Craig Aukerman

Extra Points: Ravens, Jags, Titans, Seahawks

The Ravens auditioned free agent quarterback Ryan Nassib on Wednesday, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Nassib, a former fourth-round pick, spent four years as Eli Manning‘s backup in New York, but attempted only 10 total passes during that time. After hitting free agency last spring, Nassib initially signed with the Saints, but was quickly released. Another one-year deal, this time with the Jaguars, ended in the same fashion, and Nassib spent the majority of the 2017 campaign unsigned. Baltimore, meanwhile, only has two quarterbacks under contract for 2018: starter Joe Flacco, and former undrafted free agent Josh Woodrum, who signed a futures deal earlier this month.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Although the Jaguars exceed nearly everyone’s expectations by advancing to the AFC Championship Game, they could still do a bit of salary cap work this offseason to trim their 2018 obligations, as Mike Kaye of First Coast News writes. Perhaps the most obvious cap casualty is expected to be running back Chris Ivory, who managed 112 carries behind Leonard Fournette last season. While Ivory is scheduled to count for nearly $7MM next year, Jacksonville could release him and save $3.25MM. Wide receiver Allen Hurns ($7MM cap charge) is another candidate to be cut, but Kaye notes that Hurns’ status as a team leader could lead the Jaguars to approach him with a reworked contract.
  • The Titans have formally announced another wave of coaching hires, and although some of the moves had already been reported, a few hires on new head coach Mike Vrabel‘s staff had yet to be noted. Former assistant special teams coach Craig Aukerman has been promoted to the full-time role, while Tennessee has opted to retain tight ends coach Arthur Smith. Furthermore, the Titans have hired former Dolphins defensive line coach Terrell Williams for the same position, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Williams had led Miami’s front four since 2015, and will now work with a Tennessee unit that ranked among the top half of the NFL in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate.
  • The Seahawks have hired Jethro Franklin as their new assistant defensive line coach, as Marvez details. Franklin spent one season (1989) as a player for Seattle, but has worked as a coach since 1991. Boasting a plethora of collegiate and NFL experience, Franklin has served as the defensive line coach for Green Bay, Tampa Bay, and, most recently, Oakland. He won’t be the primary D-line coach with the Seahawks, but he’ll undoubtedly be an asset to Seattle defensive line coach Clint Hurtt.

Coaching Rumors: Titans, Lions, Packers

Although at least one report indicated new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel would overhaul the majority of Tennessee’s coaching staff, that’s not necessarily the case, says Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com (all Twitter links). Tight ends coach Arthur Smith, assistant special teams coach Craig Aukerman, and assistant wide receivers coach Luke Steckel will join previously-reported defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend in interviewing with Vrabel during the Senior Bowl. Among the coaches who will part ways with the Titans include offensive line coach and NFL Hall of Famer Russ Grimm (who is retiring), quarterbacks coach Jason Michael, running backs coach Sylvester Croom, defensive assistant Brandon Blaney, and assistant defensive backs coach Steve Jackson.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Lions are expected to revamp their defensive coaching staff under new head coach Matt Patricia, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). That should come as no surprise given Patricia’s defensive background, and the current Patriots DC spoke with members of the Detroit staff last week to inform them they aren’t part of the club’s 2018 plans, per Birkett. Specifically, Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan and defensive backs coach Alan Williams have been fired, reports Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. The Lions, of course, have already lost a number of defensive staffers to other teams, as former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin joined the Bengals while ex-defensive line coach Kris Kocurek landed with the Dolphins.
  • The Packers will continue their staff overhaul under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine by hiring former Bowling Green safeties coach Ryan Downard, likely as a defensive quality control coach, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links). Downard was an assistant under Pettine in Cleveland before heading to BGSU, so there is a level of familiarity between the two. Downard’s addition does not have an effect on the status of incumbent cornerbacks coach Darren Perry, per Silverstein. Meanwhile, La Canfora (via Twitter) has clarified Jason Simmonsrole change with Green Bay, noting that he’s been moved to secondary coach.
  • The Panthers are interviewing Seahawks assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell for the same position, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). If hired, Farwell would work alongside former NFL linebacker Chase Blackburn, who was recently named Carolina’s new special teams coach. Farwell, an ex-NFL ‘backer in his own right, joined the coaching ranks in 2016.
  • The Seahawks have mutually parted ways with senior defensive assistant Travis Jones, the club announced today. Jones had served as Seattle’s defensive line coach from 2013-16 before being bumped to a new role last season. He’s just the latest coach to leave the Seahawks’ staff this month, adding to a growing list that includes OC Darrell Bevell and DC Kris Richard.

Coaching Notes: Bradley, Kelly, Bears, Titans

The Chargers and new head coach Anthony Lynn want Gus Bradley to be their defensive coordinator, reports Michael Silver of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter). It was reported last week that the new Los Angeles franchise was looking at Bradley for the gig, and that interest made more sense following reports that former defensive coordinator John Pagano wouldn’t be returning.

However, Bradley isn’t in a rush to sign a deal. The former Jaguars coach is waiting to see whether the 49ers will hire Seahawks offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable as their head coach. The duo coached together in Seattle from 2011 through 2012, and we can assume that Bradley would be interested in joining Cable’s 49ers staff. Alex Marvez of the Sporting News reports (via Twitter) that Bradley is a “top choice” for Cable’s hypothetical staff.

Let’s take a look at some more coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • Chip Kelly headed into his interview with the Jaguars believing he’d get offered the offensive coordinator position, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). In fact, the former Eagles and 49ers head coach already has some “assistant hires” ready to go. Rapoport notes that there’s a good chance Kelly gets the gig.
  • The Bears have hired Jeremiah Washburn to be their offensive line coach, reports Marvez (via Twitter). Washburn spent last season as the Dolphins assistant offensive line coach, and he also spent time coaching with the Lions and Ravens.
  • The Titans have added a pair of coaches to their staff. Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com reports that the team has added former Temple passing game coordinator Frisman Jackson as their new wide receivers coach. The team has also hired Craig Aukerman to be an assistant special teams coach. Aukerman served as the Chargers special teams coordinator last season.
  • The Browns hired Blake Williams as their linebackers coach and Jerod Kruse as an assistant defensive backs coach, reports Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com (via Twitter). Williams, the son of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, spent last season working under his dad in Los Angeles.
  • The Broncos have added John Benton to their coaching staff as an assistant offensive line coach, reports Cameron Wolfe of The Denver Post. Benton has coached in the NFL for 13 years, and he spent last season working for the Jaguars.

Coaching Notes: Bills, Broncos, Rams

At the outset of the Bills’ head coaching search earlier this month, general manager Doug Whaley was open to relinquishing control over the team’s 53-man roster to Rex Ryan‘s successor. It turns out Whaley will continue to oversee the roster in 2017, Year 1 of the Sean McDermott era, the rookie head coach announced at his introductory press conference Friday. “Doug has control of the 53,” said McDermott, who added he’s “very comfortable with the situation” (via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com).

More coaching-related notes:

  • The Broncos will retain running backs coach Eric Studesville, reports Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Studesville has held that position since 2010, but he interviewed with the Jets for their vacant offensive coordinator job earlier this week. While the Jets had “strong interest” in Studesville, he’ll instead stay in Denver and work under his fourth different head coach in seven years. Of course, Studesville is familiar with newly named offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who was previously at the helm of Denver’s ‘O’ from 2010-12.
  • The Rams, led by new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, are hiring Bill Johnson to coach their D-line, according to Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). The Saints parted with Johnson last week, thus ending an eight-year run with the organization.
  • Chargers special teams coach Craig Aukerman will interview for the same position with the Broncos, tweets Marvez. Former Bolts special teams coach Kevin Spencer is also in the running, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link). Those two join Marwan Maalouf and Derius Swinton II as known candidates for the top ST job in Denver under new head coach Vance Joseph.

Chargers Hire Ken Whisenhunt As OC

FRIDAY, 5:16pm: The Chargers have officially confirmed Whisenhunt’s return, and announced four other changes to Mike McCoy‘s coaching staff. They are as follows:

  • Craig Aukerman (special teams coordinator)
  • Nick Sirianni (WR coach)
  • Giff Smith (DL coach)
  • Shane Steichen (QB coach)

WEDNESDAY, 2:27pm: The Chargers may not know yet where they’ll be playing in 2016, but they now know who will be running the team’s offense. According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is returning to the Chargers to assume the same role, replacing Frank Reich.Ken Whisenhunt

[RELATED: Chargers fire offensive coordinator Frank Reich]

Whisenhunt previously served as San Diego’s offensive coordinator during the 2013 season, Mike McCoy’s first as the team’s head coach. The Chargers finished that year with a modest 9-7 record, but won a playoff game, and featured an extremely productive offense. After ranking 24th in the NFL in offensive DVOA in 2012, the Chargers placed second under Whisenhunt in 2013, per Football Outsiders.

In 2014, Reich’s first year as offensive coordinator, San Diego fell from second in offensive DVOA to 11th. The team slipped to 15th in 2015, and also went from scoring nearly 25 points per game in 2013 to just 20 this season, despite the fact that Philip Rivers led the NFL in passing completions (437) and attempts (661). Reich was let go by the Chargers a day after the regular season ended.

Whisenhunt, meanwhile, spent most of the last two years in Tennessee as head coach of the Titans. However, after finishing 2-14 in his first year with the club, he led the team to a 1-6 mark this season before receiving his walking papers.

With the Chargers in need of a new offensive coordinator and Whisenhunt looking for a new job, a reunion made too much sense for the two sides to pass up the opportunity.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coach Rumors: Holmgren, Giants, Dolphins

Mike Holmgren has reportedly expressed interest in the 49ers‘ head coaching job for the second consecutive year, and ESPN’s Bill Williamson (Twitter link) hears that the veteran NFL coach would still be open to talking to teams — especially the Niners. However, San Francisco has not yet contacted Holmgren about the team’s head coaching job, tweets Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.

  • Momentum appears to be building for Doug Marrone as a Giants head coaching candidate, according to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, who writes that several league insiders have mentioned Marrone to him within the past couple days. Depending on how Saturday’s interview goes, the former Bills head coach could emerge as a serious candidate for the Giants.
  • Before meeting with Marrone tomorrow, the Giants spoke to Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase today about their head coaching job, confirming in a press release that the interview has completed.
  • The Dolphins confirmed today in a press release that they’ve interviewed interim head coach Dan Campbell for the permanent job in Miami. Campbell is one of two interviewees for the Dolphins today, along with Marrone.
  • Chargers interim special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman will likely take the permanent role for 2016, general manager Tom Telesco said today, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).