Jedd Fisch

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks

New Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks offered James Bettcher the opportunity to stay on as the team’s defensive coordinator, but Bettcher ultimately decided to move on, according to Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com (Twitter link). Bettcher, who interviewed for the Arizona head coaching job, accepted the Giants’ DC job late last night, so he’ll now go to work under new New York head coach Pat Shurmur. The Cardinals, meanwhile, lured former Panthers linebackers coach Al Holcomb to the desert in order to become the club’s next defensive coordinator, although it doesn’t sound as though Arizona will change much of Bettcher’s scheme.

Here’s more from the NFC West, with a focus on staff notes:

  • Wilks has made another addition to the Cardinals‘ coaching staff, as former Giants safeties coach Dave Merritt — New York’s longest-tenured coach — will become Arizona’s secondary coach, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Merritt, 46, had been with the Giants since 2004, and enjoyed a short stint with the crosstown Jets prior to joining the G-Men. He’ll now serve under Holcomb, and will have the opportunity to coach one of the league’s best corners in Patrick Peterson. Finding another defensive back to play opposite Peterson will represent Merritt’s most significant challenge in 2018.
  • Former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians released a statement praising the hire of Wilks, but did allow that he preferred other candidates for the position, reports Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com“We built a strong Cardinals legacy over the last 5 years,” said Arians. “I wish Steve Wilks the best of luck. I’m disappointed that [James Bettcher or Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong] didn’t get the Cardinals position. They are both ready. I truly believe they will be an asset to any football organization. Trust. Loyalty. Respect.” Armstrong, who like Bettcher was an official Arians recommendation, interviewed with Arizona twice before the club chose Wilks.
  • The Rams have hired former UCLA offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch as a senior offensive assistant, the team announced today. Fisch, who also served as the Bruins’ interim head coach following the firing of Jim Mora Jr., has served in both served in both the collegiate and pro ranks over the past 20 years. In the NFL, Fisch was the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator from 2013-14, and has also worked for the Texans, Ravens, Broncos, and Seahawks, mostly as a quarterbacks or wide receivers coach. He interviewed for the Falcons’ quarterbacks coach job earlier this year.
  • The Seahawks are making yet another change to their defensive staff, as defensive line coach Dwaine Board will not return to the club in 2018, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Board is a longtime NFL coach, as he first entered the league in 1990 with the 49ers. He’s made other stops in Oakland and Cleveland, and started his second stint with Seattle in 2015.

Coaching Rumors: Cowboys, Falcons, Jets

Former Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus will reportedly become the Colts’ next defensive coordinator under presumptive head coach Josh McDaniels, but Dallas was willing to promote Eberflus to DC in order to retain him, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. The Cowboys would have named current defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli assistant head coach, paving the way for Ebeflus to become the club’s new defensive play-caller. But Eberflus “did not want to step on the toes” of Marinelli, per Archer, and therefore decided to head to Indianapolis.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Falcons are interviewing former UCLA offensive coordinator/interim head coach Jedd Fisch and longtime NFL coach Greg Knapp for their quarterback coach position, per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) and Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). Fisch, 41, has served in both the collegiate and pro ranks over the past 20 years. In the NFL, Fisch was the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator from 2013-14, and has also worked for the Texans, Ravens, Broncos, and Seahawks, mostly as a quarterbacks or wide receivers coach. Knapp, meanwhile, has coordinated offenses for the 49ers, Falcons, Raiders (two stints), and Seahawks, but was most recently the Broncos’ QBs coach from 2013-16.
  • Now that he’s been passed over for a promotion to Packers defensive coordinator, cornerbacks coach Darren Perry is interviewing to become the Texans‘ secondary coach, according to Marvez (Twitter link). Perry, who’s worked in Green Bay since 2009, would replace John Butler, who was fired by Houston earlier this month. One of three internal candidates to replace former Packers DC Dom Capers, Perry could now leave Green Bay given that Mike Pettine is leading the club’s defense. However, Perry isn’t a lock to defect from the Packers, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, while Texans assistant defensive backs coach Anthony Midget is also in the running for Houston’s secondary coach job, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
  • The Buccaneers have exercised their 2018 club options for each of their assistant coaches, reports Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). That should come as no surprise, given that Tampa Bay made the relatively surprising decision to retain head coach Dirk Koetter. However, there could be several “tweaks” to the Buccaneers’ coaching staff, per Stroud, although it’s unclear what those changes might entail. Koetter is signed through the 2020 campaign, while general manager Jason Licht recently had his 2018 option picked up.
  • Assistant defensive backs coach Daylon McCutcheon will not return to the Jets in 2018, sources tell Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. McCutcheon, who worked in New York for the past two seasons, will leave the club in order to move closer to his family on the West Coast, per Mehta.

Coaching Notes: Fisch, Texans, Bears, Haslett

Some within the Lions organizations could be working elsewhere next season, but general manager Martin Mayhew has no issues with that. In fact, he spoke fondly about two members of his staff, endorsing both vice president of pro personnel Sheldon White and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Mayhew first touched on White, who is being considered for the GM job with the Eagles. Via ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein:

“He’s been phenomenal. He’s exceptional at what he does. Outstanding evaluator. There are a lot of guys on this roster that he brought to the table. Rashean Mathis, for example, is a guy that he saw on tape and he brought up his desire to work Rashean out. I was against it. I was saying this is an older guy — how is this guy going to help us.

“He talked me into working him out and he had a phenomenal workout. He was exceptional in every way, shape and form, so we ended up signing him. Obviously he’s worked out great for us the last two years, having Rashean here.

George Johnson is a guy who he brought to me who I had never seen, we signed him. I had never seen him on tape at the time that we signed him and, as you know, George made our team this year and was a big-time contributor for us. He’s always looking; he’s always in his office evaluating tape and trying to find players that can help us win. I think he’d be a great general manager.”

Mayhew also spoke about his defensive coordinator, who has multiple interviews for head coaching positions:

“He did a phenomenal job with the group and I think he has a lot of ability. I think he’s certainly capable of being a head coach in the NFL. I think I said that when he got here that at some point he’d have an opportunity to do that.

“He’s certainly worthy of the opportunity.”

Let’s take a look at some more coaching notes from around the league…

  • Former Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch will be joining Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, as Peter Schrager of Fox Sports tweets that he’ll be offered the pass game coordinator job with the Wolverines. Bruce Feldman adds that Fisch will also be the quarterbacks and receivers coach. Fisch was let go by Jacksonville in late December.
  • We learned yesterday that the Texans wouldn’t be bringing back offensive line coach Paul Dunn, and the team has already found a replacement. Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez tweets that Houston will add Jets assistant coach Mike Devlin to their staff to replace Dunn.
  • The Bears announced (on Twitter) that they interviewed Todd Bowles for their head-coaching position yesterday. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets that the interview went well, adding that the Cardinals defensive coordinator is set to meet with the 49ers today.
  • Following up on a report that the Giants requested permission to interview Washington defensive backs coach Raheem Morris for their defensive coordinator opening, Mike Jones of the Washington Post tweets that Washington granted gave the division-rival Giants the green light, while Albert Breer of the NFL Network says (via Twitter) that the interview will happen this morning.
  • Since leaving his role as Washington‘s defensive coordinator, Jim Haslett has received inquiries from a number of teams, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post (Twitter link), who adds that it’s not clear yet whether he’ll interview for jobs.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Jaguars Fire OC Jedd Fisch

On the heels of a 3-13 season, the Jaguars have parted ways with offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com (via Twitter). At this point, it’s the only notable change to the team’s coaching staff or front office.

Fisch, 38, was hired in January 2013, just two days after Gus Bradley was named Jacksonville’s new head coach. During his two years in Jacksonville’s Fisch’s offense has been perhaps the league’s worst — according to Football Outsiders, the Jags ranked 32nd in offensive DVOA in 2013, and placed 31st in 2014, ahead of only the 2-14 Buccaneers. Led by rookie quarterback Blake Bortles, Jacksonville’s offense also finished 31st in pass yards, with the club averaging an NFL-worst 15.6 points per game.

As Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union observes (via Twitter), Bradley has become close with Marc Trestman, who was fired by the Bears yesterday. In O’Halloran’s view, Trestman could be a top candidate for the Jaguars’ newly-opened offensive coordinator position.

AFC Mailbags: Chiefs, Colts, Jags, Ravens

We took a look at ESPN’s NFC mailbags earlier this morning. Let’s now focus on notes from the AFC…

  • Adam Teicher says the Chiefs biggest need “in both the short and long terms” is at wide receiver.
  • Mike Wells believes it’s too late for the Colts to reinforce their offensive line depth with a free agent like Richie Incognito.
  • Firing offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch wouldn’t make “any sense” for the Jaguars, writes Michael DiRocco. A new O-coordinator would mean Blake Bortles would have to learn a new offensive, which is “virtually guaranteed” to stunt a young quarterback’s growth.
  • Jamison Hensley believes the Ravens will add some depth at cornerback, wide receiver, tight end and offensive tackle in the offseason. Meanwhile, the writer says it would be “uncharacteristic” for the team to pursue top free agent defenders like Jason Pierre-Paul or Ndamukong Suh.