Dolphins assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell will be taking a leave of absence to focus on his health, the team announced in a press release this morning.
“I will be stepping back due to some medical complications that require my full attention,” Caldwell said. “I want to thank Stephen Ross, Chris Grier, Coach Flores and the rest of the organization for the support they have given me and my family.”
The Dolphins will still keep the 64-year-old on board, as Caldwell will serve as a consultant to the team for the upcoming season. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Jerry Schuplinski, a former Patriots assistant, will likely take on many of Caldwell’s duties.
“Our focus is on Jim’s health and supporting him in every way that we can,” said head coach Brian Flores. “With his knowledge and experience, Jim has been an invaluable member to our coaching staff and will continue to serve as a sounding board for me throughout the season.”
Caldwell has been coaching since 1977, and he’s held NFL gigs since 2001. He had a three-year stint as the head coach of the Colts that included a Super Bowl appearance. Caldwell later moved on to become the head coach of the Lions, and he compiled a 36-28 record during his four years in Detroit.
Caldwell had a handful of head coaching interviews this past offseason, including talks with the Packers, Jets, and Browns. After Flores was hired in Miami, Caldwell was brought in as an assistant.
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Kellen Moore is, in fact, expected to call the Cowboys‘ plays next season, Jason Garrett said. The 29-year-old OC has yet to begin his second season as an NFL coach, but the Cowboys wanted change (without looking outside their staff to seek it).
“I think it’s a great opportunity for our team and our players,” Jerry Jones said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He has a great staff on the offensive side with him and they all have some great ideas. We have Jason sitting there as a safety net. I think it’s an ideal time to stretch out.
“I said to everybody, ‘I want those new ideas. I want them thought through far. And if they are not being implemented call me.’ But let’s get in there and do the kinds of things to get the most out of a very talented roster. Kellen has the skill, and the right attitude, and style to make this work.”
Garrett was coaching Moore as recently as the 2017 season, but the 10th-year Dallas coach said he will surround Moore with experience to help this major transition. Tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier, a longtime college OC, is expected to take on a larger role.
The coaching circuit brought some news post-Super Bowl LIII. Here is the latest:
- Another Patriots assistant will be following Brian Flores to Miami. The Dolphins are expected to name Jerry Schuplinski as their new quarterbacks coach, according to Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio (on Twitter). Schuplinski served as New England’s assistant QBs coach for the past three seasons and has been a Pats staffer for six years. The Patriots gave Schuplinski his first NFL job; prior to that, he was an assistant at Division III program Case Western Reserve for six years.
- Dennis Allen‘s new Saints contract is a three-year agreement, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. The former Raiders HC has been the Saints’ DC since the 2015 season. His unit has gone from one of the worst in NFL history, in ’15, to one of the top groups in the league.
- Steelers DC Keith Butler will assume more responsibility next season. The team will not replace Joey Porter as outside linebackers coach, instead having Butler directly oversee that position in addition to his defensive coordinator duties, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Butler, who will enter his fifth year as Pittsburgh’s DC after being the team’s linebackers coach for 12 years, joins OC Randy Fichtner in doubling as a position coach. Fichtner still coaches the Steelers’ quarterbacks.
- The Giants will hire one of Rutgers’ assistant coaches, Henry Baker, as assistant defensive backs coach, James Kratch and Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com report. This is interesting because Baker accepted a job with the Scarlet Knights for the 2019 season, and it was to be his second stint at Rutgers. This will be Baker’s first NFL job, though he did receive minority coaching internships with the Lions and Giants during recent offseasons. Baker will replace Deshea Townsend, who is now with the Bears. Football Scoop first reported the hire.
- A former Giants great, Antonio Pierce spent the 2018 season on Herm Edwards‘ Arizona State staff. The Chiefs, however, were interested in prying Pierce away and making him their linebackers coach, per Marvez (on Twitter). But Pierce, who just wrapped up his first season as a college coach, opted to stay with the Sun Devils.
The Patriots are currently the only club without a defensive coordinator in place, and New England could follow in the footsteps of the Eagles — who may not hire an OC — and not officially name a new coordinator, as Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com speculates (via Twitter). Incumbent linebackers coach Brian Flores is viewed as the favorite to succeed Matt Patricia on the Patriots’ staff, but as Breer notes, Bill Belichick has given former assistants time to grow before placing them in coordinator roles. Patricia, for one, called New England’s defensive plays for two seasons before being given the DC title. Additionally, current offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels called plays for the Patriots in 2005 despite not having the official coordinator moniker.
Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:
- Jerry Schuplinski had been expected to follow McDaniels to Indianapolis, but now that that ship has sailed, Schuplinski will return to the Patriots‘ staff as assistant quarterbacks coach, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Reports earlier this offseason indicated Schuplinski had an “outside chance” to succeed McDaniels as New England’s offensive play-caller, but a path to the Colts had seemed more likely as of last week. Now, Schuplinski — who has been with the Patriots since 2013 — will work with Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, and possibly another signal-caller if New England selects a passer in the upcoming draft.
- The Chargers have announced several new hires, including the addition of former Bills wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan in the same role. McGeoghan, who spent only one season in Buffalo, will replace Nick Sirianni, who is now the Colts’ offensive coordinator. He’ll get to work with a receiving corps that includes Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Travis Benjamin. Additionally, Los Angeles has hired Keith Burns (assistant special teams) and Addison Lynch (defensive quality control).
- Two AFC South clubs — the Titans and Texans — have finalized their 2018 coaching staffs and announced a few hires that hadn’t been previously reported. Tennessee has retained Luke Steckel (offensive assistant) and hired Matt Edwards (assistant special teams), Scott Booker (defensive assistant), Ryan Crow (defensive assistant) , while Houston had added Will Lawning (offensive assistant/offensive line) and Matt O’Donnell (defensive quality control).
- The Cardinals have hired former University of Findlay offensive coordinator Troy Rothenbuhler as an offensive quality control coach, reports Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Rothenbuhler had spent his entire coaching career in the collegiate ranks, and spent the past seven years as Findlay’s play-caller.
As Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia get set to oversee Super Bowl LII units before departing for head-coaching positions, the Patriots are zeroing in on their successors.
Both are expected to be in-house choices. Linebackers coach Brian Flores has been mentioned as the Patriots’ preferred Patricia successor, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk confirms that’s still the thinking in New England. Florio adds wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea, who has been previously mentioned as a possible candidate, is viewed as the frontrunner to take over the 2018 Pats’ offense.
A report from NBC Sports Boston’s Gary Tanguay indicates (Twitter link) the Patriots are planning to interview Ohio State DC Greg Schiano for the DC job, but Florio hears that if Schiano joins the New England staff it will be in a different position.
A possible Schiano route to the Pats’ DC job, per Florio, would then come as a result of Flores being hired as a head coach elsewhere. Considering he was in the mix for the Cardinals’ job for weeks, that could well happen soon.
Florio adds an outside chance exists that assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski succeeds McDaniels, but the belief is he has not been coaching with the team long enough make this ascent. McDaniels has coached the Pats’ QBs and run the offense. Schuplinski was an offensive assistant from 2013-15 before taking over as the assistant quarterbacks coach in 2016.
O’Shea, meanwhile, has been the Patriots’ wideouts coach for the past nine seasons. The 45-year-old assistant’s been a full-time position coach since 2004, when he made his NFL debut as the Chiefs’ assistant special teams coach.
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Josh McDaniels had his second interview with the Colts on Friday, and it apparently went well. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link) that, shortly after the conclusion of Super Bowl LII, Indianapolis will hire McDaniels as its next head coach.
Of course, this hardly qualifies as breaking news. We have known for some time now that McDaniels would be heading to the Colts once New England’s season is over, and the Friday interview was largely just an opportunity for him to sit down with Indianapolis GM Chris Ballard and owner Jim Irsay to make plans for the offseason. As Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets, Irsay was not present for the first interview, so the second summit was needed to get the owner’s official stamp of approval.
McDaniels will now turn his attention towards bringing yet another Super Bowl to New England before he departs. The Patriots, meanwhile, will need to replace not only McDaniels, but DC Matt Patricia as well. Plus, as Schefter points out, Pats special teams coordinator Joe Judge is on an expiring contract, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe hears that Judge may well join Patricia in Detroit (Twitter link).
Volin writes in a full-length piece that Patriots LB coach Brian Flores — who got some head coaching interest this year — seems like the obvious candidate to replace Patricia as New England’s DC. The real question, then, is who (if anyone) will replace McDaniels.
As Volin notes, head coach Bill Belichick has not had to fill either top coordinator position since 2012, but his history suggests that if he does name a new offensive coordinator, he will promote from within. Indeed, all of Belichick’s coordinators during his 18-year tenure in New England either worked with him at a previous stop or worked their way up inside the Pats’ organization.
During a portion of Belichick’s reign, the team has not even had an official offensive coordinator. McDaniels ran the offense as a quarterbacks coach in 2005, and current Texans head coach Bill O’Brien called plays for the offense during the 2008-09 seasons but did not hold the OC title.
Nonetheless, someone will need to run the offense, regardless of title, and Volin says the only two realistic choices on-staff are assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski and receivers coach Chad O’Shea. Of the two, Volin sees O’Shea as the more likely target, as he has experience in all facets of the game and currently serves as the team’s red zone offense coordinator.
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