Jim Bob Cooter

Lions Retain Jim Bob Cooter As OC

The Lions have a new head coach, but they’re not shaking up the entire staff. During his introductory press conference on Wednesday, Matt Patricia confirmed that offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter will be staying on board (Twitter link via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News). Jim Bob Cooter (vertical)

Cooter missed out on becoming the Lions’ new head coach, but he’ll remain on board as the offensive play caller. Given Patricia’s defensive background, one has to imagine that Cooter will continue to have a high degree of control over his side of the ball.

The 33-year-old has long been viewed as a rising star in the coaching ranks, but the results have not been tremendous in his two full seasons as Detroit’s OC. Under his command, the Lions’ offense ranked 15th in DVOA in 2016 and 17th in 2017. On the plus side, he has a strong working relationship with Matthew Stafford and he offers consistency during a time of significant change.

On Wednesday, the Lions officially named Paul Pasqualoni as their new defensive coordinator.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Expected To Retain Jim Bob Cooter

This has been expected for awhile now, but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that the Lions are expected to retain offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Detroit, of course, will hire current Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as its new head coach shortly after today’s Super Bowl.

Jim Bob Cooter

The Lions also interviewed Cooter for the HC job, though Patricia was long regarded as the favorite for the position. Cooter, just 33, is viewed as a rising star in the coaching ranks, and while the Lions’ offense has not set the world ablaze in his two full seasons as OC — the unit ranked 15th in DVOA in 2016 and 17th in 2017 — he does have the support of his quarterback. The day former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell was fired, Matthew Stafford lobbied for Cooter to be retained.

Plus, it can’t hurt for the team to have a little continuity. With Patricia taking over the team and defense, the offense will continue to operate under a familiar face and a familiar scheme.

As Schefter notes, Patricia and Cooter do not know each other personally, but they share a fan in Detroit GM Bob Quinn, who worked with Patricia in New England.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Browns, Bears, Mosley, Cooter

Having already been connected to Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Sam Darnold, the Browns are midway through an all-hands-on-deck offseason when it comes to their quarterback choice. However, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com reports the Browns may not be dismissing a Baker Mayfield pick. Multiple evaluators informed Robinson that the Browns are going to be down to Darnold or Mayfield.

A lot of what he is as a player fits with the mentality of John Dorsey,” one source told Robinson from the Senior Bowl. “Just his mental makeup as a player, John believes in building around those kinds of guys. … I think he’s a strong candidate [for the top pick] after this week.”

The 6-foot passer has been mentioned the least among the top quarterbacks as being a viable option at No. 1 at this point in the pre-draft process, but Dorsey said this week there could be “four or five” prospects the team could target atop the draft. While Mayfield’s character issues are still cropping up this week, it’s looking clear he will be picked in the top half of the first round. Robinson notes former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan serves as one of Dorsey’s top sounding boards, and McCloughan’s been pro-Mayfield for a while. Another source noted Dorsey’s past with the Packers during the Brett Favre era could apply here, given Mayfield’s gunslinger style and sometimes difficult off-field persona. Nevertheless, it would quite the leap for Mayfield to rise to the top of the draft over passers who have long been viewed as better prospects.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions:

  • C.J. Mosley has no designs on leaving Baltimore. One of numerous 2014 first-round picks to be stuck in fifth-year option limbo, Mosley is eyeing a career that ends with him being ranked as the second-best linebacker in Ravens history, he said (via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com). The Pro Bowl inside ‘backer expects something to get done regarding an extension. Mosley is set to make $8.718MM next season.
  • The Lions are going to have an entirely new defensive staff under Matt Patricia and already parted ways with quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan, who became a coveted commodity this week. But the expectation remains Patricia will retain OC Jim Bob Cooter, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes. While the Lions have struggled on the ground under Cooter, finishing 32nd twice during his two-plus-year tenure running the offense, Matthew Stafford‘s had his best run of seasons during Cooter’s time in Detroit.
  • An internal debate’s being waged at Bears headquarters as to whether Cody Whitehair will function better as a center or guard, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes, adding this process will impact whether the team picks up Josh Sitton‘s 2018 option. Whitehair has played both spots, receiving most of his work at center, while Sitton is a pure guard. The soon-to-be 32-year-old blocker is due to count $8.57MM against the Bears’ 2018 cap if the team picks up his option.
  • Another possible factor working in Sitton’s favor for a third Bears year is the Kyle Long‘s suddenly injury-prone status. Biggs reports Long will undergo multiple surgeries this offseason. Long played in 10 games this past season after an extensive rehab process didn’t end until after the 2017 campaign began.

Matt Patricia Expected To Become Lions’ HC

This sounds familiar. Although Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was said to prefer the Giants’ head coaching job to the Lions’, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets that Patricia is expected to become the Lions’ next head coach, as we heard last week.

Matt Patricia

Patricia, whose defense was quite impressive in New England’s win over the Titans last night, has been a hot head coaching candidate for several years now thanks to his overall body of work with the Pats. Even before the Lions parted ways with former head coach Jim Caldwell, there were plenty of reports linking Patricia to Detroit, as he has a preexisting relationship with Lions GM Bob Quinn stemming from Quinn’s tenure with the Patriots.

And on January 6, it was reported that the Lions would indeed hire Patricia. Just several days later, however, Peter King of TheMMQB.com indicated that Patricia preferred the Giants to the Lions, which threw something of a wrench into this season’s coaching carousel. But Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that his understanding all along has been that Patricia would accept the Lions’ job. Indeed, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes, Detroit would have moved on to other candidates if it did not believe Patricia was coming to the Motor City.

Of course, as New England’s season is not yet over, the Lions and Patricia will have to wait to make things official. Birkett adds (via Twitter) that Patricia is likely to retain Detroit’s incumbent offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Interview OC Jim Bob Cooter For Head Coach

The Lions have interviewed incumbent offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter for their head coaching vacancy, the club announced today.Jim Bob Cooter

Now that Detroit has met with Cooter, general manager Bob Quinn has now interviewed both of his coordinators as he seeks to replace fired head coach Jim Caldwell. Defensive play-caller Teryl Austin was also interviewed on Tuesday, but no reports had indicated the Lions were also considering Cooter for the top job.

That’s not to say that Cooter hasn’t done an excellent job coordinating Detroit’s offense, but he does lack in experience. The 33-year-old Cooter has only led a unit for two-plus seasons, and was an offensive assistant as recently as 2013. But in his two full years as the Lions’ OC, Cooter’s scheme and his players’ execution finished 17th and 15th in DVOA.

By default, the remainder of the Lions’ head coaching candidates will be external. At present, Detroit has been linked to Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Packers assistant head coach Winston Moss, and Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Recommends Coaching Candidates

Each year, the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel releases a list of candidates for head coaching jobs. According to Mike Lombardi of The Ringer (Twitter link), that list includes: Josh McDaniels (Vertical)

  • Dan Campbell (Assistant Head Coach/TE coach, Saints)
  • Jim Bob Cooter (Offensive Coordinator, Lions)
  • John DeFilippo (Quarterbacks Coach, Eagles)
  • George Edwards (Defensive Coordinator, Vikings)
  • Josh McDaniels (Offensive Coordinator, Patriots)
  • Matt Nagy (Offensive Coordinator, Chiefs)
  • Matt Patricia (Defensive Coordinator, Patriots)
  • Jim Schwartz (Defensive Coordinator, Eagles)
  • Pat Shurmur (Offensive Coordinator, Vikings)
  • Dave Toub (Special Teams Coach, Chiefs)
  • Steve Wilks (Defensive Coordinator, Panthers)
  • Mike Vrabel (Defensive Coordinator, Texans)

McDaniels, of course, comes with previous head coaching experience. He was probably too young to handle those responsibilities in Denver, but he has reasserted himself as an offensive wunderkind. Both McDaniels and Patricia will be hot candidates for head coaching jobs this year, so the Patriots may have to make serious changes on the coaching staff.

There is some overlap with the list of minority candidates recommended by the Fritz Pollard Alliance, though Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie did not make the cut on this list. Austin received head coaching interviews in each of the last two offseasons, so he seems likely to garner some consideration this time around.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions’ Jim Bob Cooter Won’t Interview At UT

Lions offensive coordinator — and University of Tennessee alum — Jim Bob Cooter would likely be a candidate for the Volunteers head coaching position, but he will not interview for the job, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Instead, Cooter will focus on his work with Detroit in the hopes of ultimately landing an NFL head coaching gig.Jim Bob Cooter

Cooter, 33, was promoted to offensive coordinator midway through the 2015 campaign. While he led the club to a No. 15 ranking in offensive DVOA in 2016, Detroit has slipped to 21st this season. Nevertheless, Cooter is viewed as a rising star in the coaching ranks, and though he’s yet to officially interview for a head coaching job, Cooter was linked to several vacancies during the last hiring cycle. Cooter, who was a backup quarterback and a graduate assistant at Tennessee, declined to comment on his potential interest in the open position earlier this month.

Tennessee originally hired former Rutgers/Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano earlier this week, but social media backlash to the move led the university to reverse its decision. The Volunteers are reportedly interested in Jon Gruden (and are willing to pay him $10MM annually), and have also discussed ex-Vol/current Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Cowboys, Lions, Cards, Broncos

By accepting his suspension and serving it this season, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will actually save money, as David Moore of the Dallas Morning News notes (Twitter links). Elliott’s base salary increases to roughly $2.7MM in 2018, meaning a six-game ban would have cost him ~$400K more had it been pushed to next year. Instead, he’ll lose about $560K this season, and his guarantees in the 2018-19 campaigns have been voided. Elliott’s signing bonus, however, is not at risk due to his suspension.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Because the collective bargaining agreement allows for player contract language which voids salary guarantees under certain provisions, teams could hypothetically insert clauses which nullify guarantees if a player does not stand for the national anthem, as Joel Corry of CBSSports.com opines. Such a provision would be similar to the so-called Carl Pickens Rule, named after the Bengals wideout who criticized management at the turn of the century. Loyalty clauses can now restrict such denunciations with the threat of lost salary, and a similar rule could speculatively have a similar effect on national anthem protests. Of course, the NFLPA (and players themselves) would likely fight such a stipulation.
  • Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter declined to comment on his interest in the University of Tennessee’s vacant head coaching position, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Cooter played and coached for the Volunteers before heading to the NFL. Under Cooter’s leadership, Detroit finished 15th in offensive DVOA in 2016, but has slipped to 21st this season. Tennessee has already expressed interest in another ex-Vol, Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers.
  • Given the injury to quarterback Drew Stanton, the Cardinals could opt to start Blaine Gabbert under center on Sunday, and the club is reportedly “intrigued” by the former first-round pick, reports Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM (Twitter link), who adds Arizona believes Gabbert could be more than a bridge option for the club. While Gabbert does come with a high draft pedigree, he’s shown nothing in the NFL during his six-year career. Since entering the league in 2011, Gabbert ranks dead last in quarterback rating, touchdown percentage, and adjusted net yards per pass attempt. Both Gabbert and Stanton are scheduled to become free agents next spring, while starter Carson Palmer could theoretically hang up his cleats after flirting with retirement earlier this year.
  • The Broncos worked out free agent punter Jeff Locke on Thursday, but it doesn’t sound as though Denver is interested in signing the veteran specialist, per Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. Denver is facing a left-footed punter in the Bengals’ Kevin Huber on Sunday, so auditioning Locke gave returner Jordan Taylor a chance to catch punts from a lefty. Locke signed a relatively large (for a punter) deal with the Colts this offseason, but has since been cut by both Indianapolis and Detroit.

La Canfora’s Latest: Jaguars, Rams, Lions, Pats

The Jaguars are expected to consider Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Mike Smith for head coach, a source tells Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, while Jacksonville could also express interest in a multitude of NCAA coaches, including Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze. Previous reports have indicated that the Jaguars and GM Dave Caldwell could also look at New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Atlanta play-caller Kyle Shanahan, while Tom Coughlin will definitively interview for the job.

Here’s more from La Canfora:

  • The Rams aren’t only targeting high-profile names such as Jon Gruden and Josh McDaniels for their head coaching vacancy, according to La Canfora, who reports that Los Angeles will also look at lesser-known options as it seeks to replace Jeff Fisher. Rams management thinks highly of offensive coordinators Sean McVay and Shanahan, per La Canfora, and will probably be involved in LA’s hunt.
  • While several coaching jobs are expected to come open at season’s end, NFL front offices likely won’t see many changes, writes La Canfora. Aside from 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, most executives are on solid ground, as even clubs with poor records such as the Browns, Bills, Rams, and Jaguars are likely to opt for stability among its decision-makers.
  • Although his offensive has succeeded in Detroit, Lions play-caller Jim Bob Cooter could miss out on head coaching gigs because of his name, which doesn’t project a “corporate” image, reports La Canfora. Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia could also be denied jobs due to his shaggy look, which doesn’t fit the NFL’s CEO culture.

Coaching Rumors: Payton, Rams, Gruden

Despite rumors to the contrary, one source tells ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett there is no indication the Saints are more willing to part ways with Sean Payton now than they were in the past. That same source also refuted the notion that morale is low in New Orleans because of speculation over Payton’s future. Regardless, you can expect the Payton buzz to continue for a while. There’s now talk that Payton has “sincere interest” in the Rams’ opening.

Here’s a roundup of the latest coaching rumors:

  • Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn and Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter are two to watch in the Rams‘ coaching search, Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News tweets.
  • There are reasons why Jon Gruden does and doesn’t make sense for the Rams, Mike Florio of PFT writes. Gruden has star power, offensive know-how, and relationships with both COO Kevin Demoff and Washington exec Bruce Allen, who could be a GM candidate for the team. He could also help the team attract Raiders fans in the area. Conversely, one could argue that Gruden was overrated as a coach since he won a Super Bowl with a defense built by Tony Dungy and run the highly-respected Monte Kiffin. Gruden also doesn’t have a rep as a player-friendly coach.
  • Panthers coach Ron Rivera has been mentioned as a possibility for the Rams‘ job, but his agent tells Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer there hasn’t been any contact between Rivera and Los Angeles. “There hasn’t been any contact,” agent Frank Bauer said. “Ron’s super happy where he’s at.” Of course, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. The Rams could still wait until after the season to reach out to Rivera and, even if they have already, his agent would never publicly confirm an act of tampering. If there is mutual interest between the Rams and Rivera this spring, L.A. would still have to negotiate a trade with the Panthers.
  • Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh won’t be returning to the NFL in 2017, but he could eventually be back, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (link via PFT). If and when he goes back to the NFL, Rapoport says he could be a match for the Bears. Meanwhile, some league insiders have speculated to PFT that Harbaugh could eventually coach the Colts, reuniting him with Andrew Luck.