The Washington Commanders are considering hiring former NFL and college head coach Kliff Kingsbury to be their offensive coordinator, according to two people with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment.
Kingsbury, currently a senior offensive analyst at Southern California, appeared close to landing the offensive coordinator job for the Las Vegas Raiders before withdrawing his name from consideration, according to reports.
Eric Bieniemy, the Commanders’ assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, has one year left on his contract.
Kingsbury, 44, previously was a middling head coach for the Arizona Cardinals and Texas Tech but has a strong track record of developing quarterbacks. By points scored, his Cardinals offenses finished 16th, 11th and 10th before falling to 23rd the year quarterback Kyler Murray tore his ACL; Washington’s best finish since 2018 is 23rd.
In college, Kingsbury tutored Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Houston’s Case Keenum. In the NFL, he coached Murray.
In April, after being fired by Arizona with a record of 28-37-1, Kingsbury joined USC to help mentor Caleb Williams, projected to be a top pick in this year’s NFL draft. If Washington hires Kingsbury, it will fuel speculation the Commanders could trade up with the Chicago Bears to select the D.C. native.
Kingsbury runs a spread offense derived from the Air Raid, a pass-heavy scheme based out of the shotgun. But he calls runs at a higher rate than Bieniemy did last season.
A former quarterback at Texas Tech, Kingsbury excelled in the Air Raid from 1998 to 2002. The New England Patriots drafted him in the sixth round in 2003, and he became a journeyman backup in the NFL and the Canadian Football League until he retired in 2007. The next year, he joined Houston as an offensive quality control coach and began ascending the coaching ladder.
On the defensive side, the Commanders are strongly considering Joe Whitt Jr., the Cowboys’ secondary coach and pass game coordinator, two people familiar with the situation said. Whitt held the same title in Atlanta in 2020, when Dan Quinn was the Falcons’ head coach, then followed Quinn to Dallas the next season.
The Commanders, who formally announced Quinn’s hire as their head coach Saturday, are still working through the interview process for coordinators. Per NFL rules, teams must interview at least two external candidates for who are persons of color or women before hiring a coordinator.
Here are some candidates, and other names worth watching as Washington rounds out its coaching staff.
Kliff Kingsbury, USC senior offensive assistant
Mahomes’s former college coach went 28-37-1 in his first foray as an NFL head coach but may get a shot as a coordinator in Washington.
Brian Griese, San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach
Griese, a quarterback who played 11 seasons in the NFL, jumped from the “Monday Night Football” booth to the sideline without any coaching experience in 2022. In two years, Griese, 48, has helped Brock Purdy, the last pick of the 2022 draft, develop into the league’s leader in passer rating and is headed to Super Bowl LVIII. He is on the Commanders’ list of candidates, a person with knowledge of the matter said. But if the team wants him, it will have to wait until after the Super Bowl to interview and hire him.
Brian Johnson, former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator
A former Utah quarterback, Johnson, 36, spent the past three seasons with the Eagles — two as the team’s quarterbacks coach and one as its offensive coordinator. He was let go in January after the Eagles lost to the Buccaneers in the first round of the playoffs. Johnson reportedly is expected to interview for the Commanders’ OC job.
Chip Kelly, UCLA head coach
The longtime coach and play caller has been speculated for years to want to get back into the NFL after four seasons coaching the Eagles (2013-15) and 49ers (2016). Kelly, 60, has been at UCLA since 2018 and could be on the Commanders’ radar for play-calling candidates.
Brian Fleury, San Francisco 49ers tight ends coach
Fleury, a Maryland native who played at Maryland and Towson, was an assistant at both schools before making the leap to the pros in 2013 as a quality control coach for the Buffalo Bills. After a stint coaching the Cleveland Browns’ linebackers (2014-15), Fleury spent three years (2016-18) with the Miami Dolphins as a football research analyst. He left in 2019 — just as Eugene Shen, the Commanders’ vice president of football strategy, began his time in Miami — to join the 49ers and work his way up to tight ends coach in 2022.
Tanner Engstrand, Detroit Lions passing game coordinator
Darrell Bevell, Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator
Tee Martin, Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach
Ronald Curry, New Orleans Saints passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach
Joe Bleymaier, Kansas City Chiefs passing game coordinator
Eric Studesville, Miami Dolphins associate head coach/running backs coach
Joe Whitt Jr., Dallas Cowboys secondary coach/passing game coordinator
A former walk-on receiver at Auburn, Whitt turned to coaching in 2000 and joined the pro ranks as a defensive backs coach for the Falcons in 2007. After 11 seasons as a defensive assistant for the Packers, with whom he won Super Bowl XLV, Whitt, 45, spent time with the Browns and Falcons before following Quinn to Dallas as the Cowboys’ secondary coach and pass game coordinator in 2021. It’s worth noting that Whitt and Quinn share an agent.
Joe Cullen, Kansas City Chiefs defensive line coach
Cullen, 56, has 17 years of NFL coaching experience, primarily on the defensive line. After stops in Detroit, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Baltimore, he spent a year (2021) as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive coordinator before heading to Kansas City in 2022 to coach the Chiefs’ D-line. Should the Commanders want to interview Cullen, they’ll have to wait until after the Super Bowl.
Chris Harris, Tennessee Titans passing game coordinator/cornerbacks coach
The former Commanders defensive backs coach has been in the mix for coordinator jobs over the past couple of seasons. He spent last season on Mike Vrabel’s staff in Tennessee, but the arrival of new Titans coach Brian Callahan could open up new opportunities for him. Players in Washington still view him in high regard, making his name worth monitoring for a possible return.
Christian Parker, Denver Broncos defensive backs coach
George Edwards, Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebackers coach
Brandon Staley, former Los Angeles Chargers head coach
Don “Wink” Martindale, former Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants defensive coordinator
Chris Hewitt, Baltimore Ravens passing game coordinator/secondary coach
Patrick Graham, Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator
Aubrey Pleasant, Los Angeles Rams passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach
Glenn Schumann, University of Georgia defensive coordinator