Alan Williams

Coaching Rumors: Jets, Cowboys, Giants

Josh McDaniels‘ decision to break his agreement to become the Colts’ next head coach could hypothetically push the NFL to change its hiring rules, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Currently, teams aren’t allowed to formally hire coaches who are still employed by playoff clubs, but that hadn’t been an impediment given that no presumptive head coach had backed out of a reported deal. Had McDaniels been able to be officially offered the Indianapolis job several weeks ago, the Colts may have been aware of his wariness at the time. The NFL discussed a possible hiring rule change in 2017, but tabled the discussion, per Florio.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Jets announced that Jeremy Bates, who was recently promoted to offensive coordinator, will also retain his role as the club’s quarterbacks coach. While Bates will have two jobs, he’ll be able to rely on the expertise of assistant quarterbacks coach Mick Lombardi and longtime NFL offensive coordinator — and new New York offensive line coach/run game coordinator — Rick Dennison. Bates & Co. will likely be working with at least one new signal-caller in 2018, although the Jets are open to re-signing veteran passer Josh McCown.
  • Former Patriots assistant Ray “Bubba” Ventrone will be hired as the Colts‘ new special teams coordinator, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Ventrone, who played for four NFL teams, had been a New England staffer since 2015, but this will be his first run as a coordinator. Indianapolis is also expected to hire ex-Lions defensive backs coach Alan Williams for the same role, per Marvez, while Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link) former Buccaneers assistant Dave Borgonzi will become the Colts’ next linebackers coach.
  • The Cowboys have finalized their 2017 coaching staff by hiring Doug Colman as their assistant special teams coach, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Colman spent the past four seasons in the same role for the cross-state Texans. He’s expected to be the last major hire on Jason Garrett‘s staff after Dallas promoted Keith O’Quinn to ST coordinator and hired Doug Nussmeier as tight ends coach.
  • Florida Atlantic University defensive coordinator Chris Kiffin is joining the NFL ranks, as he’s agreed to become the 49ers‘ pass rush specialist, according to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated. Kiffin comes from a long line of NFL coaches, as he’s the brother of Lane Kiffin and the son of Monte Kiffin. In San Francisco, he’ll work with young defenders Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, and DeForest Buckner.
  • The Giants have announced new head coach Pat Shurmur‘s staff, and the new list of assistants contains several holdovers. Rob Leonard (assistant linebackers), Ryan Roeder (offensive assistant) and Bobby Blick (defensive assistant) will all stick around.

Coaching Rumors: Colts, Steelers, Morton

John Morton and Jim Harbaugh worked together during the best stretch of 21st-century 49ers football, with Morton coaching San Francisco’s wide receivers from 2011-14. That duo could link up again in Ann Arbor. Michigan is interested in the one-and-done Jets OC to coach its wideouts, Bruce Feldman of SI.com reports. Former Florida head coach Jim McElwain is also in the running for this job, Feldman reports, noting the ex-Gators leader interviewed recently. Morton spent one year as an NFL OC but has experience on the college level, having overseen the 2009 and ’10 USC offenses. He coached the Trojans’ WRs in the two years prior. Morton spent the past seven seasons in the NFL. The Jets fired Morton last month.

Here’s the latest from the coaching ranks, now that every NFL team has a head coach again.

  • Frank Reich has been contacting coaches about joining his first Colts staff over the past few days, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, and former Lions defensive backs coach (and ex-Vikings DC) Alan Williams is a candidate to join Reich in Indianapolis. If hired, Williams would be returning to Indianapolis, along with Reich. Williams served as Colts DBs coach throughout the Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell tenures, which spanned 10 years from 2002-11. Reich was on Caldwell’s three Colts staffs. Matt Patricia did not retain any Lions defensive coaches upon taking the job in Detroit.
  • A defensive line coach for four NFL teams between 2004 and 2015, Karl Dunbar will join a fifth staff in that capacity. The Steelers hired Dunbar after he’d spent the past two seasons coaching at Alabama. He’ll head up the Pittsburgh D-line and rejoin forces with Mike Tomlin. Dunbar served under Tomlin for one season with the Vikings (2006) before the defensive assistant took the top coaching job in Pittsburgh. Dunbar, who coached in Minnesota for six years, also was an eighth-round Steelers pick in 1990. John Mitchell served as Pittsburgh’s defensive line coach from 1994-2017. The longtime Steelers assistant will remain on staff and retain his assistant head coach title next season.
  • The Steelers also promoted Shaun Sarrett to assistant offensive line coach, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. Sarrett has worked with Steelers blockers since 2012.
  • Ricky Manning Jr. will not return for a third season with the Seahawks, Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk tweets. The former NFL cornerback had been the teams’ assistant defensive backs coach the past two seasons.

Coaching Rumors: Titans, Lions, Packers

Although at least one report indicated new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel would overhaul the majority of Tennessee’s coaching staff, that’s not necessarily the case, says Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com (all Twitter links). Tight ends coach Arthur Smith, assistant special teams coach Craig Aukerman, and assistant wide receivers coach Luke Steckel will join previously-reported defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend in interviewing with Vrabel during the Senior Bowl. Among the coaches who will part ways with the Titans include offensive line coach and NFL Hall of Famer Russ Grimm (who is retiring), quarterbacks coach Jason Michael, running backs coach Sylvester Croom, defensive assistant Brandon Blaney, and assistant defensive backs coach Steve Jackson.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Lions are expected to revamp their defensive coaching staff under new head coach Matt Patricia, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). That should come as no surprise given Patricia’s defensive background, and the current Patriots DC spoke with members of the Detroit staff last week to inform them they aren’t part of the club’s 2018 plans, per Birkett. Specifically, Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan and defensive backs coach Alan Williams have been fired, reports Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. The Lions, of course, have already lost a number of defensive staffers to other teams, as former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin joined the Bengals while ex-defensive line coach Kris Kocurek landed with the Dolphins.
  • The Packers will continue their staff overhaul under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine by hiring former Bowling Green safeties coach Ryan Downard, likely as a defensive quality control coach, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links). Downard was an assistant under Pettine in Cleveland before heading to BGSU, so there is a level of familiarity between the two. Downard’s addition does not have an effect on the status of incumbent cornerbacks coach Darren Perry, per Silverstein. Meanwhile, La Canfora (via Twitter) has clarified Jason Simmonsrole change with Green Bay, noting that he’s been moved to secondary coach.
  • The Panthers are interviewing Seahawks assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell for the same position, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). If hired, Farwell would work alongside former NFL linebacker Chase Blackburn, who was recently named Carolina’s new special teams coach. Farwell, an ex-NFL ‘backer in his own right, joined the coaching ranks in 2016.
  • The Seahawks have mutually parted ways with senior defensive assistant Travis Jones, the club announced today. Jones had served as Seattle’s defensive line coach from 2013-16 before being bumped to a new role last season. He’s just the latest coach to leave the Seahawks’ staff this month, adding to a growing list that includes OC Darrell Bevell and DC Kris Richard.