NFL assistants balance playoff prep with job interviews

Jan 19, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: Jan 20, 2023, 8:40 am
San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans before an NFL football game against the Ariz...

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. The Carolina Panthers have requested permission to interview San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and New England Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo bringing the number of known candidates for the team’s head coaching vacancy to 10, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, on condition of anonymity because the team does not make its coaching search public. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

(AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

              FILE - Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey looks on prior to an NFL football game, Oct. 30, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Carolina Panthers have requested permission to interview four different NFL offensive coordinators for their head coaching vacancy, including Dorsey, Philadelphia’s Shane Steichen, Detroit’s Ben Johnson and New York Giants’ Mike Kafka, according to a person familiar with the situation. (AP Photo/Bryan Bennett, File)
            
              FILE - New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, left, and quarterback Daniel Jones (8) watch practices before a preseason NFL football game against the New York Jets, Aug. 28, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Carolina Panthers have requested permission to interview four different NFL offensive coordinators for their head coaching vacancy, including Kafka, Philadelphia’s Shane Steichen, Buffalo’s Ken Dorsey and Detroit’s Ben Johnson, according to a person familiar with the situation. (AP Photo/John Munson, File)
            
              FILE - Philadelphia Eagles' Shane Steichen walks tot he field before an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Carolina Panthers have requested permission to interview four different NFL offensive coordinators for their head coaching vacancy, including Steichen, Buffalo’s Ken Dorsey, Detroit’s Ben Johnson and New York Giants’ Mike Kafka, according to a person familiar with the situation. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
            
              San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. The Carolina Panthers have requested permission to interview San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and New England Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo bringing the number of known candidates for the team’s head coaching vacancy to 10, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, on condition of anonymity because the team does not make its coaching search public. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — DeMeco Ryans’ day as San Francisco defensive coordinator started with meetings and then went to the practice field as he focused on implementing a defense to slow down Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.

Then instead of relaxing or diving into more film at night ahead of a key playoff showdown Sunday, Ryans shifted gears and went into job interview mode with an in-person meeting with the Denver Broncos about their head coaching job.

“With everything you do as a coach, you’re trying to crunch a lot of things in,” he said at his weekly news conference Thursday in between practice and his interview.

“You’re trying to dissect a lot of information in a certain amount of time. So time management is a very crucial thing to have. I know I keep the main thing, the main thing, and the main thing this week is the Cowboys.”

Ryans is one of several assistants still alive in the playoffs dealing with the delicate balance of preparing for the most important games of their careers with the most important job interviews.

Among the other assistants, who have interviewed or been requested for interviews for head coaching jobs are Cowboys coordinators Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore; Giants coordinators Mike Kafka and Wink Martindale; Eagles coordinators Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon; Buffalo offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey; and Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

The NFL tweaked the rules this year, allowing for assistants who were in the wild-card round to do interviews the week of the divisional round in hopes that qualified candidates on teams that make long postseason runs don’t miss out on getting coveted head coaching jobs.

Many of the head coaches still alive dealt with similar challenges before getting their jobs. Giants coach Brian Daboll said it wasn’t difficult to block out other job opportunities while coaching a team trying to reach the Super Bowl after going through it last year as Bills offensive coordinator.

“You work extremely hard to get to this spot,” Daboll said. “All the work you put in in the offseason, the training camps, regular season games, and now the first playoff game, as a professional, that’s where all of your attention is.”

After interviewing with the Broncos on Thursday night, Ryans was set to meet with the Texans on Friday. He also is expected to interview with the Carolina and Arizona during this process as he seeks his first head coaching job.

His Dallas counterpart, Quinn, is scheduled to interview Friday with Denver. Quinn interviewed with the Broncos last year before they hired Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired before the end of his first season.

Quinn said offseason preparation for interviews is important in helping keep the focus on his team’s upcoming game.

“I interviewed during the playoffs years ago during my time in Seattle,” said Quinn, who was hired by Atlanta in 2015 and led the Falcons to the Super Bowl in his second season. “That experience helped me make sure, ‘Hey, your process had better be straight and organized as you’re going.’

“Back in the spring and summer, I had planned for us to be in the playoffs, so I planned for these conversations if I was fortunate enough to have them. I didn’t want to have to do anything differently.”

Ryans’ boss Kyle Shanahan went through a similar process six years ago when he interviewed with San Francisco while going on a Super Bowl run as offensive coordinator in Atlanta. Shanahan’s former offensive coordinator, Mike McDaniel, went through the job search last postseason and got hired by Miami, while former defensive coordinator Robert Saleh interviewed for head coaching jobs during the 2019 playoffs but didn’t get hired until a year later.

Shanahan is confident Ryans can balance the two tasks.

“When you just set the time aside for that, it’s a lot for DeMeco to kind of prepare for it, but I think he is prepared for it,” Shanahan said. “When you’re done with those, you go right back to the most important thing at hand then and that’s us finding a way to win this Sunday.”

The process is a bit easier for coaches on teams that had the bye last week like the Eagles and Chiefs. Those their assistants were able to get interviews done before this week, with Steichen, Gannon and Bieniemy able to take advantage of that opportunity.

“Just focused on the Giants right now,” Steichen said this week. “That’s it.”

Some assistants preferred to wait before starting the interview process with Kafka and Martindale of the Giants choosing to wait until after Saturday’s game against Philadelphia to begin meeting with teams for potential head coaching jobs.

Martindale handled it the same way three years ago when he was defensive coordinator in Baltimore and ended up interviewing with Giants owner John Mara for the job that ultimately went to Joe Judge.

“It’s an honor when they put a slip in because I think it’s harder to get a head coaching job in this league than being in the Senate,” Martindale said. “It’s an honor, but we’re not interviewing this week. When I came here as a Giant, it wasn’t a stepping stone for me. It was a destination. … Honestly, I’ve been locked in on Philly. We’re not interviewing this week. I think that when the time comes, if there’s still time when we can do it, I’d love to sit down and talk with them.”

___

AP Pro Football Writers Dennis Waszak Jr. and Schuyler Dixon and AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston contributed to this report.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Eagles backup lineman accused of rape ahead of Super Bowl

CAMBRIDGE, Ohio (AP) — Josh Sills, a backup offensive lineman for the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles, has been indicted on rape and kidnapping charges that stem from an incident in Ohio just over three years ago, authorities said Wednesday. Sills, an undrafted free agent who was on the inactive list in Philadelphia’s conference title victory […]
1 day ago
FILE - Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule looks on before an NFL football game against the San...
Associated Press

AP source: Rhule files $5M arbitration suit vs. Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Nebraska football coach Matt Rhule has filed an arbitration suit with the NFL against the Carolina Panthers seeking about $5 million in offset severance compensation, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Rhule was fired as Panthers head coach on Oct. 10. He has since […]
1 day ago
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart tries to score during the first half of a WNBA basketball gam...
Associated Press

Stewart heads to New York on first day of WNBA free agency

Former MVP Breanna Stewart is headed to New York. The most coveted free agent this offseason, who won the WNBA MVP award in 2018, announced on social media that she was going to New York with a photo of her in a Liberty shirt on Wednesday. Stewart had spent her entire career in Seattle since […]
1 day ago
Pittsburg quarterback Jaden Rashada (5) is pressured by Liberty's Grant Buckey (72) during the seco...
Associated Press

4-star QB Rashada commits to Arizona State after UF NIL flap

Blue-chip quarterback Jaden Rashada, who signed with Florida in December and then asked to be released from the commitment when a name, imagine and likeness deal fell through, says he is going to Arizona State. Rashada announced on Twitter on Wednesday, the first day of the traditional signing period for high school football players, that […]
1 day ago
Apple senior vice president of services Eddy Cue, right, speaks next to Major League Soccer Commiss...
Associated Press

Apple embraces potential of sports streaming with MLS deal

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — After taking its first dip into sports streaming last year, Apple is now immersing itself. The tech giant kicked off a 10-year partnership with Major League Soccer on Wednesday with the launch of Season Pass on Apple TV+. “This is very important for us. It is one of the key things […]
1 day ago
FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) sets back to pass during the first half of a...
Associated Press

Brady’s unprecedented career filled with highlight moments

Nobody drove Tom Brady harder than the record-setting quarterback himself, even if his 23rd and final season after a brief retirement didn’t end with him lifting yet another Lombardi Trophy. He leaves the NFL with more wins, yards passing and touchdowns than any other quarterback. He even set a pair of single-season passing records at […]
1 day ago
NFL assistants balance playoff prep with job interviews