Dirk Koetter

Rams On DeSean Jackson’s Radar

DeSean Jackson posted two 1,000-yard seasons when working with Sean McVay in Washington, and the veteran wide receiver was candid about seeking a reunion with the wunderkind play-caller.

A potential Buccaneers cap casualty — though, Bruce Arians appears to want the deep threat to stay — Jackson may end up back on the market. He expressed interest in joining the Rams.

If anything, I would like to kind of end up in L.A., being a Ram,” Jackson said during an appearance on the Simms and Lefkoe podcast (Twitter link). “Sean McVay, you know, we got some connection from when I was in D.C., but we’ll see how it plays out, man. Right now, I got another year in Tampa. So we’ll see how it plays out, man.”

As for the Rams reciprocating said interest, that seems like a stretch. Los Angeles made several splashy moves last year, setting the market at multiple positions and extending Brandin Cooks. Not only does the 25-year-old cover some of the same bases Jackson would, the Rams also have Robert Woods on a veteran contract. Cooper Kupp is due back in 2019 as well. Their repeated big-ticket additions notwithstanding, the Rams are probably not too eager to add another veteran salary to their receiving corps — unless Jackson would be willing to take a big pay cut.

Jackson, 32, is entering the final year of his Bucs contract. Considering Tampa Bay’s financial situation (barely $12MM in cap space), it would not be a stretch to see the team try to lower Jackson’s $10MM salary. Jackson was not too happy being with the Bucs last season, requesting a trade, and did not mesh well with Jameis Winston. Jackson and Dirk Koetter also clashed at a practice this season, with ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine reporting the since-fired coach took issue with Jackson’s effort during one workout, leading to a verbal dispute between the two.

The 11-year veteran said he wants to play for a team with a coach and a quarterback who understand a veteran player’s needs. Arians may fit that mold, but Jackson certainly seems to think McVay does.

I think like where I’ve been able to come to in my career, as professional athletes having so much success, and early on in our career[s], being Pro Bowlers and being some of the players that have done some things that no other players have done, you kind of create that model and that mold behind that, like, ‘I know what it takes to get the job done,'” Jackson said.

But then you have some coaches that have the old-school mentality, where, ‘You gotta go to practice. You gotta do it this way.’ But we’re like, ‘As long as when Sunday comes in between the white lines we do what it takes, we know what needs to be done.'”

Jackson also said during the interview he does not have an agent right now. He had been with Joel Segal since 2013.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons To Bring Back Dirk Koetter As OC

Minutes after the Buccaneers agreed to replace Dirk Koetter with Bruce Arians, the recently fired coach will land in familiar territory.

The Falcons are bringing Koetter back as their offensive coordinator, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The team offered Koetter the job on Monday night. He will now be facing the Bucs twice a season.

Mike Mularkey, who joined Darrell Bevell in interviewing for this post, will come back to Atlanta as tight ends coach, the Falcons announced.

Atlanta’s OC from 2012-14, Koetter relocated when the Falcons switched from Mike Smith to Dan Quinn. Now, he’ll work for Quinn and be the top offensive voice in the Falcons’ building. Quinn will now serve as his own defensive coordinator, and Koetter will be tasked with revitalizing an offense that regressed under Steve Sarkisian.

Although Atlanta improved from Sarkisian’s first year to his second, finishing 2018 as the No. 10 scoring offense (after ranking 15th in 2017), the Falcons fired him. He did not live up to expectations, and the offense (as could be expected) regressed from its historic 2016 perch under Kyle Shanahan. Koetter oversaw a Bucs attack that ranked third in yards this season, although Todd Monken was Tampa Bay’s primary play-caller this season. The Bucs boasted a top-10 yardage attack (ninth) in 2017, with Koetter calling the plays, as well.

With the Falcons, Koetter oversaw a No. 1-seeded team’s explosive offense in 2012 and two less impressive attacks in 2013 and ’14. Matt Ryan praised Koetter recently and will get to work with the veteran schemer again soon. Koetter also oversaw Julio Jones‘ rise; now, he’ll be in charge of the back end of the future Hall of Famer’s prime.

Mularkey is a three-time head coach whose most recent work includes ending a near-decade-long Titans playoff drought. Tennessee, however, fired Mularkey after the 2017 divisional-round sojourn. He served as the Falcons’ OC from 2008-11, and that tenure included an Atlanta run to the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Koetter replaced Mularkey when the latter became the Jaguars’ HC. He was a one-and-done in that role, however.

Prior to ascending to the Titans’ HC post, he was their tight ends instructor. The former NFL tight end has coached this position for four teams dating back to 1994.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Offer OC Job To Dirk Koetter

Dirk Koetter may be going back to Atlanta. The Falcons offered the offensive coordinator position to Koetter, the former Buccaneers head coach and one-time Falcons OC. 

If Koetter and the Falcons finalize the deal, he’ll take over for the vacancy left by the firing of Steve Sarkisian. He was one of three known candidates to interview for the job, along with former Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and experienced coach Mike Mularkey.

The Falcons stressed consistency this offseason and going back to the future with Koetter should help achieve that goal.

We’re not having wholesale changes on how we play in terms of a system,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said last week. “Not only is it important for the players and the staff, but also for Thomas (Dimitroff) and his staff as well in terms of the players that we’re scouting for, to fit the system. I think adaptability is probably the top factor going in.”

Koetter was a hot head coaching candidate a few years ago after he was widely credited with doing a great job coordinating the Falcons’ offense, but things never worked out in Tampa Bay. He went 9-7 his first year but that mark slipped to 5-11 last year and he was very nearly fired at the end of last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Vikings, Browns, Dolphins, Jets

Right after the biggest coaching news of the cycle dropped with the Packers’ hiring of Matt Lafleur, we have a fresh batch of coaching rumors ready.

One of the most prominent coordinator openings is the Vikings’ offensive coordinator position. The team fired John DeFilippo midseason, and promoted Kevin Stefanski to that role. Although many initially thought Stefanski would be back in Minnesota, he is “unlikely to return”, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), who notes the team is “looking for depth of experience.” Robinson writes that former Titans head coach Mike Mularkey is a candidate for the job, and he thinks recently fired Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter is a candidate as well.

Koetter is indeed a candidate for the job, confirms Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. A source told Goessling that Koetter is a strong candidate for the job. Interestingly both Koetter and Mularkey have interviewed for the Falcons’ OC job in recent days. Koetter was Atlanta’s playcaller before landing the job in Tampa Bay. Robinson writes that Koetter has been “presumed across the league to be a lock for the Falcons OC job”, but that Minnesota is “in play” for him as well.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Mike McCarthy has been linked to the Browns job ever since he was fired by Green Bay, but things appear to be cooling off between the two sides. Cleveland “talked with either Mike McCarthy or his reps today, but things are on hold for now while the Browns talk to other candidates”, sources told Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. While it sounds like the Browns have put McCarthy on the back-burner, Demovsky notes he is still “very much in play for the Jets.”
  • Speaking of the Browns, the team completed their interview with interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens today, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. It’s unclear if Kitchens has a real shot at landing the head coaching job, as the back half of this season was his only experience even calling plays after he was promoted from quarterbacks coach, but he received a ton of praise for his work for Baker Mayfield. If he doesn’t get the job it’s highly possible he’s retained as OC by whoever takes over in Cleveland.
  • Pittsburgh’s offensive line coach Mike Munchak has been waiting for the perfect opportunity to leave the Steelers, and a source told Aditi Kinkhabwala of ESPN.com that he turned down an interview request from the Dolphins (Twitter link). Munchak has been very selective over who he’ll talk to in recent years, and it seems like the only way he’ll be on the move this cycle is if he lands the Broncos’ job. Recent reports have him as the “early favorite” for that gig.
  • We heard yesterday that the Jets were looking to set something up with Baylor coach Matt Rhule, and that meeting has apparently already taken place. The Jets “have discussed their head coaching vacancy” with Rhule, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Rhule has been buzzed about in NFL circles in recent years, as he’s done a great job turning around the programs at Temple and Baylor. He was considered for the Colts’ opening last year, but ended up removing his name from consideration.
  • The Dolphins were originally supposed to interview their special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi for their head coaching vacancy today, but the interview has been rescheduled for later in the week, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Rizzi is an outside the box candidate, but numerous former and current Dolphins players have lobbied for him to receive consideration. So far the Dolphins have interviewed Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, and Cowboys’ defensive playcaller Kris Richard in their search to replace Adam Gase. Whoever gets the job in Miami will likely have a new quarterback under center, as the team is expected

South Rumors: Mariota, Jags, Falcons, Bucs

This season did not produce the uptick in Marcus Mariota production the Titans wanted, but part of the reason for that was the starting quarterback’s multiple injuries. Elbow troubles plagued Mariota for much of this season, but he is not expected to need offseason surgery, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets. A nerve issue affected Mariota (11 touchdown passes, eight interceptions, 2,528 passing yards) this season and cost him a chance to help the Titans back into the playoffs, forcing Blaine Gabbert back into action in Week 17. Mariota is attached to a $20.9MM fifth-year option in 2019.

As the 2019 hiring period ignites, here’s the latest from the South divisions a

  • Dirk Koetter‘s interview for his old job as Falcons offensive coordinator will occur Saturday, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. The Falcons’ OC from 2012-14, Koetter is a free agent again after being fired by the Buccaneers. He may well be the leading candidate to succeed Steve Sarkisian running Atlanta’s offense. Matt Ryan has praised Koetter in the recent past. Mike Mularkey, Atlanta’s OC from 2008-11, and Darrell Bevell are the other known candidates.
  • The Jaguars voided the $7.1MM in remaining guarantees in Leonard Fournette‘s rookie contract. He has 50 days to file a grievance, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes Fournette surely will. Florio argues the contract does not include language addressing the voiding of guarantees for on-field misconduct, and such an omission will be key for the former top-five pick keeping those guarantees in his four-year deal.
  • Although the Jets are believed to be ready to make a run at Le’Veon Bell, Albert Breer of SI.com does not see that pursuit winning out. Instead, Breer said during an interview with Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd (via the Tampa Bay Times) the Buccaneers are his best guess as to who will be signing the running back’s checks in 2019. This would be interesting because of the Jets’ cap-space advantage ($106MM-plus to $17MM-plus, though the Bucs can clear a substantial amount of room without incurring dead money) and the fact Tampa Bay used a 2018 second-round pick on Ronald Jones.
  • Kyle Allen was not the first player summoned to action when Cam Newton was shut down, but he ended the season as the Panthers‘ quarterback. His short stay as the Panthers’ first-stringer earned him a legitimate chance to be Newton’s backup next season, Breer notes. Allen was a UDFA but came to college as a five-star recruit. He threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions in Carolina’s season-finale win over New Orleans.
  • Alex Okafor stood to miss a $400K bonus because he fell one sack short of the incentive’s five-sack threshold, but, interestingly, the Saints paid him the bonus anyway, per NOLA.com’s Luke Johnson. This could be a key component of the starting defensive end’s upcoming decision on whether or not to opt out of his contract. Okafor signed a two-year deal with a player option to stay in New Orleans and has until the final day of the 2018 league year to decide on the option.

Falcons, Dirk Koetter Discussing Reunion?

Dirk Koetter may land on his feet soon. The recently fired Buccaneers head coach is the leading candidate to replace Steve Sarkisian as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Koetter preceded Kyle Shanahan in this role, working as Atlanta’s OC from 2012-14, before Mike Smith‘s ouster led Koetter to Tampa. Former Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell will interview for the role, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

While Bevell was out of the league this year, Koetter oversaw one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses. His head coaching tenure in Tampa did not end the Bucs’ now-11-season playoff drought, but Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick were able to consistently put up yards. Tampa Bay finished third in total offense this season. Two of Koetter’s three Falcons attacks ranked in the top 10; the 2012 team voyaged to the NFC’s No. 1 seed but blew a 17-point lead in the conference title game.

Bevell is expected to interview with the Falcons within the next two days, per Rapoport. The Seahawks fired him after the 2017 season, and other interviews did not lead to a Bevell 2018 landing spot. Whether it’s Koetter, Bevell or another coach, this process should be settled quickly, Ledbetter adds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Fire Dirk Koetter

And so it begins. The first postseason firing has been made official as the Buccaneers are relieving Dirk Koetter of his duties, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link).

The move had been widely expected, but there were some 11th hour reports that Koetter could possibly survive. It was reported earlier today that the team would be retaining Jameis Winston as their starting quarterback next year, but Koetter won’t get another year.

Bucs chairman Joel Glazer released a statement on behalf of the team (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network), saying “we sincerely appreciate the hard work and commitment shown by Dirk over the past several years. Working with Dirk has been a pleasure and we wish him and his family all the best in the future.” Rapoport notes in the same tweet that GM Jason Licht will conduct the coaching search, meaning his job is safe. Licht had been rumored to be on the hot seat as well, but has apparently been spared.

Koetter was a hot head coaching candidate a few years ago after he was widely credited with doing a great job coordinating the Falcons’ offense, but things never worked out in Tampa Bay. He went 9-7 his first year but that slipped to 5-11 last year, and he was very nearly fired at the end of last season. After the Bucs were unable to get Jon Gruden they stuck with Koetter for another year, and it’s been clear for a while now they were going to go in a different direction. They’ve been connected to Mike McCarthy recently, and we should know more about Tampa’s intentions soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Millen, Long, Bears, McCarthy, Bucs, Koetter, Licht

We heard yesterday that Mike McCarthy was interested in the Cardinals’ head coaching job, assuming Steve Wilks is fired as is expected, but McCarthy might actually have his sights set on a different destination. While there is still a chance Dirk Koetter retains his job in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers’ gig is the one McCarthy “has been connected most to”, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. While Breer writes that Koetter is likely to be gone, he says that Tampa GM Jason Licht’s job status is “murkier.”

It’ll be a pivotal offseason for the Buccaneers, as they have to decide on what to do with their coaching staff, their front office, and their quarterback. Right now it seems likely that Jameis Winston is back in 2019, but that’s not a guarantee. McCarthy will seemingly have his pick of a couple of jobs, and will likely want to go somewhere with a quarterback in place. If he does go to the Bucs, that could be an indication the team plans on sticking with Winston.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • We heard recently that ex-Lions GM Matt Millen was having serious health issues, and now we have an update. The former four-time Super Bowl champion and Penn State star had been in need of a heart transplant, and finally was able to receive one. After months in the hospital waiting, Millen had successful heart transplant surgery, according to Peter King of NBC Sports. The heart was a “perfect match” and Millen is recovering well. Since leaving the Lions, Millen has worked for NBC, ESPN, FOX, and NFL Network as a commentator. It’s great news, and everyone here at PFR is wishing Millen the best.
  • The Bears have already clinched the NFC North, but are still fighting for a first round by and the two seed. They’ll be getting a boost on offense, as it appears that starting right guard Kyle Long may return for their Week 17 game against the Vikings. Long has been on injured reserve since early November with a foot injury, but coach Matt Nagy said he’s “cautiously optimistic” Long will play this week, according to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times. Mitchell Trubisky has struggled at times in recent weeks, so getting Long back will be good for him.
  • In case you missed it, Adam Gase isn’t necessarily safe in Miami, but the Dolphins won’t be pursuing Jim Harbaugh.

South Coaching Rumors: Koetter, Quinn, Marrone, Rivera

It has been assumed that the Buccaneers and head coach Dirk Koetter would be parting ways at the end of the season, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) does not necessarily believe that assumption is a safe one. Rapoport says Koetter could certainly be fired — which would then make him a very appealing OC candidate for rival clubs — but the Glazer family has not ruled out keeping Koetter and the entire “upper structure” of the team. After all, Tampa Bay’s offense is the most prolific in franchise history, and the club’s defense has become a league-average unit since former DC Mike Smith was fired in October.

Now for more rumors on head coaches in the league’s south divisions:

  • Rapoport also says Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is expected to be back for 2019. There has not been much national chatter about Quinn’s job security anyway, so that does not come as much of a surprise. but Rapoport does expect “significant changes” at the coordinator spots. We already learned that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is likely on his way out, and Rapoport confirms that Darrell Bevell will be on the short list to replace him. Defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel also appears in danger of losing his job [SOURCE LINK].
  • At the end of November, Rapoport said that Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone is in no danger of losing his job, and he doubled down on that report today, saying that Jacksonville owner Shad Khan and executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin believe in Marrone. The team will seek a new QB and a new offensive coordinator, but it currently sounds as if Marrone will get another shot in 2019. Of course, there have been rumblings that Coughlin himself will consider taking over the head coaching reins, but Rapoport’s sources seem to refute to notion.
  • Despite rumors of a potential shakeup, Rapoport says the Panthers are expected to retain head coach Ron Rivera. New owner David Tepper reportedly believes in Rivera, who recently took over defensive play-calling duties and who would become one of the top head coaching candidates on the market if he were let go. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, though, suggests that Tepper could indeed go in another direction at season’s end, but if he does, it will be difficult to find someone who would represent a clear improvement over Rivera [SOURCE LINK].

NFC Notes: Lauletta, Lee, Cards, Koetter

We learned earlier today that Eli Manning is increasingly likely to remain with the Giants in 2019, and the fact that New York does not presently have a legitimate replacement on its roster is a big reason for that. Indeed, although the team selected Kyle Lauletta in the 2018 draft and repeatedly indicated it wanted to give him some game action this year, Lauletta’s first appearance in a regular season NFL game — during garbage time in last week’s blowout win over the Redskins — did not go well. Lauletta has now been demoted to the team’s No. 3 QB, where he spent most of the season, and he is inactive for the club’s game today. As Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com suggests, that move speaks volumes about where Lauletta is in his development.

Let’s round up a few more NFC items as the Week 15 early afternoon games get underway:

  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee is active today for the first time since November 5 and will play a reserve role behind rookie phenomenon Leighton Vander Esch, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Lee still provides value when healthy, but Jane Slater of the NFL Network tweets that Lee told the team he did not want to start and interfere with Vander Esch’s progress. It remains to be seen how Lee will be deployed moving forward.
  • At the beginning of this month, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network said the Cardinals were going to reassess their front office and coaching staff at the end of the season, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reaffirms that report today. JLC writes that Arizona is mulling sweeping changes, and some sources say it would be a “major surprise” if first-year head coach Steve Wilks keeps his job. The bigger question, according to those sources, is whether GM Steve Keim is retained, but if he is not, he is a strong candidate to join the Raiders‘ front office.
  • The Buccaneers are expected to move on from head coach Dirk Koetter at the end of the season, but La Canfora writes that Koetter is still highly-respected as an offensive coordinator and plenty of teams with OC vacancies this offseason will be pursuing him to fill that role. Koetter’s own OC in Tampa, Todd Monken, will also be a highly-coveted offensive coordinator candidate in 2019 assuming the Bucs cut ties with him.
  • The Eagles remain committed to Carson Wentz, and Nick Foles is expected to hit free agency in 2019.
  • Jay Gruden‘s future with the Redskins is uncertain, but Alex Smith is out of the hospital and there is optimism that he will be able to resume his playing career.