Bob Bicknell

COVID-19 Latest: Bubble, Bengals, Dalton

With the NFL passing an in-case-of-emergency amended playoff bracket and having a tentative Week 18 in place in case games need to be rescheduled, the league is planning ahead. Its months-long anti-bubble stance remains, but the prospect of one taking place in the postseason has not been ruled out. The NFL will consider holding conference championship games at neutral-site bubbles, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Like the 16-team bracket, this would be a contingency plan. Should the NFL proceed with bubbles for its penultimate postseason round, Maske notes warm-weather cities would be the likely sites.

Here is the latest on the NFL’s navigation of the coronavirus pandemic:

  • As cases spike nationally, the NFL has seen a significant uptick as well this month. Forty-seven percent of the league’s positive coronavirus tests this season came during November’s first two weeks, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes. As such, the NFL is bracing for more COVID-related trouble after Thanksgiving. The league expects cases to surge after the holiday, with high-ranking execs informing Jones the bulk of its cases thus far this season occurred because of in-home gatherings. No games have been rescheduled since Week 7, but given the protocol adjustments and postseason contingency plan, the league appears to be preparing for postponements to re-emerge.
  • Beginning Saturday, all NFL teams will be thrust into the intensive COVID-19 protocol. The recently implemented higher-security format will be the new norm, per NFL.com’s Judy Battista. Positive tests were previously necessary to move teams into the intensive protocol — which calls for all meetings to be held virtually, masks to be worn at all times at team facilities and no player congregation to occur outside of teams’ headquarters — but the league’s Thanksgiving-related concerns have prompted precautions.
  • The Bengals were without four coaches during their Week 10 game against the Steelers and will be without three staffers this weekend as well. Cincinnati cornerbacks coach Steve Jackson, wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell and safeties coach Robert Livingston will not be with the team in Washington due to COVID-19 protocols, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Last week, the Bengals were without Jackson, Bicknell, linebackers coach Al Golden and senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner. Bengals DC Lou Anarumo will assume more responsibility this weekend, per the team, in overseeing the team’s defensive backs.
  • Former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will be back in the Cowboys‘ starting lineup this week, but he has not yet fully recovered from the coronavirus. The 10th-year veteran developed symptoms and has not fully regained his taste and smell senses, via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). Dalton’s wife and one of his sons also contracted the virus. The Cowboys activated Dalton from their reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.

Coaching Notes: Campbell, Smith, Dolphins

Prior to hiring Adam Gase, the Jets requested an interview with Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell. The Browns were interested as well, before promoting Freddie Kitchens. Instead, the Big 12 leader signed an extension to stay in Ames. But Campbell is intrigued by the prospect of coaching in the NFL, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. Known for his offensive acumen and the revitalization effort he authored at Iowa State — which has started 5-2 this season — Campbell could be a more serious contender to fill one of the league’s coaching vacancies next year. Since the last time he popped up on the NFL radar, Kliff Kingsbury and Matt Rhule have made the jump. The Cyclones’ 40-year-old HC may be next.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Unsurprisingly, Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has emerged as a coaching candidate. “A lot of intrigue” surrounds Tennessee’s second-year OC, Pelissero adds. Smith, 38, did not receive looks last season, but Ryan Tannehill‘s sustained success — Thursday night’s underwhelming performance notwithstanding — after a mediocre Miami career has turned heads. Smith figures to receive interview requests in 2021.
  • Despite the NFL’s recent trend of preferring offense-oriented coaches, Brandon Staley is viewed by some as a future head coach. The Rams plucked Staley off Vic Fangio‘s Broncos staff, making the 37-year-old assistant their defensive coordinator. He is viewed by current and former colleagues as a future HC, Pelissero adds. However, teams may want to see Staley be a coordinator for more than one season. Prior to his Los Angeles arrival, he served as outside linebackers coach in Chicago and Denver.
  • Shifting to current coaching situations, a few teams will be without staffers Sunday. The Dolphins will be hit hardest on this front. After placing Christian Wilkins and Kyle Van Noy on their reserve/COVID-19 list, the Dolphins will be without quarterbacks coach Robby Brown, defensive line coach Marion Hobby, outside linebackers coach Austin Clark and quality control staffer Kolby Smith against the Chargers because of coronavirus protocols, per ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe (on Twitter). Running backs coach Eric Studesville and former Texans OC George Godsey will assist Chan Gailey with QB responsibilities.
  • The Bengals and Steelers have a combined 10 players on their respective COVID lists. The Bengals will also be without wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell because of “COVID-19 reasons,” the team announced. Assistant wideouts coach Troy Walters will take on more responsibility.

Bengals Notes: Taylor, Turner, Casey, Martin

New Bengals head coach Zac Taylor will call his own offensive plays, as he told reporters at his introductory press conference on Tuesday (Twitter link via Richard Skinner of WKRC-TV). Taylor was hired on the strength of his offensive acumen, so it’s no surprise that he’ll direct Cincinnati’s offense, leaving new offensive coordinator Brian Callahan to serve in a game-planning role. Taylor, for what it’s worth, doesn’t boast much play-calling experience: he led the Dolphins’ offense for a half-season in 2015, and coordinated the University of Cincinnati’s offense the following year. Under former coordinator Bill Lazor, the Bengals’ offense ranked 17th in scoring, 19th in DVOA, and 26th in yardage in 2018.

Here’s more from the Queen City:

  • Taylor will hire Texas A&M offensive line coach Jim Turner for the same role, reports Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Turner has worked with Taylor at three different stops, so there’s obvious familiarity between the two. He’d be replacing Frank Pollack, with whom the Bengals parted ways despite his excellent efforts in 2018. Turner, notably, was Miami’s offensive line coach during the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito bullying scandal, and was eventually fired in 2014 after an independent report indicated he participated in harassment of players. He was also suspended by Texas A&M in 2016 after using sexually-charged presentation slides during a women’s football clinic.
  • Former Texans tight end and current University of Houston tight ends coach James Casey will join the Bengals in the same role, while Ben Martin — who had recently been hired as an assistant offensive line coach at Brown — will take over as Cincinnati’s assistant OL coach, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Casey is only 34 years old, and was still playing as recently as 2015. He joined Houston as an offensive assistant in 2016 and became tight ends coach the following year. Martin, meanwhile, worked at Texas A&M with Taylor.
  • Among the Bengals coaches who are expected to be retained under Taylor are Alex Van Pelt (quarterbacks), Dan Pitcher (assistant quarterbacks), Bob Bicknell (wide receivers), Robert Livingston (secondary), Daronte Jones (secondary), and Brayden Coombs (assistant secondary), per Dehner. Coombs, notably, was thought to be a candidate for the Packers’ special teams coordinator position, but he’ll instead remain in Cincinnati.

Coaching Rumors: Chiefs, Packers, Bengals

The Chiefs could promote running backs coach Eric Bieniemy to offensive coordinator, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears (on Twitter). Rapoport adds that he has “the inside track.” The vacancy opened up this weekend when Matt Nagy agreed to become the next head coach of the Bears.

Here’s the latest coaching news from around the NFL:

  • Packers secondary coach Darren Perry interviewed for the team’s defensive coordinator position on Monday, according to Alex Marvez of The Sporting News (on Twitter). The interview was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was delayed due to the team’s front office reorganization.
  • Contrary to a previous report, former Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese was not interviewed by the Browns on Monday, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets. When he does interview with the team, it will be for an offensive assistant job and not necessarily for the OC position.
  • The Raiders will officially ink contracts with offensive coordinator Greg Olson and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther before the big Jon Gruden press conference, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • The Bengals announced the signing of Bob Bicknell as the team’s new wide receivers coach. Bicknell, who has 25 years of professional and collegiate coaching experience, was Baylor University’s WRs coach in 2017. Meanwhile, defensive line coach Jacob Burney has been retained with a new two-year contract extension (Twitter link via Alex Marvez of The Sporting News).

Coaching Rumors: Broncos, Giants, Cowboys

The Broncos have made an interesting set of choices in replacing fired offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, as the club announced that Sean Kugler has been hired as offensive line coach-guards/centers, while Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports that Chris Strausser — who spent the 2017 campaign as Denver’s assistant OL coach — will tutor the Broncos’ tackles (Twitter link). It’s a compelling set of hires, as hiring a combination of coaches to lead separate parts of one position unit is something that usually occurs on the defensive side of the ball (safeties/cornerbacks, outside/inside linebackers). Elsewhere on the Denver staff, former interim quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak is considered a candidate to become the the Broncos’ next wide receivers coach, tweets Mike Klis of 9News.

Here’s more on the 2018 hiring cycle:

  • Former Broncos assistant head coach/running backs Eric Studesville was scheduled to interview for the Giants‘ head coaching vacancy over the weekend, but weather-related concerns forced that meeting to be pushed back. Instead, New York will interview Studesville on Tuesday, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Studesville, who had been employed in Denver since 2010, was fired earlier this week. While he’s never been a head coach, the 50-year-old Studesville did serve as an interim HC during the 2010 campaign.
  • While the Raiders reportedly have interest in adding Cowboys running backs Gary Brown to Jon Gruden‘s staff, Dallas wants to keep Brown — who is a coaching free agent — as well, per David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Brown, who enjoyed a nine-year career as an NFL running back, first entered the coaching ranks with Cleveland in 2009. Oakland has been aggressive in hiring staffers under Gruden, as it’s agreed to bring in Greg Olson as offensive coordinator and Paul Guenther as defensive coordinator.
  • If Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur lands a head coaching gig in the coming weeks, he’s expected to bring Panthers quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey along with him, tweets Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Dorsey, 36, has spent his entire post-playing career in Carolina, first as a pro scout and now as QBs coach. He interviewed for the Bills’ offensive coordinator position in 2017, but Buffalo ultimately hired Rick Dennison.
  • The Bengals will interview Baylor wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell for the same position in Cincinnati, according to Marvez (Twitter link). Bicknell coached in the NFL from 2008-16, most recently with the 49ers, and interviewed with Chicago last offseason. Cincinnati, meanwhile, lost WRs coach James Urban to the division-rival Ravens.

Staff Notes: Raiders, Bears, Bucs, Dolphins

New Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing had a year remaining on his deal, but the contract allowed the ex-quarterbacks coach to interview for other clubs’ offensive coordinator vacancies, according to Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune (Twitter link). Without naming any particular team, Downing confirmed previous reports that multiple clubs expressed interest in hiring him as OC. Instead, Oakland parted ways with former play-caller Bill Musgrave and installed Downing as coordinator.

Here’s more from the 201 hiring cycle:

  • The Bears have interviewed Bob Bicknell, Ronald Curry, and George McDonald as part of their effort to find a new wide receivers coach, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Bicknell has coached wideouts at the NFL level since 2012, spending time with Buffalo, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Curry, a former NFL wide receiver himself, has worked on the Raiders’ and 49ers’ staffs, while McDonald has spent the past several years in the coaching ranks.
  • Ex-Saints defensive assistant James Willis is a candidate for the Bears‘ assistant defensive line coach position and will interview this week, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. New Orleans relieved Willis of his duties last month after he’d spent two years with the club. Willis previously coached in the NCAA with Alabama, Auburn, and Texas Tech.
  • The Buccaneers announced that they’ve hired Danny Breyer as a defensive assistant. Breyer spent the 2016 campaign as an analytics staffer in Tampa Bay, worked for the Dolphins year prior, and coached in the college ranks before heading to the NFL.
  • The Dolphins have hired Josh Grizzard as an offensive quality control coach, tweets Caplan. Grizzard previously worked as an assistant quarterbacks and quality control coach at Duke, where he’d spent the past four years.

Coaching Notes: 49ers, Browns, Bills, Saints

New 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan could look to pilfer one of his Atlanta subordinates, as running backs coach Bobby Turner could be leaving the Falcons for San Francisco, reports D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Turner has long been associated with Shanahan and his father, Mike, having coached with the family in Denver and Washington before joining the Falcons in 2015. A previous report indicated Atlanta was unlikely to allow Turner to follow Shanahan to the West Coast.

Here’s more from the 2017 hiring cycle:

  • The Browns have agreed to hire former Bills quarterbacks coach David Lee for the same role, tweets Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Lee, 63, has coached offenses and QBs since the mid-1970s, and most recently had two separate stints with the Buffalo interrupted by a run with the Jets. In Cleveland, he’ll work with Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan, and — if he’s retained — Robert Griffin III. Previously reported staff changes that included moving tight ends coach Greg Seamon to QBs coach were only in place for the Senior Bowl, adds Cabot (Twitter link).
  • The Bills have hired former NFL wide receiver Chad Hall as an offensive coaching assistant, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Hall, who played for the Eagles in 2010 while new Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott served as the club’s defensive coordinator, will work with the Bills’ wideouts, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. The Buffalo gig will mark the first coaching job for Hall, who last played in 2014 with Jacksonville.
  • Hall wasn’t the only coach hired by the Bills this week, as Buffalo also announced that its hired Bobby Babich as assistant defensive backs coach. Babich, the son of longtime NFL defensive coordinator Bob Babich, will serve under newly-installed DBs coach Gill Byrd. Babich, who spent the 2016 campaign with Florida International, has also spent NFL time with the Browns and Panthers.
  • The Chargers have hired D’Anton Lynn as a defensive assistant and Dan Shamash as an offensive quality control coach, per Caplan (Twitter link). Lynn, the son of new Los Angeles head coach Anthony Lynn, coached with the Bills last year, while Shamash spent the 2016 season with Jacksonville.
  • Former North Carolina State defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen has been hired in the same role by the Saints, reports Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports (Twitter link). New Orleans originally pursued former 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula for the position, but will instead roll with Nielsen, who’s coached with the Wolfpack since 2014.
  • The Bears could have interest in hiring Bob Bicknell as their new wide receivers coach, tweets Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Bicknell has coached wideouts at the NFL level since 2012, spending time with Buffalo, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, and isn’t expected to retained by the 49ers.
  • Cedric Smith is returning to the Broncos as an assistant strength and conditioning coach after seven years in Houston and Kansas City, per Mike Klis of 9NEWS (Twitter link). Smith previously worked for Denver from 2001-06.

Coaching Updates: 49ers, Eagles, April

As has been widely speculated, it appears as though a number of Chip Kelly‘s assistant coaches from Philadelphia are expected to join Kelly’s 49ers staff. Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com tweets that former Eagles WR coach Bob Bicknell will become the new WR coach in San Francisco, while Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer confirms (via Twitter) that DL coach Jerry Azzinaro and QB coach Ryan Day are also expected to follow Kelly to the Bay Area. As Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com observes (via Twitter), former 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula was interested in hiring Bicknell as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator last season, but Bicknell’s preference at that time was to stay in Philadelphia.

Now let’s dive into some more coaching updates:

  • Expanding upon McLane’s tweet that PFR passed along along last night, Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that, with the Chiefs now eliminated from the playoffs, Kansas City OC Doug Pederson is expected to be announced as the Eagles‘ new head coach within the next week.
  • As for Pederson’s new coaching staff, McLane tweets that the Eagles could keep RB coach Duce Staley, special teams coordinator Dave Fipp, and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, assuming Pederson is amenable to retaining them.
  • The Titans are prepared to hire Bobby April as their special teams coach, according to Marvez (via Twitter). April, who served in the same capacity with the Jets last season, was fired after Gang Green’s disappointing special teams performance in 2015. However, as Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com tweets, April has coached a number of strong special teams units in his remarkably long career. April has worked as a special teams coach/coordinator since 1991, when he first entered the NFL as a tight ends and special teams coach for the Falcons. Since that time, he has been employed by the Steelers, Saints, Rams, Bills, Eagles, Raiders, and Jets.

East Notes: Eagles, Maxwell, Moore, Cowboys

Sources close to Byron Maxwell “recently threw out numbers” like $12-13MM when estimating what it might take – in terms of per-year salary – to land the Seahawks cornerback in free agency this offseason, writes Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. I’d be shocked if Maxwell landed a deal that lucrative, but he’ll be one of the top available corners if he reaches the open market. While general manager John Schneider and the Seahawks have expressed a desire to re-sign Maxwell, he should have several suitors in March, including the Eagles — McLane takes a look at Maxwell’s potential fit in Philadelphia.

Here are a few more items from around the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • While an earlier report suggested that the Eagles rebuffed the 49ers‘ attempts to interview wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell for a possible offensive coordinator role in San Francisco, that’s not quite the case, according to Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. Mosher tweets that new Niners head coach Jim Tomsula spoke to Bicknell about a job in San Francisco, but that Bicknell wasn’t interested in leaving the Eagles. That has since by confirmed by multiple reporters, including Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com (Twitter link).
  • Matt Moore hasn’t seen the field much during his tenure as the Dolphins‘ No. 2 quarterback, but he’s still considered one of the better backups in the league, and won’t necessarily come cheap this offseason. As such, James Walker of ESPN.com thinks there’s a good chance Miami targets a more affordable backup QB and lets Moore sign elsewhere.
  • Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News identifies the least favorable contracts on the Cowboys‘ books heading into the 2015 season, with Brandon Carr‘s pricey deal topping his list.

NFC West Notes: Seahawks, Wilson, 49ers

One of the most memorable moments of the Seahawks‘ Super Bowl win over Denver a year ago was Percy Harvin‘s kickoff return touchdown to open the second half, which essentially put the nail in the coffin of the Broncos’ comeback hopes. Having been sent to the Jets midway through the 2014 season, Harvin won’t be involved in this year’s Super Bowl, but Seattle has no regrets about moving him, as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes.

Here’s more on the Seahawks and one of their NFC West rivals:

  • Asked about a potentially massive contract extension for quarterback Russell Wilson, Seahawks general manager John Schneider didn’t get into specifics, but acknowledged that such a deal “presents challenges” and could limit the club’s options in free agency. Brady Henderson of 710 ESPN Seattle has the details and the quotes from the GM.
  • With Marshawn Lynch heading into a contract year in 2015, former agent Joel Corry of CBSSports.com examines the Seahawks‘ options for the veteran running back, suggesting that a short-term contract extension may be the best course of action for the team.
  • Although the 49ers are interested in adding Eagles wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell to their coaching staff, potentially as the club’s offensive coordinator, to this point Philadelphia has prevented Bicknell from interviewing, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
  • In his preview of the 49ers‘ offseason, Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap identifies Frank Gore, Chris Culliver, and Perrish Cox as free agents that the club should make an effort to re-sign, adding that Mike Iupati and Michael Crabtree are candidates to sign elsewhere.