Dino Vasso

Coaching Notes: Texans, Jaguars, Jets, Colts

The Texans were the last team to hire their head coach, so David Culley got a bit of a late start in building his staff. Now he’s wasting no time, making a couple of hires this week. Most importantly he’s settled on a special teams coordinator, hiring Colts assistant Frank Ross to fill that position, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Ross is a former Patriots scout who went to small school John Carroll University, which has become a feeder school for NFL coaches. Houston also hired Dino Vasso to be their new secondary coach, Wilson tweets. Vasso spent the past eight seasons as an assistant with the Eagles.

Here are some more coaching updates from around the league:

  • Zach Orr is going to be back on an NFL sideline. An UDFA linebacker in 2014, he became a full-time starter with the Ravens and was a second-team All-Pro in 2016. Unfortunately that would be his final season, as a spinal condition cut his career short prematurely. Orr stayed with Baltimore in a front office role, and now he’s getting into coaching as Urban Meyer’s new linebackers coach with the Jaguars, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets. Still only 28, it’ll be great to see Orr back on the field in some capacity.
  • Robert Saleh continues to build his inaugural Jets staff, and he has now hired Mike Rutenberg to be his linebackers coach, Ian Rapoport of NFL Neetwork tweets. Rutenberg was a passing game specialist under Saleh in San Francisco this past season, and before that had been an assistant with the Jaguars.
  • Orr isn’t the only notable former player getting back with an NFL team. Pro Football Hall of Famer Kevin Mawae will be joining the NFL coaching ranks as well. Mawae has been hired to be an assistant offensive line coach on Frank Reich’s Colts staff, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets. Mawae had been an analyst under Herm Edwards at Arizona State, and he told Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that he had been hoping to land an NFL opportunity. The legendary former center spent 16 years in the league with the Seahawks, Jets, and Titans. He made eight Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro seven times during his playing days.

East Notes: Rivers, Jets, Ogletree

The Patriots drafted edge rusher Derek Rivers in the third round of the 2017 draft, but the Youngstown State product has played in just six regular season games over his first three years in the pros. His entire rookie campaign was wiped out due to a torn ACL, he had a limited workload in 2018, and he sustained a knee injury during a preseason game in August that landed him on IR for all of 2019.

But as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, Rivers still features heavily in New England’s plans. Reiss says Rivers remains a constant presence at the team’s facility, and if the team cannot retain free agent Kyle Van Noy — which is quite possible, given the amount of cap space that will need to be devoted to the offensive side of the ball, including the quarterback position — Rivers will need to step up.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv takes a look at a few Jets who could be cap casualties this offseason. Most of them — like CB Trumaine Johnson, whom we recently discussed as a release candidate — are obvious choices, but players like Jonotthan Harrison and Avery Williamson are more difficult calls. Vacchiano believes the club would be wise to retain Harrison at least as a depth option, and he suggests Williamson could be back on a reworked contract.
  • In a separate piece, Vacchiano names a few players the Jets should target in free agency, assuming their current teams don’t retain them. Unsurprisingly, he believes Gang Green should target the top of the O-line (Brandon Scherff, Jack Conklin) and WR (Amari Cooper, Emmanuel Sanders) markets.
  • Vacchiano undergoes the same exercises for the Giants that he did for the Jets. For Big Blue, he names LB Alec Ogletree as the most likely player to be cut on his list of seven names, and he also believes Conklin would be a perfect fit for the G-Men.
  • Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic summarizes the changes to the coaching staff that the Eagles recently made official. We had previously passed along most of those names, though Kapadia’s list also includes Andrew Breiner (hired as pass game analyst) and Dino Vasso (promoted to assistant defensive coordinator). He also offers his take on the changes, including his observation that the offensive staff now includes coaches who have very different schematic backgrounds, which suggests that Philadelphia will try to incorporate a wide variety of looks in 2020.

Eagles Hire 15 Assistants

5:46pm: The Eagles have made Reich’s hiring official. They’ve also named 14 other assistants to posts. Seven of those coaches are holdovers from Chip Kelly‘s staff. Here’s the list (unless otherwise specified, the names come courtesy of the Eagles’ website):

  • Eugene Chung, offensive line/tight ends/running game
  • Phillip Daniels, defensive quality control/assistant defensive line
  • Dave Fipp, special teams
  • Ken Flajole, linebackers
  • Matthew Harper, assistant special teams
  • Tim Hauck, defensive backs/safeties
  • Greg Lewis, wide receivers (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Caplan)
  • Justin Peelle, tight ends
  • Jim Schwartz, defensive coordinator
  • Duce Staley, running backs
  • Jeff Stoutland, offensive line
  • Press Taylor, offensive quality control/assistant quarterbacks
  • Cory Undlin, defensive backs/cornerbacks
  • Dino Vasso, defensive quality control/assistant secondary

On the heels of these moves, the Eagles released offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and linebackers coaches Rick Minter and Bill McGovern from their contracts, according to Caplan (on Twitter). They let go of previous D-coordinator Billy Davis on Monday, per Caplan (Twitter link).

1:40pm: The Eagles have reached an agreement with Frank Reich to make him their new offensive coordinator, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSports.com, who reports (via Twitter) that it’s a “done deal.” Reich had been scheduled to have a formal interview with the team today, and Adam Caplan of ESPN.com had suggested “it would be an upset” if he wasn’t hired (Twitter link).Frank Reich

[RELATED: Eagles hire Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator]

Reich, recently fired as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator after two seasons leading San Diego’s offense, interviewed for the same position on Adam Gase‘s Dolphins staff, but Miami ultimately chose Clyde Christensen as their new OC.

Had he become the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator, Reich wouldn’t have called the team’s plays (Gase will do that), and it looks as if he won’t handle that responsibility in Philadelphia either. New head coach Doug Pederson indicated during his introductory press conference on Tuesday that he expects to call offensive plays in 2016.

In San Diego, Reich was let go in large part due to the Chargers’ ineffective running game, but he did just fine with the team’s aerial attack — Philip Rivers led the NFL in completed passes in 2015, racking up nearly 4,800 yards passing to go along with 29 touchdowns.

Injuries have plagued the Chargers over the last couple years, and health problems on the offensive line likely contributed to the struggles of first-round running back Melvin Gordon, but Reich took the fall for the offense’s regression. In 2014, Reich’s first year as offensive coordinator, San Diego went from second in offensive DVOA to 11th. The team slipped to 15th this season, and the Chargers also went from scoring nearly 25 points per game in 2013 to just 20 by 2015.

In addition to reaching a deal with Reich, the Eagles have also reportedly agreed to hire former Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo as the club’s quarterbacks coach. The new additions to Pederson’s offensive coaching staff likely spell the end of Pat Shurmur‘s time in Philadelphia, despite the fact that the new head coach said on Tuesday that Shurmur would receive consideration for the OC role.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.