John Harbaugh

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.

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North Rumors: Steelers, Vikings, Browns

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will not play in 2018 after suffering a devastating spinal injury in 2017, but he today reiterated his desire to resume his career at some point, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Meeting with the media for the first time since his injury, Shazier took an optimistic tone, but it’s unclear if he’ll ever realistically have the chance to step on the field as a player again. Pittsburgh has already placed him on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he’s now ineligible to play during the upcoming campaign. In something of a goodwill gesture, the Steelers also converted the majority of Shazier’s 2018 base salary into a signing bonus, allowing the former first-round pick to collect his entire paycheck immediately.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • The Vikings have lost undrafted free agent edge rusher Hercules Mata’afa for the season after he suffered a torn ACL today, reports Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com (Twitter link). While he ultimately wasn’t selected in the draft, Mata’afa was labeled as a potential fifth-rounder by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, who lauded Mata’afa’s toughness and motor. Mata’afa, a Washington State product, would have had to make the Minnesota roster on special teams, but he’ll now have to wait until his second NFL season for another opportunity. He’ll be waived/injured and removed from the Vikings’ active roster, and then placed on injured reserve if he’s not claimed.
  • Mychal Kendricksone-year, $3.5MM deal with the Browns contains a $500K signing bonus and a $1.4MM base salary, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. As such, it appears Kendricks is due either a roster bonus or a significant total in per-game roster bonuses. Either way, his new pact doesn’t appear to guarantee him a roster spot in Cleveland, especially given the Browns’ depth at the position. Cleveland believes Kendricks can play all three linebacker positions, but the club already boasts Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, and Joe Schobert at the second level, meaning snaps could be sparse for Kendricks.
  • The NFL announced it has fined the Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh, and docked the club its final two organized team activity sessions, following a “violation of offseason workout rules.” While the infraction is unclear, it’s possible — based both on Baltimore’s history and the club’s statement — that players were either asked to hit or practice for too long a duration, violating the collective bargaining agreement.

Draft Notes: 2019 QBs, Browns, Jackson

A possible dearth of quarterback talent in the 2019 draft class may have contributed the first-round aggressiveness of teams in recent years. The Bears, Chiefs, Texans, Jets, Bills and Cardinals traded up to land their hopeful quarterbacks of the future the past two drafts, and Albert Breer of SI.com notes some of the impetus behind these moves may be coming from issues teams have with the crop of passers likely set to populate 2019 big boards.

Not right now, there isn’t one (that would go in the first round as it stands),” an AFC college scouting director told Breer. “The kids at Auburn (Jarrett Stidham), Missouri (Drew Lock) and N.C. State (Ryan Finley), by the end of it, could work their way into the conversation. But on the surface, based on current performance, it’d be a no. Now, if they ascend, which they should, those three guys have a chance to get there.”

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com (Insider link) has both Lock (No. 16) and Oregon’s Justin Herbert (No. 18) in his early top 25 for 2019. Issues with Lock’s completion percentage (57.8 percent is the senior-to-be’s career high) and Herbert’s toughness, per Breer, are early concerns for respective first-round hopefuls. While events of recent years show it’s a good bet a quarterback will be taken in the 2019 first round, Breer compares this crop — at this early juncture — to the 2013 group that saw only E.J. Manuel chosen in Round 1 instead of other recent classes that saw the likes of Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston emerge as obvious down-the-line high draft choices in advance of their final college campaigns.

Here’s more on this year’s draft, courtesy of Breer:

  • Breer reports the Browns “loved both” of the Denzel Ward/Bradley Chubb duo, but the team felt the Ohio State cornerback possessed upside potential the N.C. State defensive end didn’t. Ward started just for one season but sat behind Buckeyes cornerbacks that are now in the NFL. Cleveland brass also didn’t view Chubb as a Myles Garrett– or Jadeveon Clowney-like athletic specimen. Plus, Gregg Williams said the team’s need at corner was greater than the one opposite Garrett. Also noting Ward, who went to Nordonia High School in the Cleveland area, pitched his local ties and desire to help a Browns resurgence, Breer writes the Browns did their homework on this difficult decision and did not make an impulse call on draft night.
  • If the Eagles did not trade their first-round pick to the Ravens, they were going to consider eventual Broncos wideout Courtland Sutton at No. 32, per Breer. Sutton visited the Eagles in early April. Philly has Alshon Jeffery, a player to whom Sutton’s been compared, signed long-term and has Nelson Agholor controlled through 2019. However, the defending Super Bowl champions still signed Mike Wallace and Markus Wheaton, the latter a post-draft addition.
  • Ravens brass needed to hear from John Harbaugh the coaching staff was confident the team could win with Lamar Jackson before trading up to take him, and Breer reports Harbaugh, OC Marty Morhinweg, senior offensive assistant Greg Roman and QBs coach James Urban all developed a plan for the rookie before Ozzie Newsome made the trade with the Eagles. Both Mornhinweg and Urban were in their same positions under Andy Reid on the 2010 Eagles, when Michael Vick resurfaced as a top-flight weapon after previously working intermittently in certain packages. Roman’s work adjusting the 2012 49ers’ offense for Colin Kaepernick also played a role here, Breer writes. The Ravens look to be preparing Jackson sets already.
  • The first four rookies to sign their deals all had offset language built into the contracts, Breer tweets. Da’Ron Payne, Josh Rosen, Marcus Davenport and Quenton Nelson saw their teams include offsets in their deals. Offset language provided one of the sticky points in Joey Bosa‘s 2016 holdout, and the Chargers won out. So far, teams are doing the same with their 2018 top picks.

AFC Notes: Browns, Allen, Ravens, Broncos

Quarterbacks have justifiably dominated draft-centric Browns conversations this offseason, but Joe Thomas‘ retirement has left a hole the franchise hasn’t had to worry about since the Romeo Crennel regime. And as of now, the Browns have shifted Shon Coleman from right to left tackle, Terry Pluto of cleveland.com notes. With Chris Hubbard having been signed to play right tackle, the 6-foot-6 Coleman — a 2016 third-round pick who started all 16 games at right tackle last season — Coleman finds himself with either an opportunity to replace a legend or on the verge of being demoted. An anonymous NFL exec, per Pluto, does not believe John Dorsey will go into training camp with Coleman stationed atop the Browns’ depth chart at left tackle. Pro Football Focus preferred Coleman’s pass-blocking work to his ability to open running lanes, bestowing a middling overall grade upon the young blocker, but Coleman’s 14 penalties were the most among tackles last year.

Thomas replacement Spencer Drango, a 2016 fifth-rounder, gave up 11 sacks — most in the league in 2017. The exec floated the idea of the Browns trading down from No. 4 and selecting a tackle, but the team holds the Nos. 33 and 35 overall picks that could be used on a tackle without sacrificing prime first-round real estate.

Here’s the latest from the AFC:

  • Contrary to a previous report, the Jets do not have a Josh Allen visit scheduled, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. However, Gang Green brass did trek to Wyoming this week to observe a private workout. The Jets have been linked to Allen for months, and several team officials “love” the 6-foot-5 quarterback’s skill set. Allen has also been connected to the Browns and is among the four passers visiting the Giants next week.
  • As he did for Texans owner Bob McNair‘s deposition in his collusion lawsuit, Colin Kaepernick attended those of Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. The Ravens duo’s depositions have been completed. The team was linked to Kaepernick in 2017 but did not end up signing him. Conflicting reports came out over the past several months regarding Harbaugh’s interest in Kaepernick, who led two of Jim Harbaugh‘s best 49ers teams. The Ravens signed Robert Griffin III, who also did not play football in 2017, this week.
  • The Broncos cut ties with Britton Colquitt before the 2016 season because his salary was escalating out of the franchise’s comfort zone, but now they’ve landed Marquette King. He will make $2MM per year on average. King also confirmed there was a bit of a revenge measure associated with his signing with perhaps the Raiders’ biggest rivals. “I just wanted to find the best place that I thought I would fit,” King said, via Mike Klis of 9News. “I think there is somewhat of a revenge factor in there, too.” King punted for Dennis Allen– and Jack Del Rio-coached teams from 2012-17, but unlike the former Denver defensive coordinators, new Oakland HC Jon Gruden wasn’t a fan of the punter’s personality. King said the Broncos did not ask him to tame down his antics.
  • Expect the Broncos to try and get what they can for incumbent punter Riley Dixon, Klis notes. The Syracuse product selected in the seventh round in 2016 has two years remaining on his rookie deal, but being a punter coming off a down season, it’s possible the Broncos may simply have to waive Dixon. Klis observes a trend in Denver ditching or demoting core members of its 2017 special teams units, which struggled. ST coordinator Brock Olivo was fired after one season, Dixon has now been replaced and ex-UDFAs have been brought in to compete with Brandon McManus and long snapper Casey Kreiter.

Extra Points: Kaepernick, Ravens, Swanson

The Ravens were reportedly interested in signing quarterback Colin Kaepernick before the 2017 campaign, but a high-ranking U.S. military official may have been part of squashing the club’s plans to meet with the signal-caller, according to TMZ Sports. Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh consulted with several friends while his team was discussing Kaepernick, and one such friend — the unnamed official — “cautioned” Harbaugh about the former 49ers signal-caller. While the official did not tell Harbaugh not to sign Kaepernick, he did indicate the Ravens should give Kaepernick a “set of specific guidelines to follow” in order to remain employed. Kaepernick, of course, was the progenitor of kneeling for the national anthem as a form of silent protest. After passing on Kaepernick, Baltimore went on to sign journeyman Thad Lewis to serve as depth behind starter Joe Flacco.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Lions center Travis Swanson is headed towards free agency, and it’s conceivable his reported late-season concussion could be a red flag for interested teams. However, Swanson’s representatives claim that he didn’t actually suffer a concussion in 2017, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Instead, Swanson says a bad reaction to the medicine he was given to treat his (non) concussion was the source of his symptoms. The 27-year-old pivot has a medical note to back up his version of the story, but the Lions are sticking by the original injury report that landed Swanson on injured reserve prior to Week 17. Thus far, both the Jets and Dolphins have expressed preliminary interest in Swanson, who offers 42 games worth of starting experience.
  • At least one unidentified NFL team has Louisville’s Lamar Jackson rated as the draft’s No. 2 quarterback prospect, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Jackson, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2016, is generally listed behind Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen is consensus rankings, but it sounds as though at least one team prefers Jackson to many of those signal-callers. Some teams reportedly had interest in working out Jackson as a receiver at the combine, but he declined to take part in non-quarterback drills.
  • The upcoming season is likely to be a “make-or-break” campaign for Redskins president Bruce Allen, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Washington has had its fair share of turnover — in the front office, on the coaching staff, and on the roster — during Allen’s tenure, but he’s managed to stick around since 2009. During that time, the Redskins have posted a disappointing 52-75-1 record. Additionally, the club has lost respected general manager Scot McCloughan (reportedly because of a rift with Allen), and will not re-sign franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins.
  • The NFL’s scouting combine will remain in Indianapolis through at least 2020, but the function’s long-term location is unclear, writes Mike Chappell of FOX59. While speculation has arisen that Los Angeles or Las Vegas could be the combine’s next home, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk indicates Indianapolis is considered ideal given that every part of the event — meetings, workouts, medical testing — to be located within a small radius.

Ravens Considered Firing HC John Harbaugh

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti admitted Friday that he considered firing head coach John Harbaugh this offseason, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). “It was a consideration, but it wasn’t one I was inclined to make,” said Bisciotti.John Harbaugh (vertical)

[RELATED: Eric DeCosta To Take Over As Ravens GM In 2019]

Baltimore, of course, missed out on the postseason after allowing a last-second touchdown to the Bengals in its regular season finale. The loss pushed the Ravens to 9-7, and they missed a Wild Card berth thanks to tie-breakers which favored the Bills and Titans. Since that time, Baltimore has made a change at coordinator, as DC Dean Pees “retired” (perhaps not voluntarily) after leading the Ravens to a No. 3 defensive DVOA finish. Marty Mornhinwheg, the club’s offensive play-caller, is staying on despite Baltimore ranking just 21st in offensive DVOA.

While nearly every team that doesn’t make the playoffs likely “considers” making a head coaching change, Bisciotti’s statement is notable given both Harbaugh’s long run in Baltimore and the team’s recent lack of success. Harbaugh is currently the NFL’s sixth-longest-tenured head coach, as he’s been with the Ravens since 2008. During that time, he’s posted a record of 94-66, but Baltimore hasn’t been to the postseason since 2014. In the past three seasons, the Ravens have managed a paltry 22-26 record.

As Zrebiec notes, Bisciott did not say Harbaugh now has a “playoffs-or-bust” mandate for 2018. But given his acknowledgement that he nearly fired Harbaugh this year, Bisciotti seems unlikely to tolerate another campaign that doesn’t end with a postseason contest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Bailey, Foster, Wallace, Spence

It was a dominant win for the Cowboys in San Francisco this afternoon, but the team did not escape the contest with their special teams intact. Kicker Dan Bailey was forced out of the game with a groin injury, according to the Dallas News. Bailey was reported to have suffered the injury in warmups, but it remains to be seen whether the news will force Dallas to bring in another kicker. In one of the more entertaining aspects of this week’s action, safety Jeff Heath was the emergency fill-in for today’s game, which included him clunking an extra point off the pole and through the uprights.

  • It’s been a trying rookie season for 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster so far. After missing a few games already with an ankle injury he suffered earlier in the season, the former Alabama defender was back on the sidelines after suffering an apparent rib injury in the third quarter. Foster seemed unsure of what was to come following the game.“I really don’t know, I’ve got to come in here (get an) MRI and treatment and just see what he doctors say about it. If they clear me, they clear me. If they don’t, they don’t,” he told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. It’s worth noting that Foster did return to the game initially, but was later taken out again for X-Rays. Barrows did add that Foster was cleared to return later in the fourth quarter by team doctors, but the coaches weren’t comfortable letting him back on the field at the end of a blowout.
  • The Ravens suffered another blow to their depleted wide receiver corps in today’s game vs. the Vikings when Mike Wallace was diagnosed with a concussion after taking a big hit on a pass over the middle of the field. However, Wallace was pleading to play following the hit, explains Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The 31 year-old receiver was seen walking up-and-down the sideline trying to convince coaches to put him back in the game. However, head coach John Harbaugh said that Wallace staying out of the game “was a done deal”, tells Zrebiec. The Ravens play on Thursday next week, so Wallace would need to pass all the concussion protocol rather quickly in order to suit up. If not, the Ravens have just Michael Campanero, Chris Moore and Griff Whalen remaining on the depth chart.
  • Bucs rookie pass rusher Noah Spence left today’s contest with an apparent shoulder injury, reports Josh Reed of WIVB.com (Twitter Link). Reed passes along that Spence will likely require surgery and is probable to miss an extended period of time. He later added onto the initial report stating there is concern that the 2017 second round pick may end up missing the rest of the season. In his first six professional games, the linebacker had just nine tackles, including one strip sack.

Ravens Extend Coach John Harbaugh

The Ravens and coach John Harbaugh have reached agreement on a contract extension, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Harbaugh’s previous deal went through the 2018 season and the new deal gives him an additional year at the helm, taking him through the 2019 season. John Harbaugh (vertical)

Harbaugh has enjoyed tremendous success as the Ravens’ head coach ever since taking on the role in 2008. Baltimore has made the playoffs in six of its nine Harbaugh-led seasons, including the Super Bowl title following the 2012 campaign. Despite a 13-19 mark in 2015 and 2016, Harbaugh still boasts an 85-59 record.

Harbaugh’s tenth year as the Ravens’ head coach figures to be one of the most challenging yet. Already, a number of players have suffered major injuries including tight end Dennis Pitta, running back Kenneth Dixon, tight end Crockett Gillmore, cornerback Maurice Canady, offensive lineman Alex Lewis, linebacker Albert McClellan, offensive lineman Nico Siragusa, cornerback Tavon Young, and wide receiver Tim White. The team hopes that Canady can return from IR, but the other injuries were season-enders. There’s also Joe Flacco‘s lingering back troubles to worry about.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Coach, GM Pushing For Kaepernick?

Both Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and GM Ozzie Newsome support the idea of signing quarterback Colin Kaepernick, sources tell Dianna Marie Russini of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Russini hears they have met resistance from owner Steve Bisciotti, but Newsome issued a statement on Wednesday to try and counter those claims:Colin Kaepernick (vertical)

We are going through a process, and we have not made a decision. Steve Bisciotti has not told us we cannot sign Colin Kaepernick, nor has he blocked the move. Whoever is making those claims is wrong,” the unusual statement read.

Recently, Bisciotti and team president Dick Cass publicly acknowledged their trepidation in signing Kaepernick, with Bisciotti adding that he wasn’t sure the QB would help the team “win games.” The team’s coach and GM apparently feel that Kaepernick can be a difference maker.

Recently, some of the team’s locker room leaders also voiced their support for adding Kaepernick.

Hell yeah, if he’s going to help us win,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “We have no issues. Not in the locker room. Hell yeah, we want him.”

The Ravens are taking a hard look at their backup quarterback situation as Joe Flacco deals with a back injury and Ryan Mallett struggles in practice. There is some good news on that front, however. A source with knowledge of the situation tells Mike Florio of PFT that he is feeling better, with the “arrow [pointing] up.”

Photo via Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

Ravens Rumors: Wallace, Mallett, Wagner

In Indianapolis today, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh fielded a wide range of questions from reporters about the offseason. Here’s a quick look at the highlights:

  • Ravens coach John Harbaugh says his “anticipation” is that Mike Wallace will remain with the team (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley). Wallace, who has an $8MM cap figure for 2017, has been considered a potential cap cut. That number is the fifth-highest on the team as of this writing.
  • Harbaugh said the Ravens are negotiating to bring back quarterback Ryan Mallett (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun). We ranked Mallett as one of the ten best quarterbacks in free agency last month. He may slide a bit down the list with the expected additions of QBs like Tyrod Taylor, Tony Romo, and Colin Kaepernick.
  • Harbaugh said the franchise tag is not in play for Brandon Williams or any other Ravens free agent, Zrebiec tweets. On Wednesday morning, we heard that the Ravens will not apply the tag to the defensive tackle. The Ravens also have a priority free agent in tackle Ricky Wagner, but the one-year tender is a bit too pricey for him as well.