Panthers Rumors

Panthers To Hire Chris Tabor As ST Coordinator

The Panthers have found their new special teams coordinator. According to ESPN’s David Newton (via Twitter), the Panthers have hired Chris Tabor to be their new ST coordinator. Per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter), Tabor is inking a three-year deal.

The Panthers fired Chase Blackburn earlier this month, opening a spot on the coaching staff. The organization previously offered the job to current Giants ST coordinator Thomas McGaughey, “but the two sides could not agree on a contract”. The team has since conducted two interviews with Tabor.

The 51-year-old has been the Bears ST coordinator over the past four years. During his stint in Chicago, the Bears have had four-straight return specialists make the Pro Bowl (Tarik Cohen, Cordarrelle Patterson twice, and Jakeem Grant). Tabor previously served as the Browns ST coordinator for seven years.

Tabor also got a shot at being a HC earlier this season when he filled in for Matt Nagy in Chicago. The Bears lost that late-October contest to the 49ers.

Panthers, Titans Coaching Updates

There’s been a few updates with respect to the changes in the Panthers’ and Titans’ coaching staffs. The largest change so far, of course, is the hiring of Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator for Carolina. On Monday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirmed that the team has made that hire official (Twitter link). 

The 44-year-old comes in with a successful background at the OC level, having helped the Giants to top-ten rankings in 2014 and 2015. That earned him the head coaching position in New York, although it certainly didn’t end the way he would have wanted. Still, there are high hopes he can turn around a Panthers offense that struggled mightily in 2021, leading to the mid-season firing of Joe Brady.

Meanwhile, Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk reported that Carolina is conducting a second interview with Chris Tabor for the special teams coordinator vacancy. The Panthers fired Chase Blackburn earlier this month, and already met with Tabor, who has previously been a ST coordinator with the Browns and Bears. Unlike the first interview, this one will take place in person. Alper notes that the Panthers had offered the job to current Giants ST coordinator Thomas McGaughey, “but the two sides could not agree on a contract”.

As for the Titans, the disappointing loss on Saturday has led to at least four changes on their staff. As Sport Illustrated’s John Glennon tweets, the coaches being let go include: inside linebackers coach Jim Haslett, assistant defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze, assistant ST coach Matt Edwards and assistant strength and conditioning coach Mondray Gee. Tennessee finished the year atop the AFC, but lost in their opening playoff game for the second straight season.

 

Updated 2022 NFL Draft Order

The Divisional Round has come to end, and after each game was decided on the final play, the season has come to a bitter end for another four teams. That brings the total number of squads locked into their first round draft position to 28. Interestingly, the Rams and 49ers are still standing after they each parted ways with top draft picks this past offseason. San Francisco’s first choice is currently slated to be 61st overall, while the Rams aren’t projected to be on the board until the 101st pick. For Los Angeles in particular, the decision is certainly paying off so far.

For non-playoff teams, the draft order is determined by the inverted 2021 standings, plus a series of tiebreakers, starting with strength of schedule. For playoff teams, the order is determined by their postseason outcome and regular season record.

Here is the updated order after this weekend’s results:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-14
  2. Detroit Lions: 3-13-1
  3. Houston Texans: 4-13
  4. New York Jets: 4-13
  5. New York Giants: 4-13
  6. Carolina Panthers: 5-12
  7. New York Giants(via Bears)
  8. Atlanta Falcons: 7-10
  9. Denver Broncos: 7-10
  10. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
  11. Washington Football Team: 7-10
  12. Minnesota Vikings: 8-9
  13. Cleveland Browns: 8-9
  14. Baltimore Ravens: 8-9
  15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Dolphins)
  16. Philadelphia Eagles (via Colts)
  17. Los Angeles Chargers: 9-8
  18. New Orleans Saints: 9-8
  19. Philadelphia Eagles: 9-8
  20. Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-7-1
  21. New England Patriots: 10-7
  22. Las Vegas Raiders: 10-7
  23. Arizona Cardinals: 11-6
  24. Dallas Cowboys: 12-5
  25. Buffalo Bills: 11-6
  26. Tennessee Titans: 12-5
  27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 13-4
  28. Green Bay Packers: 13-4
  29. Cincinnati Bengals: 10-7*
  30. Miami Dolphins (via 49ers)
  31. Detroit Lions (via Rams)
  32. Kansas City Chiefs: 12-5*

* = Remaining playoff teams

Matt Rhule Eyeing Michigan Job

With next season looking more and more like a make-or-break year for Matt Rhule, the Panthers’ head coach may be making anticipatory moves to stay employed. Jason La Canfora, of CBS Sports, reported that Rhule, and potentially other head coaches in the NFL, may set their sights on the University of Michigan opening, should current head coach Jim Harbaugh be drawn to Las Vegas. 

Harbaugh is currently negotiating with Michigan after he led the Wolverines to their first College Football Playoff appearance and their first outright Big Ten Championship since 2003. He had signed an extension at the start of the season to secure him in Ann Arbor through 2025, but, with mounting interest from the Raiders, the negotiations are giving Michigan a chance to convince him to stay. The Raiders are searching for a new general manager as well as head coach, following the departures of Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden. Harbaugh isn’t the only target in Vegas, though. He’ll have to compete with interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, who, despite a season of turmoil, led the Raiders to a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Jerod Mayo and DeMeco Ryans have also been mentioned as candidates.

Rhule’s interest in heading back down to the college ranks of coaching have not quite been a secret. Sources have informed La Canfora that Rhule was watching the situations at Penn State and LSU closely, in case a beneficial opportunity presented itself.

Rhule got his first head coaching opportunity at Temple in Philadelphia, where he had spent years as an assistant under Al Golden. He took his first Power 5 opportunity as the head coach at Baylor, following the scandal that led to Art Briles‘s dismissal. He took the Bears from 1-11 in his first season to 11-3 in his third season and rode that success straight to the NFL.

There are still many situations that need to play out. Harbaugh would have to leave Michigan. Rhule would have to decide to put his name in the ring for the vacancy at Michigan. Michigan would have to determine that Rhule is the best candidate for the position. None of this is guaranteed, but, if it all plays out, look for Carolina to be added to our 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.

Panthers To Hire Ben McAdoo As OC

The Panthers are expected to hire former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo as their offensive coordinator (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The two sides are still finalizing the contract, but it sounds like it’ll become official in the coming days. 

[RELATED: Pep Hamilton Passes On Panthers]

McAdoo, 44, worked under Jay Gruden with the Jaguars in 2020, coaching quarterbacks for that 1-15 team. Gruden also interviewed for this position, but the Panthers ultimately went for McAdoo, who is best known for his lackluster two-season term as the Giants’ head coach. He’ll replace Joe Brady, who was fired in December. At the time, the Panthers ranked just 28th in total offense under the 32-year-old.

Before the turmoil and the mid-season firing, McAdoo coached his 2016 squad to an 11-5 record and guided them to their first playoff berth in five years. And, previous to that, McAdoo made his name as Tom Coughlin‘s OC, when the Giants finished out with the No. 10 and No. 8 ranked offenses in 2014 and 2015.

McAdoo still has a ways to go before he can climb his way back into HC consideration, but the Panthers are enthusiastic about what he can do for their offense in 2022.

Panthers Give Jay Gruden Second OC Interview

Matt Rhule said he preferred his next offensive coordinator have NFL play-calling experience. One of the two coaches to receive second interviews for this position checks that box.

After meeting with Colts running backs coach Scottie Montgomery, the Panthers gave former Washington head coach Jay Gruden a second interview Thursday, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Gruden was one of two former HCs to go through a first interview with Carolina, with Ben McAdoo being the other.

Although Montgomery served as East Carolina’s head coach for three seasons and Maryland’s OC for the next two, he has yet to call plays at the NFL level. Rhule’s past in the college ranks, however, makes Montgomery’s advancement here interesting. Gruden called plays for 10 seasons, doing so with the Bengals, Washington and Jaguars.

Gruden and Montgomery, after previously interviewing virtually, met in-person with Carolina brass, Steve Reed of the Associated Press notes. This is a crucial hire for Rhule, who is on the hot seat after two sub-.500 seasons on the job. A previous report suggested the embattled HC needed a “rock-star offensive coordinator” to save his job.

While it does appear Rhule will receive a third season, Gruden landing the OC job would give the Panthers a natural interim HC in the event Rhule cannot keep it through the 2022 season. Gruden, 54, agreeing to join Carolina’s staff would be interesting as well since he recently accepted an OC gig for a team with a head coach (Doug Marrone) on the hot seat. Gruden went one-and-done in Jacksonville in 2020 and did not coach this season.

The Panthers have also met with Colts wide receivers coach (and ex-Eagles OC) Mike Groh, Vikings OC Klint Kubiak, ex-Texans OC Tim Kelly and Packers quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy. None has been linked to a second interview yet.

Coaching Notes: Panthers, Browns, Chargers

Scottie Montgomery got a second interview with the Panthers. The Colts RBs coach spent today speaking with the organization, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). Montgomery previously met with the organization virtually.

Montgomery may now be best known for being Jonathan Taylor‘s position coach — a position that recently involved HBO screen time. The second-year back rocketed to an All-Pro perch in 2021, winning the rushing title by nearly 600 yards. Montgomery also has prior NFL experience, having coached an acclaimed group of Steelers wide receivers — Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders among them — from 2010-12.

The Panthers interviewed seven coaches for the job previous held by Joe Brady. Montgomery is in a group that includes Jay Gruden, Ben McAdoo, Luke Getsy, Tim Kelly, Mike Groh, and Klint Kubiak.

More coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • Browns defensive line coach Chris Kiffin is leaving the organization. Per Bruce Feldman of TheAthletic.com (and passed along by Myles Simmons of ProFootballTalk.com), Kiffin is heading to Ole Miss to be the team’s co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Chris Kiffin is the younger brother of Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin. The younger Kiffin spent the past two seasons in Cleveland.
  • The Chargers recently fired special teams coordinator Derius Swinton II, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). After spending the 2020 season as the Cardinals assistant ST coach, Swinton got the head gig in Los Angeles in 2021. The team has already started looking for a replacement, as they’ve interviewed Giants special teams coach Thomas McGaughey (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com).
  • McGaughey also got an interview for the Panther ST coach vacancy, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Carolina is also interviewing former Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor and former Broncos special teams coordinator Tom McMahon (via Schefter on Twitter). Last week, the Panthers fired three assistant coaches, including special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn.

Pep Hamilton Expected To Pass On Panthers OC Interview, In Play For Texans’ OC Role

Expanding their search to include some former head coaches, the Panthers are not expected to meet with one of their preferred candidates. Texans quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton is expected to pass on an interview with the Matt Rhule-led team, Aaron Wilson of Sports Talk 790 tweets.

The former Colts OC might have another option. Despite the Texans axing David Culley and OC Tim Kelly, Hamilton remains on the radar to rise to the offensive coordinator role under the next Houston head coach, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports tweets.

This would certainly be an interesting move, as head coaches frequently bring in their own OCs. It is not known if the Texans would insist their next coach keep Hamilton on staff, but Wilson adds that the veteran NFL assistant looms as a “strong” in-house replacement option. Hamilton has no history with the Patriots, making 2021 his first season under GM Nick Caserio.

It would make sense to keep a familiar voice on staff for Davis Mills, who showed considerable progress once named the team’s full-time starter in December. Although the Texans’ offense ranked 30th this season — featuring evolving skill-position personnel and Laremy Tunsil missing most of the year — Mills rebounded after a difficult start, steering the team to an upset win over the Chargers and finishing the season with a three-touchdown, no-interception game in a narrow loss to the Titans.

The Texans are looking for an offensive coordinator for the first time in three years. They promoted from within previously, elevating Kelly to the role in 2019. Kelly, however, had an extensive history under then-HC Bill O’Brien. Hamilton, 47, has been with five teams — the Browns, Michigan, the XFL’s D.C. Defenders, the Chargers and Texans — since his three-year Colts OC run ended after the 2015 season. Hamilton mentored Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert in 2020. The Panthers have interviewed seven candidates, including former HCs Jay Gruden and Ben McAdoo, for their OC position.

Panthers Add Jay Gruden, Ben McAdoo To OC Interview List; Chip Kelly Briefly On Radar

After canning Joe Brady late in his second season as Panthers OC, Matt Rhule said he sought an experienced play-caller to replace him. Two former head coaches are now officially in the running.

Jay Gruden loomed on Carolina’s wish list for over a week, but the former Washington HC has since spoken with Rhule about the job, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Former Giants HC Ben McAdoo also met with the Panthers about the job, doing so Tuesday, per Person (on Twitter).

Gruden, 54, did not coach in 2021, with the Jaguars moving on from him as OC after hiring Urban Meyer. But the six-season Washington HC spent 10 seasons as an NFL play-caller, initially running the Bengals’ offense in the early 2010s. Four of those produced playoff berths, while Kirk Cousins set franchise single-season records under Gruden as well.

McAdoo, 44, worked under Gruden with the Jaguars in 2020, coaching quarterbacks for that 1-15 team. He is obviously better known for his two-season stint as Giants head coach. That ended badly, with an in-season firing, but McAdoo did coach the 2016 Giants to an 11-5 record and the team’s first playoff berth in five years. McAdoo spent the previous two years as Giants OC under Tom Coughlin.

Additionally, Chip Kelly resurfaced as a potential option. Rhule sought to see if the current UCLA coach was interested, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets, but Kelly instead signed an extension to stay with the Bruins. Kelly has not coached in the NFL since his one-and-done 2016 season in San Francisco.

The Panthers have now interviewed seven coaches — Gruden, McAdoo, Luke Getsy, Tim KellyMike Groh, Scottie Montgomery and Klint Kubiak — f0r their OC job.

Panthers Interview Tim Kelly, Packers’ Luke Getsy For OC Job

Nearly 10 names have now been connected to the Panthers in their offensive coordinator. Packers quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy and former Texans OC Tim Kelly are now in the mix.

Both Getsy and Kelly interviewed for the Carolina job, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Panthers have not interviewed everyone to whom they have been connected, but the team has met with Colts wide receivers coach Mike Groh, Colts running backs coach Scottie Montgomery and Vikings offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak.

Getsy, 37, has now interviewed for jobs on two coaching tiers this offseason. The Broncos met with the Packers assistant for their HC job last week. Although Getsy also serves as Green Bay’s passing-game coordinator, he is the least experienced candidate to be linked to the Carolina OC gig thus far. Getsy did serve as Mississippi State’s OC during the 2018 season. His NFL experience has come entirely in Green Bay, where he has worked his way up from the quality control level.

In making their widely debated David Culley decision, the Texans also fired Kelly. Culley kept Kelly in place despite the latter’s extensive ties to Bill O’Brien. Kelly served as Houston’s OC for three seasons, taking over play-calling from O’Brien during that span. Deshaun Watson made his second and third Pro Bowls on Kelly’s watch, while Davis Mills showed improvement as this season progressed.

Interestingly, O’Brien (along with Jay Gruden) have been mentioned as candidates for the Panthers job as well. The Jaguars have also met with O’Brien, who spent the season as Alabama’s OC, for their HC job. Texans QBs coach Pep Hamilton has also popped up on the radar for this expansive Panthers OC search.