January 13th, 2020 at 11:59am CST by Zachary Links
The Cowboys won’t retain defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach Kris Richard or quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News hears. While new head coach Mike McCarthy looks to fill those vacancies, the shakeup could give Richard an opportunity to return to a defensive coordinator position elsewhere.
Richard was in the mix for the Giants’ head coaching vacancy and was a finalist for the Dolphins’ HC job last year, before that went to Brian Flores. And, before Jason Garrett was ousted in Dallas, many believed that Richard was next in line to take over as the Cowboys’ DC to eventually replace Rod Marinelli.
Jon Kitna will be the team’s new quarterbacks coach, taking over for Moore. The latter’s playing career did not conclude until after the 2017 season, and it is now fair to label Moore, at 29, as one of the fastest-rising assistants in NFL history.
Moore is expected to call plays next season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Jason Garrett was initially rumored to reclaim play-calling duties, but the Cowboys prefer their head coach in a CEO-type role on game days. Dallas will be taking a gamble on an inexperienced coach, who will be flanked by Kitna — a high school head coach until being brought back to Dallas this month. Moore and Kitna served in their new roles at the Pro Bowl, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets.
The Cowboys made Dak Prescott a major part of this process, and the three-year starter again gave Moore a ringing endorsement, despite his lack of coaching credentials.
“He can be crazy-creative,” Prescott said, via DavidMoore of the Dallas Morning News. “From the time he was a player to his time now, he sits over there, we’re watching plays and he’ll draw a play up and say, ‘Hey, this is a complement off that.’
“I mean that was the main reason I pushed for him to be the quarterback coach in the first place because I knew the intelligence he has in the game, how smart he is, how creative he can be. He’s a phenom when it comes to the game.”
Both Moore and Kitna, like Garrett, served as Cowboys backup quarterbacks for a time. Moore and Kitna started games with the team this decade. Kitna, 46, finished his career in 2011 as Tony Romo‘s backup, playing that role for two seasons. Moore was not turned to as frequently, last playing in a game in 2015. But the Cowboys kept the former Boise State standout around as a third-stringer through the 2017 campaign.
Over the past three years, the Cowboys’ offense regressed from fifth to 14th to 22nd — both in scoring and yardage — and the team wanted to promote from within to see if it could improve. No outside candidates were believed to have been interviewed, though tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier — a college OC from 2008-17 — will take on more responsibility.
It is all but certain that the Eagles will part ways with Nick Foles this offseason, and there has been plenty of speculation as to how that might happen given Foles’ present contract situation. The most-discussed scenarios involve the team basically forcing Foles to buy his way into free agency for $2MM, and even then, the Eagles could put the franchise tag on Foles and trade him, thus eliminating any voice that Foles might have in the matter.
But as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, Foles and the Eagles have an excellent relationship, as evidenced by the team’s most recent gesture of goodwill. As such, JLC suggests that Philadelphia could pick up Foles’ 2019 option, thereby triggering a $20MM salary, and then orchestrate a trade to a team of Foles’ liking. Realistically, there are only a handful of teams that will be in the market for Foles, so by going that route, Foles could keep the above-referenced $2MM and still end up with a team that he would have signed with anyway (and he and his new team would likely enter into a long-term pact whether he is traded or signs as a free agent). As La Canfora observes, the Dolphins and Jaguars are the two clubs who have been linked to Foles thus far.
Now for a quick roundup of a few more east-related items:
We learned earlier today that the Cowboys could hire Jon Kitna as their QB coach and name Kellen Moore as their new OC. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), Kitna will indeed become Dallas’ QB coach, which means that Moore — who served as the team’s QB coach in 2018 — may very well take the OC reins. Schefter’s ESPN colleague, Chris Mortensen, reports that head coach Jason Garrett is “in line” to serve as the team’s offensive play-caller in 2019 regardless of who the OC is (Twitter link).
In the past couple of years, we have heard a lot about the tension among the three pillars of the Patriots‘ franchise: owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady. But as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes, when Belichick recently commented on the upcoming 25th anniversary of Kraft’s ownership, he said, “[h]ope we can continue it for a long time.” That brief but telling statement is in keeping with what Reiss has been sensing of late, which is that Belichick, 66, will be coaching New England for the foreseeable future.
Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio tweets that the Bills could promote offensive assistant Chad Hall to wide receivers coach to replace Terry Robiskie, who recently joined the Jaguars’ coaching staff.
The Cowboys‘ offensive coordinator position is now vacant after the team parted ways with Scott Linehan several days ago, and we learned that tight ends coach DougNussmeier may be the favorite to replace Linehan. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com suggests that Dallas could look to promote quarterbacks coach Kellen Moore — whom Rapoport described as “fast-rising” and “impressive” — to the OC job (Twitter link). If that happens, RapSheet suggests that the team could add another one of its former QBs to the coaching staff by hiring Jon Kitna, most recently the offensive coordinator for the AAF’s San Diego Fleet, as the new quarterbacks coach.
As Jerry Jones mulls the coaching credentials of his former signal-callers, let’s take a look at other coaching rumors from around the league:
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports believes that the Redskins‘ failed pursuit of Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams does not bode well for head coach Jay Gruden‘s future in Washington. La Canfora writes that owner Dan Snyder put the “full-court press” on Bowles, and if Bowles had said he would only join the Redskins as a head coach, Snyder may have gone for it. Gruden will return in 2019, but if he does not lead the Redskins to a playoff berth, La Canfora would not be surprised if Snyder reaches out to Bowles and Williams again, perhaps to discuss a head coaching position.
If the Patriots prevail in today’s AFC Championship Game, the Dolphins will meet with New England de facto defensive coordinator and future Miami head coach Brian Flores during the week before the Super Bowl to discuss staffing and other issues, per Rapoport (via Twitter). The Fins can formally commit to Flores as their next HC at that time.
The Bengals have been very hands-off with their presumptive new head coach, Zac Taylor, but Rapoport (video link) says that is only because the team is closely adhering to league rules regarding coaching hires (Taylor, of course, is the Rams’ quarterbacks coach, and the Rams’ season isn’t over yet). Rapoport says Cincinnati still fully intends to hire Taylor, and he names Jack Del Rio as a potential defensive coordinator on Taylor’s new staff. La Canfora agrees that Del Rio is a DC target, and he adds John Fox as another possibility. Both JLC and RapSheet say that Raiders QB coach Brian Callahan is a top choice for offensive coordinator.
Former Cardinals tight ends coach Jason Michael will join the Colts in the same capacity, a source tells Albert Breer of The MMQB (on Twitter). Michael served as the Titans’ offensive coordinator from 2014-15 and was the team’s QB coach from 2016-17.
At present, it’s unclear for which position Kitna interviewed, but Cincinnati does have a vacancy at quarterbacks coach. Bill Lazor formerly held that title, but he’s now the full-time offensive coordinator following the firing of Ken Zampese. Kitna, who spent five seasons with the Bengals during his playing career, doesn’t have any NFL coaching experience, but he has served as a high school head coach since 2012.
Kitna, 45, played under Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis for three years, and was Lewis’ first starting quarterback when the latter took over in Cincinnati in 2003. Lewis recently inked a two-year extension to remain in the Queen City, and hiring Kitna would add another level of familiarity to the Bengals’ staff.
Kitna’s potential addition won’t be the only staff change in Cincinnati, as the club is parting ways with secondary coach Kevin Coyle, per Marvez. Additionally, the Bengals are considering both pro and college coaches as they seek to replace offensive line coach Paul Alexander, and one scenario could involve promoting longtime consultant Jim McNally to OL coach, reports Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. Utah assistant head coach/offensive line Jim Harding has also interviewed for the position, tweets Marvez.