Jim Mora Jr.

Coaching Rumors: Payton, Browns, Titans, Kelly

The Eagles will pursue head coach Sean Payton if he and the Saints agree to part ways Monday, sources tell Paul Domowitch of Philly.com (Twitter link). Payton is under contract for two more years in New Orleans, which might present a problem for the Eagles, as Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk writes. The Saints will want compensation for Payton, possibly in the form of a second-round pick, and the Eagles don’t have one this year.

More coaching rumors from around the NFL:

  • In addition to the previously reported Teryl Austin and Adam Gase (links: 1; 2), the Browns are also requesting an interview with Jacksonville assistant Doug Marrone, per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (Twitter link).
  • The presence of quarterback Marcus Mariota might not be enough to make the Titans’ head coaching job appealing to potential candidates, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Concerns over a lack of stability with respect to the franchise’s ownership could ultimately lead to the promotion of interim head coach Mike Mularkey to the full-time role.
  • Two college head coaches, Jim Mora Jr. (UCLA) and Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M), are hoping to land head coaching jobs in the pros, tweets Michael Silver of NFL.com. Mora was previously at the helm in Atlanta (2004-06) and Seattle (’09), going a combined 31-33 with one playoff appearance.
  • Chip Kelly isn’t a lock to get another head coaching job this offseason, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Florio writes that some teams might be hesitant to give Kelly a shot because of a fear that he’d eventually try to parlay his role as a head coach into that of a football czar, too, as he did in Philadelphia.

Coaching/GM Notes: Pagano, Browns, Fins, Cowboys, Lions

The latest news on various teams’ coaching and front office situations as Black Monday approaches:

  • Colts owner Jim Irsay will meet with Chuck Pagano on Monday to discuss the head coach’s future, writes Mike Wells of ESPN.com. After helping lead the Colts to playoff berths in his first three years with the team, Pagano’s club missed out this season during an injury-riddled, tumultuous campaign, going 8-8. As a result, the Colts are expected to let go of Pagano, whose contract is up, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (Twitter link).
  • With Ray Farmer out as the Browns’ general manager, the franchise might turn its football operations over to executive vice president/general counsel Sashi Brown, Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News reports (Twitter link).
  • Adam Gase, Jim Mora Jr., Mike Shanahan, Teryl Austin, Mike Smith, Dirk Koetter and Doug Marrone are all currently connected to the Dolphins’ head coaching job, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
  • Not surprisingly, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed Sunday that Jason Garrett will return in 2016 for his seventh season as the team’s head coach. “Let me be real clear: There’s no thought of replacing Jason. At all,” Jones said, according to Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). Jones acknowledged that Garrett’s staff could change, though, as four assistant coaches’ contracts expire (Twitter link via Williams). Whether those changes happen will be up to Garrett, who Jones says is “the ultimate-decision maker” when it comes to the coaching staff (Twitter link via Fox Sports’ Matt Mosley).
  • Lions president Rod Wood says the club’s search for a new general manager will begin in earnest Monday, tweets Tim Twentyman of the team’s website. Interim GM Sheldon White will be among those interviewed, according to Wood (Twitter link via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press), and Greg Gabriel of NFPost.com reports the Lions will also talk to Giants assistant GM Kevin Abrams (via Twitter). Another Giants executive, Marc Ross, could also get a look, tweets Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo.

Extra Points: Dolphins, Lynch, Giants, Browns

As the Dolphins get their head coaching search under way, the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero lists a slew of candidates. Chip Kelly, Todd Haley, Josh McDaniels, Jim L. Mora, Jim Schwartz and Hue Jackson are those with NFL head coaching experience. The potential first-timers consist of three offensive coordinators – Carolina’s Mike Shula, son of legendary ex-Dolphins coach Don Shula, as well as Chicago’s Adam Gase and Tampa’s Dirk Koetter. The Dolphins are looking for a leader of men capable of assembling a great staff, according to Salguero.

More from around the league as the first day of 2016 wraps up:

  • Welcome news for the Seahawks as the playoffs near: Running back Marshawn Lynch should return to practice Monday, head coach Pete Carroll said (link via The Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta). Lynch has been out since mid-November because of abdominal surgery.
  • Sunday could be head coach Tom Coughlin‘s last game with the Giants. The same holds true for a pair of the club’s defensive institutions, writes Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, as end Jason Pierre-Paul and cornerback Prince Amukamara are both pending free agents. “I’d be lying if I said it’s never come up in my head or someone has never brought it up to me,” said Amukamara, whom the Giants chose in the first round of the 2011 draft. Amukmara added that he’d like to remain a Giant. “I love the organization, definitely treated first class here, so it’s been great.’’ There’s no word on whether the Giants want to retain Amukamara, but there was a report Thursday that they are hoping to keep Pierre-Paul, a 2010 first-rounder.
  • Browns pass rusher Paul Kruger indicated Thursday that the team’s coaching staff hasn’t deployed him properly this year. “Personally, I probably wouldn’t say so. I don’t have too much more to say about it, and I don’t put everything personally this year on that, but I don’t think I was utilized in the best way,” he opined, per Jeff Schudel of the Morning-Journal. Kruger has just 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks, his lowest total since 2010, though Schudel notes that he’s second in the league in quarterback hurries (33, up from 18 in 2014). Assuming Kruger’s with the Browns next season, he’ll probably work under a different staff than the one with which he’s currently disenchanted, as head coach Mike Pettine and coordinator Jim O’Neil are both on the outs.

East Notes: Chip, Dolphins, Bills, M. Williams

Hours after being fired as head coach of the Eagles, Chip Kelly released a statement reflecting on his tenure (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports). The statement, which can be read in full at the link, saw Kelly thank both owner Jeffrey Lurie and Philadelphia fans, while expressing regret that he wasn’t able to lead the club to a Super Bowl title.

Here’s a look at more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Alex Marvez of FOX Sports lists three potential candidates for the Dolphins‘ head coaching job, identifying former Lions coach Jim Schwartz, Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula, and UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr. as viable options for Miami.
  • Bills safety Aaron Williams‘ season is over, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link), who reports that Williams’ practice period has expired. Williams, who was on injured reserve/designated to return, was said to be mulling retirement earlier this month as he deals with a neck injury.
  • Former Syracuse offensive tackle Sean Hickey, who has spent time with the Saints and Patriots this year, visited the Bills, according to Wilson (Twitter link).
  • Wilson also passes along a workout note on the Giants, tweeting that New York auditioned defensive back C.J. Conway this week. Conway is a familiar face for the Giants, having started the year on the team’s practice squad before being cut in Week 2.
  • We learned earlier today that the Bills plan to cut defensive end Mario Williams during the offseason, and that decision won’t disappoint at least of Williams’ teammates, per Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News (Twitter links), who quotes a fellow Bill as saying Williams displays “zero effort,” “doesn’t care about anybody but himself,” and has “totally checked out.”

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Jim Mora, Pat Fitzgerald Candidates For NFL Jobs

With Black Monday – the day following the conclusion of the regular season when a number of NFL head coaches will inevitably lose their jobs – about a week away, clubs will soon take a circumspect look at the available candidates. Many of those replacement options will come from the NFL ranks, but college coaches will naturally engender interest, as well. Two such NCAA coaches, per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, are Jim Mora of UCLA and Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern.

Mora, 54, spent 2004-06 as head coach of the Falcons, earning a postseason berth during his first season; he was also the Seahawks’ head coach during a forgettable 2009 season. He’s been much more successful during his NCAA time, posting a 37-16 record in Los Angeles. Per La Canfora, More might not be too eager to make the jump to the NFL, as he has long-term job security and one of the top collegiate rosters at UCLA. But the Chargers job, if open, would be particularly appealing to Mora, as he’d be able to stay on the West Coast while leading a team with a franchise quarterback in Philip Rivers.

The 41-year-old Fitzgerald has been garnering NFL interest for years, per La Canfora, as clubs are impressed that Northwestern has been able to stay competitive in the Big 10 despite lacking top-end talent. NFL teams are even more impressed this season, says La Canfora, and search firms are actively testing Fitzgerald’s level of intrigue in leaping to the NFL. One possible roadblock? Fitzgerald might be reticent to leave the greater Chicago area (and the Bears job isn’t likely to open up any time soon).

The Titans and Dolphins will certainly be searching for new head coaches this offseason, while the Rams, Browns, Giants, 49ers, Lions, and Saints could also be in the hunt.

Coach Updates: Pep, Shanahan, Trestman

Although previous reports indicated that Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton wouldn’t take any interviews this week due to logistical concerns, Hamilton actually did find the time to speak with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie after Indianapolis’ victory on Sunday night, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), the meeting wasn’t a formal interview, but McKenzie was very impressed with Hamilton, and Oakland believes the 40-year-old OC could play a significant role in the development of quarterback Derek Carr (TwitLonger link via Josina Anderson of ESPN). Let’s look at some more notes on head coaching vacancies around the league:

  • The Bills have requested permission to interview Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan for their head coaching position, per Schefter (Twitter link). Shanahan, 35, has called plays for the Texans and Washington in addition to Cleveland, and although he’s been linked to the 49ers vacancy this offseason, this is the first official interest displayed by another club.
  • In their search to find a new offensive coordinator, the Buccaneers have interviewed former Bears head coach Marc Trestman, per Rapoport (on Twitter). Trestman, of course, would have some familiarity with Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown, who started five games for Chicago in 2013. The Bucs have also met with Greg Roman and Dirk Koetter, two in-limbo play-callers, as they look for their new OC.
  • The Falcons have interviewed special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong for their head coaching job, according to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The interview, which satisfies the Rooney Rule, could pave the way for Atlanta to hire Rex Ryan after his interview on Tuesday, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who adds that the hiring process could pick up this week.
  • Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is one of the most popular head coaching candidates available, and he’ll meet with four teams this week, tweets Rapoport. He’ll do one interview per day starting on Wednesday, starting with the Jets, and finishing the week with the Falcons, 49ers, and Bears. Per Anderson (via TwitLonger), Bowles is open to working with a team that “needs development on either side of the ball,” but wants a strong front office and a few key pieces that he can work with.
  • Doug Marrone is considered the favorite to land the Jets HC job, but according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), his interview with New York did not go well. This report comes on the heels of Marrone’s assistant head coach from his time at Syracuse calling him “self-centered, selfish, [and] greedy” (link via Seth Walder of the New York Daily News).
  • Despite rumors to the contrary, La Canfora says (Twitter link) that UCLA head coach Jim Mora Jr. does not have an interview scheduled with the Jets. Speculation has arisen that Mora Jr. is looking to make a return to the NFL, but it sounds like nothing is planned with Gang Green at this time.