8 coordinators who could make headlines during the 2024 NFL season

2WN75KM MOBILE, AL - FEBRUARY 01: National head coach Jeff Ulbrich of the New York Jets during the National team practice for the Reese's Senior Bowl on February 1, 2024 at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

• Keep an eye on new coordinators: Zac Robinson, Ryan Grubb, Anthony Weaver and Dan Pitcher are all set up for success in 2024 as first-year NFL offensive or defensive coordinators.

• Jeff Ulbrich has a big opportunity in 2024 at the helm of the Jets' defense: Ulbrich has consistently developed unheralded players into bona fide stars, and now the Jets have a strong chance to make the playoffs.

• Get a head start on fantasy football: Use PFF's fantasy football mock draft simulator to create real live mock draft simulations to get ready for your live draft!

Estimated Reading Time: 13 minutes

The countdown is still underway for the start of training camp, but virtually all pieces of the puzzle have been assembled for every NFL team ahead of the 2024 season.

For many squads, that final form includes a change at one or multiple coordinator spots.

Coordinators can go from bottom-drawer secrets to hot-button head coaching candidates in the blink of an eye. Just look at Dave Canales, Mike Macdonald and Bobby Slowik from the 2024 coaching cycle.

Below is a glimpse into eight new or unsung coordinators who could follow similar patterns, rapidly ascending coaching searches with outstanding performances this year.

Zac Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

If any coach is most likely to have a Slowik-type of transcendent first season as an offensive coordinator, it’s Robinson.

Like many other later names on this list, Robinson was overshadowed by the people in front of him, namely offensive savant Sean McVay. But Robinson wore several hats in Los Angeles, jumping from assistant quarterbacks coach to assistant wide receivers coach to passing game coordinator in only four seasons.

Robinson’s work in developing fifth-round revelation Puka Nacua was unbelievable, and even the coach’s efforts in helping Matthew Stafford return to stardom after a neck injury were impressive.

Now, the 37-year-old finally gets his chance to fully call the shots in Atlanta in his first coordinator gig. With Kirk Cousins, Bijan Robinson, Drake London, Kyle Pitts and more talent in Robinson’s palm, anticipate the Falcons’ offense to fly high in 2024 — and lots of heads to turn to look at Robinson as the next big thing in the coaching world.

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Shane Waldron, Chicago Bears

Waldron has been around the block a bit, serving as the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator from 2021-23. Despite having a boatload of talent, Seattle’s offense didn’t always look phenomenal last year, finishing 12th in PFF grade and 10th in EPA per play. However, Waldron did outstanding work to revive Geno Smith’s career, a marvel that still isn’t discussed enough.

Despite the Seahawks finishing a disappointing 9-8 last year, Waldron wasn’t fired; instead, he was poached by Chicago to help lead its upstart roster. With Caleb Williams, Keenan Allen, D.J. Moore, Rome Odunze, D’Andre Swift, Khalil Herbert and Cole Kmet at his disposal, the level of talent for Waldron with the Bears should mirror — if not exceed — what he enjoyed in the Pacific Northwest.

If the Bears’ offense fires as expected in Waldron’s first year, and especially if Williams has a strong rookie campaign, expect the 44-year-old Sean McVay protégé to get legitimate head coaching opportunities.

Ryan Grubb, Seattle Seahawks

Grubb led one of the nation’s best offenses in Washington, which produced a ridiculous seven draft picks in 2024, including six in the first three rounds. The coordinator’s development of Michael Penix Jr. and three NFL-caliber receivers in Rome Odunze, Ja'Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan was remarkable.

It was thought Grubb would follow Kalen DeBoer to Alabama, but the 48-year-old opted to stay out west, taking the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator job under Macdonald. With Smith, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Kenneth Walker, Noah Fant and more at his disposal, Seattle’s offense should be terrific in 2024 — especially if Grubb complements route concepts and mixes looks as much as he did with the Huskies.

The key for Grubb may be improving Seattle’s offensive line, which ranked 28th in pass-blocking grade and 15th in run-blocking grade last year. With former top-10 pick Charles Cross struggling through two seasons, Grubb’s coaching at the position — which led to the reigning Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line — could be pivotal.

It was somewhat surprising that Grubb didn’t already receive college head coaching looks based on how good Washington’s offense was last year. But if he sustains that production in pro football, it’ll be hard for him not to be an NFL head coach soon.

Anthony Weaver, Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins’ defense looked the part on paper for much of 2023, but injuries to Jalen Ramsey, Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips, among others, took the wind out of the team’s sails. With all on the mend in 2024 — and with Miami adding Kendall Fuller, Jordan Poyer and Chop Robinson — the Dolphins’ defense could be formidable even without Christian Wilkins.

Weaver replaces the revered Vic Fangio in South Beach and has a plethora of experience at only 43 years old. He oversaw a Ravens defensive line that blossomed Justin Madubuike into a star, revitalized Jadeveon Clowney and gradually developed Odafe Oweh into a productive player.

The former Ravens and Texans defensive end has progressively climbed the defensive coaching ranks, and if the Dolphins’ talented defense takes off this year, Weaver’s name may be circled.

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Jeff Ulbrich, New York Jets

One of the great NFL mysteries is why Ulbrich is not already a head coach.

Despite enduring a Jets offense that has finished 26th, 31st and 32nd in his three seasons as the team’s defensive coordinator, Ulbrich has largely done nothing but churn out a pristine product. New York’s defense was exceptional in each of the past two years, ranking third in EPA per play allowed in that span.

It’s not just the collective production, either: Ulbrich has consistently developed unheralded players into bona fide stars. Linebacker Quincy Williams, a 2019 third-round pick, posted a career-best 81.1 overall grade last year. Cornerback Michael Carter II, a 2021 fifth-rounder, had the highest snap-to-target ratio of any slot to play 200 or more coverage snaps in 2023. The list goes on from there.

With Aaron Rodgers (probably) under center in New York and the Jets having solidified offensive depth, the team should make a strong push for the postseason — again fortified by a defense that projects as one of the best in the league. Maybe more winning will finally give Ulbrich the recognition he has long deserved.

Adam Stenavich, Green Bay Packers

The Packers’ 2023 offense was a thing to behold, mainly because of how well it coalesced despite very little experience.

In his first year playing as a legitimate pro, Jordan Love flourished, finishing with an 83.2 PFF passing grade. He was helped by the youngest receiving corps in the league, but one that didn’t look fazed whatsoever. The team got real contributions from players like rookies Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks, Tucker Kraft and Luke Musgrave.

As an offensive expert, head coach Matt LaFleur tends to receive the bulk of the praise in operating Green Bay’s well-designed offense, but Stenavich should get his flowers, too. The former Michigan offensive tackle transitioned from coaching the offensive line to coordinating an entire unit, a shift that most would consider daunting.

Assuming the Packers’ offense stays in rhythm this year, the 41-year-old Stenavich should pick up some steam as a rising coaching candidate.

Dan Pitcher, Cincinnati Bengals

With former offensive coordinator Brian Callahan being named the Tennessee Titans’ new head coach, Pitcher will get his crack at making a similar jump from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator.

Pitcher may have been the effective third in command — behind head coach Zac Taylor and Callahan — in orchestrating the Bengals’ offense, but he still did tremendous work with Joe Burrow. Moreover, the fact that Jake Browning played solidly, earning a 79.3 overall grade, in Burrow’s place last year speaks volumes about the Bengals’ offensive scheme and Pitcher’s abilities.

Cincy’s offense won’t be able to lean as heavily on the now-departed Joe Mixon, but the elements are in place for a turnaround from a unit that ranked 15th in offensive grade last season. With the return of Burrow and stud receiver Tee Higgins, plus two good additions in running back Zack Moss and tight end Mike Gesicki, expect more offensive humming from Cincinnati — and with it, consideration for the 37-year-old Pitcher.

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Matt Burke, Houston Texans

The Texans were one of the bigger surprises in football last year, and while C.J. Stroud was the focal point, the team’s defense also outperformed expectations. Houston ranked 14th in defensive EPA per play, courtesy of breakouts from players like Will Anderson Jr., Jonathan Greenard, Blake Cashman and Derek Stingley Jr.

As has become a familiar refrain, Burke is lost in the limelight of DeMeco Ryans’ defensive prowess, but he also deserves respect. Having spent time with eight NFL franchises and worked three seasons as a defensive coordinator at only 48 is nothing to scoff at.

Houston solidified its defense in several ways this offseason, swapping Greenard for Danielle Hunter but also acquiring Denico Autry, Azeez Al-Shaair and Foley Fatukasi, plus second-round cornerback Kamari Lassiter. On top of that, returning Anderson, Stingley, Jalen Pitre and playoff sensation Christian Harris could make for an even stronger defensive unit in Houston.

If the Texans make that much more of a jump, especially on Burke’s side of the ball, expect his name to be a hot topic as a disciple of both Ryans and Jim Schwartz.


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