George Edwards

Vikings To Bring Back George Edwards As DC

George Edwards will be back with the Vikings next season. Sporting News’ Alex Marvez reports that the team has renewed the defensive coordinator’s contract for 2018. Edwards’ previous deal expired at the end of the 2017 campaign.

George EdwardsThe move isn’t overly surprising, as Edwards led the Vikings to the top defense in the NFL this past season. Minnesota ultimately finished the season having allowed 275.9 yards per game and 15.8 points per contest, both tops in the league. Edwards initially took the gig back in 2014, with the Vikings defense showing slight improvements during each of his seasons at the helm. He previously served as the Redskins and Bills defensive coordinator.

The Bears had previously interviewed Edwards for their head coaching vacancy. While some detractors criticized the coordinator’s lack of play-calling duties, head coach Mike Zimmer was more than supportive of Edwards’ bid for a head coaching gig.

“George does everything,” Zimmer said recently. “He helps with the game plan. He runs a lot of the meetings, the defensive meetings. Him and I really sit down and talk about all the different things that are going on. He studies the game just like he’s calling the game. So he’ll come in and talk to me about second down-and-whatever. ‘They’re doing this,’ or, ‘they’re doing that.’ Really, he does everything other than call the game on Sunday.”

We learned earlier today that the Vikings were planning on interviewing Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo for the offensive coordinator opening. Pat Shurmer, the team’s offensive coordinator in 2017, is now the head coach of the Giants.

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North Notes: Bears, Packers, Ravens, Browns

The Bears have concluded their head coaching interview with Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, the club announced today. Chicago is able to interview Edwards given that Minnesota secured a first-round playoff bye, and he’s one of seven candidates to be linked to the Bears’ vacancy. Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, and Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks are all being considered for the job alongside Edwards.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Incumbent cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt is considered the favorite to become the Packers‘ next defensive coordinator, reports Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Green Bay will start its DC search by interviewing three internal candidates: Whitt, safeties coach Darren Perry, and assistant head coach/linebackers Winston Moss. While all three coaches are currently under contract with the Packers, there’s no guarantee that any or all of them will return in 2018, as Demovsky writes in a separate piece. If Green Bay hires an outside candidate to replace Dom Capers, that new coach could aim to bring in his own assistants.
  • The Ravens will bring back offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinwheg in 2018, but it’s unclear if senior offensive assistant/tight ends coach Greg Roman will return given that his contract has expired, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Roman, a former play-caller for the 49ers and Bills, could potentially draw interest as an offensive coordinator once head coaching vacancies are filled around the league. Meanwhile, Baltimore may potentially hire a quarterbacks coach to work on Joe Flacco‘s mechanics, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters today, including Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Mornhinwheg currently holds the QBs coach title in addition to offensive coordinator.
  • Reports earlier this week indicated the Browns are interested in former Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese, and Cleveland will in fact interview him for their open offensive coordinator position, according to Rapoport (Twitter link). Browns head coach Hue Jackson, who calls his own offensive plays, had not employed an OC during his first two years in Cleveland. Zampese, the Bengals’ quarterbacks coach from 2003-16, lasted only two touchdown-less games as the club’s offensive play-caller in 2017. The Browns are also set to interview Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan for offensive coordinator in the near future.
  • Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley suffered a shattered pelvis during an incident at a bar on New Year’s Eve, but the injury is not expected to affect Haley’s ability to coach during the Divisional Round, reports Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While there certainly could be more to the story, Haley was reportedly shoved while out to dinner with his wife in the Pittsburgh area.

Bears To Interview Vikings’ George Edwards

The Bears have put in a request to interview Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). It seems the interview has already been OK’d as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press hears that it will take place this week. George Edwards

The Vikings meeting marks Edwards’ first head coach interview. It stands to reason that he’ll get at least one more given the way his defense has performed this season. However, it seems like he does not have as much hype as Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur because he does not call plays. For what it’s worth, head coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t think that should preclude him from consideration.

“George does everything,” Zimmer said recently. “He helps with the game plan. He runs a lot of the meetings, the defensive meetings. Him and I really sit down and talk about all the different things that are going on. He studies the game just like he’s calling the game. So he’ll come in and talk to me about second down-and-whatever. ‘They’re doing this,’ or, ‘they’re doing that.’ Really, he does everything other than call the game on Sunday.”

As shown on PFR’s Head Coaching Tracker, Shumur and Josh McDaniels will interview with the Bears on Friday. The team may look to fit Edwards in on Saturday. Others up for consideration in Chicago include Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFillippo, Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, and Panthers DC Steve Wilks.

 

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NFC North Notes: Vikings, Nelson, Trubisky

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was hired to his post mostly because of his mastery in calling an NFL defense. Zimmer was the Bengals defensive coordinator for six seasons before making the jump to the head coaching ranks in 2014. Although, he’s still been calling Minnesota’s defensive plays for the past four years. However, that is something that may change come 2018, reports Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune.

Krammer passes along that Zimmer almost gave up his playing calling duties this past year to defensive coordinator George Edwards. He ultimately decided against the move largely because of his success at calling defensive schemes for the past 18 years. Zimmer did express that Edwards is the main orchestrator of the team’s defensive game plan for the most part anyway.

“George does everything,” Zimmer said. “He helps with the game plan. He runs a lot of the meetings, the defensive meetings. Him and I really sit down and talk about all the different things that are going on. He studies the game just like he’s calling the game. So he’ll come in and talk to me about second down-and-whatever. ‘They’re doing this,’ or, ‘they’re doing that.’ Really, he does everything other than call the game on Sunday.”

Edwards used to call plays for the Bills back in 2011, but has taken a backseat in that regard in order to work as a member of Zimmer’s staff. This dynamic could be a subplot as we approach next year’s training camp because Zimmer appears to be letting go of the idea that he has to be the one making the final defensive decisions on Sundays.

“It’s a lot of work when you sit down and do it,” Zimmer said of calling plays. “I’ve done it for a long time. And because I have confidence in George, as well. I think maybe just the fact that, um, you know, I don’t know – I guess I’m just getting older.”

Here’s more stories from around the NFC North:

  • In other Vikings news, wide receiver Jarius Wright is reported to have restructured his deal at the beginning of the season, which dropped his base salary from $2.5MM to $1.05MM, according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). Goessling notes that Wright has earned weekly roster bonuses of about $93k in order to get back his original salary figure. With that in mind, he’ll have earned back the rest of his money by the time Week 17 kicks off.
  • Packers longtime receiver Jordy Nelson appears to be stuck in limbo with the organization the drafted him back in 2008, opines Rob Demosvky of ESPN.com. Nelson, who’ll turn 33 over the summer has seen a major drop off in production in his 10th year in the NFL. Demovsky suggests that the veteran wideout may hinder the team’s ability to re-sign the more productive and younger Davante Adams, who’ll be a free agent this offseason. Nelson will collect about $10MM in salary and bonuses in 2018, which will make him more difficult to cut or trade in the next few months. Randall Cobb is signed long-term as well, but is five years Nelson’s junior, which makes him a better piece to have moving forward. Not being able to sign Adams would be a major blow for a Packers team that saw what life is like without Aaron Rodgers this year. This puts the Packers in a very difficult position entering a crucial offseason with the team having missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
  • Mitch Trubisky has had his moments during his rookie campaign, but has largely faced a lot of difficulty in his first season in the NFL. It’s expected that the Bears coaching staff and roster will have a lot of turnover this offseason, but the young signal caller expects to take a “big jump” in 2018, reports Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune“I’m always motivated to get better,” Trubisky said. “I expect to make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2. The experience I got this year, I’m definitely going to carry that with me into the offseason and expect to have a lot of momentum and just a full head of steam going into next year.” While he experienced a number of challenges in 2017, Trubisky emphasized “growth and development” in his reflection of his first foray into professional football. Expect the Bears to put an emphasis on surrounding Trubisky with more talent this offseason. He’s had to work with patchwork receiving groups all year long, which certainly does not bode well for his outlook moving forward. The former first round pick comes into Week 17 completing under 60% of his passes, while throwing just as many touchdowns as interceptions at seven apiece.

 

Coach Notes: Jackson, Patricia, Coordinators

Hue Jackson has accumulated a stunningly poor 1-30 record in almost two seasons as the head coach of the Browns. However, despite his poor performance, he looks to be safe for next season. Other factors such as a lack of talent and a disfunctional front office certainly play a big role in the team’s failures, but basic logic must win out in determining his coaching future, opines Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

La Canfora notes that while Jackson appears to be “immune to review” at the moment, the team should be thinking about moving on from their second-year head coach. It’s not ideal for a franchise that has shuffled through many coaches in the past, but La Canfora argues that the job is more attractive then some may think when just observing this season.

New general manager John Dorsey has a track record of success and the team could be bringing in a young franchise QB with the number one pick, even though Josh Rosen has reportedly had some reservations about going to Cleveland.

La Canfora notes that finding a better replacement to Jackson shouldn’t be hard, even if the team is unlikely to do so given most of the reports coming from Browns ownership.

Here’s more notes from around the coaching carousel:

  • The Lions have stood behind head coach Jim Caldwell for the past four seasons, despite not winning a playoff game. However, it may be time for the franchise to move on after the team lost to the Bengals on Sunday. Patriots defense coordinator Matt Patricia may be a prime candidate if the job opens up because of his relationship with current Lions general manager Bob Quinn, according to Alex Marvez of Sporting News (Twitter link). The two men worked together in New England when Quinn was a high level decision maker in the Patriots front office, so the hire would be a natural fit.
  • The Redskins missed the playoffs for the second straight season, but could still lose their quarterback coach Kevin O’Connell to another opportunity. O’Connell is reported to be a “top target” for the UCLA offensive coordinator post, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). New Bruins head coach Chip Kelly is looking for another offensive mind to add to his staff and the offensive coordinator job would be a difficult position to turn down if O’Connell was offered, according to Rapoport. Under O’Connell’s guidance, Kirk Cousins has continued to produce solid numbers in 2017, which has certainly helped make him more sought after for promotions at the collegiate level.
  • There’s a number of attractive coordinators who will be free agents this offseason. Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com run down a list that includes defensive coordinators: Gus BradleyPaul Guenther, Vic Fangio and George Edwards. They mention that Bradley in particular is an odd situation because he signed just a one-year deal with the Chargers last offseason and has a great track record as a defensive coordinator with the Seahawks as well. At the moment, the Chargers have the third ranked scoring defense in the league, which should help make him in high demand for open defensive coordinator jobs after this season is over. Guenther on the other hand has been mentioned has a potential replacement for longtime Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, although he would be free to look at other opportunities should the team opt to go in a different direction. The article also makes note that popular Eagles quarterback coach John DeFilippo and Cowboys passing game coordinator Matt Eberflus would bring widespread interest as well if they move on from their current teams.

NFL Recommends Coaching Candidates

Each year, the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel releases a list of candidates for head coaching jobs. According to Mike Lombardi of The Ringer (Twitter link), that list includes: Josh McDaniels (Vertical)

  • Dan Campbell (Assistant Head Coach/TE coach, Saints)
  • Jim Bob Cooter (Offensive Coordinator, Lions)
  • John DeFilippo (Quarterbacks Coach, Eagles)
  • George Edwards (Defensive Coordinator, Vikings)
  • Josh McDaniels (Offensive Coordinator, Patriots)
  • Matt Nagy (Offensive Coordinator, Chiefs)
  • Matt Patricia (Defensive Coordinator, Patriots)
  • Jim Schwartz (Defensive Coordinator, Eagles)
  • Pat Shurmur (Offensive Coordinator, Vikings)
  • Dave Toub (Special Teams Coach, Chiefs)
  • Steve Wilks (Defensive Coordinator, Panthers)
  • Mike Vrabel (Defensive Coordinator, Texans)

McDaniels, of course, comes with previous head coaching experience. He was probably too young to handle those responsibilities in Denver, but he has reasserted himself as an offensive wunderkind. Both McDaniels and Patricia will be hot candidates for head coaching jobs this year, so the Patriots may have to make serious changes on the coaching staff.

There is some overlap with the list of minority candidates recommended by the Fritz Pollard Alliance, though Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie did not make the cut on this list. Austin received head coaching interviews in each of the last two offseasons, so he seems likely to garner some consideration this time around.

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Pollard Alliance Releases HC, GM Candidates

The Fritz Pollard Alliance met with the NFL this week and submitted names of suggested GM and head coaching candidates. The list, which is distributed to teams each year, recommends minority candidates for openings around the league. Teryl Austin (vertical)

This year’s candidates for GM jobs are Joey Clinkscales (Raiders), Alonzo Highsmith (Packers), Ray Farmer (Rams consultant), Will McClay (Cowboys), and Doug Williams (Redskins), according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The head coaching candidates are Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Vikings DC George Edwards, Panthers DC Steve Wilks, and Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Farmer has ten years of front office experience under his belt, including two as the Browns’ GM. The team went 10-22 under his watch, so wouldn’t necessarily be an exciting choice for a team this offseason. The other four suggested candidates would be first-time GMs, if hired.

Austin has been considered a bonafide head coaching candidate for some time, but he has been left in a holding pattern. In the 2016 offseason, Austin opined that two of his four interviews were done solely to satisfy the Rooney Rule. This past year, he interviewed with the Rams and Chargers.

Absent from the list is former Bills GM Doug Whaley, who received a potentially bogus interview with the Browns this week.

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Pollard Alliance Releases HC Candidates List

The Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation typically releases its list of recommended minority head coaching candidates in January. This year, we have an early preview of the list, courtesy of Tom Pelissero of USA Today. This year’s suggested candidates will include Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, Cardinals OC Harold Goodwin, and Vikings DC George EdwardsTeryl Austin (vertical)

Austin was a popular candidate for coaching vacancies last year but ultimately did not find a head coaching gig. After interviewing with the Browns, Dolphins, Giants, and Eagles, Austin indicated that he felt only two of the interviews were “legitimate” while the other two were only done to satisfy the Rooney Rule, which stipulates that a minority candidate must be interviewed for every job. Since the Browns hired a black coach in Hue Jackson, Austin presumably isn’t accusing Cleveland of interviewing him to fulfill the requirement.

The Bills installed Lynn as their OC in September after ousting Greg Roman. The Bills have been up-and-down this year, but they now stand at 6-6 despite injuries to key players. Lynn has had to run the Bills’ offense without star wide receiver Sammy Watkins for much of the year and teams will certainly take notice of his capable job despite the less-than-ideal circumstances.

Goodwin has made no secret of his desire to land a head coaching job. However, there are some factors working against him. First, the Cardinals offense has struggled this season. Secondly, despite rave reviews from those around him, Goodwin does not call the plays in Arizona, and that could deter interested teams.

Edwards was placed on the Pollard list for the first time last year and he returns this season. Like Goodwin, he does not call plays for his team despite the coordinator title. However, he comes with a strong recommendation from head coach Mike Zimmer and he did call the plays against the Cowboys when Zimmer was recovering from surgery. With Edwards at the wheel, the Vikings allowed just 17 points against one of the league’s most electric offenses.

The foundation also released a list of general manager candidates including Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross, Raiders director of player personnel Joey Clinkscales, former Lions GM and current Giants exec Martin Mayhew, and Eagles director of college scouting Trey Brown.

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NFC Notes: Dak, Vikes, Panthers, Packers

As expected, the Cowboys are starting quarterback Dak Prescott after the team’s bye week against the Eagles, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Meanwhile, Tony Romo may not be ready to be considered for the following week against the Browns either, Rapoport hears.

More from the NFC:

  • It’s possible Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards’ DWI arrest in May will negatively affect his chances of eventually becoming a head coach, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press details (Twitter link). Edwards was among six assistants the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which promotes minority hiring in the NFL, recommended last offseason for a head coaching job. Whether the Fritz Pollard Alliance endorses Edwards again will come down to opinions from Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer, FPA chairman John Wooten told Tomasson. “I want to talk to Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer and see what their thoughts are, and whether they still support him in moving up the line,” he said. In a positive development for Edwards, Zimmer stuck by the 49-year-old assistant Wednesday in explaining his role with the 5-0 team. “He does a whole ton of things for me that I don’t have to do,” said Zimmer. “We talk about things all of the time as far as game plans. He goes through a lot of the research tape that I really don’t have time to do and we talk about of different things. But George is a very smart guy. He’s very diligent about his work. He cares about making sure his side of the ball performs very well.”
  • The Panthers worked out 14 free agents Wednesday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk was among those to report. Tight ends Alex Bayer, Kivon Cartwright, Jim Dray and Eric Wallace; defensive backs Tay Glover-Wright, Demetrius McCray, Jeremiah McKinnon and Shaun Prater; running back Darrel Young; quarterbacks Dylan Thompson and Sean Renfree; receivers Jeremy Ross and T.J. Graham; and defensive end Malliciah Goodman each tried to impress Carolina brass. The most experienced members of the group are Dray (91 appearances, 37 starts), Young (90, 36), Graham (47, 17), McCray (46, 16) and Goodman (34, 11).
  • The Packers have to consider moving on from Sam Shields next year, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com opines. Shields, a talented cornerback, recently suffered his second concussion in nine months and his fourth in the last six seasons. The soon-to-be 29-year-old plans to continue playing football, but it’s fair to wonder if he can return to his old form and stay on the field. By cutting Shields, the Packers could recoup some of the four-year, $39MM deal they gave him in 2014.

Vikings’ D-Coordinator Was Arrested In May

The Vikings cut offensive lineman Isame Faciane on Tuesday after he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving last week. Defensive coordinator George Edwards didn’t meet a similar fate after his own run-in with the law, however. Edwards was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in May and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless driving in August, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.

George Edwards

“George Edwards immediately notified the team of this situation when it occurred,” the Vikings said in a statement. “He was significantly disciplined by the Vikings. George has fulfilled both his legal obligations as well as the additional team-imposed discipline.”

Unlike the Vikings, the NFL won’t punish Edwards, a league spokesman told Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). At the time of his arrest, Edwards blew a blood-alcohol level of .11 (the legal limit is .08). Police pulled him over after they observed him failing to signal a turn for a fourth straight time. After pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, Edwards paid a $1K fine. He’s now on probation until Aug. 30, 2017.

Under both head coach Mike Zimmer and Edwards, the Vikings’ defense leads the league in points per game allowed (12.6) and ranks second in yardage surrendered. Minnesota’s defense is the main reason the team has begun 2016 a league-best 5-0.

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