AFC South Rumors: Gannon, Caserio, Colts

Lovie Smith joins Denver’s Nathaniel Hackett as the first-year coaches on the shakiest ground. The Texans are 1-11-1, on pace to finish with a worse record than they did under Nick Caserio‘s first HC hire (David Culley). Smith following Culley as a one-and-done is on the radar, though the prospect of Caserio being allowed to hire a third coach in three years is also uncertain. If Caserio does fire Smith and is granted permission to stay on and hire another coach, Jeremy Fowler of notes Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon will be back on the radar for the job.

Gannon was one of the Texans’ finalists for the Houston HC position this year, and Fowler adds Caserio was impressed by the then-rookie DC. The Texans bringing Gannon back into the finalist discussion might be more difficult in 2023, with Gannon’s Eagles defense making strides. This could well lead to more interested teams; Gannon already interviewed for three jobs (Houston, Denver, Minnesota) this year. The Texans did interview Josh McCown in back-to-back offseasons. Smith was not viewed as a finalist until the end of the process, leaving Gannon in Philly and McCown out of the league.

Here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • Jim Irsay said last month he wanted Jeff Saturday to stay on as the Coltsnext full-time HC. Saturday has said he will pursue that position, should Irsay want to interview him. While an interview seems a certainty, Irsay couched his Saturday support by saying there are “great candidates out there.” “I’m looking forward to the interview process,” Irsay said this week. “I think Jeff’s a candidate, but there’s a lot of great candidates out there. I think there’s a lot of great candidates in college. I think the pool needs to be broadened somewhat more. There’s some great college coaches that may be capable. There’s some unknown coaches that may be capable.” Saturday is 1-3 in his start as Indy’s interim coach.
  • In the event the Texans go the other way with Caserio, the Titans could be a landing spot for the longtime Bill Belichick right-hand man. A GM who spoke with the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora indicated Tennessee would be an ideal fit for Caserio, given Vrabel’s Patriots background. Caserio was in New England’s front office during throughout Vrabel’s nine-season Pats tenure. Amy Adams Strunk said Vrabel will be included in the Titans’ next GM search process, and while it might look strange to see an exec who has overseen a woeful two-year stretch (Houston is 5-24-1 under Caserio) in the AFC South be considered for another top front office gig so soon, Vrabel’s presence will be important for how Tennessee proceeds.
  • Hall of Famer Kevin Mawae will hold more responsibility on Saturday’s staff going forward. The Colts‘ assistant offensive line coach will transition to the role of tight ends coach, Saturday said. Mawae will replace Klayton Adams, whom KCRA’s Michelle Dapper notes is leaving to become Stanford’s O-line coach (Twitter link). Adams will join new Cardinal HC Troy Taylor in Palo Alto. Adams, 39, coached at the college level for 14 years prior to joining Frank Reich‘s staff in 2019. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019, Mawae is in his second season on the Colts’ staff.
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