Devin Fitzsimmons

Coaching Rumors: Judge, Lions, Fins, Eagles

Other teams besides the Colts were interested in adding Patriots special teams coach Joe Judge, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports, but Judge and the Pats are finalizing a deal that will keep him in New England. The 36-year-old assistant will be the team’s special teams coordinator for a fourth season. The sides are ironing out minor details, but Reiss reports the deal to retain Judge is imminent, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported earlier this week. Judge was a possible defection candidate if McDaniels had followed through on taking the Colts’ HC job.

Here’s the latest from the coaching circuit as we head into the offseason’s first official weekend.

  • Staying with special teams, the Lions are not going to overhaul their ST staff as they did their defensive coaching contingent. ST coordinator Joe Marciano and assistant ST coach Devin Fitzimmons will return next season, Alex Marvez of the Sporting News reports. An NFL special teams coach since 1986, Marciano has been with the Lions since 2015.
  • Detroit continued to configure its defensive staff on Thursday, hiring Bo Davis to instruct its defensive linemen, the team announced. Davis will join the Lions after spending most of the past two decades on Nick Saban‘s staffs at LSU, the Dolphins and Alabama. However, Davis’ Crimson Tide tenure — one that included coaching current Lions lineman A’Shawn Robinson, ended in 2016 when he resigned from Alabama due to NCAA violations. Davis, however, resurfaced at Texas-San Antonio last season and coached first-round defensive end hopeful Marcus Davenport.
  • The Eagles have lost their quarterbacks coach, but they are prepared to fill the void internally. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer expects the team to move receivers coach Mike Groh to quarterbacks coach and assistant quarterbacks coach Press Taylor to WRs coach (Twitter link).
  • Former Dolphins safety Renaldo Hill will now work with the team as a coach, being hired as Miami’s assistant defensive backs coach. The team notes this is the 10th former Dolphins player to serve as a Fins coach. Hill, who played 10 NFL seasons and spent three seasons (2006-08) in Miami, has coached at Wyoming and the University of Pittsburgh since 2012. This will be his first NFL coaching gig.
  • Prior to hiring Tom Bradley to be their new defensive backs coach, the Steelers interviewed South Florida DBs coach Blue Adams, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. Mike Tomlin coached Adams while he was an assistant at the University of Cincinnati.
  • Despite the Texans blocking the Broncos from interviewing Wes Welker, the Broncos will see their six-year strength and conditioning coach depart for Houston. Luke Richesson will become the Texans’ strength coach, 9News’ Mike Klis reports, with the team set to give him a bigger role than he had in Denver.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Lions Fire OC Joe Lombardi

Just hours after head coach Jim Caldwell told reporters that there wouldn’t be any coaching changes made this week, the Lions have made a major change to their offensive staff. According to Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News (via Twitter), the team is firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, along with offensive line coaches Jeremiah Washburn and Terry Heffernan.

Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com has confirmed the changes to the Lions’ coaching staff, tweeting that quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter is taking over for Lombardi as the club’s offensive coordinator. Per Twentyman, tight ends coach Ron Prince will assume the role of offensive line coach, while Devin Fitzsimmons takes over as tight ends coach.

The Lions are off to a disappointing 1-6 start this season, and the underwhelming play of the offense has been a main reason for the team’s struggles. Matthew Stafford has been up and down throughout the season, throwing nine interceptions through seven games, well on his way to surpassing the 12 he threw in 16 games last year.

Detroit’s running game has been worse than its aerial attack, with leading rusher Ameer Abdullah having compiled just 222 yards on 3.6 yards per attempt — no other back has more than 60 yards, and Joique Bell is averaging less than two yards per carry. Overall, the Lions are averaging less than 20 points per game, ranking 26th in offensive DVOA through six weeks, per Football Outsiders.

While the Lions will hope that the changes to the offensive coaching staff will jump-start the team, it’s possible these won’t be the last moves made by the team this season. Albert Breer of the NFL Network notes (via Twitter) that there have been “rumblings around the league about larger-scale changes in Detroit,” since Martha Ford is now in charge of the ownership group, and observers aren’t sure what to expect from her.

As for the team’s new offensive coordinator, Cooter drew some interest around the league this past offseason. The Bears were interested in Cooter for their offensive coordinator opening, but the Lions denied Chicago permission to interview the ex-Broncos assistant, showing how much they valued him.