Brant Boyer

Coaching Rumors: Pack, Vikes, Jets, Cards

Incumbent special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi was a strong candidate to take over as the Dolphins‘ head coach, but now that he appears to have lost out to Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores, Rizzi is being allowed to take interviews with other clubs, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). While Miami would prefer to retain him, Rizzi has already been contacted by by the Vikings and Packers, per Pelissero. Rizzi, who’s been with the Dolphins in 2010, would replace Ron Zook (fired) in Green Bay or Mike Priefer (hired by the Browns) in Minnesota.

Here’s more from the coaching carousel:

  • The Jets have signed special teams coordinator Brant Boyer to an extension, a source tells Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Boyer had been signed only through 2019, and rival NFL teams had already begun to express interest in case Boyer wasn’t retained by new head coach Adam Gase. A longtime NFL linebacker, Boyer joined Gang Green in 2016, and last season coached a unit which ranked first in Football Outsiders’ special teams DVOA. Return man Andre Roberts earned first-team All-Pro honors under Boyer’s direction, while kicker Jason Myers received a Pro Bowl nod.
  • Former Broncos offensive line coach Sean Kugler drew plenty of interest around the NFL after being released from his contract, but the Cardinals were able to lock him down. Arizona announced that’s it hired Kugler as OL coach, Brian Natkin as his assistant, David Raih as receivers coach, and retained Steve Heiden as tight ends coach. Kugler received an early look from the Buccaneers (and early reports even indicated he joined Tampa’s staff), while the Bills, Vikings, Browns, and Jets also checked in, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
  • The Buccaneers have hired Todd McNair as their new running backs coach, reports Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times. McNair hadn’t coached since 2010, when USC opted not to renew his contract, perhaps due to his involvement in the Reggie Bush scandal. He nearly became the Cardinals’ RBs coach under Bruce Arians in 2013, and he’ll now have the chance to work under Arians in Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, the Bucs named ex-Cardinals linebackers coach Larry Foote to the same position, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).
  • George Warhop has joined the Jaguars‘ staff as the club’s new offensive line coach, while Tim Walton will coach Jacksonville’s defensive backs, tweets Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio. Warhop has coached NFL front fives since 1996, and spent the past five seasons in Jacksonville. Walton, meanwhile, served as the Rams’ defensive coordinator in 2013 before moving on to the Giants’ DBs gig.
  • The Broncos and new head coach Vic Fangio are expected to retain linebackers coach Reggie Herring and defensive line coach Bill Kollar, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter links). Additionally, Denver has been denying interview requests for running backs Curtis Modkins, an indication that he’ll also return in 2019.

AFC Notes: Browns, Chiefs, Hackenberg, Jets

Browns cornerback Joe Haden will play the final two games of the season and then undergo surgery to repair both groin muscles in early January, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Haden anticipates a two-month recovery time and will “for sure” be ready for offseason workouts, he told Cabot. The two-time Pro Bowler (and 2016 Pro Bowl alternate) has played through groin injuries for a large portion of the year, which would at least partially explain why his overall performance ranks just 97th among 121 qualifying corners at Pro Football Focus. Haden, 27, also started the year behind the 8-ball after undergoing ankle surgery last March, which prevented him from participating in offseason workouts and delayed his training camp debut until August.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • If the Chiefs hadn’t brought linebacker Justin March-Lillard back from IR on Wednesday, running back Jamaal Charles likely would’ve been cleared to practice next week and play in January, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Charles theoretically could have been a playoff weapon for the Chiefs, though they apparently didn’t think he’d have contributed enough to justify bringing back this season. The four-time Pro Bowler has played in just eight games (three this year) dating back to last season because of knee issues, including a torn right ACL. Further, as Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star explained Wednesday, the Chiefs’ linebacker corps took a hit when Derrick Johnson suffered a ruptured Achilles earlier this month and March-Lillard could help fill his void.
  • “It’s possible” Jets rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg will dress against the Patriots on Saturday, head coach Todd Bowles stated Thursday (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com). The Jets used a second-round pick on Hackenberg in last spring’s draft, but – despite ugly performances by fellow signal-callers Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty – he hasn’t been active this season. Bowles didn’t rule out playing Hackenberg, who would be a third-stringer, but it would take unfortunate circumstances. “If we get down to the third quarterback, we’re probably getting killed in the first place,” Bowles said.
  • Jets special teams coach Brant Boyer is only in his first year with the team, but his job is already in jeopardy, writes Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday. New York has the worst special teams unit in the NFL, per Football Outsiders, and gave up a blocked punt that the Dolphins returned for a touchdown in a 34-13 romp over the Jets last week. In their previous meeting with Miami, a 27-23 loss in Week 9, the Jets allowed a 96-yard kick return TD to Kenyan Drake with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter. That proved to be the game-winning score, and it sent the Jets to 3-6 when they had an opportunity to climb closer to the .500 mark. “It has been a frustrating year,” Boyer told Martin. “There have been some injuries, But there is no excuse for me. It’s my job to get these kids ready. We’ll get it done.”

Zach Links contributed to this post.

East Notes: Jets, Curry, Cox, Deflategate

As first reported on Tuesday night by Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link), the Jets have hired Brant Boyer as their new special teams coordinator, the team announced today in a press release. Boyer arrives in New York from Indianapolis, where he has served as the Colts’ assistant special teams coach for the last four seasons, working with Pro Bowlers Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee, and Matt Overton.

The Jets took their time finding a new special teams coordinator, after parting ways with Bobby April nearly a month ago. As Todd Bowles and the Jets considered their options, April found a new home in Tennessee, where he’ll serve as the Titans’ special teams coach.

Let’s round up a few more Wednesday notes from around the NFL’s East divisions….

  • Appearing today on ESPN’s First Take (video link), Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall was asked about the latest Colin Kaepernick rumors, and replied that he’d prefer the team to bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick rather than going after Kaepernick.
  • Having signed a lucrative new long-term deal with the Eagles, Vinny Curry said that it wouldn’t have happened if not for the team’s scheme change, per Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). With Jim Schwartz replacing Billy Davis as Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator, the club will be shifting from a 3-4 look to a 4-3 base, which should better suit Curry.
  • Curry added that he has been in constant contact with Fletcher Cox, and he thinks his fellow defensive lineman will get a contract extension done with the Eagles (Twitter link via Martin Frank of the Delaware News Journal).
  • More than a year after the NFL began looking into the Patriots for what became known as Deflategate, the league is still mishandling the situation, writes Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. As Wetzel notes, Roger Goodell‘s assertion that the NFL didn’t keep any of the information logged during the 2015 season on the air pressure of game-day footballs creates more questions than answers.
  • Eagles fans will see some familiar faces in this week’s Super Bowl, writes Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News, who points to Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and safety Kurt Coleman as “Eagles discards” who are thriving in Carolina.