Jack Del Rio

Jack Del Rio Frontrunner For Giants’ DC Job?

Fired less than a year after signing a lengthy extension, Jack Del Rio looks to have an offer to get right back into high-profile coaching.

Pat Shurmur is interested in the former Raiders head coach to run his defense once he lands with the Giants, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reports. Del Rio is a leading candidate for a position that, as of now, has no other known external candidates. Mortensen describes Shurmur as having Del Rio high on his prospective candidate list.

The Giants are expected to hire Shurmur as their next head coach but still plan to interview him a second time, Mortensen reports.

Any Del Rio deal would be offset against his Raiders contract, which will average $6MM annually for the next three years, per Mortensen.

While there are no known external candidates, interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo interviewed for the Giants’ HC post and has worked with Shurmur in the past. Shurmur served as Spagnuolo’s offensive coordinator in St. Louis from 2009-10. The Giants and Shurmur both think highly of the longtime DC, Tom Rock of Newsday notes.

While the Giants have lost several of their assistants to jobs elsewhere, much of the team’s defensive staff remains on board. Although, Shurmur could certainly have names in mind to replace the incumbents.

Del Rio’s Raiders defenses weren’t particularly imposing, but he fielded multiple top-five units with the Broncos (in 2012 and ’14). And both of Del Rio’s playoff teams in Jacksonville (2005 and ’07) fielded top-10 scoring defenses before the Jags began to deteriorate in his later years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jack Del Rio Out In Oakland

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was informed after the team’s Week 17 loss to the Chargers that he would not be retained, the coach told reporters including the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Michael Gehlken (Twitter link). Jack Del Rio (vertical)

In his postgame press conference, the coach told reporters he was notified “two minutes ago” by Raiders owner Mark Davis of his decision. Del Rio said, “He told me he loved me and appreciated all that I did to get this program going to right direction, but that he felt he needed a change.” Del Rio expressed gratitude for the opportunity Davis gave him when he hired him in 2015.

Following a breakout 2016 campaign that saw the Raiders go 12-4, Oakland entered 2017 as potential Super Bowl contenders with a loaded offense and a solid defense. Things didn’t go according to plan and the Raiders scuffled to a 6-10 mark.

The firing comes on the heels of the Raiders’ reported pursuit of the team’s former head coach Jon Gruden. Reports claim the Raiders could offer the ESPN analyst an ownership stake in the team to take over as head coach.

In his three seasons as head coach, Del Rio amassed a 25-23 mark and advanced to the postseason in 2016 for the first time since the team lost the Super Bowl in 2002.

With young stars Derek Carr and Amari Cooper on offense and a game-changing talent on defense in Khalil Mack, the Raiders head-coaching job is arguably the top gig that will become available this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Pursue Jon Gruden

Now that the Buccaneers are expected to retain Dirk Koetter as their head coach in 2018 (though Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk thinks that Tampa Bay could easily reverse course in that regard), the Raiders are upping the ante in their pursuit of Jon Gruden. Gruden, of course, previously served as head coach of Tampa Bay and Oakland, though his name has been more heavily connected to the Buccaneers in recent weeks.

Jon Gruden (vertical)

But ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Raiders are preparing to pursue Gruden with an offer so strong that it could include an ownership stake in the team. Schefter adds that Gruden, currently an ESPN analyst, will be tempted to accept the offer, though he would prefer to wait until the regular season concludes and Oakland formally makes a decision on current head coach Jack Del Rio.

There are complications to a potential reunion. For instance, if Raiders owner Mark Davis does indeed offer Gruden an ownership stake, the contract would need to be approved by all 32 owners and the league finance committee, and such approval could be difficult to attain, as ownership would not want to set a precedent. Furthermore, Del Rio and Gruden are represented by the same agent, Bob LaMonte.

Nonetheless, one has to figure that if the Raiders want Gruden, and Gruden wants them, the two sides will find a way to make it happen. After all, Gruden never wanted to leave the Raiders to begin with, and though Oakland has struggled this season, there are a lot of factors that make its head coaching job an enviable one. Plus, although Gruden has been frequently discussed as a highly-coveted head coaching candidate in past years, this is the first year that he has made calls around the league in an effort to piece together a potential staff.

Interestingly, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) names current CBS analyst (and former Raiders QB) Rich Gannon as someone that Gruden has contacted as a potential quarterbacks coach.

Gruden declined to specifically comment on the Raiders’ position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Breer’s Latest: Black Monday Preview

With the final week of the NFL’s regular season approaching, that only means two things; 12 teams will soon be focusing on reaching the Super Bowl, while the rest will start to look ahead to next season. One major part of looking forward is addressing who on the coaching staff will be returning in 2018. Many of these coaching questions are answered on the day following Week’s 17 conclusion, conveniently called “Black Monday”.

Veteran reporter Albert of Breer of Sports Illustrated, gave a preview of the coaches he expects to stay and the ones that will likely be shown the door in his most recent column. Breer ranked the potential firings as “Likely/Done”, “We’ll See”, and “It’s Complicated”. In total, there were 15 head coaches mentioned who could see their situations change starting next week.

Here’s a quick look at Breer’s takes on some of the league’s hottest coaching questions:

  • There were five head coaches included in the “likely/done” category including: BearsJohn Fox, BengalsMarvin Lewis, LionsJim Caldwell, ColtsChuck Pagano and and the Giants‘ interim coach Steve Spagnuolo. The four full-time head coaches on this list have all had their fair share of success in the league. In fact, three of them led their current teams to multiple playoff appearances during their tenure. However, Caldwell and Lewis have been unable to win a postseason game with Pagano and Fox having failed at continuing the past success they have shown during their careers in football. Breer notes that while the “expectation is that Fox will be gone”, the decision on the fate of general manager Ryan Pace is true question facing the franchise this offseason. There’s been rapid speculation about Lewis, Caldwell and Pagano throughout the year, so their inclusion on this list is no surprise. Finally, the Giants are currently interviewing general manager candidates who will almost certainly be looking to lead their own head coaching search once hired.
  • Breer puts six current head coaches in the ‘we’ll see” part of the list. This portion mentions the CardinalsBruce Arians, BroncosVance Joseph, RaidersJack Del Rio, BuccaneersDirk Koetter, TitansMike Mularkey and the RedskinsJay Gruden. There’s a variety of situations going on here with Breer noting that Arizona could see Arians retire, which could lead them to other current NFL head coaches: Todd Bowles and Bill O’Brien. Del Rio and Gruden have had their fair share of success because of quality quarterback play, but both have managed to decrease confidence because of an inconsistent 2017 season. However, Breer points out that both are signed long-term so their owners would have to eat the remaining years of their current deals. Mularkey and Koetter were rewarded for the relationships they formed with their QB’s, but there’s been disappointment with how this season has unfolded for their teams. Breer notes that should Mularkey lose this Sunday, he could be on the chopping block come Monday morning with the team looking to hire an offensive-minded coach like Josh McDaniels. Finally, Joseph has forced himself to the hot seat even in his first year of coaching the Broncos, though Breer says himself that this situation is “unpredictable” given that team president John Elway is just “not pleased with how the season’s gone”.
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson, and the two previously mentioned O’Brien and Bowles of the Texans and Jets, find themselves on the “it’s complicated” section of Breer’s roundup largely because of just the many factors are at play in regards to their situations. Jackson got a vote of confidence from owner Jimmy Haslam himself, but new general manager John Dorsey could have his sights on implementing his own guy after a winless season. O’Brien has made the playoffs before, but has struggled committing to a QB even after the team selected Deshaun Watson in the first round. Bowles has done a lot with a little in New York this season, but ownership could go in a different direction with a new starting signal caller likely walking into the building next year. Also, there is the potential that all three coaches could move onto new head coaching gigs with the number of openings that could be available this offseason. The final and definitely most surprising inclusion on this list was Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who Breer mentions could retire at age 66 with a roster about to see major turnover in the next few years. Although, I would venture that nothing he’s said this season would indicate that being the case.

50/50 Chance Of Raiders Firing Jack Del Rio

Could the Raiders move on from Jack Del Rio this offseason? There’s a 50/50 chance that he’ll return in 2018, a source tells Mike Florio of PFT. Jack Del Rio (vertical)

[RELATED: Raiders Expected To Fire OC Todd Downing]

Del Rio and the Raiders inked a four-year extension back in January, but he might not get to serve out the deal. Typically, head coaching contracts are guaranteed for a fair amount, so the money committed to Del Rio could dissuade Oakland from making a change. But, at minimum, the 6-8 Raiders are giving it some serious thought.

Last year, Del Rio won 12 games for the second time in his career and brought the Raiders to playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Still, the Raiders are loaded with talent and Del Rio has yet to win a division title in his 10+ years as a head coach. There will be plenty of intriguing candidates available this winter and a few of those names could hold interest for the Raiders.

The Raiders face extremely long odds of making the playoffs, but they could still finish .500 with wins over the Eagles and Chargers in the next two weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Anthem, Raiders, Bengals, Jets

Discussion about who stands and who sits for the national anthem could come to an end next season if the owners have their way, the Washington Post’s Mark Maske hears. Maske reports that some NFL owners think there is a “strong possibility” they could enact a change to the league’s policy next season that could keep players off the field during the playing of the national anthem.

Maske quoted one person familiar with the owners’ deliberations saying, “I think that if players are still kneeling at the end of the year, then it could very well happen.” He continued with the source, who said, “I think most owners would support it, particularly if players continue to kneel this season.”

The thought this action could quell attention from the league’s anthem issues is a naive one. Players in favor of demonstrating their right to protest are sure to feel disrespected, while having no one standing for the flag is certain to draw ire from a wide range of fans. Whatever the decision, the NFL isn’t likely to escape the spotlight anytime soon.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Raiders  head coach Jack Del Rio issued a statement on Wednesday stating “nobody should feel comfortable” following the team’s firing of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., NBC Sports’ Scott Blair reports. Del Rio continued, saying, “We couldn’t continue doing what we’ve been doing to this point. So I made the call. The whole idea is to change what we’re doing and make sure…what I’m looking for at the end of the day is for us to play fast on defense. We weren’t playing fast enough. We weren’t playing confident enough.” After starting the season with Super Bowl aspirations, the Raiders are holding out hope for a second-half revival to contend for a wildcard spot.
  • Former Chiefs general manager John Dorsey sat down with ESPN’s Adam Schefter on his Know Them From Adam Podcast to give his first interview since being fired in June. In the interview, which the Kansas City Star’s Blair Kerkhoff recapped, Dorsey didn’t address his departure much outside of saying he’s had better days. He did claim he wanted to make a return to football, however. “I know I can do my job with the best with my peers in the National Football League,” Dorsey said. “I’m very proud of being able to help an organization re-establish their winning ways, and I think that’s important.”
  • When asked if the team was committed to kicker Randy Bullock for the remainder of the season, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said they were committed to him “for the week.,” ESPN’s Katherine Terrell reports. Bullock has connected on 8-of-10 field goals on the season but has missed an extra point in each of his last two games.
  • It’s getting close to time for the Jets to see what they have in Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes. Though Josh McCown has played well, Mehta claims it is time to call the kids up from “Triple-A” to see what they can do.

Raiders Sign Jack Del Rio To Four-Year Deal

The Raiders have signed head coach Jack Del Rio to a new four-year contract that locks him up through the 2020 campaign, the club announced today.Jack Del Rio (Vertical)

[RELATED: Top 3 Offseason Needs — Oakland Raiders]

“The Raiders have torn up Jack Del Rio’s original contract and rewarded him with a new four-year deal,” said Raiders owner Mark Davis in a written statement. “We are excited to continue building on the strong foundation that has been established and this is a significant step in achieving that goal.”

As Davis notes, this is a completely new contract for Del Rio, who was already signed through the 2018 season. Reports last month indicated Oakland intended to start negotiations with Del Rio, who just completed his second season as head coach, soon. Del Rio led the Raiders to a four-win improvement during his first go-round as coach in 2015, then took the Raiders back to the postseason for the first time in 14 years this January.

The 53-year-old Del Rio won 12 games for the second time in his career, and although he has yet to win a division title in 10 years as a head coach, the Raiders came close to accomplishing that this season after failing to sniff such a perch in years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders, Jack Del Rio To Talk Extension

On the heels of leading the Raiders back to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, Jack Del Rio will begin extension talks with the team this week, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter).

Del Rio is signed through the 2018 season already, but Mark Davis is obviously pleased with the job the coach has done in his two years at the helm. Oakland improved by three wins from 2014 to ’15 and the 12-win 2016 campaign represented a five-victory improvement for a franchise that hadn’t fielded a winning team since 2002. The 53-year-old Del Rio won 12 games for the second time in his career, and although he has yet to win a division title in 10 years as a HC, the Raiders came close to accomplishing that this season after failing to sniff such a perch in years.

This could be viewed as a formality, but the Raiders have been anything but stable in their recent past, moving on from coaches quickly as the likes of Tom Cable and Hue Jackson discovered. But the organization resides on much firmer ground under Del Rio, whom Reggie McKenzie hired from the Broncos. The McKenzie-led Raiders are moving on a steadier course than they did during Al Davis’ final years, so this latest partnership looks like it will be lasting long-term.

Del Rio now also could be faced with shepherding a Raiders move to Las Vegas, but the Raiders managed to thrive with that looming over their 2016 season, giving Del Rio a chance at coach of the year acclaim.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bolts, Raiders, Dolphins, Joeckel

After a second straight Chargers season faces the prospects of being overrun by injuries, the team is planning to expand its offseason studies in this area. The organization appears set to devote more resources to researching injuries come 2017, given what’s happened over the past month.

I can assure you this year is going to be more in-depth and thorough than ever before,” Chargers president John Spanos said, via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

This year’s Chargers have lost numerous key players, from the preseason injury to Stevie Johnson to the early-season carnage that’s taken out Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, Jahleel Addae, Manti Te’o and now Jason Verrett. Antonio Gates and Joey Bosa have also missed extensive time due to injuries. This comes after 2015’s spate of maladies that helped put the Bolts in the top five of a draft for the first time since 2004.

Gehlken points out the early portion of this decade did not bring the trouble the past two years have, with ACL and Achilles tears sparse before the ’15 season. Several within the organization said they’ve never seen anything like what’s happened to the Chargers on the health front the past two years, per Gehlken.

Here’s more from the AFC as most of its franchises prepare for their fifth games.

  • Al Davis‘ death staggered the Raiders and left them without a true GM for most of the 2011 season, but it ended up triggering the franchise’s steady climb back to respectability, Kevin Acee of the Union-Tribune writes. In addition to Reggie McKenzie drafting better than his predecessor, at least in the several years before his death, the Raiders hired a coach in Jack Del Rio who demanded facility upgrades, Acee writes.
  • The Dolphins aren’t sold on Ja’Wuan James‘ long-term potential at right tackle, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. A Dolphins source questioned the third-year player’s drive, noting the team hasn’t done enough to provide competition for him at that spot. Billy Turner replaced James against the Browns before James reacquired the job due to a Turner injury. “That was a wasted pick for a first-rounder,” former front-office executive Ken Herock told Jackson. “He should have been a third- or fourth-rounder. I questioned his strength, his recovery ability. Those are things I didn’t see.” Pro Football Focus rates James as the No. 44 tackle thus far in 2016 among the 75 who qualify as full-timers.
  • Jackson also notes Chiefs center Mitch Morse and Chargers inside linebacker Denzel Perryman drew support from members of the Dolphins front office during Day 2 of the 2015 draft, but Mike Tannenbaum opted to trade down and snag defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who has not produced to this point, in the second round.
  • Luke Joeckel‘s surgery could make a return to the Jaguars more likely in 2017, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union writes. Although the former No. 2 overall pick has not panned out, a strong season at guard would have created a robust market for Joeckel instead of one that could well be tepid due to a small work sample at his second position. Joeckel proved ill-equipped at left tackle, prompting the Jags to bring in Kelvin Beachum, and played just 155 snaps at left guard before undergoing surgery to repair his ACL, MCL and mensicus. O’Halloran notes the team liked what they saw from Joeckel inside. He stands to be a UFA if not re-signed after the Jags declined his fifth-year option.
  • The Broncos are planning to give Paxton Lynch his first NFL start Sunday after deeming Trevor Siemian unfit to return.

Extra Points: Lions, Colts, Broncos, J. Smith

Now that the Lions have hired Bob Quinn as their new general manager, Detroit coaches are wondering if they still have a job, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Obviously, there will be some turnover as a new regime takes over, but two Lions coaches told Birkett they have not been updated as to the status of their employment.

However, the club’s head coach, Jim Caldwell, might be one of the lucky ones, as a Patriots insider tells Mike O’Hara of Lions.com that Quinn is likely to retain Caldwell for 2016. Detroit’s upper management has been adamant that the new GM would get to decide Caldwell’s fate, and while we’ll have to wait for official word, at least one source thinks Caldwell will get to stay.

Meanwhile, while interim GM Sheldon White was thanked in a team statement, there’s been no indication as to whether he’ll revert back to his old position of director of player personnel, tweets Paula Pasche of the Oakland Press.

More from around the league…

  • Though the Colts retained some level of stability by keeping both GM Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano, the club’s roster figures to see an overhaul, per Mike Chappell of CBS4, who singles out Andre Johnson and Trent Cole as players who are likely to be cut this offseason.
  • By being selected second-team All-Pro instead of first-team, Broncos corner Chris Harris missed out on an extra $500K, according to Mike Klis of 9News. First-team recognition would have bumped up Harris’ 2016 salary from $6.9MM to $7.4MM.
  • Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith‘s surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL “went about as well as it possibly could have,” a source tells Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated. Smith was expected to a be top-10 selection in this year’s draft, but that stock will obviously be affected by this major injury.
  • Had Hue Jackson been offered the opportunity to return as Raiders head coach for a second season in 2012, he planned to make a change at defensive coordinator. His No. 1 choice? Jack Del Rio, who is now ironically Oakland’s head coach himself. “I had him locked in and everything,” Jackson told Mike Silver of NFL.com. “I think we would have worked really well together.”