The NFL head coaching carousel may have given the Pittsburgh Steelers a bit of an advantage for the 2023 season. That carousel finally came to a stop on Tuesday, with the Arizona Cardinals making the hiring of former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon official.
In total, five teams replaced their head coaches this offseason, the Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts. Two of the new hires are re-treads, with former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton landing in Denver and Frank Reich moving from Indy to Carolina. The other three are all first-time head coaches. It just so happens that the Steelers will face all three of the newbies in 2023.
Gannon will be joined by former Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, now with the Colts and former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who will lead the Texans. Not only will the three be rookie NFL head coaches, they’ll be first-time head coaches at any level.
Gannon came up through the NFL ranks as a quality control coach and defensive backs coach with the Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings and Colts before getting hired by the Eagles in 2021. Steichen worked with the Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland Browns as an offensive assistant before becoming a coordinator first in L.A. and then Philadelphia. Ryans started out with the 49ers as a quality control coach in 2017 and moved up to be inside linebackers coach before becoming defensive coordinator in 2021.
There were five rookie head coaches in the league in 2022. Nathaniel Hackett was fired by the Broncos after starting 4-11. Matt Eberflus went 3-14 with the Chicago Bears.Mike McDaniel, the only rookie head coach the Steelers faced in 2022, beat the Steelers on the way to a 9-8 record. That head-to-head win helped the Miami Dolphins qualify for the playoffs over the Steelers. Kevin O’Connell led the Minnesota Vikings to a 13-4 record. Brian Daboll took the New York Giants to a 9-7-1 mark while winning the NFL Coach of the Year Award.
The Steelers are playing the entire NFC West and AFC South, with Gannon’s Cardinals coming to Acrisure Stadium. The Steelers will face Steichen’s Colts and Ryans’ Texans on the road. Though the matchups and locations are set, the final 2023 NFL schedule won’t come out until May.