Daronte Jones

Bengals Notes: Taylor, Turner, Casey, Martin

New Bengals head coach Zac Taylor will call his own offensive plays, as he told reporters at his introductory press conference on Tuesday (Twitter link via Richard Skinner of WKRC-TV). Taylor was hired on the strength of his offensive acumen, so it’s no surprise that he’ll direct Cincinnati’s offense, leaving new offensive coordinator Brian Callahan to serve in a game-planning role. Taylor, for what it’s worth, doesn’t boast much play-calling experience: he led the Dolphins’ offense for a half-season in 2015, and coordinated the University of Cincinnati’s offense the following year. Under former coordinator Bill Lazor, the Bengals’ offense ranked 17th in scoring, 19th in DVOA, and 26th in yardage in 2018.

Here’s more from the Queen City:

  • Taylor will hire Texas A&M offensive line coach Jim Turner for the same role, reports Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Turner has worked with Taylor at three different stops, so there’s obvious familiarity between the two. He’d be replacing Frank Pollack, with whom the Bengals parted ways despite his excellent efforts in 2018. Turner, notably, was Miami’s offensive line coach during the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito bullying scandal, and was eventually fired in 2014 after an independent report indicated he participated in harassment of players. He was also suspended by Texas A&M in 2016 after using sexually-charged presentation slides during a women’s football clinic.
  • Former Texans tight end and current University of Houston tight ends coach James Casey will join the Bengals in the same role, while Ben Martin — who had recently been hired as an assistant offensive line coach at Brown — will take over as Cincinnati’s assistant OL coach, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Casey is only 34 years old, and was still playing as recently as 2015. He joined Houston as an offensive assistant in 2016 and became tight ends coach the following year. Martin, meanwhile, worked at Texas A&M with Taylor.
  • Among the Bengals coaches who are expected to be retained under Taylor are Alex Van Pelt (quarterbacks), Dan Pitcher (assistant quarterbacks), Bob Bicknell (wide receivers), Robert Livingston (secondary), Daronte Jones (secondary), and Brayden Coombs (assistant secondary), per Dehner. Coombs, notably, was thought to be a candidate for the Packers’ special teams coordinator position, but he’ll instead remain in Cincinnati.

Bengals Hire Alex Van Pelt As QB Coach

Marvin Lewis continues to add new faces to his staff. The team has agreed to hire Alex Van Pelt to be their quarterbacks coach for next season, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Van Pelt worked most recently in the same position for the Packers, but was not retained after his contract expired this past season.

Alex Van Pelt (Vertical)

Schefter adds in the same tweet that the the Bengals have also brought on Daronte Jones to coach the secondary and Matt Raich as a defensive assistant.

We have also learned that the Bengals have decided to keep Dan Pitcher as an assistant QB coach, per Jim Owczarski of the Enquirer (Twitter link). He worked with the team’s wideouts last year. Owczarski also notes that Robert Couch is being retainted in his current role as the Bengals assistant offensive line coach.

Van Pelt is clearly the the most notable hire of this group as he’s worked in he NFL in a variety of capacities since 2006. He held his previous job in Green Bay for four seasons before the team opted to go in a different direction after they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

As the quarterbacks coach for the Packers, Van Pelt had the pleasure of working with Aaron Rodgers for many years, but will get a new challenge trying to help Bengals signal caller Andy Dalton elevate his play with the hopes of securing his first playoff victory in 2018.

Since surprisingly retaining Lewis as head coach after the regular season, the Bengals have shaken up their coaching staff by adding Teryl Austin as its new defensive coordinator and former Cowboys offensive line coach Frank Pollack to replace longtime Bengals staffer Paul Alexander.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Notes: Front Office, Vernon, Wake

The Dolphins and assistant general manager Eric Stokes have mutually decided to part ways, the club announced today. Stoke, whose scouting career dates back to 2000, came to Miami from Tampa Bay, joining Dennis Hickey in making the leap from the Buccaneers to the Dolphins in 2014. Hickey, of course, was let go by Miami last month, and the team in turn promoted Chris Grier to take over as general manager.

Here’s more from South Beach:

  • The team also announced that it has hired former Wisconsin secondary coach Daronte Jones as its new assistant defensive backs coach. Prior to his coaching experience in Madison, Jones spent time with Hawaii, UCLA, and the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. He’ll be part of a revamped Miami coaching staff that includes new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and defensive backs coach (and former interim DC) Lou Anarumo.
  • The Dolphins have yet to enter into “serious negotiations” with pending free agent defensive end Olivier Vernon, according to James Walker of ESPN.com. Set to reach the open market next month, the 25-year-old Vernon would surely garner plenty of interest from suitors around the league if he doesn’t reach a deal with Miami. A report last month indicated that Vernon was the club’s No. 1 priority among internal free agents.
  • Miami is unlikely to be able to retain Vernon without first restructuring the contract of fellow defensive end Cameron Wake, but the team has not approached Wake about reworking his deal, per Walker. Wake, 34, is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury, and is due to count $9.8MM against the Dolphins’ cap, but the club could save $8.4MM by releasing him.
  • Given that former Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase is head coach in Miami, it’s fair to wonder if running back Matt Forte — who was informed he won’t be re-signed in Chicago — might be a fit with the Dolphins. It’s an idea we explored today on the Pro Football Rumors Instagram account.

AFC East Notes: McCoy, Bills, Jets

Bills running back LeSean McCoy has hired noted Philly defensive attorney Jack McMahon to represent him, according to John Barr of ESPN.com (via Twitter link). Over the weekend, McCoy was accused of taking part in a brawl that involved the assault of two off-duty Philadelphia police officers. McCoy has yet to be arrested for the incident, but arrest warrants are expected to be issued in the coming days.

McCoy, 28 in July, was held back by injuries in his first season with the Bills. The tailback ran for 895 yards off of 203 carries, good for 4.4 yards per contest. He also had three rushing touchdowns and two receiving scores. However, he missed one-quarter of the regular season, breaking his two season streak of playing in all 16 regular season games.

Here’s more out of the AFC East:

  • The police have completed their investigation into the McCoy case and turned it over to the district attorney’s office, which is reviewing it for potential charges against the Bills tailback, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Jets guard Brian Winters, who replaced the injured Willie Colon and wound up starting ten games last season, will get a nice raise in 2016 worth roughly $1MM, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. As part of the NFL’s rookie wage scale, Winters’ base salary (non-guaranteed) jumps to $1.696MM, the final year of his rookie contract. Previously, he was due to make $675K. The pay bump is thanks to the “proven performance escalator,” which allows mid- to late-round draft choices to make more money if they play a great deal. A player gets a raise if he was drafted in rounds three through seven and participated in at least 35% of the offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons.
  • Jets coach Todd Bowles filled three coaching vacancies, as Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com writes. Bowles promoted John Scott Jr. from defensive quality control coach to assistant defensive line coach, hired David Diaz-Infante as assistant offensive line coach, and brought in Tim Atkins to fill Scott’s role as defensive quality control coach.
  • The Dolphins are adding Wisconsin defensive backs coach Daronte Jones as an assistant defensive backs coach, a source told Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).