Josh McDaniels

AFC Notes: Ravens, Patriots, Rivers

After the Ravens added Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Mark Ingram believes his team officially has the best running game in the league.

“I like his mindset, I like his attitude, I like the way he run the ball. Just bring him and his talents to our room that’s already special; our backfield is gonna be the best in the league for sure,” Ingram told NFL Network’s Colleen Wolfe (via NFL.com’s Grant Gordon). “We’re all looking forward to it, being playmakers for the team and help us win the championship.”

Last season, Ingram and quarterback Lamar Jackson became just the second RB-QB duo to top 1,000 rushing yards in the same season (Warrick Dunn and Michael Vick did it with the Falcons in 2006). Gus Edwards also had a productive season in Baltimore, running for 711 yards and two scores. Even Justice Hill found the end zone twice as a rookie.

While the backfield may be a bit crowded, it doesn’t sound like Ingram is too concerned about carries. Rather, the veteran is focused on winning a championship, and he passed that mindset on to his rookie teammate.

“He reached out to me,” Ingram said. “Right after he got drafted, just shot me his number, said he was looking forward to getting to work. I told him let’s go get a ring.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC…

  • Sticking with Baltimore, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta told season ticket holders that the team doesn’t have a whole lot of salary cap flexibility (via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec on Twitter). DeCosta noted that if the front office did open up space, they’d likely pursue a pass rusher/linebacker or a veteran offensive lineman.
  • Reports yesterday indicated that Tom Brady‘s “deteriorating relationship” with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was a big reason why the quarterback left New England. However, Brady vehemently denied those rumors via Instagram, asking reporters to “[p]lease be more responsible with reporting” (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). McDaniels and Brady had been paired together for more than a decade, winning six Super Bowls along the way.
  • In 2019, Philip Rivers was playing behind a Chargers offensive line that ranked 29th in effectiveness, per Pro Football Focus. In Indy, he’ll be playing behind an offensive line that was ranked third by the same metric, and that’s a big reason why the veteran decided to join the Colts. “The big part of Philip being here is Anthony CastonzoQuenton Nelson,” said offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni (via NFL.com’s Nick Shook). Ryan KellyBraden SmithMark Glowinski. Those guys are studs…That’s something that he just kept mentioning after we signed him of how valuable those guys were to him.”

Patriots Notes: Stidham, McDaniels, Winovich

Jarrett Stidham will likely be taking over for Tom Brady next season, and his former college coach is optimistic that the 2019 fourth-rounder will be successful.

“It definitely helped him to learn under the best and see what that looks like, but he’s the kind of young man, too, this is what he’s been waiting on,” Auburn’s Gus Malzahn told ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “I’ll tell you, the moment won’t be too big for him. He’ll be up to the challenge, that’s what I expect.

“Even when he got here, before he played his first game, you could just kind of tell he was a mature young man. Like a gym rat, always at the complex trying to learn, study film. When he got drafted by the Patriots [in 2019], I thought it was a perfect spot for him system-wise — spreading the field. He’s so good with protections, changing protections, and scheme-wise everything that goes with it, and just the flexibility the scheme gives him. I think that really applies to his strength.”

Stidham played a pair of seasons at Auburn, including a 2017 campaign where he connected on 66.5-percent of his passes for 3,158 yards, 18 touchdowns, and six interceptions.

Here are some more notes out of New England:

  • We’ve heard this plenty of times, but Joseph Person of The Athletic reiterates that Cam Newton won’t be landing with the Patriots. In fact, the reporter notes that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels wasn’t “necessarily high” on Newton when he interviewed for the Panthers’ head coaching gig.
  • Speaking of McDaniels, SI.com’s Albert Breer writes that a successful 2020 campaign (particularly from Stidham) could go a long way in the OC getting more head coaching interviews next offseason. If McDaniels does leave New England, Breer hints that he may take Patriots pro director Dave Ziegler with him; McDaniels planned to recruit the executive when he was interviewing with Cleveland.
  • Patriots defensive end Chase Winovich is recovering from hernia surgery, reports Stan Grossfeld of the Boston Globe. The 25-year-old underwent the procedure back in February. The 2019 third-rounder had a solid rookie season for New England, compiling 26 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
  • Marqise Lee‘s new one-year deal with the Patriots is worth the veteran minimum, reports Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). The deal could be worth up to $1.0475MM, and it includes $300K in guaranteed money. If Lee makes the team, he’ll have a cap hold of $887.5K.

Latest On Browns’ Coaching & GM Search

The Browns have their new head coach in Kevin Stefanski, but they still need a new GM after firing John Dorsey. They recently requested an interview with Eagles exec Andrew Berry, and Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports tweets that he’s “at the front of the GM candidates.”

Robinson notes that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam once said he considered Berry a future GM, and that he has a relationship with chief strategist Paul DePodesta. In a separate tweet, Robinson explains that it may come down to whether or not Berry wants to take the job. He notes that Berry, who used to work in Cleveland under former GM Sashi Brown, is only 32 and in a good situation in Philly. He also writes that Berry will likely get other calls if he passes on the job.

As for the search that ultimately ended in Stefanski, Robinson has some interesting new nuggets. He tweets that Josh McDanielswanted a specific structure with the Browns” and that he “wasn’t going to an org where DePodesta or anyone else was a ‘side jury’ reporting to Haslam.” If that’s the case, then it sounds like McDaniels never got too close to landing in Cleveland despite his lengthy visit. The Browns and Haslam have caught plenty of flak for their odd reporting structures, and it sounds like that was an issue once again this time around. 

Robinson also tweets that both Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh “had very good interviews” and that he thinks they were the finalists along with Stefanski. Both should be hot names during next cycle. As for Stefanski’s staff, Robinson tweets that the rookie head coach will likely target either Gary or Klint Kubiak. The Kubiaks were on staff with Stefanski in Minnesota, although Robinson thinks the Vikings will try to retain both. Either could be a candidate to be Cleveland’s new OC assuming Stefanski hires one.

Finally, Robinson tweeted about the future prospects for assistant GM Eliot Wolf and VP of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith. He thinks the Haslams are open to both staying, and that Wolf will have a conversation with whoever the new GM is about a role.

Coaching Notes: McDaniels, Browns, Judge, Giants, Rams, Cowboys

Josh McDaniels left his Browns visit without a deal, and the latest word is that Cleveland will take the weekend to mull things over. While they’ve been careful not to tip their hand too much, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic tweets that it’s not a good sign McDaniels went back home without a contract. Lombardi was the first to suggest that now former Browns GM John Dorsey might be in danger, so he’s certainly plugged into the situation. A report from earlier this morning indicated that McDaniels, Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz were the three finalists, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets that “multiple people around the league” believe it’s down to McDaniels and Stefanski. If Lombardi and Fowler are both correct, then that would seem to indicate Stefanski is the favorite as of right now.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks:

  • The Giants gave Joe Judge a five-year contract to be their head coach, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). It’s not the massive seven-year deal that Matt Rhule got from the Panthers, but it’s a significant commitment nonetheless. It’s especially noteworthy since, as Schefter points out, each of New York’s last two coaches have been given two years or less on the job. Simply to avoid the reputation of being coach-killers, the Giants’ ownership will likely give Judge a somewhat lengthy leash.
  • Cleveland is the only team with a head-coaching vacancy, but the dust has yet to settle for plenty of assistant coaches. There are still a lot of openings around the league, and it looks like a bidding war is brewing between the Rams and Cowboys. Both Los Angeles and Dallas are fighting to make Stan Drayton their next running backs coach, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com (Twitter link). Drayton is currently the run-game coordinator at Texas. Brandt notes that Drayton coached Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State, which explains the Cowboys’ interest. It’ll be interesting to see whether he picks Sean McVay or Mike McCarthy.
  • In case you missed it, Rhule is looking to bring his defensive coordinator from Baylor with him to fill the same position in Carolina.

Browns Still Mulling Coaching Hire

The Browns completed their interview with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on Friday, but they not quite ready to make their decision, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. The Browns’ coaching search will roll on, likely with McDaniels, Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, and Eagles DC Jim Schwartz representing the three finalists. 

[RELATED: 2020 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker]

The Browns watched the Redskins, Cowboys, Panthers, and Giants beat them to the punch in their head coaching searches. That stripped away candidates like Mike McCarthy, but it also left the Browns with their pick of the remaining litter. At this time, the Browns are the only NFL team in search of a head coach.

Despite all of their dysfunction over the years, the Browns job holds obvious appeal – and not just because they’re the only game in town. Quarterback Baker Mayfield still stands as one of the most dynamic players at his position with potential to rebound from his rocky 2019. Meanwhile, he’s surrounded by seriously talented weapons including Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and pending free agent Kareem Hunt.

Some feel that McDaniels would be the best hire and the right coach to get the most out of the team’s offensive talent. Still, Stefanski is also a highly-respected offensive mind and there’s also a case for the Browns to tighten up their defense under someone like Schwartz.

We’ve been hearing that the Browns are looking to make their decision by Saturday, so the search could be coming to its conclusion very soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns’ Head Coaching Search

The Browns are set to meet with Josh McDaniels today. The Patriots offensive coordinator also brought his wife Laura along with him, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), which could be an indication that McDaniels is poised to land the head coaching job. 

The Browns don’t necessarily have to rush to make a hire, but they’ve reportedly aiming to make a hire by Saturday. McDaniels is the last of three candidates to interview this week, and it’s believed that the hire will ultimately come from that trio of the Pats OC, Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, and Eagles DC Jim Schwartz.

The search is being spearheaded by Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, who has a good relationship with Schwartz. However, the final decision will be made by owner Jimmy Haslam, and McDaniels is a northeast Ohio native with an impressive resume.

McDaniels, 43, has interviewed with the Browns twice before. He met with the Browns during previous owner Randy Lerner‘s tenure in 2009, before the team hired Eric Mangini. McDaniels withdrew his name from consideration after interviewing in 2014, when current owner Jimmy Haslam was in charge. Before he bowed out in ’14, he was believed to be the favorite.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns’ Coaching Search

Part 1 of the final leg of Browns interviews took place Wednesday, with Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz sitting down with team brass. Despite being a late entry into this process, Schwartz continues to gain steam.

The former Lions head coach is a legitimate candidate to land this job, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, who is running this search, already has a good relationship with Schwartz, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (video link).

Kevin Stefanski is up next, with that interview set to take place Thursday in Minneapolis. Stefanski impressed during two interviews for this job last year, but Rapoport notes that while John Dorsey ran the search that ended with Freddie Kitchens, owner Jimmy Haslam also nixed a potential Stefanski-Browns union. While DePodesta now has greater say in how the Browns proceed here, Haslam certainly still will make the call.

Josh McDaniels‘ interview remains on for Friday. The longtime Patriots OC has interviewed with his hometown team twice before. Although McDaniels withdrew his name from consideration for the Browns job in 2014 and backed out of a Colts agreement four years later, Rapoport adds that the 43-year-old assistant “definitely wants” this job. However, he may no longer be the favorite.

The Browns have interviewed several others in this search, which is slated to be an eight-interview process. But at this point it would be a bit of a surprise if one of these final three did not end up with the job. The team is aiming to have a coach by Saturday. Here is where the Browns’ process stands as of Wednesday night, courtesy of PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Matt Rhule Preferred Giants To Panthers?

On Tuesday, Matt Rhule signed on as the new coach of the Panthers. However, the former Baylor head coach preferred the Giants job, according to a source who spoke with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY

After receiving a whopping seven-year, $62MM offer from the Panthers – a deal that could reach $70MM, through incentives – Rhule called the Giants to see if they would be willing to match. The Giants asked Rhule to meet with them in person, but Rhule pressed for a more definitive answer. When the Giants informed him that they would not match on the money or length of the deal, Rhule cancelled his Giants interview and accepted the Panthers offer, out of fear that owner David Tepper would pivot to Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

In the weeks leading up to the hire of Joe Judge, Rhule was the Giants’ top target in their search. However, the Giants insist that they preferred the Patriots assistant, even when putting finances aside. Judge floored the Giants in his interview and Vacchiano hears that he came with a sterling recommendation from Bill Belichick.

It doesn’t matter how we got here,” one team source told Vacchiano. “We feel we got the right guy. And I think everyone will be happy in the end.”

Ron Rivera was also linked to the Giants job by many, due to his history with GM Dave Gettleman. The Giants had interest in the 58-year-old, but Vacchiano hears that he was not considered a priority, even before he was hired by the rival Redskins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns’ HC Search

The Browns are no longer competing with any team for coaching candidates, with the Panthers and Giants having made their choices. However, neither hired a coach the Browns were considering. Both were linked to Josh McDaniels, who remains set to interview with the Browns on Friday.

But with Jim Schwartz entering the derby and Kevin Stefanski remaining a Browns target, McDaniels’ status as frontrunner may be slipping. The Patriots offensive coordinator may not have the edge Schwartz or Stefanski, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link).

Stefanski wowed Browns brass in his 2019 interview, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer adds. But then-GM John Dorsey promoted Freddie Kitchens instead. With Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta running this year’s search, the team appears to be seeking analytically geared coaches. Schwartz and Stefanski profile as embracing analytics, per Rapoport.

McDaniels, however, still has support in the Browns building, Cabot notes, adding that DePodesta and ex-Browns exec Andrew Berry (now with the Eagles) would be interested in a reunion. However, Cabot points to said reunion being most likely to commence with Stefanski as the head coach.

McDaniels’ interview will occur Friday — two days after Schwartz’s and one day after Stefanski’s. A northeast Ohio native, the 43-year-old McDaniels has interviewed with the Browns twice before. He met with the Browns during previous owner Randy Lerner‘s tenure in 2009, but the team hired Eric Mangini. McDaniels withdrew his name from consideration after interviewing in 2014, when current owner Jimmy Haslam was in charge. The Browns conducted a lengthy search in 2014; McDaniels was once believed to be the favorite during that process as well. The Browns want to make their hire by Saturday, so second interviews do not appear to be on tap.

Here is where the Browns’ process stands as of Tuesday night, courtesy of PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: McDaniels, Cowboys, Rhule

Two years ago, Josh McDaniels had assistants ready to follow him to the Colts. Multiple staffers did so, even though the Patriots assistant backed out of the agreement. This time around, McDaniels looks to have a staff lined up again. McDaniels is now “very much ready” to leave New England, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, adding that the longtime Patriots play-caller has Redskins OC Kevin O’Connell and Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon set to be key players on his staff (should McDaniels accept a job if offered). The Redskins are interested in retaining O’Connell, their offensive coordinator this season, but his NFL years began as a quarterback under McDaniels during the latter’s first stint as Patriots OC. Gannon joined the Colts’ staff in 2018. Like McDaniels, Gannon is a Cleveland-area native. He was a scout with the Rams during McDaniels’ one season in St. Louis.

McDaniels is the frontrunner for the Browns job. He will interview with the Panthers on Tuesday, the Giants on Wednesday and the Browns on Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Here is the latest from the coaching carousel:

  • Matt Rhule had issues with the Jets attempting to overrule him on staff decisions, but Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes the Giants would not do the same. The Giants would let Rhule select his assistants, and the Baylor HC is believed to have candidates in place to follow him to New York if hired. Former Giants assistant and current Lions QBs coach Sean Ryan and Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Snow are believed to be Rhule’s coordinator choices should he land either the Giants’ or Panthers’ HC jobs, Vacchiano reports. Ryan, 47, held a key role with the Texans from 2017-18 but was with the Giants for nine years, including in 2012, when Rhule was on staff. Snow, 64, has been Rhule’s DC at Temple and Baylor. He coached with the Lions from 2005-08.
  • Had the Jets hired Rhule last year, Jets management would have insisted Gregg Williams be attached as defensive coordinator, per Vacchiano. Previous GM Mike Maccagnan also had an issue with Ryan bringing brought aboard as OC. Ryan ended up in Detroit instead.
  • As for Giants incumbent defensive coordinator James Bettcher, the front office was not exactly pleased with his game management nor were Giants brass happy with the entire defensive staff, Vacchiano adds. Lacking in talent and depth at linebacker and cornerback, the Giants ranked 31st in pass-defense DVOA. Bettcher’s better-stocked defensive front, however, produced the No. 7 run-defense DVOA figure.
  • Not only is Mike McCarthy a fan of 30-year-old Cowboys OC Kellen Moore, Jerry Jones spoke of his desire to keep the young coordinator on staff in each of the Cowboys’ interviews, Breer notes. The Cowboys promoted Moore to OC last year, and Dak Prescott had by far his best season as a passer under the former Dallas quarterback’s guidance.
  • The Falcons will not retain passing-game coordinator/defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson, according to The Athletic’s Jason Butt (on Twitter). Henderson has been with the Falcons since 2016. Additionally, the Falcons interviewed Joe Whitt for their secondary coach position, Butt notes. Whitt spent the 2007 season as Atlanta’s assistant DBs coach before being on Green Bay’s staff for the next 10 seasons. He coached the Browns’ DBs under Freddie Kitchens.