Brandon Staley

Coaching Rumors: 49ers, Chargers, Jaguars, Eagles

The 49ers‘ staff is starting to come together, as Matt Barrows of The Athletic writes. Chris Foerster has been bumped up to primary offensive line coach while Rich Scangarello will return as the quarterbacks coach. Scangarello served as SF’s QBs coach in 2017 and 2018 before the Broncos tapped him as their OC in 2019. After a rough time in Denver and one year in Philly, he’s headed back to the Bay Area.

Here’s a look at the latest coach and coordinator news:

  • The Chargers will interview Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon for their defensive coordinator job, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Gannon is also being considered by the Bears for their DC role.
  • Meanwhile, new Chargers coach Brandon Staley is bringing Rams assistant Joe Barry along for the ride as his defensive passing game coordinator and linebackers coach (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com).
  • The Jaguars have requested an interview with Colts quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady for their offensive coordinator job, as Pelissero tweets.
  • The Eagles are interested in interviewing Cowboys special teams coach John Fassel, according to Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Fassel, the son of ex-Giants head coach Jim Fassel, spent eight years as the Rams’ ST coordinator. He also served as the Rams’ interim head coach for the final three games of 2016.

Chargers Hire Brandon Staley As Head Coach

Surprising news out of Los Angeles, as the Chargers have hired Brandon Staley to be their new head coach, sources told Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll had previously been considered a heavy favorite to land the Chargers’ job, which is what makes this move so eyebrow raising. Staley, currently the Rams’ defensive coordinator, won’t have to travel far for his new gig. It’s a meteoric rise for the young defensive mind, as 2020 was Staley’s first season as an NFL coordinator. As recently as 2019, he was coaching outside linebackers in Denver.

Sean McVay then poached him away to be his DC, and he immediately earned a ton of praise for what he did with the Rams. Understandably so, as they led the NFL in total defense by a healthy margin. Having Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey certainly helped, but Staley was widely commended in league circles for his innovative schemes.

He’ll also have a lot of talent on defense to work with at his new job. Derwin James should be back at an All-Pro level after missing the whole 2020 season, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, and Linval Joseph along the defensive line, and Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr. in the secondary.

Of course, what made the Chargers job most attractive is the presence of Justin Herbert, who’s coming off a sensational rookie season. We’ve heard that Herbert “loves” his offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and it’s possible that the Chargers preferred to hire a defensive coach so they could keep Steichen in the fold.

Staley, 38, is walking into a prime situation with a talented team that could be poised for a bounce-back. He got his start at small schools James Madison and John Carroll, then broke into the NFL when Vic Fangio brought him onto his Chicago staff back in 2017. Fangio then brought him with him to Denver.

With Staley’s hiring, the Texans and Eagles are the only two teams left looking for coaches. The Lions are believed to be hiring Dan Campbell, and that move will likely become official soon now that the Saints have been eliminated.

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Brandon Staley Gets Second Interview With Chargers

Recent reports have indicated that the Chargers are favoring Bills OC Brian Daboll for their head coaching vacancy, but apparently the club was impressed by Rams DC Brandon Staley. According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, Staley will get a second interview with the Bolts today (Twitter link).

Today’s meeting will take place in person. The Rams’ season ended yesterday thanks to a 32-18 loss to the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs, but the Bills advanced to the AFC Championship Game after defeating the Ravens. That means that the Chargers could hire Staley right away, but they would need to wait at least another week before making a Daboll hire official.

And if the team decides it wants Staley, it might not be able to wait much longer. The 38-year-old is also scheduled to speak with the Texans about their HC job today, and the Eagles are hoping to fly him out tomorrow. But the Chargers might have a better roster than the Texans and Eagles, and quarterback Justin Herbert — who, unlike Houston QB Deshaun Watson, is not feeling any resentment towards his team at the moment — makes the LA job especially attractive.

Daboll’s candidacy for the Chargers’ gig is obvious given the development of Buffalo QB Josh Allen and Daboll’s personal ties with Los Angeles GM Tom Telesco, but Herbert is said to be high on incumbent OC Shane Steichen. Telesco could decide that Steichen is the best person to further Herbert’s development, which might make a defensive-minded head coach more appealing.

Staley certainly had some top-tier talent to work with this year, but there is no denying that he got the most out of that talent. The Rams were the best team in the league in terms of total defense in 2020, and Staley and his innovative schemes are widely credited for that performance. The fact that this was his first season as DC makes his work all the more impressive, and the league has certainly taken notice.

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Eagles To Interview Rams DC Brandon Staley For HC Job

Brandon Staley has emerged as a candidate for the Eagles head-coaching job. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Eagles have requested permission to interview the Rams defensive coordinator.

As Schefter notes, Philadelphia has already received permission to speak with Staley “at the appropriate time” (i.e. whenever the Rams’ season comes to an end). Staley is also set to meet with the Texans about their vacancy, and he previously talked with the Chargers (along with the Jets, who have since hired a coach).

In only two years, Staley could find himself rising from Broncos outside linebackers coach to a head coaching role. The 38-year-old succeeded Wade Phillips in Los Angeles and has helped reestablish one of the top defenses in the entire NFL. The versatile Aaron Donald– and Jalen Ramsey-powered lineup ranks first in weighted DVOA. As Schefter notes, the Eagles “are drawn to Staley and the reputation he has built during his year as Sean McVay’s defensive coordinator in Los Angeles.”

The Eagles are searching for a new head coach after canning Doug Pederson earlier this week. Since that time, a number of candidates have emerged (via our 2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker):

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2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Exiting the regular season, six teams are searching for new head coaches. That number is up from last season but not quite as high as 2019, though there may well be more vacancies that emerge during the playoffs.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-27-21 (7:05pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Texans Request Brandon Staley Interview

The Texans are hoping to speak with Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. Now led by GM Nick Caserio, the team sent the first-year DC an interview request, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Staley has met with the Chargers and Jets about their HC position. He is not permitted to meet with teams in person until the Rams’ season concludes. The Rams face the Packers on Saturday afternoon.

Rising from Broncos outside linebackers coach to a head coaching role in a two-year span would represent a remarkable rise from Staley, 38, but Wade Phillips‘ successor has helped the Rams reassemble a dominant defense. The versatile Aaron Donald– and Jalen Ramsey-powered unit ranks first in weighted DVOA, after the group slowed Russell Wilson considerably in a one-sided divisional-round win.

The Texans have not hired a defensively oriented head coach since the first HC in franchise history, Dom Capers, who held the job from 2002-05. Thanks in part to previous HC Bill O’Brien‘s GM work, the Texans have a host of needs on defense after the unit ranked 31st in DVOA this season. Staley and Leslie Frazier represent the team’s defensive candidates to this point. Colts DC Matt Eberflus turned down a Houston interview.

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Coaching Notes: Quinn, Staley, Chargers, Pollack, Bengals, Simmons, Whitt, Cowboys

Hope you’re all enjoying Sunday’s three-game wild card slate, here are a new batch of coaching updates to pass along:

  • Dan Quinn’s star faded fast after taking the Falcons to the Super Bowl just a few years ago, and he was fired after starting 0-5 this season. His national reputation took a hit, but he’s apparently still fairly highly regarded in league circles and might not be out of a job too long. Quinn’s name is popping up frequently as a potential defensive coordinator for coaches interviewing for head coaching gigs, Peter Schrager of NFL Network is told (Twitter link). Quinn, of course, rose to prominence as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator for a couple years during their dominant ‘Legion of Boom’ era, and won Super Bowl XLVIII with Seattle. His defenses were never anything special during his time in Atlanta though, and it was Kyle Shanahan’s offense carrying the team during the peak of their success.
  • Speaking of defensive minds, Rams DC Brandon Staley is turning into a hot name this cycle, and after his defense just dominated Russell Wilson it’s not hard to see why. The Chargers are one of the teams interested, and he’ll interview with them today, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. But interestingly, Breer writes that if Los Angeles doesn’t hire an offensive mind, the new coach will “have to have a very detailed plan for that side of the ball and the quarterback.” 49ers DC Robert Saleh is also in contention for this job, so that would obviously apply to him as well. Clearly, the Chargers want a bright offensive mind to pair with Justin Herbert. We’ve heard Herbert loves current offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, but Breer’s tweet certainly doesn’t make it sound like he’s all that likely to return.
  • Zac Taylor survived for another year, but the Bengals fired a few assistant coaches this week. Now, they’ve found one of the replacements. Cincy has hired Frank Pollack to be their new offensive line coach and run game coordinator, the team announced. Pollack spent the past two seasons as the Jets’ offensive line coach, and had the same role with the Bengals in 2018 under Marvin Lewis. Before that he was he Cowboys’ O-line coach, and obviously those units had a great deal of success. For what it’s worth, Bengals players are “thrilled” with the hire, Jay Morrison of The Athletic writes. “It’s exciting,” center Billy Price said. “I’m glad to have him back. I’m really, really, really, really glad to have him back.” Running back Joe Mixon also said he was “super excited” to have Pollack back in the fold.
  • The Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan earlier this week, and the search for his replacement is in full swing. Dallas interviewed Jason Simmons and Joe Whitt Jr. today for the position, a source told Calvin Watkins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Simmons is currently the passing game coordinator for the Panthers, while Whitt is the passing game coordinator for the Falcons. Both candidates have plenty of familiarity with Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy. Whitt was on Green Bay’s defensive staff from 2008-18, rising the ranks from quality control coach, while Simmons started with the Packers in 2015 as an assistant special teams coach. Neither has been a DC before.

GM/Staff Notes: Staley, Schoen, Jets, Eagles

The Falcons have secured an interview with Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (on Twitter). This will be Schoen’s second GM interview this offseason. He met with the Panthers earlier this week. Schoen has been on the rise for a bit now, moving from Dolphins player personnel director (2014-17) to the assistant GM of a Bills franchise that has raised its profile considerably during his tenure under Brandon Beane. Under Beane, Schoen and Sean McDermott, the Bills have made three playoff berths in four years. They were 0-for-17 in the 21st century previously.

Here is the latest from the GM and coaching carousels:

  • Brandon Staley‘s Rams defense ranked first in scoring defense this season, and that could allow him to continue a meteoric NFL rise. In addition to the Jets requesting an interview with Staley, the Chargers are interested in speaking with the first-year coordinator, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets. Staley spent the 2018 season as the Bears’ outside linebackers coach before following Vic Fangio to Denver and working in the same capacity there. But he has become a hot coaching commodity who could end up in a leading role soon.
  • The assistant leading the charge against Staley’s defense Saturday may be competing with him for the Jets‘ top coaching job. Seahawks OC Brian Schottenheimer is expected to be on the Jets’ radar to replace Adam Gase, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Schottenheimer has been Seattle’s OC for three seasons but served in that role in New York longer, working as offensive coordinator under Eric Mangini and Rex Ryan from 2006-11.
  • While the Eagles are retaining Doug Pederson, they will lose DC Jim Schwartz and part ways with two offensive assistants. Marty Mornhinweg and Rich Scangarello will not be back in Philly next season, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets. Despite both joining the Eagles last season, each was on an expiring contract. This marks another offseason of shakeups to Pederson’s offensive staff. Both Frank Reich and John DeFilippo departed in 2018, while the Eagles fired OC Mike Groh last year. Both Mornhinweg and Scangarello held non-position-coaching titles; the former worked as a senior consultant and the latter functioned as a senior assistant. Mornhinweg is a veteran NFL OC who served as Lions HC from 2001-02, while Scangarello was the Broncos’ OC last season.
  • The Washington GM search is beginning to take shape. In addition to ex-GMs Marty Hurney, Martin Mayhew and Rick Smith, Washington is expected to show interest in ex-Panthers exec Ryan Cowden, per La Canfora. While Cowden worked with Ron Rivera in Carolina, he has been with the Titans since 2016. He currently works as their VP of player personnel.

Jets Request Interviews With Rams DC Brandon Staley, Giants DC Patrick Graham

The Jets will have a young quarterback under center one way or another come Week 1 of 2021, but they apparently aren’t limiting their coaching search to offensive minds. New York has requested an interview with Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, Adam Schefter tweets, and with Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Both Staley and Graham oversaw units that made major leaps in 2020. We’ve heard a little bit of buzz about Staley but there hasn’t been as much head coach talk about Graham, so that one is pretty notable. Staley is only 38, and is looking to become the next man to land a head coaching job after serving as an assistant to Sean McVay. He was plucked out of relative anonymity by McVay this past offseason, as he was previously outside linebackers coach for the Broncos.

Staley has been widely praised for his innovative schemes, and the Rams finished first in total defense by a relatively wide margin, allowing only 281.9 yards per game. The Giants finished 12th in that same metric, a pretty impressive feat considering they were 25th last year.

At 41, Graham is pretty young himself. He broke into the league as an assistant with the Patriots in 2009, and spent the next seven years on Bill Belichick’s staff. Connections to Belichick and McVay are an annual tradition for seemingly nearly every head coaching candidate. Graham was the Dolphins’ DC in 2019, his first year as a coordinator, but was allowed to leave for New York since Brian Flores was the one still in charge of the defense in Miami. The Jets are clearly conducting an exhaustive search.

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Jets Plan To Fire Adam Gase

The expected firing of Adam Gase is on track to transpire after Week 17, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero. While Gase said earlier this week he has not been notified he will be fired, the Jets’ 0-13 start essentially ensured he would not be back.

This will mark Gase’s second ouster in three seasons; the Dolphins fired him after the 2018 season. He has gone 9-22 with the Jets. Although the former successful OC led his team to upset wins over two potential playoff squads and helped the Jets hire GM Joe Douglas, the past two Jets seasons have involved controversy and continued losing.

As far as a replacement goes, the Jets appear to be looking at a wide array of candidates. Current assistants Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs OC), Matt Eberflus (Colts DC), Don Martindale (Ravens DC), Arthur Smith (Titans OC) and Brandon Staley (Rams DC) are set to be considered. As are college coaches Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Matt Campbell (Iowa State) and Dan Mullen (Florida), according to NFL.com. Harbaugh, a previous Jets candidate, appears a long shot. The former 49ers coach is finalizing an extension to stay at Michigan, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic tweets.

After leading the Dolphins to the playoffs in his first season as head coach, Gase has seen his teams miss the past four postseason brackets. In New York, he feuded with previous GM Mike Maccagnan and was consistently connected to dissatisfaction with Le’Veon Bell‘s contract and performance. Two-plus months after cutting Bell, the Jets will move on from Gase. They were prepared to fire Gase earlier this week had the Browns upset not occurred, according to NFL.com.

The Jets already fired Gregg Williams after the polarizing defensive coordinator made a play call that cost the Jets an excellent chance at beating the Raiders. Gase and Williams feuded as well. Jets ownership sought Williams, which helped lead to then-Baylor HC Matt Rhule declining to leave the college ranks in 2019. Rhule ended up in Carolina a year later.

Gase’s Jets offense rarely generated much excitement. The team has struggled to build an offensive line and did not equip Sam Darnold well at the skill positions. As a result, the former No. 3 overall pick has regressed. And during the months in which the Jets were connected to Trevor Lawrence, Darnold frequently landed in trade rumors. As Darnold’s third season concludes, his status is in limbo. The Jets are set to hold the No. 2 overall pick in April and could well look at a quarterback to begin the post-Gase era.

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