Edgar Bennett

Raiders Notes: Gruden, Bennett, Cable

On Friday, the Raiders announced the hiring of Rams quarterbacks coach Greg Olson as the team’s offensive coordinator. The 31-year NFL veteran coach, and Raiders offensive coordinator from 2013-14, won’t have to worry about calling plays. That duty instead will go to new head coach Jon GrudenBen Volin of the Boston Globe notes.

Gruden, who hasn’t coached in the NFL in nine seasons, has been preparing for the moment he would return to the sidelines for some time. He reportedly spends countless hours studying NFL and college plays and is expected to work closely with Derek Carr and the other Raiders quarterbacks.

Though he spurned advances for a role with Gruden, former quarterback Rich Gannon has full confidence that the former Super Bowl-winning coach won’t skip a beat.

“Jon has a system where he’s really going to count on the quarterback to be a big decision maker. He’s going to have a lot more flexibility and freedom at the line of scrimmage to change protections, to change plays. It’s going to be a fun offense to watch. He’s got a quarterback that can do it. That’s a big reason why he decided to come back.”

From the sounds of it, Carr will have more responsibility than ever before as he hopes to rebound from a disappointing 2017.

Here is more news from Oakland:

  • Gruden interviewed one person for the vacant offensive line coach position and had another meeting set up for Monday but dropped everything once the Seahawks fired Tom Cable, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reports (Twitter link). After being fired as head coach in Oakland in 2010, Cable moved to Seattle and served as offensive line coach for seven seasons. Under his direction, Seattle established itself as one of the best running teams in NFL. His return could reunite him with Marshawn Lynch, should the Raiders retain the veteran back.
  • The Raiders continued to clean house on former head coach Jack Del Rio‘s staff, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). Among the expected departures are cornerbacks coach Rod Woodson, running backs coach Bernie Parmalee, assistant special teams coach Tracy Smith, wide receivers coach Rob Moore and safeties coach Brett Vieselmeyer.
  • Former Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett didn’t have to wait long to find a new gig. He will be joining the Raiders as the team’s new receivers coach, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports (Twitter link). A former Packers running back, Bennett has spent 23 of his 25 seasons in the league as a player and coach in Green Bay.

Packers Notes: Wolf, DeCosta, Perry, McCray

Now that the Packers have officially promoted incumbent executive Brian Gutekunst to general manager, Green Bay director of football operations Eliot Wolf is unlikely to ever become GM of the Packers, as Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes (Twitter links). Wolf is expected to garner a GM job elsewhere before the Green Bay position ever opens again, as he’s drawn interested from other clubs in the recent past. However, the Packers will attempt to convince Wolf to remain with the team, per Silverstein. One additional note on the Packers’ general manager search: although Green Bay had interest in meeting with Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta, the Baltimore executive turned down an interview request on Saturday night, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Packers:

  • Incumbent safeties coach Darren Perry interviewed for the Packers’ defensive coordinator job on Saturday and is viewed as the favorite to land the position, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). That news conflicts with a recent report from Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, who indicated last week that Green Bay cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt was the frontrunner to be promoted to DC. Perry, 49, began his Packers coaching career in 2009 after spending time in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Oakland.
  • While Perry could be given a promotion in Green Bay, former offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett appears to be moving on, tweets Silverstein. Bennett, who did not call offensive plays for the Packers, was re-assigned last week, but he should be able to find another coaching position given the level of turnover throughout the NFL, per Silverstein. Colts offensive line coach Joe Philbin is expected to be hired for a second stint in Green Bay, and although he may not take Bennett’s old title as OC, he’s likely to handle many of Bennett’s prior duties.
  • The Packers should be expected to add competition for backup quarterback Brett Hundley, writes Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. While Green Bay had originally planned to deal Hundley (and nearly did so during the draft), the former fifth-round pick’s lackluster production while filling in for Aaron Rodgers is likely to hinder those intentions. Indeed, the Packers attempted to sign veteran signal-caller Brian Hoyer in November as the club was trying to keep its postseason hopes alive.
  • Green Bay recently worked out offensive lineman Jordan McCray, the brother of Packers guard Justin McCray, reports Demovsky. Both McCrays were undrafted free agents out of UCF in 2014, but Jordan has yet to appear in an NFL game.

Packers Shake Up Coaching Staff

The Packers have decided to make dramatic changes in their coaching staff, the team has announced. Among the bigger news released today was that defensive coordinator Dom Capers officially been fired. It was already reported that the longtime coach was going to be let go a few days ago, but the news just confirmed by team officials today. Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac and linebackers coach Scott McCurley were also officially relieved of their duties.

“I want to thank each of these men and their families for all that they gave to the Packers during their time here,” head coach Mike McCarthy added. “We enjoyed a lot of success together and they directly contributed to our accomplishments. These are difficult personal decisions and we hope for the best for their families moving forward.”

Tom Pellisero of NFL.com has also reported that current offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett will be reassigned to another post and that the Packers will allow quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt‘s contract to expire this offseason (Twitter link). It should be noted that both of these reported decisions are still awaiting confirmation from the team.

Edgar Bennett (Vertical)

Bennett had been on the Packers staff for awhile, serving in many roles, including the team’s player development, running backs, wide receivers coach since he joined the organization in 2001. He had been promoted to offensive coordinator at the start of the 2015 season. His role change will allow the team to hire an offensive coordinator from outside the organization.

Van Pelt was hired as the team’s running backs coach in 2012 was promoted to handle the team’s quarterbacks in 2014.

Both coaches have had the benefit of working with All-pro signal caller Aaron Rodgers over the past few years. But the offense showed significant flaws when Rodgers went down with injuries for a much of the 2017 season. Today’s news essentially confirms the speculation that the Packers could drastically alter their coaching staff in the weeks ahead since they missed the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching/GM Notes, Pt. 2: Arians, Gase, Wolf

Here is Part 2 of our coaching/GM rumors post. Part 1 can be found here.

  • Despite his health concerns, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians expects to return in 2017, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Schefter tweets that one of Arians’ top assistants, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, is expected to interview for a head coaching job with the Rams, Jaguars, and Bills.
  • As the 49ers get prepared to search for a new head coach and GM, a ghost from the past has reared its ugly head. According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (via Twitter), San Francisco was prepared to hire current Dolphins head coach Adam Gase two years ago. The team informed Gase that he was the choice, but GM Trent Baalke intervened at the last moment and convinced ownership not to hire Gase. The 49ers chose Jim Tomsula instead, and it has been all downhill from there.
  • The Packers are not expected to make major coaching changes–although offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett could get head coaching interviews–but GM Ted Thompson could step aside and become a senior scouting adviser, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. One reason, according to Rapoport, is that Director of Football Operations Eliot Wolf is a highly-coveted football mind, and if he’s not promoted soon, Green Bay could lose him.
  • The Bengals are not expected to fire Marvin Lewis, who is signed through 2017, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. However, Lewis is not expected to get another one-year extension this offseason, which means that another disappointing campaign in 2017 could spell the end of his tenure as Cincinnati’s head coach.
  • Jets head coach Todd Bowles will likely be back for a third season, but offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is expected to be fired, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post.
  • The Ravens are expected to part ways with OC Marty Mornhinweg, and assuming they do, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Greg Roman is someone to “keep an eye on.”
  • Browns coaches have “deep concerns” with the direction of the team’s personnel department and are expected to push owner Jimmy Haslam for changes in that regard, according to La Canfora. While head coach Hue Jackson is not planning to request the removal of top football man Sashi Brown, the coaching staff would like a proven, old-school talent evaluator involved in player selection to provide something of a checks-and-balance system to Brown’s analytics-based approach.
  • La Canfora suggests that, if the Lions miss the playoffs this season, GM Bob Quinn could at least think about a coaching change, and his Patriots ties could lead him to consider Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, with whom he established strong relationships during his time in New England. While I personally could imagine Quinn’s being interested in McDaniels, I cannot see Patricia as a legitimate head coaching candidate at this point.

Extra Points: Nkemdiche, Henry, McCarthy, Kelly

Consensus top-10 pick Robert Nkemdiche remains in stable condition after a fall from a hotel room window in Atlanta, David Ching of ESPN.com reports.

Reports varied over the nature of the Ole Miss junior defensive lineman’s fall, with this tweet indicating the Atlanta police said Nkemdiche fell from a fourth-floor window. But according to Ching’s report, police indicated this was a one-story fall of approximately 15 feet.

Per Ching, Nkemdiche appeared to have broken the window, climbed over another wall before falling to the ground. A small amount of “suspected marijuana” was present inside the room.

Matt Miller of Bleacher Report projects Nkemdiche to go fourth in the 2016 draft, and Mel Kiper Jr. lists the former No. 1 overall recruit as his No. 5 prospect.

Here are some additional news items on draft prospects and other news from around the league.

  • Character issues are affecting Nkemdiche’s perception among NFL decision-makers, Miller reports (video link). Miller, however, cautions that demoting character risks can be costly, considering Justin Houston and Tyrann Mathieu‘s rapid rises.
  • Alabama running back Derrick Henry won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player, but that doesn’t automatically mean he will be a high draft pick, writes Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. He spoke with former scout Dan Hatman, who has Henry rated between his 100th and 150th best prospect, citing his reliance on blocking, poor change of direction, and a heavy college workload as reasons to be wary of overrating the top college running back.
  • Mike McCarthy notified associate head coach Tom Clements on Monday he’d be reassuming control of calling the Packers‘ plays, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports. The 10th-year Packers coach was following the advice of others in the organization urging him to do so, but McCarthy demurred initially because of fear it would make Clements and offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett look bad, Demovsky notes. Entering Sunday’s game, the Packers ranked 22nd in offense and 26th in third-down conversions. They rushed for 230 yards against the Cowboys. Clements last called plays for the Drew Bledsoe-era Bills in the mid-2000s. “The personal part of it was brutal,” McCarthy told media regarding Clements’ demotion. “Professionally, I felt like I had to do it. I was worried about making sure I was going to do my job good.”
  • Chip Kelly denied calling LeSean McCoy this week, an alleged phone call that resulted in the former Eagles running back hanging up on his ex-coach. “When people want to make up false stories about me calling people up during the week and them hanging up on me – people (are) trying to get Twitter hits or things like that and make themselves significant,” Kelly told media. The Philadelphia Inquirer stands by the story, the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane writes. Kelly attempted to call McCoy after news of the trade with the Bills in March, however.
  • Gus Bradley‘s job should be safe after the Jaguars‘ 51-16 thrashing of the Colts, O’Halloran writes. O’Halloran believes Bradley was on thin ice prior to this performance, but notching his fifth victory and first over the Colts puts the former Seahawks DC on firm ground in O’Halloran’s mind.
  • A 2011 loss in Jacksonville prompted Jim Irsay to fire Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell, and Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star wonders if the Colts‘ owner’s reached his decision to fire Chuck Pagano after allowing the 5-8 Jaguars to put up 51 points. In his contract’s final year, Pagano seems a pretty safe bet for a Black Monday headline.
  • Next week’s must-win for the Colts could feature career backup Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback, Kevin Bowen of Colts.com writes. With Andrew Luck throwing but not yet practicing and Matt Hasselbeck exiting Sunday’s rout early, next week’s Colts-Texans game could double as Whitehurst’s second-biggest career start, after the infamous Week 17 2010 game that clinched the 7-9 Seahawks’ playoff berth. The 33-year-old Whitehurst has made nine career starts, including five last season with the Titans.

Rob Dire contributed to this report. 

Packers Announce Coaching Changes

12:05pm: McCarthy confirmed at his press conference that Clements will call the offensive plays for the Packers in 2015, tweets Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

11:58am: The Packers have confirmed a handful of previously reported coaching changes, announcing today in a press release that the team has made changes on both sides of the ball, and named a pair of new special teams assistants as well. The new titles on Mike McCarthy‘s staff are as follows:

  • Tom Clements: Associate head coach/offense
  • Edgar Bennett: Offensive coordinator
  • Alex Van Pelt: Quarterbacks and wide receivers coach
  • Mike Solari: Assistant offensive line coach
  • Jerry Montgomery: Defensive front assistant
  • Ron Zook: Special teams coordinator
  • Jason Simmons: Assistant special teams coach

While the press release doesn’t mention anything about the Packers’ offensive play calls, McCarthy is expected to hand over the reins on play-calling to Clements as part of his promotion. Clements had previously been Green Bay’s offensive coordinator, while McCarthy called the plays, and now it appears that Bennett will be the OC while Clements calls plays.

McCarthy will speak to local reporters at the top of the hour to confirm the changes.

Packers To Make OC Change

7:20pm: The Packers have decided to shake up their offensive staff, elevating Clements to associate head coach and moving Bennett to replace him at offensive coordinator, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports.

The most notable change from this reshuffling: Clements will accept the play-calling reins from McCarthy. These increased roles could make it easier for Packers assistants to receive head-coaching interviews, Rapoport tweeted  Sunday after McCarthy questioned why his top staffers were never the “hot candidates,” in a January Rapoport account.

A former running back in Green Bay, Bennett coached the receivers the past four years after presiding over the running backs in the previous six seasons. The Packers have continued to produce top-flight receiving corps despite losses of key homegrown cogs Donald Driver (retirement), Greg Jennings (signed with the Vikings in 2013) and James Jones (UFA-Vikings in 2014).

Homegrown talents Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb combined for 25 receiving scores this season, and both landed on Pro Bowl rosters.

4:36 pm: The Packers 2014 season was a successful one by most standards, as the club won 12 games and finished first in the NFC North. A devastating loss to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game looms over Green Bay, however, and the team is now reportedly considering changes to its coaching staff. Sources tell Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com that head coach Mike McCarthy is “looking at different possibilities” with regards to altering his staff’s responsibilities, with once such scenario entailing him relinquishing play-calling duties.

Radio station 104.5 The Fan in Green Bay reported (Twitter link) that offensive coordinator Tom Clements is set to be promoted to associate head coach and will be handed the job of calling plays, while current receivers coach Edgar Bennett would shift to OC. Demovsky couldn’t confirm that exact structural change, and added that nothing has been finalized yet. Still, sources tell the ESPN scribe that McCarthy has privately noted the difficulty of managing the day-to-day operations of the team while also tending to play-calling, so the staff changes shouldn’t come as a surprise.

McCarthy, the Packers’ HC since 2006, has called the offensive plays for the duration of his reign in Green Bay. The offensive unit has been consistently above-average, finishing no lower than 11th in DVOA since 2007, including two No. 1 finishes (2011 and 2014). Clements has been on the Packers’ coaching staff since 2006, as well, acting as the QB coach from ’06-’12, then taking over as OC in 2013 following the departure of Joe Philbin. He was the play-caller for the Bills from 2004-05.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.