for two seasons. After the Cardinals, he was named the assistant head coach and inside linebackers coach of the New York Jets under Todd Bowles. He later followed Bowles to Tampa Bay, where he Bowles’ inside linebackers coach from 2019 to 2021, including he team’s Super Bowl LV win. In 2022, he was named the defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars, a position he held until this offseason, when he was replaced by Ryan Nielsen, via the Atlanta Falcons. In his two years in Jacksonville, Caldwell’s defenses ranked 12th and 17th in points allowed per game.
Anthony Campanile, linebackers coach — Dolphins
Campanile was an assistant at the college level for about a decade before making the jump from Michigan’s linebackers coach in 2019 to the Miami Dolphins, in the same position. Campanile has only been a defensive coordinator once before, when he was the co-defensive coordinator of the Boston College Eagles in 2018. Now that Vic Fangio and the Dolphins have split, it’s uncertain if Campanile will remain in Miami.
Sean Desai, defensive coordinator — Eagles (fired)
Desai comes off of the Vic Fangio tree, as he got his start as a defensive quality control coach with the Chicago Bears in a period of time that overlapped with Fangio’s run as the team’s defensive coordinator. In 2019, Desai was promoted to safeties coach — a role that lasted two years before he was named their defensive coordinator. Over the last three years, Desai has seen a lot of change. After one year as the Bears’ DC, he was let go with the rest of Matt Nagy’s staff. He then joined the Seattle Seahawks as their associate head coach for a year before going to the Philadelphia Eagles to be their defensive coordinator in 2023. As the DC in Philadelphia, Desai was replaced mid-season by Matt Patricia and there were reports that Desai was not even involved in coaches meetings during the later part of the season. He was let go by the Eagles after their playoff loss.
Aden Durde, defensive line coach — Cowboys
Before getting a full-time coaching position with the Atlanta Falcons in 2020, Aden Durden had an interesting path to the NFL. Born in England, Durde originally began his professional football career with the London Olympians, which allowed him to transition to NFL Europe and later two seasons on NFL practice squads. He then went to work for NFLUK and the league’s International Player Pathway program. So far, the defensive play-caller for all of his stops has been former Falcons coach Dan Quinn, who is now the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator. Durde was brought along to coach Quinn’s defensive line in Dallas back in 2021.
Leslie Frazier, former associate head coach/defensive coordinator — Bills
Frazier has been a defensive coordinator at multiple stops in the NFL, including with the Minnesota Vikings (2007-2010), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014-2015) and Buffalo Bills (2017-2019). He was also the head coach of the 2011-2013 Vikings and the assistant head coach of the 2006 Indianapolis Colts, 2008-2010 Vikings, and 2020-2022 Bills. Frazier has been out of the coaching scene for a year now, resurfacing only to take interviews in early 2024 as a head coaching candidate before those opportunities disappeared. Now, it appears that he’s willing to think about life as a defensive coordinator again.
Chris Harris, pass game coordinator/cornerbacks coach — Titans
Chris Harris is not the former Denver Broncos defensive back, but this one did play in the NFL for eight seasons. More importantly, he also interviewed for the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator opening back in 2021. He was named a defensive backs coach for the 2020 Washington Football Team, a gig he held through 2022. Last season, he joined the Tennessee Titans with the title of defensive passing game coordinator and cornerbacks coach, a promotion.
Chris Hewitt, pass game coordinator/secondary coach — Ravens
Hewitt was a long-time assistant for Greg Schiano at Rutgers before joining the Baltimore Ravens in 2012. From 2012 to 2019, he was the team’s defensive backs coach. In 2020, he was promoted to pass defensive coordinator. In 2022, his role changed to both pass game coordinator and secondary coach.
Michael Hodges, linebackers coach — Saints
Hodges has only been a full-time on-field assistant in the NFL since 2020, when he was promoted from assistant linebackers coach for the New Orleans Saints to their linebackers coach. Before he made the jump into the NFL in 2017, he was the co-defensive coordinator of Eastern Illinois at the FCS level.
Chris Kiffin, linebackers coach — Texans
Kiffin, who reportedly was a finalist for the Auburn defensive coordinator opening that went to DJ Durkin this offseason, is the son of legendary NFL coordinator Monte Kiffin and the brother of Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin. In 2021, Kiffin was one of eight candidates who the Green Bay Packers interviewed for their defensive coordinator opening. Kiffin got his start at the college level, coaching the defensive lines for Arkansas State (2011) and Ole Miss (2012-2016) before becoming his brother’s defensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic (2017). From there, he transitioned to San Francisco’s pass rush specialist coach (2018-2019), Cleveland’s defensive line coach (2020-2022) and eventually moved to linebackers for the Texans in 2023.
Tem Lukabu, outside linebackers coach — Panthers
Lukabu has bounced between the NFL and college football several times, but only became a full-time on-field NFL coach in 2019 for the Cincinnati Bengals. After a year there, he left to become the defensive coordinator for the Boston College Eagles from 2020 to 2022, before returning to the Carolina Panthers in 2023. With a change at head coach, it’s uncertain if Lukabu will remain on the Panthers’ staff in 2024.
Aubrey Pleasant, defensive backs coach/pass game coordinator — Rams
Pleasant, formerly the defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions, was hired by the Green Bay Packers mid-season in 2022 to be an analyst with the franchise. Pleasant and head coach Matt LaFleur had previously crossed paths during their time with the Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Rams. After the 2022 season, Pleasant left Green Bay to re-join Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams as a defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator. Previously, Pleasant was McVay’s cornerbacks coach from 2017 to 2020.
Marquand Manuel, safeties coach — Jets
As a player, safety Marquan Manuel was a member of the Green Bay Packers’ roster in 2006. Since 2015, Manuel has been able to hold onto full-time coaching roles at the NFL level. In 2015, he was named the Atlanta Falcons’ secondary coach. By 2017, he was promoted to defensive coordinator for two seasons. In 2020, he resurfaced as the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive backs back and then was named the New York Jets’ safety coach in 2021 under head coach Robert Saleh, whose best man in his wedding was Matt LaFleur. In 2017 and 2018, the defensive coordinated by Manuel ranked 8th and 25th in defensive points per game.
Don “Wink” Martindale, defensive coordinator — Giants (resigned)
This man needs no introduction. Wink Martindale has been a long-time assistant and coordinator in the NFL. As a defensive coordinator, he has been a member of the Denver Broncos (2010), Baltimore Ravens (2018-2021) and New York Giants (2022-2023). As an assistant, he has coached with the Oakland Raiders, Broncos and Ravens. Recently, he resigned from his position with the Giants, after head coach Brian Daboll released some of the assistants on his defensive staff. Wink is known for his man-heavy blitz scheme.
Zach Orr, inside linebackers coach — Ravens
A former All-Pro linebacker who retired early due to a neck/spine condition, Orr transitioned to coaching early on in his career. Beginning as a Baltimore Ravens defensive analyst (2017-2020), he received his first full-time on-field coaching opportunity with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 as an outside linebackers coach. After just one year with the Jaguars, he returned to the Ravens, who he played with as a player, to coach inside linebackers.
Christian Parker, defensive backs coach — Broncos
Parker only recently received a full-time on-field position in 2021 with the Denver Broncos, but the 32-year-old was previously a Green Bay Packers quality control coach from 2019 to 2020 under Mike Pettine.
Ron Rivera, head coach — Commanders (fired)
Rivera has been a head coach for over 200 games at the NFL level. The last time that he was a defensive coordinator was back in 2010 with the San Diego Chargers, so it’s uncertain if he’s willing to actually accept a defensive coordinator job in 2024. In his four years with the Washington Commanders, Rivera’s defenses were a mixed bag, ranking 4th, 25th, 7th and 32nd in defensive scoring.
Chris Shula, linebackers coach/pass rush coordinator — Rams
The son of former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Dave Shula, Chris played college football with Sean McVay at Miami of Ohio and has been an assistant under McVay since 2017. With McVay, he’s held the roles of outside linebackers coach, linebackers coach, defensive backs coach and pass game coordinator and linebackers coach and pass rush coordinator.
Ryan Slowik, linebackers coach — Dolphins
Brother of Houston Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, Ryan’s father — Bob — was the defensive coordinator of the 2004 Green Bay Packers. Ryan got his start in the NFL as a personnel intern with the Packers in 2003 following a playing career at Wisconsin-Oshkosh. His first full-time on-field role came as an outside linebacker coach in 2012 with the Arizona Cardinals, after previously working as an assistant on defense and special teams. Before being named the outside linebackers coach in Miami in 2023, he was a senior defensive assistant for the squad.
Brandon Staley, head coach — Chargers (fired)
Staley had a meteoric rise as a Vic Fangio assistant to start his NFL career. First joining the 2017 Chicago Bears as an outside linebackers coach, it only took him three years to rise the ranks up to the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator in 2020. After just one season at the position, he was hired to be the Los Angeles Chargers’ head coach, a job he held until his mid-season firing in 2023. He is expected to run a match-quarters system, similar to what Joe Barry ran in Green Bay, if he takes over as a defensive coordinator in 2024.
Anthony Weaver, assistant head coach/defensive line coach — Ravens
A former player, Weaver played in a total of 103 NFL games with the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans during his NFL career after being drafted in the second round out of Notre Dame in 2002. His first full-time on-field coaching opportunity came with the Buffalo Bills, where he was a defensive line coach. He held the same role with the Cleveland Browns (2014-2015), Texans (2016-2020) and now the Ravens (2021-present). He has also head the titles of defensive coordinator (Texans, 2020), run game coordinator (Ravens, 2021) and associate head coach (Ravens, 2022-present). His stint as defensive coordinator came under Bill O’Brien and interim head coach Romeo Crennel.
Terrell Williams, assistant head coach/defensive line coach— Titans
Williams first joined the ranks of the NFL in 2012, when he was named the defensive line coach of the Oakland Raiders after a two-year stint with Texas A&M. After the Raiders, he later joined the Miami Dolphins (2015-2017) and Tennessee Titans (2018-2022) with the title of defensive line coach. In 2023, he was promoted to assistant head coach/defensive line coach, though, it’s uncertain if he will remain with the team after the Titans hired Brian Callahan to be Tennessee’s new head coach.
Dennard Wilson, defensive backs coach — Ravens
Wilson, who had a cup of coffee with the Washington Redskins as a player, got his first crack in the NFL coaching world after he was a pro scout with the Chicago Bears (2008-2011). He’s held the role of defensive backs coach for the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams (2015-2016), New York Jets (2017-2018), Philadelphia Eagles (2021) and Baltimore Ravens (2023). He was also the passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach of the 2019-2020 Jets and 2022 Eagles. Recently, the Ravens have seen breakouts from safeties Kyle Hamilton and Geno Stone.