Cory Undlin

Coaching Notes: Kitchens, 49ers, Bucs

Freddie Kitchens will see his role expand in New York. The Giants are promoting the former Browns HC from tight ends coach to senior offensive assistant, according to ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan (on Twitter). Earlier this month, we heard the Giants may be eyeing more responsibility for Kitchens. Derek Dooley, who received interest from other teams, will take over as the Giants’ tight ends coach, Raanan adds. Previously the Mizzou offensive coordinator, Dooley joined Joe Judge‘s staff last year. The Giants used Kitchens as their interim play-caller while Jason Garrett battled COVID-19 last season and will lean on him more in 2021.

Here is the latest from the coaching circuit:

  • To replace Antwaan Randle El on their coaching staff, the Buccaneers will also turn to a recently retired quarterback. Thad Lewis will rise from intern to offensive assistant on Bruce Arians‘ staff, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Randle El left to become the Lions’ wide receivers coach. Lewis bounced around the NFL for nearly eight years; he was most recently with the Ravens in 2017.
  • A day after hiring Jay Valai as cornerbacks coach, the Eagles will lose him. Alabama will instead hire Valai, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg (on Twitter). Announced as one of the Eagles’ hires earlier this week, Valai will join former Texans HC Bill O’Brien at Alabama. Valai will replace Karl Scott as the Crimson Tide’s cornerbacks coach. Scott joined the Vikings’ staff this week.
  • Hired recently after a one-year stint as Lions DC, Cory Undlin will serve as the 49ers‘ secondary coach and defensive passing-game specialist. Fellow former DC James Bettcher will be a senior defensive assistant and the team’s run-game overseer on that side of the ball. The 49ers are promoting Darryl Tapp to assistant defensive line coach and hiring former wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and Klay Kubiak as quality control assistants. Klay is one of Gary Kubiak‘s sons. Even after Gary’s retirement, there are still three Kubiaks in the NFL — Klay and brothers Klint (the new Vikings OC) and Klein (a Cowboys scout). Hankerson also has a history with Kyle Shanahan, having played with Washington from 2011-13.
  • The Bengals hired Justin Hill as running backs coach. Hill will come to Cincinnati from the college ranks, having spent the past six seasons as Tulsa’s running backs coach. This will be his first NFL job. The Bengals are also promoting former NFL wideout Troy Walters to receivers coach. Walters served as Cincy’s assistant wideouts coach last season, working under Bob Bicknell.
  • Robert Saleh made an interesting hire recently. The new Jets HC added Steve Scarnecchia as his chief of staff, per Brian Costello of the New York Daily News. The son of longtime Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Steve spent the past six years as the Falcons’ assistant to the head coach. Steve Scarnecchia was part of both the Patriots’ Spygate scandal, working in the team’s video department from 2001-04, and was the Broncos staffer whose filming of a 49ers walkthrough in 2010 led to Josh McDaniels‘ firing in Denver. The younger Scarnecchia will accompany new Jets DC Jeff Ulbrich in moving from Atlanta to New York.

49ers To Add Cory Undlin To Staff

Matt Patricia‘s firing led to his recently hired defensive coordinator relocating for a second time in a year. But Cory Undlin will receive another chance in San Francisco.

The 49ers are hiring the 2020 Lions DC, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). He will join fellow ex-coordinator James Bettcher on DeMeco Ryans‘ defensive staff. Undlin will work as San Francisco’s secondary coach, per Yates.

Undlin, 49, spent five seasons as the Eagles’ defensive backs coach but received an upward-mobility opportunity last year. The Lions hired Undlin to replace Paul Pasqualoni but did not improve on defense. While Detroit’s defense ranked last in DVOA, dropping from back-to-back No. 28 finishes under Pasqualoni, it rarely had its full secondary intact and was without top pass rusher Trey Flowers for most of the season.

Prior to Undlin’s move to Philly, he was on John Fox‘s Broncos staff as a DBs coach. He preceded former 49ers assistant Joe Woods in that role. Undlin has been an NFL assistant since 2004.

The 49ers are also hiring Butch Barry as assistant offensive line coach, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Barry, who was on the Packers’ staff this past season, has bounced between the college and pro levels in recent years. He headed up the Miami Hurricanes’ O-line in 2019 and spent the previous four seasons as the Buccaneers’ assistant OL coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Rumors: Glasgow, Stafford, Staff, Draft

The Lions will fill the offensive line coach post vacated by Jeff Davidson stepping away from coaching by promoting Hank Fraley, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Fraley spent the past two seasons as Detroit’s assistant O-line coach and served in that role for the Vikings previously. The former NFL veteran has been a team’s top offensive line coach three times, but each occurred at California colleges — the University of San Diego, San Jose State and UCLA — and each stay lasted one season. Fraley, 42, spent three seasons with the Vikings. Davidson is coaching as part of the Lions’ Senior Bowl staff but will not return for the 2020 season.

Here is the latest out of Detroit:

  • After some murky comments about his Detroit future in the season’s immediate aftermath, Graham Glasgow could well be a starter somewhere else in 2020. The Lions are expected to let Glasgow walk in free agency, Birkett adds. While they would still have four of their five starting offensive linemen back, Glasgow has been a productive player for years and would profile as one of the better blockers available come March. Working in a three-guard rotation with Joe Dahl and Kenny Wiggins, Glasgow rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 12 guard this season.
  • Although Patricia gave Paul Pasqualoni play-calling responsibilities in his two-year stay as Lions defensive coordinator, it is not yet known if new Detroit DC Cory Undlin will call plays. As of now, Undlin has “no idea” if he will be calling the signals next season, per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. The Lions fell from 10th to 31st in total defense in Pasqualoni’s second season in charge, though DVOA rated Detroit’s defense as a bottom-end unit (27th and 28th) in each of the ex-Syracuse HC’s two years running the unit.
  • Given the Lions’ endorsement of Matthew Stafford, and the hot seats Patricia and GM Bob Quinn are on, the draft’s No. 3 overall pick could be for sale. While Patricia said (via Birkett) it is too early to declare the team open for business at No. 3, his and Quinn’s comments about Stafford’s status point to the Lions as a candidate to move down and collect assets from a team eyeing Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert. Patricia does not expect Stafford’s injury issues over the past two years to affect how the Lions proceed in the draft.

Lions To Hire Cory Undlin As DC

The Lions are hiring Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin as their new defensive coordinator, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Undlin and Lions head coach Matt Patricia began their NFL careers together as coaching assistants with the Patriots in 2004 and they’re teaming up more than 15 years later. 

Undlin takes over for Paul Pasqualoni, who stepped down/retired at the end of the 2019 season. He comes with ample NFL experience, including stops with the Browns and Broncos, in addition to the aforementioned Pats and Eagles stints. The Eagles’ secondary has not performed well in recent years, but many feel that Undlin was stuck with some iffy personnel.

Even though Undlin is taking over as DC in Detroit, he won’t necessarily call the plays. Patricia quietly took that responsibility away from Pasqualoni last year and he may opt to ease Undlin into that responsibility.

Undlin’s departure leaves yet another vacancy on the Eagles’ coaching staff. They’ll have to find a new DB coach, offensive coordinator, and wide receivers coach after firing Mike Groh and Carson Walch last week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants To Interview Jim Schwartz

The Giants plan to interview Jim Schwartz for their head coaching vacancy within the next week, according to ESPN’S Adam Schefter. Schefter’s sources indicate that Schwartz will be a favorite — if not the favorite — for the position.

Jim Schwartz

Schwartz, who is currently in his second season as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, previously served as the Lions’ head coach from 2009-13. His tenure in Detroit was largely disappointing, as he compiled a 29-51 regular season mark in the Motor City and took his team to the playoffs just once in five years, losing his only postseason game.

Nonetheless, he has long been regarded as one of the league’s best defensive minds, having worked as the Titans’ defensive coordinator from 2001-08, and he was immediately tabbed as the Bills’ defensive coordinator following his ouster from Detroit. He has helped turn the Eagles into one of the league’s powerhouses, and in so doing, he has restored his viability as a head coach.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, echoing previous reports, indicates that new Giants GM Dave Gettleman is partial to current Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, whom Gettleman knows well from his time in Carolina. Nonetheless, Giants ownership prefers a candidate with previous head coaching experience, which could give Schwartz a leg up. La Canfora also names Steelers’ offensive line coach (and former Titans head coach) Mike Munchak as a dark-horse candidate for Big Blue’s head coaching gig.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, in addition to providing a list of candidates the Giants planned to interview for their GM position had they not hired Gettleman, also confirms that New York will be focusing on veteran head coaching candidates (Twitter link).

Should Schwartz leave Philadelphia, Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com tweets that Eagles DB coach Cory Undlin would be a logical in-house candidate to replace him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Hire 15 Assistants

5:46pm: The Eagles have made Reich’s hiring official. They’ve also named 14 other assistants to posts. Seven of those coaches are holdovers from Chip Kelly‘s staff. Here’s the list (unless otherwise specified, the names come courtesy of the Eagles’ website):

  • Eugene Chung, offensive line/tight ends/running game
  • Phillip Daniels, defensive quality control/assistant defensive line
  • Dave Fipp, special teams
  • Ken Flajole, linebackers
  • Matthew Harper, assistant special teams
  • Tim Hauck, defensive backs/safeties
  • Greg Lewis, wide receivers (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Caplan)
  • Justin Peelle, tight ends
  • Jim Schwartz, defensive coordinator
  • Duce Staley, running backs
  • Jeff Stoutland, offensive line
  • Press Taylor, offensive quality control/assistant quarterbacks
  • Cory Undlin, defensive backs/cornerbacks
  • Dino Vasso, defensive quality control/assistant secondary

On the heels of these moves, the Eagles released offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and linebackers coaches Rick Minter and Bill McGovern from their contracts, according to Caplan (on Twitter). They let go of previous D-coordinator Billy Davis on Monday, per Caplan (Twitter link).

1:40pm: The Eagles have reached an agreement with Frank Reich to make him their new offensive coordinator, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSports.com, who reports (via Twitter) that it’s a “done deal.” Reich had been scheduled to have a formal interview with the team today, and Adam Caplan of ESPN.com had suggested “it would be an upset” if he wasn’t hired (Twitter link).Frank Reich

[RELATED: Eagles hire Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator]

Reich, recently fired as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator after two seasons leading San Diego’s offense, interviewed for the same position on Adam Gase‘s Dolphins staff, but Miami ultimately chose Clyde Christensen as their new OC.

Had he become the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator, Reich wouldn’t have called the team’s plays (Gase will do that), and it looks as if he won’t handle that responsibility in Philadelphia either. New head coach Doug Pederson indicated during his introductory press conference on Tuesday that he expects to call offensive plays in 2016.

In San Diego, Reich was let go in large part due to the Chargers’ ineffective running game, but he did just fine with the team’s aerial attack — Philip Rivers led the NFL in completed passes in 2015, racking up nearly 4,800 yards passing to go along with 29 touchdowns.

Injuries have plagued the Chargers over the last couple years, and health problems on the offensive line likely contributed to the struggles of first-round running back Melvin Gordon, but Reich took the fall for the offense’s regression. In 2014, Reich’s first year as offensive coordinator, San Diego went from second in offensive DVOA to 11th. The team slipped to 15th this season, and the Chargers also went from scoring nearly 25 points per game in 2013 to just 20 by 2015.

In addition to reaching a deal with Reich, the Eagles have also reportedly agreed to hire former Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo as the club’s quarterbacks coach. The new additions to Pederson’s offensive coaching staff likely spell the end of Pat Shurmur‘s time in Philadelphia, despite the fact that the new head coach said on Tuesday that Shurmur would receive consideration for the OC role.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coach/GM Notes: Gase, 49ers, Eagles

Following his nine seasons as John Elway‘s backup, Gary Kubiak bounced around a bit when he entered the coaching profession. He started as the running backs coach at Texas A&M before spending a year with the 49ers as the quarterbacks coach. Kubiak then spent more than ten seasons with the Broncos before he was hired as the Texans head coach. Last season, the 53-year-old was the Ravens offensive coordinator.

As a result, Kubiak is hoping to have a lengthy tenure in Denver (via Mike Klis of The Denver Post):

“I’m excited. I’m looking forward to the work. It’s great to be home again.

“Hopefully it works out so this is the last coaching job I have in my career.”

Here are some more assorted coach and front office notes from around the league:

Coaching:

  • Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase will interview with the Ravens this evening, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Ironically, Gase’s meeting would be for the position previously held by the current Broncos head coach.
  • The 49ers have requested permission to interview Colts special assistant Rob Chudzinski to become the team’s offensive coordinator, tweets Rapoport. We learned earlier today that the Bears had also requested permission.
  • The Eagles have hired former Broncos defensive backs coach Cory Undlin for the same role, the team announced. The team also promoted assistant Justin Peelle to tight ends coach.
  • Meanwhile, former Eagles defensive backs coach John Lovett and former tight ends coach Ted Williams will stay with the organization in the pro scouting department, according to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News (via Twitter).

Front office:

  • The Buccaneers have denied the Eagles the opportunity to interview director of player personnel Jon Robinson for the open general manager vacancy, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. While the Philadelphia job may have the GM title, Chip Kelly will have final say over roster and personnel decisions, so it wouldn’t necessarily be a promotion for an exec who already holds a director of player personnel title.
  • The Eagles will have an opportunity to interview candidates from the front offices of both the Patriots and Seahawks this week, reports Jeff McClain of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). However, the team will still need organizational permission to reach out to candidates.

Rob DiRe contributed to this post.