The Packers went off the board with their defensive coordinator hire, bringing in Boston College HC Jeff Hafley. Matt LaFleur has looked to the college ranks during each of his DC searches, wanting to hire then-Wisconsin staffer Jim Leonhard in 2021. Hafley’s hire comes after the Packers squeezed in another interview with a seasoned NFL coordinator. Don Martindale met with the Pack about the gig, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein tweets.
Martindale resigned his two-year post as Giants DC after a turbulent second season with Brian Daboll; he has since interviewed with the Jaguars for a job that went to Ryan Nielsen. Martindale has been accused of going rogue at points in New York, with the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz adding another footnote here. Ahead of the Giants’ Christmas game against the Eagles, Martindale is believed to have requested the equipment staff change linebacker Tomon Fox‘s number from 49 to 94 due to the DC’s plans of having him bumped up from the practice squad. That change was made without Daboll or GM Joe Schoen‘s approval.
As the Giants’ DC search continues, here is the latest from the coaching ranks:
- The Saints–Jon Gruden connection persists. Although Gruden is not on the radar — at least, as far as we know — for the Saints’ OC job, a GM informed the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora the former Raiders and Buccaneers HC should be expected to have a bigger role with New Orleans in 2024. Gruden worked as a consultant last summer and met with Saints officials recently. The GM suggested the possibility Gruden could eventually replace Dennis Allen, which would be quite the development considering the circumstances surrounding Gruden’s Las Vegas exit. For now, Gruden, who is still suing the NFL, remains without an NFL job.
- Unsurprisingly, Mike Macdonald confirmed he will start his Seahawks tenure as the team’s defensive play-caller. Though, the new Seattle HC said (via SI.com’s Albert Breer) he is open to that changing at some point. Michigan’s 2021 DC, Macdonald called plays for the Ravens over the past two years and became one of this year’s most popular HC candidates as a result. Although Pete Carroll carried a defensive background, he did not serve as the Seahawks’ defensive play-caller.
- The Buccaneers have lost much of their offensive staff to Carolina, seeing one-and-done OC Dave Canales take three staffers (receivers coach Brad Idzik, run-game coordinator Harold Goodwin, O-line coach Joe Gilbert). Tom Moore, however, will be staying in Tampa, per Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager. Moore, 85, has been with the Bucs since Bruce Arians‘ 2019 arrival. The former Colts OC, who is now 85, has served as a consultant for the NFC South team. This will be Moore’s 47th NFL season.
- Baker Mayfield finished last in QBR in 2022, seeing his Panthers stay responsible for that dismal result. Canales helping the inconsistent QB recover from what happened in Carolina represents a key reason for his HC hire, ESPN.com’s David Newton notes. A Canales selling point hinged on the Bucs’ downfield passing, with Newton adding Tampa Bay went from 24th in that area (6.9 air yards per attempt) in Tom Brady‘s final season to third in 2023 (8.4).
- The Eagles have permitted quarterbacks coach Alex Tanney to explore opportunities elsewhere, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. During the period between Brian Johnson‘s exit and the Kellen Moore OC hire, Tanney asked the team for the opportunity. The Eagles are moving on, per the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane. Tanney received interest from the Colts last year, and McLane points to Indianapolis under ex-Eagles OC Shane Steichen as a potential landing spot.
- The Bears have hired three more assistants. Chad Morton is signing on as running backs coach, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jason Lieser, while ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin adds Chris Beatty is coming in as wide receivers coach. Most recently with the Chargers, Beatty coached D.J. Moore at Maryland. A former NFL return man, Morton is following OC Shane Waldron from Seattle. Morton was the Seahawks’ RBs coach from 2017-23. Chicago also hired Jason Houghtaling as assistant O-line coach, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero adds; Houghtaling was Tennessee’s O-line coach in 2023.