Josh McDaniels

Eagles To Interview Josh McDaniels

After an unusually quiet start to his offseason, Josh McDaniels will be part of this year’s HC interview circuit. The Patriots OC will meet with the Eagles about their top coaching job, Bo Wulf and Zac Jackson of The Athletic report (subscription required).

The frequently sought-after coordinator will meet with Jeffrey Lurie on Sunday. While McDaniels is certainly one of the more polarizing candidates available, he has already begun recruiting staffers in the event he can land the Philadelphia gig, per Jackson and Wulf. That strategy turned out to have notable consequences in Indianapolis.

McDaniels spurning the Colts three years ago led to the Eagles losing OC Frank Reich. Their offense has not been quite the same since, and the unit cratered this season. McDaniels, however, is not coming off his best season. While he was in place as Patriots OC when Tom Brady grew from Super Bowl winner on a defense-powered team into an MVP, McDaniels could not coax much from New England’s Cam Newton-directed offense. However, the Patriots battled frequent injury issues and have not had much in the way of weaponry over the past two seasons.

Even after McDaniels backtracked on his Colts commitment, the former Broncos HC remained a candidate in 2019 and 2020. The Eagles, though, are the only known team to reach out to the veteran coordinator this year. McDaniels joins fellow Pats staffer Jerod Mayo among those in consideration for the Eagles job.

McDaniels would be tasked with rebooting Carson Wentz‘s career. The Eagles have told candidates they plan to “in an ideal world” keep Wentz for next season, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link). Wentz’s status helped drive a wedge between ownership and Doug Pederson (and Wentz and Pederson), but Pederson’s ouster has improved the former starter’s prospects in Philly.

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2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Exiting the regular season, six teams are searching for new head coaches. That number is up from last season but not quite as high as 2019, though there may well be more vacancies that emerge during the playoffs.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-16-21 (2:51pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Latest On Texans’ GM, HC Search

With Bill O’Brien gone, the Texans find themselves with an interim GM in Jack Easterby and an interim HC in Romeo Crennel. Earlier this week, team owner Cal McNair said that internal conversations as to how the team will permanently fill those roles had yet to begin, but it seems that has changed.

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, McNair has hired Jed Hughes, the vice chairman of the search firm Korn Ferry, to assist him. The club will reportedly wait until after the season to hire a new head coach and general manager, but obviously McNair wants to start the process as soon as possible. Interestingly, Hughes also played a key role in helping the Texans identify and hire O’Brien back in 2014.

According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Patriots exec Nick Caserio is once again under consideration for the Houston GM job. As many of our readers probably remember, the Texans made a play for Caserio in June 2019, only to back out when the Pats threatened to file tampering charges.

Caserio is widely considered to be a top GM candidate, and though he did sign a two-year extension with New England in February, La Canfora says that the new deal prohibits the Pats from interfering with Caserio’s pursuit of a GM job. JLC adds that McNair remains high on Caserio.

Meanwhile, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who has been a hot head coaching candidate in recent years, was one of the first names to surface in speculation after O’Brien’s dismissal. And La Canfora says Bieniemy has a fan in Texans QB Deshaun Watson, whose opinion and feedback will be valued by McNair. Indeed, Watson has already advocated for Bienemy, who may have several options but who will unlikely find an HC-needy team with a signal-caller as good as Watson.

McNair is said to be seeking a QB guru, so Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and Bills OC Brian Daboll will also be under consideration.

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Texans Fire HC/GM Bill O’Brien

Well we certainly didn’t see this one coming. The Texans have fired head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

The Texans of course are 0-4, but it’s still a pretty shocking development since there hadn’t been any recent reports that O’Brien’s job was in imminent danger. Schefter noted in a follow-up tweet that a source told him Romeo Crennel is the likely interim head coach. O’Brien clearly wasn’t expecting to get canned, as we heard just yesterday that he was taking over offensive play-calling duties and taking a more active role in the game-planning.

The Texans are a trainwreck at the moment, as not only are they winless but they’re also without their first and second-round picks in next year’s draft due to trades O’Brien made. O’Brien had recently clashed with prominent players at practice and executive Jack Easterby is now in charge of the organization for the time being, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets.

O’Brien now becomes the first head coach fired during the 2020 season, beating out contenders like Adam Gase and Dan Quinn for the honor. GM Brian Gaine was fired back in June of 2019, and O’Brien has been in complete control of the team ever since. He was formally named the general manager back in January.

The former Penn State coach and Patriots offensive coordinator made a slew of controversial moves, most notably trading away superstar DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals this offseason for relatively little in return. The Texans have a franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson, but things are pretty bleak outside of him due to the lack of draft capital.

It’s been a rapid collapse for Houston after they advanced to the second round of the playoffs last year and had a huge lead over the Chiefs in the first half. O’Brien became the head coach in 2014 and while he’s earned a lot of the criticism he’s gotten, he did lead the team to the playoffs in four of his six full seasons.

The Texans started with an absolutely brutal schedule of the Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers in their first three games, and are running out of time to turn things around. Crennel has been with the team in varying capacities since 2014 as well. He’ll take over a team with some real talent, and he has head coaching experience. He coached the Browns from 2005-08, and was more recently the Chiefs’ head coach from 2011-12.

As for their next full time head coach, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is sure to get consideration. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report tweets to keep an eye on current defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, writing that the “team loves him and he’s seen as a serious contender for a HC job this offseason.” Meanwhile Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that Easterby is on a “very long-term contract,” and notes that he is close with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as well as Pats exec Nick Caserio, who the Texans originally wanted to be their GM last year. Easterby is going to be heavily involved in the ensuing search process alongside owner Cal McNair, according to multiple reports.

McDaniels’ name is brought up annually in head coaching searches, and it sounds like that will be the case once again here. A handful of reporters immediately began speculating on Twitter that there could be interest in Dabo Swinney, Watson’s former coach at Clemson. That was all just spitballing and nothing sourced, but it’s fun to think about nonetheless. Watson isn’t the only connection there, as Albert Breer of SI.com tweets he’s been told Easterby is also “very friendly” with Swinney.

As for O’Brien, it’s anyone’s guess what his next move will be. Today ends a tumultuous era of Texans football, and it’ll be very interesting to see if Watson can lead the team out of the hole they currently find themselves in.

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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.

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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.

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