Brian Kelly

Coaching Rumors: Crennel, Quinn, Fitzgerald

The Texans fired head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien last month following an 0-4 start, and interim HC Romeo Crennel has righted the ship a bit. Under Crennel’s watch, Houston is 2-2, and while those two wins came against the lowly Jaguars, the Texans came within an eyelash of toppling the Titans in Week 6.

Crennel, 73, has been viewed as a placeholder for 2020, but he could retain the gig through the 2021 season, as Ian Rapoport of writes. COVID-19 restrictions will probably not permit a traditional in-person search this offseason, so teams hiring a new HC could be committing a boatload of money to a person they have never even met. As such, the Texans might stick with Crennel next season and seek their long-term answer the following year. If that happens, VP of football operations Jack Easterby may continue serving as GM.

Of course, the team has been connected to Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, who is a favorite of QB Deshaun Watson. Bieniemy is widely expected to secure a head coaching job this offseason regardless of travel restrictions, so if Houston wants him, it might need to take a leap of faith. And John McClain of the Houston Chronicle says the Texans will indeed hire a new GM and HC at season’s end, while fellow Houston Chronicle scribe Aaron Wilson says the search remains active (Twitter links).

Now for more a few more coaching rumors:

  • The Falcons parted ways with HC Dan Quinn earlier this season, but it doesn’t sound like Quinn will be out of work for long. Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, several teams have made it known that they would like to have Quinn on their staff in 2021, and coordinators who might become head coaches next season have tapped Quinn as their first choice for defensive coordinator. La Canfora says Quinn could rejoin the Seahawks given Seattle’s defensive struggles this year, and he could also end up as the 49ers‘ DC if Robert Saleh gets a head coaching job.
  • Given the financial toll that the pandemic has taken on college athletic departments, top college coaches have become increasingly receptive to a jump to the NFL, as La Canfora details in a separate piece. Names like Lincoln Riley, Jim Harbaugh, and Brian Kelly, who frequently come up in offseason coaching rumors, will again be at the forefront of the discussion in 2021.
  • Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald has drawn interest from NFL teams in the past, and as of January 2019, he indicated he was not interested in NFL opportunities. However, COVID-19 might make him more receptive to an HC job in the pros, and his hometown Bears could come calling. La Canfora says Bears ownership is high on Fitzgerald, and if Chicago moves on from Matt Nagy, Fitzgerald might be on the top of the team’s wish-list.

East Notes: Dolphins, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys

Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell, whose short stint is almost sure to end Sunday, spoke about his tenure to Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald.

On what he’ll do differently if given another opportunity in the future, Campbell said, “I would do a better job of holding everyone more accountable, from staff to players.”

Going forward, Campbell believes the Dolphins need more leadership from quarterback Ryan Tannehill and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

“Certainly, those are two guys that you’d love to see grow more into that area, and it would help,” he stated.

Campbell also used the word “frustration” to describe the Dolphins’ 5-10 season (and 4-7 mark under his reign). He’ll try to go out with a win Sunday as the Dolphins host AFC East rival New England.

More on the Dolphins and three NFC East teams:
  • With the Giants’ Tom Coughlin era seemingly on the verge of ending, the New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano wrote Friday that the team should pursue the Saints’ Sean Payton and Alabama’s Nick Saban as possible successors. In addition to Payton and Saban, Vacchiano listed more potential candidates Saturday. Featured prominently: New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, current Giants O-coordinator Ben McAdoo – though Vacchiano argues that he’d be tough to sell to their fan base – as well as college head coaches Brian Kelly (Notre Dame) and David Shaw (Stanford). There’s also Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, a pair of Carolina assistants in OC Mike Shula and D-coordinator Sean McDermott, two more O-coordinators (Pittsburgh’s Todd Haley and Cincinnati’s Hue Jackson), and Jacksonville assistant Doug Marrone. Haley, Jackson and Marrone were all mixed bags in their prior head coaching stops, while Spagnuolo and McDaniels flamed out in epic fashion in St. Louis and Denver, respectively.
  • The Dolphins’ Olivier Vernon, who leads the team in sacks (seven), could be playing his last game with the team Sunday, ESPN’s James Walker writes. Vernon, 25, stands to cash in as a pending free agent. Thus, he might not fit within the Dolphins’ budget. Vernon does want to stay in Miami, though. “I’d like to be here,” Vernon told Walker. “But at the end of the day, business is business. So if this is my last game and I enter free agency, then I’m going to see how that goes.”
  • As we learned Saturday afternoon, the Eagles interviewed running backs coach Duce Staley for their vacant head coaching job. Whether they’re truly serious about him remains to be seen, but the interview means they’ve already fulfilled the Rooney Rule because Staley is a minority candidate. That means they could hire Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase, whom they’re interested in, as early as Monday. However, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that won’t happen. Gase will bide his time and explore all options, per Florio.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee will lose out on $2MM extra if he doesn’t play Sunday against Washington, Brandon George of SportsDay writes. Lee, whose status is up in the air because of a hamstring injury, has incentives in his contract that will kick his 2015-16 salary from $3MM to $5MM if he plays 80 percent of snaps on the season. He’s currently at 82.1.

Coaching Notes: McCoy, Giants, Titans, Dolphins

With “Black Monday” approaching, there should be a number of decisions made on coaches across the league. Kevin Acee of the Union-Times San Diego argues that Chargers head coach Mike McCoy should among those fired at season’s end.

Here are some other notes from around NFL head coaching positions:

  • Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly may have taken himself out of the running for the Giants’ head coaching job, writes Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. He said he’d be unlikely to give up full control unless an NFL team was able to offer him the same privileges.
  • The Giants haven’t fired Tom Coughlin yet, but the head coach hasn’t turned to the media to make a case for himself, writes Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News. Rather than talk about his future, he’d rather focus on winning in Week 17.
  • While the Titans are exploring their next head coaching candidates, Alex Marvez of Fox Sports 1 has picked out three potential fits among former NFL head coaches. He writes that Jim Schwartz, Chip Kelly, and Mike Smith would all be fits in Tennessee.
  • Greg Cote of the Miami Herald plays a similar game as Marvez, picking out potential head coaches for the Dolphins. He puts Sean Payton and Chip Kelly at the top of his wish list.
  • Speaking of the Dolphins job, if Chuck Pagano is fired in Indianapolis, Stephen Holder of believes that Pagano could be a fit in Miami (via Twitter).
  • The Eagles have obstacles to climb in order to find a new head coach, as they are looking for a new leader without a quarterback of the future and without a second-round pick, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. If they beat the Giants, they won’t have a top-10 pick in this draft either.

Extra Points: Colts, Browns, B. Kelly, Bears

We learned earlier today that the Colts are not expected to retain head coach Chuck Pagano, and Bob Kravitz of WTHR provides details on at least one reason why — the contentious relationship between Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson. The entire article is well worth a read, as sources tell Kravitz that Grigson has repeatedly overstepped his responsibilities as GM and interfered with the coaching staff, whether by forcing Pagano to play Trent Richardson and Josh Cribbs, or forcing the hire of ex-offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.

Here’s more from around the league…

  • Browns safety Tashaun Gipson hasn’t had any talks with the club since Week 1, he tells Mary Kay Cabot of (Twitter link), and though he’s open to returning, he’s also interested in reaching the open market. Meanwhile, fellow free-agent-to-be Mitchell Schwartz also says he’d like to re-sign with Cleveland, but allowed that business is business (Twitter link via Nate Ullrich of the Akron Beacon Journal).
  • Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has long been rumored as a future NFL coach, but he doesn’t sound all that eager to make the leap, writes James Kratch of As Kelly expresses, he has full autonomy at Notre Dame, where he essentially acts as owner, general manager, and coach. Unless a club was willing to hand him full roster and personnel control, Kelly doesn’t seem to have an incentive to jump to the professional ranks.
  • If Adam Gase is able to land a head coaching opportunity, the Bears will be in need of a new offensive coordinator, and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune believes John Fox will have plenty of options. Ken Whisenhunt, whom Fox nearly hired in Denver, Pat Shurmur, and Mike McCoy (if fired by the Chargers) could all be on the table for Chicago.
  • Offensive tackle Zach Strief wants to retire a Saint, and he doesn’t plan on moving to another team if New Orleans lets him go. “I will come back here until they tell me to stop coming,” Strief told Katherine Terrell of Strief is set count $4.6MM against the club’s cap next season, and Terrell believes New Orleans would ask the veteran to restructure his deal to stick around.

Sunday Roundup: Mallett, Trades, Guion

Ryan Mallett missed the Texans‘ team charter to Miami Saturday and had to make the trip via commercial airline, per Karen Warren of The Houston Chronicle. Mallett is in uniform and will be the team’s No. 2 quarterback today, as expected–the Texans do not have another quarterback on the roster–but he will certainly be fined, and his future with the club has never been more in doubt. Mallett, who also missed a training camp practice this year–he said his cell phone battery died, so his cell phone alarm would not go off–is due $2.5MM in 2016, the second year of his two-year contract, but Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle believes the team will cut ties with Mallett after the 2015 season (Twitter link). If Tom Savage was not on injured reserve, Warren says it would not be a surprise if Mallett was cut today.

Now for some more links from around the league:

  • The BearsMatt Forte, the 49ersVernon Davis, and the FalconsRoddy White have been the biggest names included in this year’s trade rumors, but Ian Rapoport of (article via Kevin Patra of does not believe any of the three will be traded, and he sets forth his rationale for why each will stay with their current clubs for the remainder of 2015.
  • According to Rapoport (via Twitter), there are three notable college coaches who would be open to an NFL head coaching job after this season: UCLA’s Jim Mora, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin. In a separate tweet, Rapoport notes that NFL GMs believe Kelly would be an especially good fit with the Giants, if Big Blue has a head coaching vacancy after 2015.
  • Earlier this year, Johnny Manziel was saying and doing all the right things, and he had earned considerable praise for his on- and off-field behavior and for apparently turning his life around. But after an alcohol-related incident that culminated in an encounter with police several weeks ago–an incident for which he will not be facing any charges–questions about his future in the league have resurfaced. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Browns officials had been bracing for some sort of negative publicity, as Manziel’s demeanor and dedication had taken a turn for the worse after Josh McCown returned from injury to reclaim the starting quarterback job from Manziel, who led the club for one week. Some within the organization have been hoping to part ways with Manziel for some time, and this latest development will give that contingent a little more ammunition, as they have further proof that Manziel is not a team-first type of player.
  • Packers DT Letroy Guion‘s recent legal troubles have been well-documented, but according to Michael Cohen and John Diedrich of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Guion has faced domestic violence charges as well, which had previously gone unreported. In two of the three cases brought against Guion, the charges were dropped, and in the third, Guion paid restitution to avoid additional penalties. He has been accused of stalking and of hitting the mother of his child in the jaw. Those incidents occurred from 2011 to 2013 when Guion was with the Vikings, and if it turns out he never reported the charges to the club, he could face further discipline from the league.
  • The Bears are actively scouting college quarterbacks as they prepare for the post-Jay Cutler era, and Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune examines two potential targets, California’s Jared Goff and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, in detail.
  • Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post examines in detail how Broncos GM John Elway has methodically constructed Denver’s defense, which has been the league’s best in 2015.

Breer’s Latest: Coaches, Bears, Whaley

As usual, Albert Breer of the NFL Network touches upon several notable topics in his weekly notes piece for, leading off with a look at the Falcons and head coach Mike Smith. Unapologetic about the fact that his team could sneak into the playoffs with a 7-9 record, Smith was also adamant that he doesn’t feel as if he’s coaching for his job as the season winds down. Still, one has to imagine, given how available the NFC South crown has been for the taking this season, that if the Falcons lose one of their final two games and miss out on a playoff berth, the team will have to think long and hard about making changes.

Here’s more from Breer:

  • Suggesting that perhaps the adversarial relationship between Robert Griffin III and Jay Gruden in Washington has been overblown, Breer writes that the head coach simply wants the former second overall pick to earn his playing time, just like everyone else on the roster.
  • One veteran NFL executive predicted to Breer earlier this year that Bears head coach Marc Trestman would have trouble navigating off-field frustrations in Chicago, since he “doesn’t have the ability to control the locker room.” Considering all that’s happened since then – from the blowout losses to the Aaron Kromer incident to Jay Cutler‘s benching – it’ll be hard for the Bears to bring back Trestman next season, and general manager Phil Emery‘s job isn’t safe either, writes Breer.
  • A source told Breer earlier this week that the University of Michigan is “very much in the game” for Jim Harbaugh.
  • GM Doug Whaley may be on the hot seat if the Bills fail to make the playoffs after giving up their 2015 first-round pick to win now, but Whaley can point to his construction of an elite defensive unit if and when he makes a case to keep his job, says Breer.
  • Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly will likely consider making the leap to the NFL in January, or at least weigh the idea more seriously than he has in the last two years, according to Breer, who indicates that Kelly is frustrated with the school’s administration. The 49ers could be connected to Kelly since owner Jed York is a Notre Dame alum, but defensive line coach Jim Tomsula still appears to be the favorite to take over for Harbaugh.

AFC Mailbags: Jets, Daniel, Raiders, Gerhart

It’s Saturday morning, and that means ESPN’s NFL writers are answering questions from readers. Let’s take a look at some of the notable tidbits from the AFC…

  • Assuming the Jets get a top-5 pick in next year’s draft, Rich Cimini believes the team should focus on drafting a quarterback, wide receiver or cornerback.
  • The Jets need to acquire a speed running back after the season to pair with Chris Ivory, opines Cimini. Chris Johnson clearly hasn’t been the answer and Bilal Powell is set to be a free agent.
  • Adam Teicher rejects a pair of fan-made Chiefs trade proposals. The writer doesn’t think it’d be in the team’s best interest to trade backup quarterback Chase Daniel unless they’re overwhelmed by an offer. Teicher also can’t envision the Chiefs acquiring high-priced receiver Vincent Jackson, especially since they already have plenty of money tied up to Dwayne Bowe.
  • Bill Williamson writes that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly would have many suitors if he decided to pursue an NFL job, with the Raiders among them. However, the writer notes that the team would have to “pony up” to secure Kelly’s services. Meanwhile, Williamson believes Hue Jackson would be interested in returning, but the writer fears that he may have burned too many bridges on his way out.
  • If Jaguars running backs Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson continue to improve, there’s a chance the team could part ways with Toby Gerhart following the season, writes Michael DiRocco.
  • If A.J. Green‘s toe injury suddenly goes from bad to worse, the Bengals could peruse the trade market for a wide receiver, says Coley Harvey.