Dan Campbell

Coaching Notes: Broncos, Fangio, Jags, Lions

Ten candidates have emerged in the Broncos‘ coaching search. Despite the team going back-to-back with defensive coaches, Dan Quinn is believed to be one of the early frontrunners, per ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler (ESPN+ link). Despite being fired early in the 2020 season, the ex-Falcons HC has become a hot name in the 2022 interview cycle. The interest in Quinn puts him in position to be picky, as the current Cowboys DC has raised his stock after turning around the NFC East champions’ defense this season. He has yet to interview for the Broncos job yet. Quinn and Denver GM George Paton worked together in Miami under Nick Saban from 2005-06. Quinn, 51, was the Dolphins’ defensive line coach in those seasons. The Broncos have also done extensive work on Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett, Fowler adds. Both Hackett and Green Bay QBs coach Luke Getsy are on Denver’s HC interview list.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Bill O’Brien interestingly finds himself in the mix for NFL jobs on two tiers, with the Panthers eyeing him as an offensive coordinator and the Jaguars are set to interview him for their head coach job. O’Brien’s ignominious Texans exit notwithstanding, he has become a candidate to watch for the Jacksonville job, Fowler notes. O’Brien just finished his first season as Alabama’s OC.
  • Should O’Brien land the Jags gig, Vic Fangio will be a DC target, per Fowler. Given Fangio’s history of DC success, and the Broncos sporting an above-average unit during his tenure despite major injuries to Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, the recently fired coach will likely have a few options. The Jags are prepared to be patient this time around, with Sports Talk 790’s Aaron Wilson noting this process could last for an additional two weeks (Twitter link). Second interviews are expected here. The Jaguars being thorough should not surprise, given their rash decision to hire Urban Meyer last January.
  • The Lions are considering hiring their next OC from within. After parting ways with one-and-done Anthony Lynn, Detroit is examining tight ends coach Ben Johnson for that role, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Dan Campbell took over play-calling duties from Lynn midseason, but Johnson’s responsibilities expanded as well. Johnson joined the Lions as a quality control coach in 2019. GM Brad Holmes is also leaving the door open to Campbell remaining the team’s play-caller.
  • Seahawks assistant head coach Clint Hurtt is on the University of Miami’s radar, with Fowler tweeting the Hurricanes are eyeing him for their defensive coordinator job. A Miami alum, Hurtt has spent the past five years as Pete Carroll’s defensive line coach.
  • Joe Judge‘s Giants staff will likely splinter soon. One of Big Blue’s position coaches, D-line coach Sean Spencer, will land on his feet. Duke is hiring Spencer to be a co-defensive coordinator, USA Today’s Josina Anderson tweets. Spencer was set to leave regardless of Judge’s status. Spencer’s pre-Giants coaching resume unfolded entirely at the college level. The 51-year-old assistant spent six years at Penn State prior to his short Giants stay under Judge.
  • Second-year Browns assistant Jeremy Garrett is expected to leave Cleveland and become the Liberty D-line coach, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman tweets.

Detroit, OC Lynn Part Ways

In one of the less surprising moves of “Black Monday,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell confirmed in his Monday morning press conference that offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will not remain a part of the coaching staff in Detroit. 

Coming off being fired by the Chargers last season, Lynn took the role of play caller under first-year head coach Dan Campbell. After starting the season with eight straight losses, Campbell relieved Lynn of his play calling duties. The Lions proceeded to finish 3-3 over their last six games and it became apparent that Lynn was a lame duck in his position.

Lynn’s resume isn’t terrible as he left Los Angeles boasting a winning record as a head coach. In his first two seasons leading the Chargers, they finished 2nd in the division and even nabbed a Wild Card spot in his second year, winning a playoff game before getting beat in the Divisional Round. Lynn has had success in the league as a running backs coach and has strong leadership qualities that his players respect. He should find a job in the NFL again, before long.

As for the Lions open offensive coordinator position, Campbell will need to decided whether he would like to continue calling plays himself or if he wants to hire an offensive coordinator who can run the show. We’ll see that search play out as “Black Monday” continues to create new candidates for open jobs.

Lions’ Goff Doubtful For Game Against Seahawks

Lions’ head coach Dan Campbell told reporters yesterday that quarterback Jared Goff is doubtful to play this Sunday in Seattle. A lingering knee injury is looking more and more likely to hold Goff out of his second straight game.

It looks like Campbell is going to be cautious in handling Goff’s return to avoid further harm to the quarterback. With the end of the season approaching, and the Lions long disqualified from postseason contention, we may have already seen Goff’s season finale in Detroit’s Week 15 upset of the Cardinals.

In his first season with the Lions, Goff was able to reproduce much of the statistical output from his lesser years in LA, but without the team success. Goff has averaged 231.3 passing yards per game, slightly under his 2017 season average of 253.6 yards per game. He threw 17 touchdowns to 8 interceptions, displaying the same discipline and accuracy he showed as a Ram. It seems the drastic drop of talent around him made for a difficult transition for the sixth-year veteran in terms of winning football games.

In his absence, Tim Boyle is expected to make his second-straight start and his third start of the 2021 NFL season. In his previous two starts, Boyle was able to keep the Lions largely competitive in a three-point loss to the Browns and a four-point loss to the Falcons. Boyle has relied on short and easy completions to move the offense. He’s completed an impressive 39 of 57 pass attempts (68%), but has only totaled 264 passing yards in two games. He’s also struggled to keep possession, throwing 3 picks to only 1 touchdown.

Boyle is expected to face off against a Seahawks’ defense that ranks last in the NFC in passing yards allowed, so it appears something has to bend. Either Seattle will provide a stout passing defensive performance uncharacteristic of this year or Boyle will have a career day for his statistical production.

Anthony Lynn Originally Planned To Sit Out 2021

Often times when NFL head coaches get fired, they sit out the following season to regroup and plot their next move. Not Anthony Lynn.

Lynn moved quickly after he was let go by the Chargers, accepting a role on Dan Campbell’s inaugural Lions staff as his offensive coordinator. But apparently Lynn’s original plan was in fact to sit out the 2021 season, he revealed on a recent episode of ‘Compas on the Beat’ podcast, via Fernando Ramirez of SI.com. “I was actually going to sit this year out, but when they called, I had to go because I wanted to be a part of that. I knew it’s going to be something special,” he said.

I’ve been on the sideline since I was six years old. I have not had a break since I was six years old, literally, every single fall,” Lynn explained. “I really had my mind made up that I was going to take a gap year travel a little bit, go see some other teams, visit some of the coaches that I know, and see how they’re doing things. I had made my mind up to sit out this year, but then when Dan called, you know, that changed everything.

Not to question Lynn’s sincereness, but he did also talk to the Seahawks about their OC opening, so it appears Campbell might not have been the only coach he was willing to work for. Either way, his fondness for Campbell seems very real. Lynn was the running backs coach of the 2005 Cowboys team that Campbell played on, so there was already a connection here.

Lynn has never been a full-time OC in the league, and wasn’t the primary play-caller during his time as Chargers head coach, so it’ll be very interesting to see how things work out in Detroit. He’s got Jared Goff at his disposal for his first season.

Lions Never Offered HC Job To Matt Campbell?

This week, it was rumored that the Lions offered an eight-year, $68.5MM deal to Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell. But, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions never put an offer on the table. 

Furthermore, Birkett hears that the Cyclones coach only spoke to the Lions once during the process. And, while other notable names were tied to the job, new HC Dan Campbell was the only candidate to ever receive an offer to be the Lions’ head coach.

It’s possible that something got lost in the game of telephone. Or, perhaps Matt Campbell’s camp is looking to increase the coach’s buzz. For what it’s worth, Dan said he sensed that the Lions were extremely bullish on Matt.

Just in regards to the head coach search, how I ended up here, one of things would be that I told my agent, Rick Smith, I said make sure that they think I’m Matt Campbell, so I think that’s how this has really worked out great for me,” the Lions head coach said (via Birkett). “So now that I’m in the seat, I am Dan Campbell. But I do know this, you can’t go wrong with a Campbell.”

In addition to the Campbells, the Lions were also connected to Darrell BevellEric BieniemyTodd Bowles, Marvin Lewis, Urban Meyer, Robert Saleh, and Arthur Smith.

Lions To Add John Dorsey To Front Office

The Lions have a brand new power structure, having recently hired Brad Holmes as general manager and Dan Campbell as head coach. Now, Detroit is adding a more experienced voice to the mix, with Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reporting that the team is expected to hire John Dorsey as a senior personnel executive (Twitter link). Dorsey, 60, had been working as a consultant for the Eagles.

Dorsey, who drew interest from the Texans for their GM post before Houston elected to hire Nick Caserio, has served as general manager for both the Chiefs and Browns. Neither of those tenures ended on a particularly positive note, but that wasn’t due to Dorsey’s abilities as a talent evaluator. His reputation in that area is sterling, and he is largely responsible for the construction of the current iteration of the Browns — who nearly advanced to the AFC Championship Game this year — and for Kansas City’s starry corps of Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce.

In addition to his drafting of Mahomes and Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield while serving as a general manager, Dorsey was the Packers’ director of college scouting when Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005. And as a young scout in 1994, he recommended that the Packers sign Kurt Warner as a UDFA.

His eye for quarterback talent is especially important this year, as the Lions are preparing to trade Matthew Stafford and may well turn to the draft for his replacement. Plus, Dorsey’s experience should be an asset to Holmes, who is getting his first shot as a GM after working as the Rams’ director of college scouting for the past eight seasons.

Campbell will also have a major role in personnel decisions, as Justin Rogers of the Detroit News writes. Rather than a traditional HC-GM-owner structure, Holmes, Campbell, and vice president of football operations Mike Disner will report directly to president Rod Wood and owner Sheila Ford Hamp.

Lions Sign Dan Campbell To Six-Year Deal

The Lions have officially hired Dan Campbell as their new head coach. The former Saints assistant inked a six-year commitment on Wednesday morning (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport), a sign of Detroit’s confidence in the former tight end. 

[RELATED: Lions Hire Brad Holmes As GM]

This is an exciting day for our organization as we introduce Dan Campbell as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions,” Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement. “With more than twenty years of experience as both a coach and player in the National Football League, Dan knows the rigors of professional football and what it takes to be successful. He will help promote the culture we want to establish across our organization, while also bringing with him high energy, a respect for the game and an identity with which everyone can align themselves.”

Campbell was the reported frontrunner for the vacancy, but with Lions couldn’t hire him until the Saints were eliminated from the playoffs. Eric BieniemyMarvin Lewis, Arthur Smith, and Robert Saleh were also considered for the job, but Campbell made a strong impression in his first interview and quickly secured the gig.

The Lions fired Matt Patricia just after Thanksgiving, capping his tenure with a 13-29-1 record. They also canned GM Bob Quinn, who was replaced by former Rams exec Brad Holmes earlier this month.

The Lions haven’t made the playoffs since 2016; they believe the energetic Campbell can turn things around. The 44-year-old has spent the last five years as a Saints assistant. Previous to that, Campbell climbed the coaching ladder, all the way up to the Dolphins’ interim head coaching job in 2015. A few years later, the Dolphins asked Campbell to interview for the permanent post, but he opted to wait for a better fit. Now, Campbell has found the right landing spot — and a six-year commitment — with the Lions.

2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Exiting the regular season, six teams are searching for new head coaches. That number is up from last season but not quite as high as 2019, though there may well be more vacancies that emerge during the playoffs.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-27-21 (7:05pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Lions To Hire Dan Campbell?

Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell has emerged as the favorite to become the Lions’ next head coach, sources tell Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Lions can’t make it all official until after the Saints’ season is over, but Campbell seems primed to take over in a matter of weeks.

Meanwhile, the Lions have called off today’s scheduled interview with Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo). Bowles was something of a longshot to get the gig, but it’s another indication that the Lions have settled on Campbell.

Campbell interviewed with the Lions on Jan. 11th and instantly made a strong impression on Detroit brass. Along the way, the Lions have also checked in with big-name candidates such as Eric BieniemyMarvin Lewis, Arthur Smith, and Robert Saleh. Interim head coach Darrell Bevell was also considered but, like Bowles, he never had strong odds of getting the permanent post.

The hire would complete Campbell’s rise up the coaching ladder, which began in 2010 with a Dolphins internship. In 2015, he wound up as the Fins’ interim head coach. A few years later, he declined the opportunity to interview for their HC vacancy. Now, it seems like Campbell has found the right fit.

Lions To Interview Dan Campbell

The Lions are set to interview Saints assistant Dan Campbell in the coming days, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The club has also formally scheduled an interview with Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles

Campbell moved up the coaching ranks soon after retiring in 2021. Starting as a coaching intern with the Dolphins in 2010, he advanced to Miami’s interim head coach in 2015. After impressing in that brief run, he hooked on with the Saints. A few years later, the Dolphins requested an interview, but he had no interest in a South Beach reunion. He did, however, say yes to the Browns, Cardinals, and Packers.

Bowles, who had just 24 wins across four seasons as the Jets’ head coach, reported to be on the Lions’ list a few days ago. Here’s the current list, via PFR’s 2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker: