NFC Defensive Coordinators
Arizona Cardinals | Vance Joseph
Vance Joseph will enter into his third season as the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals. With a background in coaching defensive backs, Joseph formerly coordinated the Dolphins defense in 2016 before the Broncos hired him as head coach for two years.
Atlanta Falcons | Dean Pees
As alluded to above, Dean Pees did not stay retired for long. After leaving the Titans in 2019, Pees’ former colleague Arthur Smith convinced the long-time defensive coordinator to come out of retirement. Pees has a rich history as a DC, having done the job for the Patriots, Ravens, and Titans. He owns 12 years of experience and has won Super Bowls with the Patriots and Ravens.
Carolina Panthers | Phil Snow
When Matt Rhule moved from Baylor to the Carolina Panthers, he brought his defensive coordinator, Phil Snow, with him. Rhule and Snow have been together at Temple and Baylor before arriving in Carolina. Snow has been coaching since 1976, but before 2020 he had just four years of experience as an NFL coach (Detroit Lions).
Chicago Bears | Sean Desai
Another new name when it comes to NFL defensive coordinators in 2021 is Sean Desai. When Chuck Pagano retired following the 2020 NFL season, Desai was promoted from safeties coach. He has filled that role for two years, spending the prior six in Chicago as a defensive quality control coach.
Dallas Cowboys | Dan Quinn
Coming off the back of six years as the head coach of the Falcons, the Cowboys hired Dan Quinn as the defensive coordinator. Quinn made his name as a DC with the Seattle Seahawks, leading them to a Super Bowl victory. As the head coach in Atlanta, Quinn is best remembered for his team losing games in which they held big leads, most notably in the Super Bowl against the Patriots. 28 to 3, remember? Yea, who doesn’t.
Detroit Lions | Aaron Glenn
There is not much in the world of football that Aaron Glenn has not attempted. A first-round pick out of Texas A&M in 1994, Glenn played in the NFL for over a decade. He then spent time as a personnel scout for the New York Jets before turning his hand to coaching in 2014. He spent the previous five years as a defensive backs coach with the Saints, where he worked with Lions head coach Dan Campbell.
Green Bay Packers | Joe Barry
Following the firing of Mike Pettine after the 2020 NFL season, Joe Barry was hired for his third stint as a defensive coordinator. His previous DC roles were with the Lions (2007-2008) and the Washington Football Team (2015-2016). He most recently spent four seasons as the assistant head coach and linebackers coach for the Los Angeles Rams.
Los Angeles Rams | Raheem Morris
Raheem Morris’ path to the defensive coordinator role with the Rams has been an intriguing one. Despite a background coaching defense, Morris has actually spent less than one season in his career as an NFL defensive coordinator. That came in 2020 before the Falcons quickly made him interim head coach. Morris spent his first five years in Atlanta as the assistant head coach, pass game coordinator, and wide receivers coach (four years). He was also the Buccaneers head coach between 2009 and 2011.
Minnesota Vikings | Andre Patterson & Adam Zimmer
The Minnesota Vikings are the only team with co-defensive coordinators in 2021. Andre Patterson has been coaching since 1982 but did not get a DC opportunity in the NFL until 2020. He previously served as the defensive line coach for six seasons with the Vikings.
Patterson shares the role with Mike Zimmer’s son, Adam. The younger Zimmer was Minnesota’s linebackers coach between 2014 and 2019. He was previously an assistant linebackers coach with the Saints and Chiefs. Zimmer was part of the Saints coaching staff when they won Super Bowl XLIV.
New Orleans Saints | Dennis Allen
Dennis Allen is less than a year behind Butler for longest-tenured defensive coordinator in the NFL. Allen was hired as a senior defensive assistant by the Saints in 2015 after the Raiders fired him as head coach. Still, Allen was promoted to the role of DC during the 2015 season following the firing of Rob Ryan. He previously spent a year as an NFL defensive coordinator with the Broncos in 2011.
New York Giants | Patrick Graham
The move from the Dolphins defensive coordinator role to the New York Giants role was an intriguing one for Patrick Graham in 2020. Graham previously worked with both Brian Flores and Joe Judge in New England. He never served the role of DC prior to being hired away from Green Bay by the Dolphins in 2019. He will enter his second year as the DC in New York, with the team showing promising signs on that side of the ball last season.
Philadelphia Eagles | Jonathan Gannon
Jonathan Gannon followed Nick Sirianni from the Colts to the Philadelphia Eagles when Philadelphia hired Sirianni as head coach. Gannon spent three years with the Colts in the role of cornerbacks coach. He has also spent time as a defensive backs coach in Minnesota and defensive quality control coach with both Tennessee and Atlanta.
San Francisco 49ers | DeMeco Ryans
In just seven years, DeMeco Ryans has made the move from NFL player to NFL defensive coordinator in 2021. Ryans was initially hired as defensive quality control coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. He was then moved to inside linebackers coach in 2018, before being promoted to the role of DC when Robert Saleh was hired by the Jets.
Seattle Seahawks | Ken Norton
Ken Norton has spent the past six seasons as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. The last three of those have been spent with the Seattle Seahawks, with the first three in Oakland. Norton was previously the linebackers coach for the Seahawks for five seasons before moving to the Raiders. Norton was fired during the 2017 season; he spent a week as the assistant head coach of the 49ers before the Seahawks offered him the role of DC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Todd Bowles
Following a four-year period as the Jets head coach, Todd Bowles joined back up with his former head coach (Bruce Arians) in Tampa Bay in 2019. Bowles’ defense was a monumental part of the Buccaneers’ path to a Super Bowl victory in the 2020 NFL season. He is a name that will likely be in the head coach conversation next offseason with a strong 2021 campaign.
Washington Football Team | Jack Del Rio
Jack Del Rio returned to the NFL in 2020 after a two-year hiatus from the sport. In 2017, he was fired as the head coach of the Raiders before Ron Rivera hired him as the defensive coordinator in Washington last year. He changed the scheme from a 3-4 to a 4-3, and the Washington defense saw immediate results. Viewed as one of the best pass-rush groups in the league, Del Rio has significant talent at his disposal in 2021.