Darrin Simmons

Coaching Notes: Rhule, Giants, Cowboys

Even after Joe Judge‘s standout interview Monday led to him becoming the Giants‘ head coach, the franchise still had Matt Rhule as their preferred candidate. The Panthers‘ seven-year, $62MM offer to the Baylor head coach essentially prompted the Giants to fold their hand on this front, with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY noting Big Blue balked at the contract length and salary. Rhule’s $8.9MM salary makes him the sixth-highest-paid coach in the league — behind Bill Belichick ($12MM per year), Pete Carroll ($11MM AAV), Jon Gruden ($10MM), Sean Payton ($9.8MM) and John Harbaugh ($9MM). The Panthers also paid Baylor a $6MM buyout, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Just months ago, Rhule agreed to an extension with the Big 12 program.

Here is the latest from the coaching front:

  • In addition to missing out on the Ron Rivera boat, the Giants wanted to speak with Mike McCarthy again, Vacchiano adds. The Cowboys swooping in prevented such an opportunity.
  • Big Blue received a ringing Judge endorsement from Belichick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The former Giants defensive coordinator and six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach called the Giants to sell them on Judge’s credentials, despite his non-traditional candidacy as a special teams coordinator.
  • Shifting to McCarthy’s Cowboys staff, the team is expected to hire Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel to the same position, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Fassel’s contract was up. The second-generation NFL coach will relocate to Dallas after spending eight seasons with the Rams. Fassel came over from the Raiders in 2012, when Jeff Fisher took over in St. Louis, and stayed on with Sean McVay‘s team for three seasons. Fassel served as Rams interim HC in 2016, after the franchise fired Fisher. The Rams are losing their DC and ST coordinators, with Wade Phillips also out of the picture.
  • Other candidates have surfaced to relocate to Texas. Cowboys assistants expect Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan to be named Dallas’ new defensive coordinator, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Nolan was the 49ers’ head coach in 2005, when McCarthy served as San Francisco’s OC. Additionally, Redskins defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is on McCarthy’s radar, per Pelissero (on Twitter). Tomsula was the 49ers’ HC in 2015 and has been the Redskins’ D-line coach since 2017.
  • The Bengals and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons have agreed to an extension, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). A longtime Dolphins ST boss, Simmons interviewed for the Bengals’ HC job last year and joined Cincinnati’s staff as a key assistant after the top job went to Zac Taylor. Despite Cincinnati’s 2-14 record, the team ranked first in special teams DVOA under its first-year leader.

Bengals Eyeing Jack Del Rio For DC

Zac Taylor will have a late start assembling his first Bengals coaching staff, but some key decisions are being made.

Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons, who interviewed for the job Taylor now has, will be retained, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Jack Del Rio is likely to interview for the defensive coordinator position, per Pelissero. The former Raiders and Jaguars head coach is believed to be the Bengals’ top DC choice, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Del Rio has been connected to Cincinnati for multiple weeks. After being fired to clear Jon Gruden‘s way back to Oakland, Del Rio did not coach during the 2018 season. Cincinnati was interested in Dennis Allen, but New Orleans retained him. Longtime Packers DC Dom Capers is also on the Bengals’ radar.

Del Rio, 55, was either a head coach or defensive coordinator every season from 2002-17. Following his 2002 season as John Fox‘s DC in Carolina, Jacksonville hired Del Rio as HC. He caught on with Fox again as the Broncos’ DC from 2012-14 before the Raiders hired him in 2015. While his Broncos defenses (two top-five units) were better than his Raiders crews — 22nd, 20th and 20th in points allowed, respectively — Del Rio did guide the Silver and Black to their first playoff berth in 14 seasons.

The Bengals fired DC Teryl Austin in November. He is now with the Steelers. If Del Rio is hired, he will be the franchise’s third defensive coordinator in three seasons. Austin replaced Paul Guenther, the Raiders’ current DC, last year.

Taylor has already named Gruden’s most recent quarterbacks coach, Brian Callahan, as his offensive coordinator. Del Rio did not work with Callahan, who was a Gruden hire. Simmons will move into his 17th season with the Bengals. A Marvin Lewis appointee during his first offseason in Cincinnati, Simmons coached the Bengals’ special teams units in all 16 Lewis seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Bengals’ Coaching Search

The first Bengals coaching search since 2003 looked to be centered around members of two organizations — the Bengals and Rams.

While Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor received an interview request, so did Los Angeles’ passing-game coordinator, Shane Waldron, Sean McVay said Monday. Waldron, 39, also serves as the Rams’ tight ends coach.

Cincinnati will also interview two of its own. OC Bill Lazor and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons will interview for Marvin Lewis’ old job on Tuesday, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

Mike Brown went outside the organization when he hired Lewis 15 years ago, but this is known as one of the more continuity-based franchises in the NFL. Still, it would be interesting to see a Lewis lieutenant get the job. Former Bengals DBs coach Vance Joseph, fired by the Broncos this morning, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.

Lazor became the Bengals’ full-time OC this season. Simmons has spent the entire Lewis era on the Bengals’ staff, coaching Cincinnati’s special teams units for the past 16 seasons. Though special teams coaches rarely commandeer HC jobs, Simmons is believed to have a good shot at this job, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

AFC Notes: Bengals, Lewis, Dolphins

Here’s a look at the AFC:

  • Bengals coach Marvin Lewis denies reports indicating that he’s going to leave the team to pursue other opportunities, but nine unnamed members of the organization tell Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer that they’re not buying it. Meanwhile, Lewis recently told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) that he would “listen to” opportunities to transition a GM role somewhere. Rapoport adds that special teams coach Darrin Simmons could be an internal candidate to take over as head coach.
  • The Dolphins do not have any plans to shift Laremy Tunsil from tackle to guard, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. Tunsil, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2016 draft, has 12 penalties this year, the second-most in the NFL. Still, offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen is insistent that he will remain on the outside.
  • More from Jackson, who writes that defensive tackle Jordan Phillips has erased any questions about whether he should be part of the team going forward. That’s no surprise given the year he is having. Defensive coordinator Matt Burke went so far as to say that he is a reliable player, something that he probably wouldn’t have said over the summer. “Snap count was a little down last week, but he has been really good,” Burke said. “The two weeks before that, he was at his best in a long time. I feel he has been more consistent this year — to the point where I had conversations with him, ‘Hey man — you’ve got to be one of our leaders now.’ He has found his way a little bit. Even last year, he he wasn’t as outgoing as he’s been this year — I am encouraging him to be more of an energy guy — part of that comes with being consistent and being reliable.” Phillips, a former second-round pick, has a decent 72.6 overall score from Pro Football Focus for his eleven games this year.

Marvin Lewis To Leave Bengals After 2017?

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is expected to leave the team after this season to “pursue opportunities elsewhere,” per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Following today’s loss to the Vikings, however, Lewis denied the report and stated he’s made no decisions about his future, per Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link).

Marvin Lewis (Vertical)

Lewis is the second-longest-tenured head coach in the league, behind only Bill Belichick of the Patriots. He was a linebackers coach in the collegiate ranks and for the Steelers before becoming the defensive coordinator of the expansion Ravens in 1996. He rose to prominence as an architect of the record-setting 2000 Ravens defense that helped capture Super Bowl XXXV and then served as the defensive coordinator/assistant head coach for the Redskins in 2002. He was hired by Cincinnati in 2003, when the Bengals were a laughingstock, and he restored them to relevance. He has posted a 123-111-3 regular season record and has guided the Bengals to four division titles. Despite his successes, however, his head coaching resume is marred by his 0-7 career playoff record, which has hung over his head especially heavily in recent seasons.

Nonetheless, there is expected to be a plethora of head coaching jobs available this offseason (even more than usual), and Schefter reports that the 59-year-old Lewis would be on the short list for a number of those positions. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, though, tweets that Lewis plans to move to a front office role. Schefter does suggest that a front office or coaching adviser job is a possibility, but only if a head coaching job does not materialize.

As for the Bengals, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Lewis’ decision came as a surprise to the team. And, as most, if not all, of the team’s assistant coaches are also on expiring contracts — some of whom are unhappy with the way they have been treated financially — Schefter suggests that Cincinnati is likely to undergo a major coaching overhaul.

Nonetheless, Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network suggest that the Bengals could opt to replace Lewis with an internal candidate like current DC Paul Guenther or special teams coach Darrin Simmons (Twitter links). But Michael Lombardi of The Ringer tweets that the Bengals’ head coaching job is highly desirable, so the team will not be hurting for quality candidates.

The Bengals do not have a comment on the situation at the moment.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bengals, Flacco, Boldin, Landry

PFR sends best wishes to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who “will be taking time away from the team to focus on a minor health issue,” according to a club announcement. Specifically, Lewis is dealing with a Baker’s Cyst on his ankle, but the initial fear was that he had a blood clot, per Stacey Dales of NFL Network (Twitter link). The Bengals expect Lewis to return sometime this week, fortunately, and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons will hold the reins as long as he’s out.

More from the AFC:

  • There’s no comeback date for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who’s dealing with a back injury, but a second opinion last week yielded news that was “positive for a slow return,” a league source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano (via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com). The Ravens can afford to be patient with Flacco because he’s a 10-year veteran who has a full understanding of their offense, noted head coach John Harbaugh. “Every play we’ve run, he’s run before numerous times,” Harbaugh said.
  • The Bills’ signing of Anquan Boldin could help put them in position to land a third-round compensatory pick next offseason, writes Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. Because the Bills signed seven free agents and lost five prior to May 9, the cutoff date for the compensatory formula, they aren’t poised to receive a pick at the moment. But Boldin may make one of those signings, wideout Andre Holmes, expendable, and Rodak lists fellow FA additions Vlad Ducasse (guard) and Ryan Davis (defensive end) as release candidates. Parting with all three would give the Bills more losses than signings (five to four), thus netting them a valuable pick for 2018.
  • This week, the girlfriend of Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry issued a statement regarding the allegations that were raised against him earlier this year (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). “In March of 2017 the father of my child and I had a vocal disagreement that resulted in someone calling 911. I, myself did not call the police. When the police arrived they determined that there was no cause for any arrests nor was there any concern for my physical well-being. There were no arrests made, there were no criminal charges, I was not in any way physically harmed Yes, we are going through a civil family court case and emotions are high, but I would like to make it very clear that Jarvis would never, ever do anything to harm me or anyone else. Jarvis and I are happily raising our beautiful daughter and I would like to make a plea to the media that they refrain from spreading this completely false story.”

Zach Links contributed to this post.