Jay Gruden

Extra Points: Goodell, Hunt, Foster, Redskins, Kyler Murray, Whitehead

Commissioner Roger Goodell gave his annual press conference Wednesday, and was unsurprisingly asked about former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. Goodell said the investigation into the incident that led the Chiefs to cut Hunt “should conclude ‘soon’ and that he’ll go back on the exempt list whenever” he ends up signing with a team, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

As Rapsheet points out, Hunt is looking at a “likely suspension”, although it’s unclear what the length may be. We heard a couple of weeks ago that the investigation was likely to be over by March. Shortly before that, it was reported that the Bears had spoken to Hunt. Chicago seems like a strong possibility for Hunt, as Jordan Howard struggled heavily this year and it would reunite Hunt with his former offensive coordinator in Matt Nagy.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of possible suspensions, Goodell also weighed in on Reuben Foster‘s situation. In the same tweet, Rapoport wrote that Goodell said “just because his charge was dropped doesn’t mean he won’t be suspended.” Foster recently saw the charges dropped for his most recent arrest, but he’s apparently not out of the woods yet. Goodell also said that he plans to speak in person with Foster again before making a decision, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Foster was claimed off waivers by the Redskins after the 49ers cut him late in the season, but he’s been on the exempt list ever since.
  • The Redskins recently promoted quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell to offensive coordinator, but that doesn’t mean head coach Jay Gruden is giving up play-calling duties. Redskins team president Bruce Allen said during a recent radio appearance that as of now the plan is still for Gruden to call the plays, according to John Keim of ESPN.com. Allen did leave the door open for things to change, and other sources told Keim that a change is still in play.
  • Despite declaring for the NFL draft, Kyler Murray is still very much undecided about whether he’ll play football or baseball, according to Rapoport (Twitter link). Rapoport notes in the video that Murray hasn’t yet hired an agent for football or committed to attending the combine next month, and says the A’s, the MLB team that holds Murray’s rights, are still negotiating to potentially sweeten his deal and convince him to play baseball. He’ll have to make a decision pretty soon, and we should know a lot more within the next few weeks.
  • Former Cowboys and Jets kick returner Lucky Whitehead was arrested in Virginia earlier this week and charged with driving under the influence, according to TMZ. Whitehead was released by the Cowboys in 2017 after a bizarre incident where it was wrongly reported that Whitehead had been arrested after someone had given his identity to police. He was claimed off waivers by the Jets, and spent the 2017 season with them. Cut this past August, he spent the entire 2018 season out of football. Now arrested for real, this won’t help his chances of getting back into the league.

Coaching Rumors: Cowboys, Gruden, Bengals

The Cowboys‘ offensive coordinator position is now vacant after the team parted ways with Scott Linehan several days ago, and we learned that tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier may be the favorite to replace Linehan. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com suggests that Dallas could look to promote quarterbacks coach Kellen Moore — whom Rapoport described as “fast-rising” and “impressive” — to the OC job (Twitter link). If that happens, RapSheet suggests that the team could add another one of its former QBs to the coaching staff by hiring Jon Kitna, most recently the offensive coordinator for the AAF’s San Diego Fleet, as the new quarterbacks coach.

As Jerry Jones mulls the coaching credentials of his former signal-callers, let’s take a look at other coaching rumors from around the league:

  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports believes that the Redskins‘ failed pursuit of Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams does not bode well for head coach Jay Gruden‘s future in Washington. La Canfora writes that owner Dan Snyder put the “full-court press” on Bowles, and if Bowles had said he would only join the Redskins as a head coach, Snyder may have gone for it. Gruden will return in 2019, but if he does not lead the Redskins to a playoff berth, La Canfora would not be surprised if Snyder reaches out to Bowles and Williams again, perhaps to discuss a head coaching position.
  • If the Patriots prevail in today’s AFC Championship Game, the Dolphins will meet with New England de facto defensive coordinator and future Miami head coach Brian Flores during the week before the Super Bowl to discuss staffing and other issues, per Rapoport (via Twitter). The Fins can formally commit to Flores as their next HC at that time.
  • The Bengals have been very hands-off with their presumptive new head coach, Zac Taylor, but Rapoport (video link) says that is only because the team is closely adhering to league rules regarding coaching hires (Taylor, of course, is the Rams’ quarterbacks coach, and the Rams’ season isn’t over yet). Rapoport says Cincinnati still fully intends to hire Taylor, and he names Jack Del Rio as a potential defensive coordinator on Taylor’s new staff. La Canfora agrees that Del Rio is a DC target, and he adds John Fox as another possibility. Both JLC and RapSheet say that Raiders QB coach Brian Callahan is a top choice for offensive coordinator.
  • Former Cardinals tight ends coach Jason Michael will join the Colts in the same capacity, a source tells Albert Breer of The MMQB (on Twitter). Michael served as the Titans’ offensive coordinator from 2014-15 and was the team’s QB coach from 2016-17.

Jay Gruden To Return To Redskins In 2019

The Redskins have decided to retain head coach Jay Gruden for the 2019 season, NBC Sports’ JP Findlay tweets

The move was assumed after most teams looking to replace their man in charge have already done so and moved on to interviews with candidates. The Redskins made it official, however, telling the team’s coach for the past five seasons that he will indeed coach a sixth.

Gruden has gone 35-44-1 in his tenure with the club, but was off to a solid start in 2018 before key injuries sunk their playoff chances down the stretch. With starter Alex Smith and backup Colt McCoy lost for the season, the team turned to Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson in its limp to the finish. Despite the key injuries, the Redskins managed to pull out a respectable-for-the-circumstances 7-9 record.

Though he gave Gruden the benefit of the doubt, team owner Dan Snyder is not known for his patience with the team’s coaching staff. Signed through 2020, Gruden will undoubtedly be coaching for his job in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jay Gruden, Bruce Allen Expected To Remain With Redskins

Several weeks ago, we learned that Redskins assistant coaches were beginning to worry about their futures, as they were uncertain as to head coach Jay Gruden‘s status with the club. But it appears that Gruden will get one more shot. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes that Gruden looks to be on “safe footing,” especially given that his team was performing well in 2018 before being decimated by injury for the second year in a row.

Another reason to believe that Gruden’s job is safe has to do with team president Bruce Allen. Washington fired four marketing executives this week, which was a decision that Allen would at least have been involved in. It is unlikely that team owner Dan Snyder would have allowed Allen to make such a move if Allen’s job was in jeopardy, and if Allen is safe, the expectation is that Gruden is safe as well.

John Keim of ESPN.com agrees, and he says that when it comes to Snyder, there are usually some rumblings that a head coach or executive will be fired. Keim indicates there have been no such rumblings to date, and while Gruden will meet with Snyder at some point soon, it seems that Gruden and Allen will be returning in 2019 (Twitter links).

Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is a different story. Manusky is in his second year as the Redskins’ DC, and if he were fired, his replacement would be the fourth DC during Gruden’s tenure. Rapoport suggests that Manusky, who has been a source of player frustration, is definitely on the hot seat, and Keim tweets that Manusky is the obvious target if the team wants to make a high level coaching change. But Keim also wonders if Manusky, whose locker room support was a major factor in his promotion to DC in 2017, and whom some players still love, is really the problem.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jay Gruden, Alex Smith

It is difficult to blame Redskins head coach Jay Gruden for the team’s slide out of the playoff race this year given the spate of injuries that he has had to contend with, but he was mentioned as a hot seat candidate before the season even began — despite a 2017 campaign that was also marred by injury — so it stands to reason that his future with the club is questionable at best. Indeed, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) reports that Washington’s assistant coaches have become increasingly worried about their own futures, and a number of them have made calls around the league to determine what other options they might have in 2019.

Rapoport makes it clear that the team has made no decision on Gruden one way or another, though the behind-the-scenes activity RapSheet is describing does not paint a very promising picture. Gruden, though, is likely to land on his feet as a coordinator or perhaps even as a head coach in 2019, and he says he is not allowing his future distract him. Gruden said (via John Keim of ESPN.com), “It doesn’t weigh on me at all. I’ll wait to get final word when the season is over.” 

Gruden is under contract through the 2020 campaign thanks to a two-year extension signed in 2016 that includes $10MM in fully-guaranteed money, but he is already the longest-tenured head coach that the team has had under owner Dan Snyder, and assuming Josh Johnson does not pull off a miraculous stretch run, the Redskins will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive year. And, as might be expected when a team is going through the type of struggles the Redskins are battling, there is a perception that Gruden has lost the locker room, though he adamantly refutes that notion.

The team’s season really went south, of course, when starting quarterback Alex Smith suffered a brutal leg injury in November. Per Keim and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Smith has finally been released from the hospital, and while there is still of course no certainty as to whether he will be able to resume his playing career, the prognosis is encouraging. If Smith were unable to play again, the Redskins would be dealing with a potentially calamitous financial and on-field situation, which Gruden may be happy to get out of.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: P. Peterson, Winston, Peters

We heard last week that the Cardinals were at least willing to listen to trade offers for Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick, and while GM Steve Keim later threw cold water on those rumors, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that Arizona is not only looking to deal Bucannon and Reddick, but that the team is also open to parting with star cornerback Patrick Peterson. Mike Jurecki of the team’s official website tweets that there is zero chance that the Cardinals move Peterson, but even if that’s the case, it seems apparent that the rebuilding Cards will be busy as we approach the October 30 trade deadline.

Now let’s take a look at a few more items out of the NFC:

  • Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) reports that Jameis Winston‘s job with the Buccaneers is pretty secure for the time being, but the rest of the season will be critical in determining Winston’s long-term future with the club. He is under club control through 2019 under the fifth-year option, but that option would cost the Bucs $20.9MM and is guaranteed for injury only, so if Winston performs poorly but remains healthy, Tampa Bay could conceivably cut ties after the 2018 season.
  • La Canfora reports that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tried to hire Falcons team president Rich McKay in recent years to oversee the league’s football operations, a department that has come under fire for its handling of Bountygate, Deflategate, and other scandals. However, the compensation committee, which has been trying to cut spending, would not authorize the creation of an expensive executive position like that, and there is nothing to indicate that anything will change in that regard, even if McKay were open to such a post (which he apparently was).
  • Eagles LT Jason Peters suffered a torn biceps against the Giants on Thursday night, but Rapoport tweets that Peters is expected to return and play this season and could miss just a game or two. While Peters has not been performing to his usual standards in 2018, this is still obviously great news for Philadelphia.
  • Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and cornerback Josh Norman have discussed the halftime incident that garnered some media attention earlier this week and have put the matter behind them, per Rapoport (video link). Rapoport says that Gruden stepped to the front of the locker room to address the team at halftime of Monday’s loss to the Saints, and Norman had his headphones on — as he always does at halftime — and had his back to Gruden, so did not know that the head coach had begun talking. Gruden took exception to what he perceived as a lack of attention and yanked the headphones of off Norman’s head, which obviously made Norman upset. Norman walked away from Gruden and was therefore benched to start the second half, but it does not sound as if this issue will be a lingering problem for the two men moving forward.
  • The Packers, at 2-2-1, are clearly not performing as well as they would like, and Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com has a couple of suggestions as to how Green Bay might shake things up. Dougherty believes the team should consider making a change at safety, either by giving Jermaine Whitehead a shot at starting or moving Bashaud Breeland into the rotation (when healthy), and he also believes Robert Tonyan should get more snaps at tight end.

Poll: Who Will Be The First Coach To Get Fired This Season?

It’s a new year for every coach in the NFL, but not every coach will survive the year. Already, there’s speculation about which coaches could be on the hot seat in 2018. Some coaches with shaky job security may include:

  • Hue Jackson, Browns: Jackson is the oddsmaker’s favorite to lose his job first. After compiling a 1-31 record in his two seasons at the helm in Cleveland, it’s hard to argue with the professionals. Jackson certainly has more talent to work with thanks to the arrivals of running back Carlos Hyde, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, and a vastly improved secondary, but along with that comes raised expectations. When also considering that Jackson is a holdover from the previous regime and not necessarily the preferred choice of new GM John Dorsey, it’s quite possible that Jackson could be ousted with another bad start.
  • Adam Gase, Dolphins: When Gase was hired in 2016, he was the league’s youngest head coach at the age of 38. He earned a playoff appearance in his first year on the sidelines, but last year turned ugly after quarterback Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season and replaced by Jay Cutler. Tannehill’s return should help matters, but it’s fair to wonder whether this team has improved much at all after losing Ndamukong Suh on the other side of the ball. The Dolphins’ early schedule may also hurt Gase as they open against the Titans, Jets, Raiders, and Patriots. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Dolphins split those games, like they did in 2017, but it’s also conceivable that they could open the year 0-4. As you can probably guess, an 0-4 start is historically difficult to climb out from. Of the 117 teams that have started 0-4 in the 16-game era, the ’92 Chargers are the ones to have reached the postseason with with an 11-win campaign. The 2004 Bills and the 2017 Chargers both rallied to win nine games, but neither club reached the playoffs.
  • Marvin Lewis, Bengals: The Lewis saga took some weird twists and turns last season. In the midst of a second-straight season without a playoff appearance, there was speculation about Lewis’ job security. Then, in December, we started hearing rumblings that Lewis might leave the Bengals to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Ultimately, Lewis was signed to a two-year extension to, theoretically, keep him under contract for his 16th and 17th seasons in Cincinnati. Lewis has avoided lame duck status for 2018, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll survive the year if the Bengals falter.
  • Vance Joseph, Broncos: Joseph was nearly axed after the 2017 season before John Elway ultimately decided to retain him. The Broncos’ defense is still jam-packed with talent and they have a capable quarterback in Case Keenum, so anything short of a playoff appearance will be a disappointment in Denver. This will be Joseph’s second season at the helm in Denver, but it’s clear that he is under pressure it win.
  • Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers: Koetter was already believed to be on the hot seat but he was placed squarely behind the 8-ball last week when quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games of the season. Even if the Bucs come out of September unscathed, they’ll be up against an overall schedule that is the fourth-toughest in the NFL, based on the combined win percentage of opponents in 2017.

The list goes on from there. Jay Gruden (Redskins), Todd Bowles (Jets), Bill O’Brien (Texans), Jason Garrett (Cowboys), John Harbaugh (Ravens), and Ron Rivera (Panthers) could also be in varying degrees of jeopardy with disappointing seasons. We’d be surprised to see a quick hook for Garrett, Harbaugh, or Rivera no matter what happens, but you may feel differently.

Click below to make your pick for who will be the first to get the axe. Then, you can head to the comment section to back up your choice.

[RELATED: The Average Age Of NFL Head Coaches In 2018]

Jay Gruden Coaching For His Job In 2018?

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was mentioned as a potential hot seat candidate at the end of last season, but the team — citing the injuries that Gruden had to deal with in 2017 as well as his leadership skills — decided to give him another shot. At least one other club would have been interested in Gruden if he had become available, as the Bengals were reportedly considering him for the head coaching vacancy they nearly had when it appeared as though Marvin Lewis would be moving on.

It is true that Washington was beset by difficult injuries in 2017, and in the 2015-16 campaigns, Gruden led the club to its first consecutive winning seasons since 1996-97, including an NFC East title in 2015. But the fact remains that he has compiled an underwhelming 28-35-1 regular season record in his four years at the helm, and the Redskins lost the only playoff contest that he has coached. As John Keim of ESPN.com writes, there has been no double-digit win season or deep playoff run for Gruden to fall back on, and he has already lasted longer than any other head coach under owner Dan Snyder.

Keim therefore suggests that Gruden could very well be coaching for his job in 2018, despite the fact that Snyder gave the former Cincinnati offensive coordinator a two-year extension last offseason that keeps him under contract through 2020. It is difficult to say that Washington needs to win a certain number of games or make the playoffs for Gruden to remain in 2019, but Keim does indicate that, if the team stays relatively healthy and posts another 7-9 or 8-8 season, Gruden could very well be looking for new employment next year.

He will, of course, be working with a new quarterback in Alex Smith, but Keim says that, given Smith’s experience and skills, Gruden will not be able to use Smith’s lack of familiarity with his system as an excuse. Keim adds that while there are certainly weak spots on the Redskins’ roster, they should be good enough to compete for a playoff spot.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Not Planning To Fire Jay Gruden

Jay Gruden was a fringe hot-seat candidate, but it looks like the Redskins aren’t going to entertain the idea of jettisoning their head coach after this season.

The team has no plans to make a coaching change, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter), adding the injuries Washington’s dealt with and Gruden’s leadership skills factored into the retention decision.

Gruden’s ability to keep his staff on the same page has played into this as well, and Michael Lombardi of The Ringer reports (Twitter link) the Redskins are hoping to extend some members of the coaching staff.

Gruden has new offensive and defensive coordinators in place this season, and the Redskins have dealt with several setbacks. Gruden also has been the face of the organization that’s gone without a GM since Scot McCloughan‘s ouster. The Redskins having signed their HC to an extension earlier this year meant a dismissal at this juncture was unlikely.

The Bengals held Gruden — a former Cincinnati offensive coordinator — as their top choice to replace Marvin Lewis if/when he’s out as their HC, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes (on Twitter).

They will finish short of the playoffs for the third time in four seasons and will again enter an uncertain offseason regarding Kirk Cousins‘ employment. The fourth-year coach is 28-34-1 thus far in his tenure.

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.