Ben Johnson

Coaching Notes: Broncos, Fangio, Jags, Lions

Ten candidates have emerged in the Broncos‘ coaching search. Despite the team going back-to-back with defensive coaches, Dan Quinn is believed to be one of the early frontrunners, per ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler (ESPN+ link). Despite being fired early in the 2020 season, the ex-Falcons HC has become a hot name in the 2022 interview cycle. The interest in Quinn puts him in position to be picky, as the current Cowboys DC has raised his stock after turning around the NFC East champions’ defense this season. He has yet to interview for the Broncos job yet. Quinn and Denver GM George Paton worked together in Miami under Nick Saban from 2005-06. Quinn, 51, was the Dolphins’ defensive line coach in those seasons. The Broncos have also done extensive work on Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett, Fowler adds. Both Hackett and Green Bay QBs coach Luke Getsy are on Denver’s HC interview list.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Bill O’Brien interestingly finds himself in the mix for NFL jobs on two tiers, with the Panthers eyeing him as an offensive coordinator and the Jaguars are set to interview him for their head coach job. O’Brien’s ignominious Texans exit notwithstanding, he has become a candidate to watch for the Jacksonville job, Fowler notes. O’Brien just finished his first season as Alabama’s OC.
  • Should O’Brien land the Jags gig, Vic Fangio will be a DC target, per Fowler. Given Fangio’s history of DC success, and the Broncos sporting an above-average unit during his tenure despite major injuries to Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, the recently fired coach will likely have a few options. The Jags are prepared to be patient this time around, with Sports Talk 790’s Aaron Wilson noting this process could last for an additional two weeks (Twitter link). Second interviews are expected here. The Jaguars being thorough should not surprise, given their rash decision to hire Urban Meyer last January.
  • The Lions are considering hiring their next OC from within. After parting ways with one-and-done Anthony Lynn, Detroit is examining tight ends coach Ben Johnson for that role, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Dan Campbell took over play-calling duties from Lynn midseason, but Johnson’s responsibilities expanded as well. Johnson joined the Lions as a quality control coach in 2019. GM Brad Holmes is also leaving the door open to Campbell remaining the team’s play-caller.
  • Seahawks assistant head coach Clint Hurtt is on the University of Miami’s radar, with Fowler tweeting the Hurricanes are eyeing him for their defensive coordinator job. A Miami alum, Hurtt has spent the past five years as Pete Carroll’s defensive line coach.
  • Joe Judge‘s Giants staff will likely splinter soon. One of Big Blue’s position coaches, D-line coach Sean Spencer, will land on his feet. Duke is hiring Spencer to be a co-defensive coordinator, USA Today’s Josina Anderson tweets. Spencer was set to leave regardless of Judge’s status. Spencer’s pre-Giants coaching resume unfolded entirely at the college level. The 51-year-old assistant spent six years at Penn State prior to his short Giants stay under Judge.
  • Second-year Browns assistant Jeremy Garrett is expected to leave Cleveland and become the Liberty D-line coach, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman tweets.

Lions Add Dave Fipp, Aubrey Pleasant To Staff

Dan Campbell‘s first Lions staff is taking shape. They hired the third of their 2021 coordinators this week, announcing longtime Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp will take the same position in Detroit.

The Lions are also hiring Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant as secondary coach, according to NFL.com’s Steve Wyche (on Twitter), and ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets new Lions linebackers coach Mark DeLeone will come over from the Bears.

Fipp coached the Eagles’ special teams units throughout Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson‘s tenures, beginning that run in 2013. In that time, Philly’s 12 return touchdowns ranked second in the league. Fipp has been an NFL assistant since the 2008 season. This includes time with Campbell in Miami. The two coached together with the Dolphins from 2011-12.

Pleasant represents an interesting get for the Lions. Washington attempted to promote Pleasant ahead of the 2017 season, but he left for Los Angeles. During that time, he interviewed for the Bengals’ DC job — one Lou Anarumo landed — in 2019 and oversaw the development of Rams corners Troy Hill and Darious Williams. The Jalen Ramsey sidekicks each ranked as top-30 corners, per Pro Football Focus, alongside Ramsey this past season. Pleasant will join ex-Rams staffers Brad Holmes and Ray Agnew — the Lions’ new GM and assistant GM, respectively — in trekking from southern California to Michigan.

DeLeone spent the past two seasons as Chicago’s inside linebackers coach under Chuck Pagano, overseeing the development of Roquan Smith, and was with the Chiefs from 2013-18 under then-Kansas City DC Bob Sutton. Additionally, the Lions are expected to retain tight ends coach Ben Johnson, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter).