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Interim Coaches in the NFL: A Look Back at the Last Two Decades

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Three teams fired their head coaches during the 2022 season. The Raiders made Josh McDaniels the first HC canned this year, installing former Giants Super Bowl-winning linebacker Antonio Pierce as the interim leader. The Panthers have since ousted Frank Reich, dropping him after only 11 games. After Pierce’s team hung 63 points on the Chargers in Week 15, Brandon Staley‘s third season as the Bolts’ HC ended early.

While interim coaches generally do not make it past partial seasons with their respective teams, a handful have done so in modern NFL history. Since 2000, 12 interim HCs have transitioned to a full-time role with their respective franchises. Stuck on 11 for seven years, the Raiders ended the drought by elevating Pierce to the full-time HC post. Here are the league’s 21st-century interim coaches:

2000

  • Dick LeBeau, Cincinnati Bengals; replaced Bruce Coslet on Sept. 25, 2000
  • Dave McGinnis, Arizona Cardinals; replaced Vince Tobin on Oct. 23, 2000
  • Gary Moeller, Detroit Lions; replaced Bobby Ross on Nov. 6, 2000
  • Terry Robiskie, Washington; replaced Norv Turner on Dec. 4, 2000

LeBeau and McGinnis were promoted to head coaches. LeBeau coached the Bengals through the 2002 season; McGinnis was with the Cardinals through 2003.

2001

  • Mike Tice, Minnesota Vikings; replaced Dennis Green on Jan. 4, 2002

Minnesota named Tice, who took over with one game to play during the postponed 2001 season, its full-time head coach in 2002; he stayed in that post through the 2005 season.

2003

  • Wade Phillips, Atlanta Falcons; replaced Dan Reeves on Dec. 10, 2003

2004

  • Jim Bates, Miami Dolphins; replaced Dave Wannstedt on Nov. 9, 2004
  • Terry Robiskie, Cleveland Browns; replaced Butch Davis on Nov. 30, 2004

2005

  • Dick Jauron, Detroit Lions; replaced Steve Mariucci on Nov. 28, 2005

2007

  • Emmitt Thomas, Atlanta Falcons; replaced Bobby Petrino on Dec. 12, 2007

2008

  • Jim Haslett, St. Louis Rams; replaced Scott Linehan on Sept. 29, 2008
  • Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders; replaced Lane Kiffin on Sept. 30, 2008
  • Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers; replaced Mike Nolan on Oct. 20, 2008

The Raiders elevated Cable to full-time status; he coached the team through the 2010 season. Singletary rose to San Francisco’s full-time HC post and was in place through 2010, when he was fired in-season.

2009

  • Perry Fewell, Buffalo Bills; replaced Dick Jauron on Nov. 17, 2009

2010

  • Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys; replaced Wade Phillips on Nov. 8, 2010
  • Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings; replaced Brad Childress on Nov. 22, 2010
  • Eric Studesville, Denver Broncos; replaced Josh McDaniels on Dec. 6, 2010
  • Jim Tomsula, San Francisco 49ers; replaced Mike Singletary on Dec. 26, 2010

Frazier landed the Vikings gig and held that role through the 2013 season. The Cowboys’ change marks the outlier on this list. Garrett remained Dallas’ head coach through the 2019 campaign. Tomsula technically counts toward the 11 interim HCs who became head coaches for that team, but he did not receive that opportunity for several years. Tomsula moved back to his 49ers D-line coach position and later took over as their head coach for one season in 2015.

2011

  • Mel Tucker, Jacksonville Jaguars; replaced Jack Del Rio on Nov. 29, 2011
  • Todd Bowles, Miami Dolphins; replaced Tony Sparano on Dec. 12, 2011
  • Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs; replaced Todd Haley on Dec. 12, 2011

Crennel received his second head-coaching opportunity in 2012 but was fired following that season, a 2-14 Chiefs campaign.

2012

  • Aaron Kromer, Joe Vitt, New Orleans Saints

Each served as a Saints interim HC during Sean Payton‘s suspension.

2013

  • Wade Phillips, Houston Texans; replaced Gary Kubiak on Dec. 6, 2013

2014

2015

The Titans handed the reins to Mularkey in 2016. Despite a 2017 playoff berth, Mularkey was axed after his second full-time season.

2016

Marrone moved up to the Jags’ full-time HC position and remained in that role through the 2020 season.

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023

The Raiders have hired Pierce to be their full-time head coach.

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