Keith O'Quinn

East Rumors: Cowboys, Bills, Fins, Giants

The Cowboys are nearly finished revamping their coaching staff, as they’ve promoted Keith O’Quinn to special teams coordinator and promoted Ben Bloom as linebackers coach, reports Todd Archer of O’Quinn, who was previously Dallas’ assistant ST coach, was widely expected to be promoted to the full-time role to replace Rich Bisaccia, who left to join Jon Gruden‘s Raiders. Bloom, meanwhile, joined the Cowboys’ staff in 2011 and had most recently been an assistant coach for special projects. He’s taking over for Matt Eberflus, who is expected to become the Colts’ new defensive coordinator under presumptive head coach Josh McDaniels. Dallas is still planning to fill more two roles, tweets David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, as the club wants to hire a new tight ends coach and an assistant special teams coach to work under O’Quinn.

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

  • While the Bills‘ pass defense finished 12th in DVOA thanks to solid performances from rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White and veteran safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, Buffalo has parted ways with defensive backs coach Gill Byrd, according to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News (Twitter link). To replace Byrd, the Bills have hired former Texans secondary coach John Butler, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Butler had spent the past four seasons Houston after following Bill O’Brien from Penn State to the Texans.
  • The Dolphins have also found a new defensive backs coach, the club has hired Tony Oden to replace Lou Anarumo, per Marvez. Detroit parted ways with Oden last week as the team clears out its defensive staff prior to future head coach Matt Patricia‘s arrival. Oden had been with the Lions since 2014, but his tenure in the Motor City didn’t overlap with that of Miami defensive coordinator Matt Burke, who had left the club the year prior. Oden, who will now work with Xavien Howard, Reshad Jones, and T.J. McDonald, among others, has also coached with the Saints, Buccaneers, and Jaguars.
  • One of the least productive units in the NFL has a new position coach, as the Giants have hired Hal Hunter as their offensive line coach, reports Marvez. Hunter boasts a lengthy coaching history that dates back to 1984, but he only first entered the NFL in 2006. He coached the Chargers’ offensive line and subsequently became San Diego’s offensive coordinator, and also had stops in Indianapolis and Cleveland.

Cowboys Notes: Dez, Lawrence, O’Quinn

Speaking to the media today, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he intends on wide receiver Dez Bryant being part of the club’s roster in 2018, but wouldn’t comment on a possible pay cut for the mercurial pass-catcher, according to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Bryant will turn 30 years old during the 2018 campaign, and is coming off a disappointing season in which he managed only 69 receptions, 838 yards, and six touchdowns, the third straight campaign in which Bryant has failed to top 1,000 yards receiving. He’s due a base salary of $12.5MM next year, so while Jones refused to touch the subject of a pay reduction, the topic figures to come up this offseason.

Here’s more from Dallas, with all links going to George’s Twitter account:

  • While Bryant’s contract will be on the Cowboys’ docket over the next several months, the team’s “first goal” is to sign defensive end Demarcus Lawrence to a long-term extension, said executive vice president Stephen Jones (link). A multi-year pact is always preferable to the franchise tag from a team’s perspective thanks to the salary cap implications of each contract, but Lawrence holds all the leverage after a posting a 12.5-sack performance in 2017. A one-year franchise tender for the 25-year-old Lawrence will cost the Cowboys nearly $18MM.
  • Jerry Jones confirmed reports that the Cowboys have re-signed running backs coach Gary Brown and hired the recently-retired Kellen Moore as the club’s quarterbacks coach (link). Both the Raiders and Texans expressed interest in hiring Brown this offseason, but Dallas had always maintained dialogue with the longtime coach, who joined the Cowboys in 2013. Moore, meanwhile, has a backer in Dallas offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who has called Moore a “machine” in terms of learning and communicating.
  • The Cowboys are closing in on a deal to promote assistant special teams coach Keith O’Quinn to the lead role, per Jones (link). O’Quinn would replace Rich Bisaccia, who left Dallas to become an assistant head coach/special teams with Jon Gruden‘s Raiders. This was one of two possible outcomes, as reports had indicated O’Quinn would either be promoted to the full-time special teams role or take over as the Cowboys’ tight ends coach.

Coaching Rumors: Daboll, Bettcher, Bears

Several potential head coaching candidates have identified Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as a possible play-calling addition, per Ian Rapoport of (video link). The 42-year-old Daboll, fresh off a National Championship, has served as an NFL OC with the Browns, Dolphins, and Chiefs. He also spent two stints in New England, coaching wide receivers and tight ends under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels.

Here’s the latest on the 2018 hiring cycle:

  • In-limbo Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher could be in consideration for a role with the Bears, reports Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM (Twitter link), who reports Chicago’s brass would like to meet with Bettcher. One of nine candidates to replace Bruce Arians in Arizona, Bettcher could be without a job if the Cardinals go in a different direction. It’s unclear exactly what title Bettcher would hold with the Bears, especially since Chicago is expected to retain incumbent DC Vic Fangio.
  • The Bears are forging a reunion with Harry Hiestand, whom they’ve hired as their new offensive line coach, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Hiestand, 59, previously served as the Bears’ OL coach form 2005-09 before moving onto the Titans and Notre Dame, with whom he’s spent the past six seasons. Multiple teams were reportedly pursuing Hiestand, per Greg Gabriel of Pro Football Weekly (Twitter link), and the longtime coach had no intention of remaining in South Bend. In Chicago, Hiestand will work with an offensive line that ranked in the bottom half of the league in both adjusted sack rate and adjusted line yards.
  • Hiestand isn’t the only staff change the Bears made today, as they’ve also hired Charles London as their next running backs coach, tweets Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. London has spent time in Chicago before, as he was a offensive quality control coach for the club from 2007-09. After a brief stint with the Titans, London followed Bill O’Brien to Penn State and then to the Texans, where he coached for the past four years.
  • Offensive line coach Frank Pollack has been fired by the Cowboys, per Marvez (Twitter links). It’s a stunning move in some regard, especially since the Dallas offensive line was viewed as an especially dominant unit as recently as 2016. But injuries and ineffective play led to the club’s front five struggling last season, leading to Pollard’s dismissal. Elsewhere in Dallas, assistant special teams coach Keith O’Quinn is expected to be reassigned, either as the Cowboys’ primary ST coach or as the club’s tight ends coach, per Marvez.