Jason Simmons

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.