Kevin O'Connell

Coaching Notes: O’Connell, Rams, Flaherty, Giants

We heard last month that new Chargers coach Brandon Staley was interested in bringing OC Kevin O’Connell with him from the Rams, but that Sean McVay had blocked the lateral move. McVay confirmed that news when speaking to the media earlier this week, and indicated that he’s putting more on O’Connell’s plate to keep him happy. McVay said his top offensive deputy will have more responsibility this upcoming season, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets.

The Rams head coach stressed how important it was for the team to retain O’Connell in the face of the Chargers’ advances. It doesn’t sound like he has any intention of giving up play-calling duties anytime soon, but at least O’Connell will be more involved in the operation. McVay let his old OC Matt LaFleur leave to go to the Titans for a lateral move since it came with play-calling responsibilities, but he wasn’t as keen to see O’Connell walk out the door. O’Connell, still only 35, was Washington’s OC in 2019 before getting bounced with the rest of Jay Gruden’s staff and then getting picked up by McVay.

  • O’Connell isn’t the only one getting additional responsibilities on the Rams staff. Running backs coach Thomas Brown has now been given the title of assistant head coach, tight ends coach Wes Phillips has been named passing game coordinator, and defensive line coach Eric Henderson has been promoted to run game coordinator, the team announced. Knowing the history of McVay’s staffs, each of these guys will probably be head coaches by 2022. All jokes aside, Phillips is the son of former Cowboys head coach and Rams DC Wade Phillips, so it’s interesting to see him rising up through the ranks if nothing else.
  • The Giants are bringing a familiar face back into the fold. Former New York offensive line coach Pat Flaherty will return to the team in an advisory role, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets. It’s notable because Flaherty was such a staple of those Eli Manning era Giants teams, serving as their offensive line coach for all 12 of Tom Coughlin’s seasons as head coach from 2004-15. As such, Flaherty won two Super Bowls with the team. The Giants had a lot of drama in their offensive line room last year, and are probably hoping the seasoned vet Flaherty can be a stabilizing presence. He was the Dolphins’ offensive line coach in 2019.
  • In case you missed it, the Eagles did in fact request an interview with Eric Bieniemy for their HC vacancy, putting to rest a mini-controversy.

Coaching Notes: O’Connell, Raiders, Saints

The Rams just lost their DC Brandon Staley when he took the Chargers’ head coaching job, but it doesn’t sound like they’re about to let their OC follow him out the door. We heard yesterday that Staley was interested in bringing Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell with him, but Sean McVay has other ideas. The Rams have blocked him from interviewing with the Chargers, sources told Albert Breer of SI.com (Twitter link), which they can do since it’s a lateral move.

O’Connell doesn’t call the plays with the Rams, McVay does, and he presumably would’ve been able to with the Chargers. McVay had previously let his former OC Matt LaFleur leave to go become the Titans’ OC when it came with play-calling responsibilities, but it sounds like he’s tired of getting his assistants poached. Breer adds the Rams “really value” O’Connell. Breer does note that things could change, but that’s the Rams’ current position. O’Connell was the OC for Washington in 2019 before he was swept out with the rest of Jay Gruden’s staff.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks:

  • Speaking of the Chargers, Staley is at least getting who he wants for one position. Los Angeles is hiring Raiders tight ends coach Frank Smith away to be their new offensive line coach and run game coordinator, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com tweets. Smith and Staley previously served on Vic Fangio’s Bears staff together, so there’s a connection there. As Gutierrez points out, Smith did a great job in helping Darren Waller blossom into one of the league’s best tight ends.
  • Smith isn’t the only assistant coach shuffling the Raiders are doing. New DC Gus Bradley is starting to flesh out his staff, and he’s hired Richard Smith and Ron Milus as his linebackers and defensive backs coaches respectively, Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets. Smith and Milus held those same roles under Bradley with the Chargers previously.
  • The Lions are by all accounts planning on hiring Saints assistant Dan Campbell to be their new head coach, although notably no deal has been announced even though it’s been a couple of days now since New Orleans was bounced from the playoffs. Interim coach Darrell Bevell “earned serious consideration for the position,” and it’s possible he could get the job if talks with Campbell fell through, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Bevell was Detroit’s OC before taking over for a fired Matt Patricia. Bevell was 1-4 as interim coach, and was the Seahawks’ OC from 2011-17.
  • LSU was finalizing a deal to make Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen their new defensive coordinator, Jane Slater of NFL Network tweets. However, that hit a snag as it was reported New Orleans was blocking him from getting out of his contract. Things were resolved this morning with Nielsen being given a new three-year contract and the added title of assistant head coach to stay with the Saints, a source told Mike Triplett of ESPN.com (Twitter link). With Dennis Allen getting a head coaching interview with the Eagles, Nielsen could be a candidate to eventually take over as DC as he’s apparently very highly regarded within the building.

Coaching Notes: Daboll, Chargers, Bears, Falcons

Before the Chargers surprisingly hired Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to be their new head coach last night, Bills OC Brian Daboll was widely considered the favorite for that job. After missing out on the opportunity to coach Justin Herbert, it sounds like Daboll is going to ride things out in Buffalo and wait until next year for a head coaching gig. A source close to Daboll said he’ll “be the big name for head coach next year,” per Dianna Russini of ESPN (Twitter link).

That would seem to indicate that Daboll isn’t a serious candidate for, or isn’t interested in, the Texans and Eagles jobs, which are the only two real openings left with the Lions expected to hire Dan Campbell. Russini also notes that agents and other candidates around the league viewed the Staley hire as a surprise as well. Daboll also interviewed with the Jets before they hired Robert Saleh. Widely praised for his work in developing Josh Allen into a top-tier quarterback, it looks like the Allen/Daboll partnership in Buffalo will live on for at least another year, which is music to the ears of Bills fans. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle later confirmed in a tweet that Daboll will in fact return on Sean McDermott’s staff in 2021.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks:

  • Speaking of the Chargers, since they just hired a defensive mind, finding someone to run the offense is the new top priority. To that end, Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell is a possibility for the Chargers’ OC gig, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets. Pelissero notes that he’s become very close with Staley during their time together on Sean McVay’s staff. He also points out that since it would technically be a lateral move for O’Connell, he’d need McVay’s blessing to leave. Obviously since he would get to call the plays with the Chargers it would still be a pretty big step up, and McVay previously let his old OC Matt LaFleur make a lateral move to the Titans since it came with play-calling responsibilities, so presumably he’d do the same here. O’Connell is a former third-round pick QB of the Patriots, who spent 2019 as Washington’s offensive coordinator. We’ve heard that Herbert “loves” his current offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and Pelissero again reiterates it’s possible he’s held over from Anthony Lynn’s staff.
  • The Bears need a new defensive coordinator with Chuck Pagano retiring, and obviously with Matt Nagy being an offensive mind it’s a crucial role for Chicago. They’re starting to sift through candidates, and the team has put in a request to interview Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon for the job, Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic tweets. Gannon isn’t the highest profile candidate, as he was a quality control coach as recently as 2017 until he was hired to be DBs coach on Frank Reich’s inaugural Colts staff in 2018. We’ve also heard that current defensive line coach Jay Rodgers and safeties coach Sean Desai are internal candidates to succeed Pagano.
  • New Falcons coach Arthur Smith will surely be running the team’s offense, but it sounds like he’s planning on hiring an offensive coordinator still. We also heard over the weekend that Bears passing game coordinator Dave Ragone was an early favorite for the OC role, but he’s apparently not the only contender. Atlanta has interviewed Panthers receivers coach Frisman Jackson for the job, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Jackson spent five years with the Browns as a player in the early 2000s, and was the Titans’ receivers coach in 2017 when Smith was coaching tight ends there, so he’s got that connection working for him. He then went to Baylor before following Matt Rhule from there to Carolina.

Rams To Hire Kevin O’Connell As OC

The Rams are hiring assistants at a blistering pace. Just minutes after it was reported they’d be bringing in Brandon Staley to be their defensive coordinator, we now have word on their new OC. Los Angeles is hiring Kevin O’Connell, formerly of the Redskins, as their new offensive coordinator, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). 

There was some initial speculation that Washington would keep O’Connell, but Ron Rivera elected to hire Scott Turner instead. O’Connell instantly became a hot name, and was linked to the Eagles and the Browns‘ OC openings. O’Connell was hired by the Redskins as quarterbacks coach right after Sean McVay left Washington, and he moved quickly through the ranks.

Before this past season he was promoted to offensive coordinator, and he earned a lot of praise for his work with Dwayne Haskins down the stretch. Both McVay and O’Connell worked under Jay Gruden with the Redskins, so the connection was there. McVay was unhappy with his staff after the Rams missed the playoffs last year, electing not to retain Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator and to hire a real OC.

O’Connell is only 34, and is highly regarded in most circles. If all goes well in Los Angeles, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s a head-coaching candidate before too long. He started his career as a player, bouncing around a handful of teams as a journeyman quarterback from 2008-2012.

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Eagles To Consider Jim Caldwell, Kevin O’Connell For OC Job?

Searching for a new offensive coordinator for the second time in three years, the Eagles are likely to look outside the organization to replace Mike Groh. Candidates with disparate backgrounds are emerging.

Former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and 2019 Redskins OC Kevin O’Connell have surfaced as candidates, Tim McManus of ESPN.com tweets.

Doug Pederson canned Groh despite the Eagles’ late-season showing with a skeleton-crew offense, and with the team not preparing to promote quarterbacks coach Press Taylor, it opens the door to the prospect of an outside hire taking over. The Eagles do, however, have Duce Staley in place as assistant head coach and running backs instructor. He could conceivably be a candidate, though the team opted to promote Groh over him for the post Frank Reich vacated two years ago.

After the Lions fired Caldwell following a four-year tenure, he resurfaced in Miami on Brian Flores‘ staff. But a medical issue forced the 64-year-old coach to take a leave of absence shortly after accepting that role. Caldwell, however, received clearance to resume coaching recently. He has seven seasons’ worth of experience as HC — one of those producing an AFC championship season in Indianapolis — and was promoted to Ravens OC late in their 2012 Super Bowl season.

The Redskins opted to reunite Ron Rivera with Scott Turner, the latter replacing O’Connell as their offensive coordinator. Like Groh, O’Connell dealt with an ever-changing offensive core. But Washington ranked 30th in offensive DVOA last season. Still, O’Connell has been connected to the Browns and Rams, with the Cleveland connection potentially hinging on whether the franchise hires Josh McDaniels.

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Rams, Browns To Consider O’Connell?

Kevin O’Connell, in all likelihood, will be out of a job soon. The Redskins are poised to hire Scott Turner as their new offensive coordinator and O’Connell has been granted permission to speak with other teams about OC opportunities. Once the dust settles, O’Connell could land with the Rams or Browns, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com and Albert Breer of The MMQB (Twitter links). 

O’Connell has been referred to as “the next Sean McVay” by many in years past – he’s a young and highly-respected offensive guru who took on McVay’s one-time role in 2019. The two could unite on the same staff in Los Angeles, where McVay is also seeking a new coordinator on the other side of the ball.

Meanwhile, O’Connell could wind up as the Browns’ OC, if Josh McDaniels is hired. As a rookie quarterback for the Patriots in 2008, O’Connell was coached by McDaniels, who was then the team’s QBs coach. After that, O’Connell bounced around the league until 2012 and, eventually, transitioned to the sidelines.

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Redskins Eyeing Scott Turner For OC Job

The Redskins are zeroing in on Scott Turner as their offensive coordinator, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Turner served under Ron Rivera in Carolina and they could be on track for a reunion. 

Turner served as Rivera’s quarterbacks coach in Carolina, up until Rivera’s dismissal. After Rivera was ousted, Turner was elevated to OC and he impressed with his play calling. The 37-year-old would be a logical choice for the Redskins, who seem likely to part ways with Kevin O’Connell.

O’Connell has received permission to speak with other teams about potential OC vacancies, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Redskins’ offense struggled in 2019, but O’Connell has long been viewed as a rising star in coaching circles. O’Connell was reportedly considered for the Redskins HC job before Rivera was hired and Rivera (at least, at one point) was open to keeping him on board.

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Redskins Hire Ron Rivera As HC

The Redskins didn’t let him get away. Washington will hire former Panthers HC Ron Rivera as its next head coach and will give him a five-year contract, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). The hire will be announced tomorrow.

Washington fired former head coach Jay Gruden in October, which allowed owner Dan Snyder to get a jump on the hiring process. That may have been crucial, because when Rivera was let go by Carolina earlier this month, he immediately became one of the most qualified coaching candidates on the market, and he would have had other suitors, like the division-rival Cowboys and Giants. But Snyder, who perhaps realized that his silver tuna acquisition of Mike Tomlin was never going to happen, acted quickly to bring Rivera to Washington and keep him there.

Rivera, who played linebacker for the Bears from 1984-92 and who was a part of Chicago’s Super Bowl XX victory, became the team’s quality control coach in 1997. He paid his dues and moved up the coaching ranks, ultimately becoming the Bears’ defensive coordinator in 2004. But it was his stint as the Chargers’ defensive coordinator from 2008-10 that solidified him as one of the best defensive minds in the game, and he parlayed that status into a head coaching gig with the Panthers in 2011.

The Panthers never captured the Lombardi Trophy with Rivera, but he did get them to Super Bowl 50 at the end of the 2015 season, and he earned Coach of the Year honors that year. Including playoffs, Carolina went 79-67-1 with Rivera at the helm.

Although Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins may never be Cam Newton, Rivera obviously feels comfortable enough with the Ohio State product to accept the Washington job. Indeed, many believed it would be difficult for the Redskins to attract a top HC candidate, so it’s a good sign for Washington fans that Rivera apparently believes in the direction the team is heading. And now that Bruce Allen is out of the building and Rivera is in, perhaps the team can bring in a top exec as well (though Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that the team may not complete its front office changes until after the draft).

As far as Rivera’s staff is concerned, there has been speculation linking his former defensive coordinator in Carolina, Steve Wilks, to the same job in Washington. Though Wilks is currently under contract with the Browns — and therefore in limbo — John Keim of ESPN.com says he will not be coming to Washington (Twitter link). Indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Rivera is targeting former Jaguars and Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio as his defensive coordinator, which could make for a very strong staff in the nation’s capital. Schefter says Del Rio is the leading candidate for the job.

Joe Person of The Athletic says (via Twitter) that Eric Washington and Sam Mills III could be other names to watch for the DC job, and La Canfora says Rivera is likely to retain offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.

The hire has been well-received, and given the way Snyder handled the Rivera hire and the Allen dismissal, perhaps Redskins fans can feel a bit of optimism heading into the new year.

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Redskins To Consider Bill Callahan For Full-Time Job

The Redskins will consider interim head coach Bill Callahan for the so-called “permanent” post (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). That makes two known internal candidates – offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell is also getting real consideration for the job. Rapoport expects the Redskins to evaluate Callahan and O’Connell before opening things up to external candidates in December. 

[RELATED: Redskins Considering OC Kevin O’Connell For HC Job]

If Callahan wants the gig, he’ll have to find a way to turn things around in Washington. Heading into tonight’s game against the Vikings, the Redskins are 1-6 with their only win coming against the lowly Dolphins a couple of weeks back.

O’Connell hasn’t gotten tremendous results, either, but he is highly respected around the league and in the Redskins’ front office. The Redskins, for all their woes, have a history of developing young offensive coaches that have skyrocketed through the ranks. After Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur, and Kyle Shanahan found success elsewhere, the Redskins may be inclined to keep O’Connell in their yard.

In other Redskins news – running back Adrian Peterson and cornerback Josh Norman are active for tonight’s game against the Vikings. The Redskins may also see Trent Williams again sometime soon, though there’s no guarantee that he’ll play even if he does report.

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Kevin O’Connell Serious Candidate For Redskins’ HC Job

Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell is expected to receive serious consideration for the team’s head coaching post, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post writes. O’Connell, 34, has been with Washington since 2017, and this season is his first as the Redskins’ OC.

Before Washington elevated him from passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach in January, O’Connell garnered interest from multiple other teams. For all of the Redskins’ problems, they have had a number of young and talented coaches rise through their ranks — Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur, and Kyle Shanahan, to name a few — and apparently there is a belief that O’Connell can follow in their footsteps.

Washington is near the bottom of the league in points per game and yards per game this year, but the offense is largely bereft of talent at the skill positions and along the O-line, so it would be difficult to hold the performance of O’Connell’s unit against him. As Maske notes, the real question will be whether O’Connell, interim HC Bill Callahan, or an outside candidate will be best-suited to maximize Dwayne Haskins‘ potential.

Owner Dan Snyder has not had much problem luring big-name head coaches to the nation’s capital; the problem has been making it work once those coaches arrive. Plus, team president Bruce Allen could be an obstacle. One of Maske’s sources, an agent who represents coaches, said that no coach worth his salt will accept an HC job with the Redskins as long as Allen is in charge of personnel.

In addition to O’Connell, Maske names Gregg Williams, Marvin Lewis, and Mike McCarthy as big names who could attract Snyder’s interest.

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