With two weeks remaining in the regular season, two NFL teams have coaching vacancies with more expected to follow.
For the Las Vegas Raiders, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia has served as the interim head coach for the last 10 games following Jon Gruden's resignation. Meanwhile, Darrell Bevell made the move from Jaguars offensive coordinator to interim head coach two weeks ago after Urban Meyer was fired.
Other teams that could wind up looking for new head coaches include the Chicago Bears, as Matt Nagy is widely considered to be merely coaching out the year; the Minnesota Vikings, for whom Mike Zimmer’s message has seemingly grown stale; the Carolina Panthers, with Matt Rhule yet to produce any significant improvement in two years; and possibly the Seattle Seahawks, given Pete Carroll’s squad has steadily regressed, going 5-10 thus far a year after winning the division.
Although every team has two games remaining, it’s possible that the coaching market could heat up this week. New rules approved this year allow teams that have already fired their head coaches or informed them that them they will not be retained to request permission to interview opposing assistant coaches beginning Tuesday.
Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is regarded as one of the top candidates on the market. Already, he and fellow out-of-work former head coach Jim Caldwell have been linked to the Jaguars.
Some of the other leading candidates expected to draw interest this hiring cycle include another former head coach, Marvin Lewis, as well as current coordinators with head coaching experience, such as Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Leslie Frazier (Buffalo Bills), Raheem Morris (Los Angeles Rams), Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints), Dan Quinn (Dallas Cowboys) and Vance Joseph (Arizona Cardinals). Other recognizable names expected to interview for jobs include offensive minds in Eric Bieniemy (Kansas City Chiefs), Kellen Moore (Cowboys), Byron Leftwich (Buccaneers), Brian Daboll (Bills) and Pep Hamilton (Houston Texans).
But occasionally, teams opt to go with lower-profile coaches as they start afresh.
Last season saw Nick Sirianni, Dan Campbell and David Culley seemingly come out of nowhere to land head coaching jobs with the Philadelphia Eagles Eagles, Detroit Lions and Texans, respectively.
Will this year’s cycle include additional surprising hires?
Here are some of the names of promising coaches that may be flying under the public radar while starting to turn heads in NFL circles:
Nathaniel Hackett (Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator)
The 42-year-old is Matt LaFleur's right-hand man when it comes to architecture of the Green Bay Packers' offense and game-plan composition. A 13-year veteran of the NFL coaching ranks, Hackett has held positions with Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Green Bay. He helped Jacksonville reach the AFC championship game with Blake Bortles as his quarterback in 2017 and has helped Green Bay make back-to-back NFC championship game appearances. He has a strong relationship with Aaron Rodgers and is known for his creativity and diverse teaching tools.
Kevin O’Connell (Rams offensive coordinator)
The 36-year-old is in his second season as offensive coordinator under Sean McVay. He also served as passing game coordinator and then offensive coordinator/play-caller in Washington after stints as a quarterbacks coach in Cleveland and offensive assistant with the San Francisco 49ers. A third-round pick in 2008, O’Connell has spent time in five different offenses as a player, giving him a wide-ranging understanding of offensive concepts. That experience also fuels his ability to communicate effectively.
Thomas Brown (Rams assistant head coach/running backs coach)
The 35-year-old has spent the last two seasons working with McVay after nine seasons in the college ranks, including three seasons (2016-18) as the Miami Hurricanes' offensive coordinator and running backs coach. A sixth-round pick in 2008, Brown had brief stints as a running back with the Atlanta Falcons and Browns before transitioning to coaching. Viewed as a fast-riser at the pro coaching level, Brown boasts strong leadership skills along with an ability to cultivate relationships.
Marcus Brady (Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator)
The former Canadian Football League quarterback is in his first season as offensive coordinator for the Colts after working with the team's quarterbacks the three previous seasons. He has six seasons of experience as an offensive coordinator in the CFL. As the Colts’ offense has steadily improved to rank among one of the most balanced attacks in the league this season, the 42-year-old has begun drawing the attention of general managers poring over the assistant ranks for future head coaches.
Bubba Ventrone (Colts special teams coordinator)
A rare special teams coordinator expected to draw some interest, Ventrone is completing his fourth season in this capacity with the Colts. The 39-year-old played 10 seasons in the NFL with the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Browns and 49ers. He's a high-energy, detail-oriented coach who some within the league say reminds them of a young John Harbaugh or McVay.
Jerod Mayo (Patriots defensive play-caller)
Bill Belichick essentially is his own defensive coordinator, but he entrusts his former Pro Bowl linebacker with the day-to-day coordinator duties and game-day play-calling. Mayo boasts strong leadership and communication skills, as well as a winning pedigree both as a player and coach.
Jonathan Gannon (Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator)
A scout-turned-coach, Gannon generated a lot of interest from head coaches wanting to bring him aboard as defensive coordinator last offseason before ultimately following former Colts colleague Nick Sirianni to Philadelphia. Gannon impressed in interviews last offseason because of his expansive knowledge and calculated vision.
DeMeco Ryans (San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator)
The 37-year-old former Pro Bowl linebacker is wrapping up his first season as leader of the 49ers defense. However, because of his knowledge, ability to connect with players, communicate and lead, Ryans has drawn rave reviews from anyone who has worked with him.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL coaching candidates: 8 names who could be surprising hires