Jason Simmons

Coaching/Front Office Notes: Browns, Broncos, Giants, Titans, Panthers, Dolphins

When previous frontrunner George Paton removed himself from consideration for the Browns’ general manager vacancy, there were reports that he had concerns about Cleveland’s power structure. That might’ve been a bit overblown, as sources told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that Paton was “not at all scared off by Browns’ structure” (Twitter link). Further, Fowler writes that Paton was “impressed with people in the building and thinks highly of” new head coach Kevin Stefanski, while it came down to the fact that he “felt he had a good thing still going in Minnesota.” Paton is currently an assistant GM with the Vikings. That’s good news for Browns fans, but the earlier reports are still concerning. Stefanski, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, and whoever the new GM is will all be reporting directly to owner Jimmy Haslam, which understandably turns off some prospective candidates.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks:

  • We heard Mike Shula’s interview with the Broncos went well, and now he’s about to be hired. Shula is going to become Denver’s next quarterbacks coach, the team is just working out contract details, a source told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link). Specifically, Klis writes that offsets with the Giants still need to be worked out. Shula had been the Giants’ offensive coordinator before Pat Shurmur was fired, and there was apparently offset language in his contract. Prior to joining New York, Shula was the Panthers’ OC for five seasons. Shurmur has since been hired as Denver’s offensive play-caller, so obviously there’s a lot of familiarity here.
  • Speaking of former Giants coaches, New York’s former head coach Ben McAdoo left his visit with the Browns without a deal, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). Garafolo notes that it is still unclear exactly what role McAdoo was interviewing for in Cleveland. Garafolo also writes he was “in play” to be Carolina’s new quarterbacks coach.
  • Jason Garrett is re-teaming with one of his guys. The new Giants offensive coordinator will be paired back up with Marc Colombo, who is going to be New York’s new offensive line coach, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Colombo had been Garrett’s O-line coach in Dallas. The Cowboys routinely had one of the league’s best offensive lines, so this seems like a strong hire.
  • Legendary assistant Dean Pees elected to retire as the Titans’ defensive coordinator, leaving Mike Vrabel with a big hole on his staff. The “expectation in [the] coaching community” is that Titans outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen will be promoted to DC, per Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL (Twitter link). Bowen had previously served as a defensive assistant with the Texans, so he has deep ties to Vrabel.
  • Rookie Panthers head coach Matt Rhule continues to fill out his inaugural staff, and he just made a couple of new hires. Rhule is expected to hire Pat Meyer away from the Chargers as his offensive line coach, and Jason Simmons away from the Packers as his defensive backs coach, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Meyer had been Los Angeles’ OL coach and run-game coordinator, while Simmons coached the Packers’ DBs. Rhule’s staff is now almost fully fleshed out.
  • Finally, the Dolphins are hiring a new defensive backs coach in Gerald Alexander, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald tweets. Alexander is coming from the college ranks, where he served as the defensive backs coach at Cal for the past few seasons. Alexander was briefly with the Dolphins as a safety during his playing days back in 2011. Miami had the vacancy after they promoted Josh Boyer to defensive coordinator following Patrick Graham’s departure.

Latest On Packers’ Coaching Staff

The Packers are just about done filling out Matt LaFleur’s inaugural staff. They’ve made a bunch of moves over the past couple of weeks, and made several more today. While LaFleur is keeping defensive coordinator Mike Pettine from Mike McCarthy’s staff, most of the assistants are being changed out. Pettine is staying and the team previously hired Nathaniel Hackett to coordinate the offense, and today they found their third coordinator.

Vanderbilt special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga will take the same job with the Packers, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link). As Demovsky points out, Green Bay’s special teams were some of the worst in the league last year, so Mennenga will have his work cut out for him. Mennenga was previously an assistant special teams coach with the Browns while Pettine was the head coach in Cleveland.

The team also has a new wide receivers coach, as they’re hiring Alvis Whitted, according to Demovsky. Whitted has been in the same position at Colorado State for the last seven years. Before that Whitted spent nearly a decade in the NFL as a player, with stops in Jacksonville and Oakland.

The team also announced they were keeping four of McCarthy’s other assistants, tweets Jason Wilde of ESPN. Running backs coach Ben Sirmans, defensive backs coach Jason Simmons, defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, and assistant defensive backs coach Ryan Downard are all staying. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets that both Simmons and Downard actually received promotions.

Latest On Packers’ Coaching Staff

The Packers made several moves today to help fill out new coach Matt LaFleur’s inaugural staff. First the team hired 49ers assistant offensive line coach Adam Stenavich to be their offensive line coach, sources told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports (Twitter link). We heard a couple of days ago Green Bay was granted permission to interview him, and now they’ve made the move. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweeted several hours before Maiocco broke the news that the Jets also had interest in Stenavich to be their offensive line coach. Stenavich was on the Packers’ practice squad in 2006 during his playing days as an offensive tackle.

The team is also hiring Kirk Olivadotti to be their linebackers coach, tweets Jim Owczarski of the Milwuakee Journal Sentinel. Up until now Olivadotti had served in the same position with the Redskins. LaFleur served on Washington’s staff as quarterbacks coach while Olivadotti was there, so the hire makes sense. LaFleur will also be retaining Jason Simmons, the secondary coach who has been on the staff in Green Bay since 2011, tweets Rob Demovsky of ESPN.

In a separate tweet Demovsky notes that the Packers completed their interview with Luke Getsy. A source told Demovsky that Getsy interviewed for both the quarterbacks and receivers coach openings, but left town without signing a contract. Jason Wilde of ESPN followed up with a tweet of his own, saying that quarterback Aaron Rodgers “thinks very highly of Getsy and has a lot of respect for him.”

Getsy served on the Packers’ staff under Mike McCarthy from 2014-17 before leaving to take a job as Mississippi State’s offensive coordinator last year. The Packers have been making a bunch of moves to bring guys in from different organizations, and are now close to filling out LaFleur’s staff.

 

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Titans, Lions, Packers

Although at least one report indicated new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel would overhaul the majority of Tennessee’s coaching staff, that’s not necessarily the case, says Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com (all Twitter links). Tight ends coach Arthur Smith, assistant special teams coach Craig Aukerman, and assistant wide receivers coach Luke Steckel will join previously-reported defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend in interviewing with Vrabel during the Senior Bowl. Among the coaches who will part ways with the Titans include offensive line coach and NFL Hall of Famer Russ Grimm (who is retiring), quarterbacks coach Jason Michael, running backs coach Sylvester Croom, defensive assistant Brandon Blaney, and assistant defensive backs coach Steve Jackson.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Lions are expected to revamp their defensive coaching staff under new head coach Matt Patricia, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). That should come as no surprise given Patricia’s defensive background, and the current Patriots DC spoke with members of the Detroit staff last week to inform them they aren’t part of the club’s 2018 plans, per Birkett. Specifically, Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan and defensive backs coach Alan Williams have been fired, reports Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. The Lions, of course, have already lost a number of defensive staffers to other teams, as former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin joined the Bengals while ex-defensive line coach Kris Kocurek landed with the Dolphins.
  • The Packers will continue their staff overhaul under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine by hiring former Bowling Green safeties coach Ryan Downard, likely as a defensive quality control coach, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links). Downard was an assistant under Pettine in Cleveland before heading to BGSU, so there is a level of familiarity between the two. Downard’s addition does not have an effect on the status of incumbent cornerbacks coach Darren Perry, per Silverstein. Meanwhile, La Canfora (via Twitter) has clarified Jason Simmonsrole change with Green Bay, noting that he’s been moved to secondary coach.
  • The Panthers are interviewing Seahawks assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell for the same position, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). If hired, Farwell would work alongside former NFL linebacker Chase Blackburn, who was recently named Carolina’s new special teams coach. Farwell, an ex-NFL ‘backer in his own right, joined the coaching ranks in 2016.
  • The Seahawks have mutually parted ways with senior defensive assistant Travis Jones, the club announced today. Jones had served as Seattle’s defensive line coach from 2013-16 before being bumped to a new role last season. He’s just the latest coach to leave the Seahawks’ staff this month, adding to a growing list that includes OC Darrell Bevell and DC Kris Richard.

Coaching Rumors: Patriots, Falcons, Raiders

Both Patriots coordinators — Josh McDaniels (offense) and Matt Patricia (defense) — are expected to accept head coaching jobs this offseason, but they may not be the only top assistants to leave New England in the coming weeks. Special teams coordinator Joe Judge is also working on an expiring contract, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, who adds Judge could follow either McDaniels or Patricia to Indianapolis or Detroit, respectively. The Patriots have finished as a top-eight special teams unit in DVOA in each of Judge’s seven seasons at the helm.

Here’s more from the coaching carousel:

  • If former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard doesn’t land another DC job, it “wouldn’t be a surprise” to see him land with the Falcons, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com opines. The connection makes sense, as Richard preceded Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn as Seattle’s defensive play-caller, and also played alongside current Falcons DC Marquand Manuel. Richard likely wouldn’t become defensive coordinator in Atlanta, so he could hypothetically wait to see if he garners interest around the league before taking a lesser position with the Falcons.
  • Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day is reportedly new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel‘s top choice to become Tennessee’s next OC, but Vrabel also has interest in Lions quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan, tweets Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com. Callahan has drawn coordinator interest around the league before, and could also be on the Jets’ radar as they seek to fill their OC vacancy. However, Detroit and new head coach Matt Patricia want to keep Callahan in place with the Lions.
  • The Raiders interviewed former Texas A&M (and current Arizona) head coach Kevin Sumlin, but it’s unclear which role Jon Gruden had in mind for the longtime NCAA coach. While Alex Marvez of the Sporting News recently reported Oakland met with Sumlin regarding its wide receivers coach job, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com indicates (via Twitter) Sumlin interviewed for offensive coordinator. The Raiders ultimately hired Edgar Bennett and Greg Olson for those respective gigs.
  • Before accepting a new position with the Giants, special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey interviewed with the Browns, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Cleveland ultimately selected former Cardinals ST coach Amos Jones over McGaughey, who’s also coordinated special teams units for the Jets and 49ers.
  • Scott McCurley — who coached inside linebackers for the Packers in 2017 but was fired at season’s end — is now back with Green Bay, but could possibly be working under a new title, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Additionally, the Packers have reassigned special teams assistant Jason Simmons to a defensive position, while former Colts staffer Maurice Drayton will replace Simmons’ ST duties.

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.