Kirby Wilson

AFC Notes: Steelers, Haley, Dolphins

Here’s a look at the AFC:

  • Quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner is considered the favorite to take over for Todd Haley as the Steelers‘ new offensive coordinator, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Rapoport notes that Fichtner is close with offensive line coach Mike Munchak as well as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which could give him the leg up. However, no decision has been made yet.
  • Kirby Wilson, the Steelers‘ running backs coach under Mike Tomlin during his first seven seasons with Pittsburgh, is another candidate to replace Haley as OC, Ed Bouchette of the Post Gazette (on Twitter) hears. Interestingly, Munchak’s name has not come up as a OC candidate yet, even though he declined a second interview with the Cardinals on Wednesday.
  • Former Denver assistant head coach/running backs Eric Studesville is headed to the Dolphins as running backs coach/run game coordinator (Twitter link via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com). Studesville has ties to Dolphins head coach Adam Gase since both men were on the Broncos’ staff together both under Josh McDaniels and John Fox.

Coaching Rumors: Browns, Raiders, Bears

Even though new Browns lead football man John Dorsey is keeping current head coach Hue Jackson, he has just gotten started in reshaping the team’s coaching staff. Apart from hiring Ken Zampese and Adam Henry as the organization’s quarterbacks and wide receivers coaches earlier this week, the team has let go of five staff members from this past season, according to Tony Grossi of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Grossi reports that the team has moved on from former QB’s coach David Lee, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, running back coordinator Kirby Wilson, special teams assistant Shawn Mennenga and special teams quality control coach Stan Watson. Dorsey has brought a new look to the Browns front office and he’ll now remake the team’s coaching staff given this new coaching news.

Here’s more coaching news from around the league:

  • Raiders new head coach Jon Gruden has brought in a number of new coaches to join his staff for the 2018 season. But there is one coach that is definitely being retained from Jack Del Rio’s previous coaching crew. Assistant wide receivers coach Nick Holz is being retained, per Adam Caplan of SiriusXM (Twitter link). While Holz is the only holdover as of now, Caplan does note that many other Del Rio staffers are currently being reviewed by the organization.
  • Matt Nagy has began filling out the Bears coaching staff for next season. The team announced that they have hired former NFL receiver Mike Furrey to coach their wideout group. Furrey was recently the head coach at Limestone College and played with Nagy in the AFL back in 2002. Furrey will likely inherit a much different group of receivers than the team had in 2017.
  • Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown is expected to return to the team in 2018, sources tell Todd Archer of ESPN.com. It was previously reported that while Dallas had wanted to retain him, he had also drawn interest from the Raiders and Texans.
  • While many hires are being reported, the Chargers are losing their tight ends coach John McNulty to the college ranks. McNulty will join Rutgers as their offensive coordinator for the next season, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). McNulty previously worked as an assistant coach for the Scarlet Knights from 2004-2008.

 

 

AFC Coaching Notes: Broncos, Browns, Jaguars

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is set to interview with the Broncos today, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Denver gig is the job that Shanahan “identifies with.” The reporter notes that the coordinator is also intrigued by the Jaguars head coaching position.

In a separate tweet, Rapoport notes that Shanahan will “be picky and patient” as he decides which opportunity he wants to pursue. As our head coaching tracker shows, the 37-year-old is also set to meet with the Rams and 49ers.

Let’s take a look at some other coaching notes coming out of the AFC…

  • Chiefs’ special teams coordinator Dave Toub interviewed for the Broncos head coaching gig this morning, and Mike Klis of Denver7 writes that the coach impressed the organization during the four-hour meeting.
  • Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is considered a favorite for the Broncos head coaching gig. If he ends up getting the position, Albert Breer of MMQB.com tweets that former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy could be an option as Denver’s new offensive coordinator.
  • After firing Ray Horton yesterday, the Browns have started searching for a new defensive coordinator. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets that the organization reached out to former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley regarding the opening. ESPN’s Pat McManamon writes that the team also approached Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
  • We learned yesterday that Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is in “prime position” to get the Browns defensive coordinator gig, and Toni Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com tweets that Williams would bring at least three additional Rams coaches to Cleveland (assuming he gets the job).
  • Fortunately for the Browns, it appears that at least one coach will be staying put. Cabot tweets that running backs coach Kirby Wilson isn’t expected to go elsewhere. The longtime coach is a “longtime friend” of Browns head coach Hue Jackson.

 

Browns Hire Ray Horton, Other Coaches

FRIDAY, 8:49am: The Browns have officially confirmed the hiring of Horton as the team’s defensive coordinator, along with the other moves noted below and a few more. Here’s the full list of coaches and titles announced today by the team:

  • Ray Horton, defensive coordinator
  • Pep Hamilton, associate head coach/offense
  • Al Saunders, offensive assistant/wide receivers
  • Kirby Wilson, running backs/run game coordinator
  • Hal Hunter, offensive line
  • Mark Hudson, assistant offensive line
  • Greg Seamon, tight ends
  • Bob Saunders, offensive quality control
  • Shawn Mennenga, special teams assistant
  • Stan Watson, special teams quality control

WEDNESDAY, 7:32pm: In addition to naming Saunders, Hamilton and Wilson to his offensive staff, Jackson has hired Hal Hunter as his O-line coach, Breer tweets. Hunter had been the Colts’ assistant O-line coach since 2013. He was at the helm of the Chargers’ line from 2006-12.

5:08pm: The Browns’ Hue Jackson-led coaching staff is rounding into form. Jackson has hired Ray Horton as his defensive coordinator, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link).

Additionally, the Browns have addressed their offensive staff by hiring Al Saunders as a senior assistant, according to Cabot (Twitter link), Pep Hamilton as assistant head coach/offense and Kirby Wilson as their running game coordinator (Twitter links via ESPN’s Josina Anderson).

The last few days have been a whirlwind for Horton, who appeared likely to join the Browns before a report came out that he was negotiating a contract extension with the Titans – whose defensive he coordinated over Pep Hamilton (vertical)the last two seasons. However, the extension didn’t come to fruition and Horton interviewed with the Browns to become their new D-coordinator on Tuesday. Horton is familiar with Cleveland, having coordinated its defense to a top 10 ranking in 2013. Before that, he worked in the same capacity in Arizona from 2011-12. Horton’s defense in Tennessee finished 12th overall in 2015-16, but the team seemingly marginalized his role in the offseason when it hired Dick LeBeau as an assistant head coach. LeBeau was given “complete control” of the defense, and Horton had to report to him during the season as a result. Horton has already put in requests to bring some of the Titans’ defensive coaches to Cleveland, according to Cabot (Twitter link), as he tries to improve a Browns ‘D’ that finished 27th in the league in 2015-16.

Jackson and Saunders have a working relationship that dates back to the 2009 season, when both were with the Ravens. Saunders was also on Jackson’s staff when Jackson was the Raiders’ head coach in 2011. This is the fourth decade in which Saunders has worked as an offensive assistant at the NFL level. The 68-year-old spent this season on the Dolphins’ staff and has been an offensive coordinator with four different teams. While the Browns will value Saunders’ input, Jackson will call the plays.

Hamilton was the Colts’ O-coordinator from 2013 until this past November, when they fired him after their third-ranked attack in 2014 regressed significantly. Part of his duties in Cleveland will entail working with quarterbacks, tweets Albert Breer of NFL.com. Cabot reports (via Twitter) that he’ll be the Browns’ passing game coordinator. The 41-year-old has plenty of experience in that realm, having coached QBs with the Jets (2004), 49ers (2006) and Bears (2007-09) at the pro level.

Prior to joining the Browns, Wilson worked with running backs for six different NFL organizations since 1997, having spent the last three years in Minnesota. The Vikings attempted to keep Wilson, according to ESPN’s Ben Goessling, but the expiration of his contract enabled him to land a promotion with the Browns.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this report. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns’ Coaching Staff Targets

9:36pm: The Dolphins wanted to interview Wilson for a running game coordinator position as well, writes Goessling in a full post, but the Vikings blocked Miami’s and Cleveland’s requests with the hope that they could sign Wilson for 2016 and beyond.

9:13pm: Wilson’s Wednesday interview is almost a formality, according to Goessling, who reports (Twitter link) that Wilson is “all but assured” of landing the running game coordinator position.

8:27pm: New Browns head coach Hue Jackson is still working to formulate a coaching staff, and it appears as though several new hires are close to being finalized. Veteran offensive coordinator Al Saunders is expected to join Cleveland as an assistant, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, while former Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson will interview with the club on Wednesday with an eye toward becoming the Browns’ running game coordinator, per Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.Al Saunders (Vertical)

Jackson and Saunders have a working relationship that dates back to the 2009 season, when both were working for the Ravens (they also worked together on the 2011 Raiders), so it’s no surprise that Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reported this morning that Saunders was a “strong candidate” to join the Cleveland staff. The 68-year-old Saunders offers more than thirty years of NFL coaching experience, and while he won’t be calling plays (Jackson will do that), he’ll presumably help design the club’s weekly game plan.

Meanwhile, Wilson’s contract with the Vikings expired today, per Goessling, so he is now free to negotiate with any team. Previous reports indicated that Minnesota had blocked Cleveland’s request to interview Wilson, but now that he is no longer under contract, the Browns don’t need the Vikings’ approval. Wilson would add yet another voice — including Sanders and possibly Pep Hamilton, whom Jackson is also said to be courting — to Cleveland’s offensive meeting room.

Of course, Saunders and Wilson aren’t the only coaches that Jackson is reportedly eyeing, as we heard this morning that — after much trepidation — Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton interviewed for the same position with the Browns. In her report linked above, Cabot confirmed that today’s scheduled meeting did in fact take place.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Go Without Offensive Coordinator?

During a radio interview Friday, Hue Jackson mentioned he does not plan to hire an offensive coordinator after being brought on as the Browns’ head coach, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Jackson will almost certainly call plays in Cleveland this season after doing so in Cincinnati the past two seasons and in Oakland in 2011, when he served as the Raiders’ head coach.

The newly hired Browns HC didn’t rule out the possibility of someone else calling plays but seems intent on doing so himself, and this could well mean the Browns going without an offensive coordinator this season.

Right now in my mind, I don’t really plan on having an offensive coordinator ‘cause I want to reserve that right to call plays,” Jackson said on a Sirius XM Radio appearance.

I think that’s something that’s gotten me this job. So if it’s something that you’re an expert at, I think you want to continue to work at that and keep that in your pocket so you can use it to help your team. Now if I get somebody I really trust who has that [expertise], then obviously I’m very willing to kind of give that away as we go, but it’s got to be somebody I really trust and admire.”

This move would basically make Jackson the head coach/offensive coordinator. Jackson worked with an offensive coordinator in Oakland, Al Saunders, in his 8-8 slate in the Bay Area.

Jackson interviewed ex-Colts OC Pep Hamilton on Friday, per Ulrich, and seeks to bring Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson aboard as a running-game coordinator. Wilbert Montgomery‘s served as Cleveland’s running backs coach the past two seasons.

The Vikings would have to grant the 54-year-old Wilson permission to interview for this job. Wilson has been the coach of six different franchises’ backfields, the longest stint coming with the Steelers from 2007-13. Prior to catching on in Pittsburgh once Mike Tomlin took over in 2007, Wilson coached with the Patriots, Washington, the Buccaneers and Cardinals from 1997-2006, with a one-year stint mixed in as USC’s wide receivers coach.

The Browns ranked 25th this season under first-time OC John DeFilippo.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images

Coach Rumors: Giants, Tabor, M. Smith, Haslett

Ben McAdoo didn’t announce any decisions on his coaching staff during his introductory press conference this morning, but the new Giants head coach alluded to players improving in their second season in a defensive scheme, suggesting Steve Spagnuolo will be back.

Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that Spagnuolo will, in fact, return as the Giants’ defensive coordinator. A source tell Marvez (Twitter link) that the Giants will also keep secondary coach David Merritt on McAdoo’s staff.

As for McAdoo, Giants owner John Mara said today that the club had initially scheduled a second interview for him on Thursday of this week. However, when the Giants got wind of the Eagles’ strong interest in McAdoo, they pushed that second interview up a day to Wednesday, and ultimately promoted him to head coach (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News).

Here are a few more coaching-related updates from around the NFL:

  • Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has been retained by new head coach Hue Jackson, the team announced today in a press release. Tabor has been in his current role since 2011, working under Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, and now Jackson.
  • The Browns are also expected to add Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson to their staff as a running game coordinator, if Minnesota approves the move, writes Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • Former Falcons head coach Mike Smith is a “hot name” as a defensive coordinator and has several options, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). We’ll see if Smith, who interviewed for a pair of head coaching jobs, has interest in returning in 2016 as an assistant.
  • Jim Haslett will be named the Bengals‘ new linebackers coach, according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com (via Twitter). Haslett, who served as a consultant for Penn State in 2015, was replaced by Joe Barry as Washington’s defensive coordinator a year ago.
  • Saints offensive line coach Bret Ingalls, offensive assistant Kyle DeVan, and secondary coach Wesley McGriff are leaving the team, with the latter two landing college jobs, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune tweets that Dan Roushar will likely move from tight ends coach to offensive line coach to accommodate new addition Dan Campbell.

Extra Points: Shanahan, Trestman, Ryan

Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will consider leaving the Browns, even for a lateral move, because of friction within the organization, writes Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. Shanahan is aiming to become a head coach somewhere (perhaps in Buffalo) but he’d also like to reunite with his father, Mike Shanahan. The 49ers, Raiders, and Bills are have interest in hiring Mike as a head coach with Kyle as the offensive coordinator. More from around the NFL..

  • Washington interviewed Rod Graves on Monday for their GM position, according to Albert Breer of NFL.com (on Twitter). By interviewing Graves, Washington has satisfied the Rooney Rule, so that is not a roadblock in their talks with Scot McCloughan.
  • Former Bears head coach Marc Trestman will interview for the Jaguars‘ offensive coordinator position, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Trestman has already interviewed with the Buccaneers.
  • Rex Ryan will be meeting with CBS executives tomorrow to discuss a possible TV role if he doesn’t land a head coaching job, a source tells Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).
  • The Eagles have requested permission to interview recently promoted Packers exec Eliot Wolf for their personnel opening, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Wolf was recently promoted by Green Bay, ostensibly to keep him in-house as the heir apparent to their own GM job.
  • The Eagles requested GM interviews with Chris Grier (Dolphins), Chris Polian (Jaguars), and Brian Gaine (Texans), sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • The Texans might have interest in former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, according to Dan Pompei of Sports On Earth (on Twitter).
  • Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson is scheduled to interview with the Jaguars for their offensive coordinator position on Thursday, a source tells Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • Gaine and Lake Dawson, the Titans‘ vice president of player personnel, completed their interviews with the Bears for their GM opening, according to Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Saints GM Mickey Loomis says that the team will take linebacker Junior Galette‘s arrest “very seriously,” as Mike Triplett of ESPN.com writes. “If at some point we deem it necessary for the club to take some action, we’ll do that,” Loomis said.
  • Loomis feels that the Saints are in better shape financially, Evan Woodbery of The Times Picayune (on Twitter). “I would say we’re in a better situation than we were a year ago — on pure salary cap.” He also scoffed at a recent report indicating that he will move into a new role with the team (link).

Coach Updates: Bills, Raiders, Jags, Quinn

Earlier this morning, we rounded up a handful of coaching-related updates. Plenty more items have surfaced over the course of the day, so let’s check in on the latest:

  • The Bills are looking to line up an interview with former Jets coach Rex Ryan, according to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News (on Twitter).
  • The Bills have spoken with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz about their head coaching vacancy, according to Tim Graham of The Buffalo News.
  • The Bills have a number of head coaching interviews set up for this week — Tim Graham of the Buffalo News writes that the team’s meeting with Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson will happen on Wednesday, while Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will speak to the club on Saturday. Additionally, a source tells Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link) that the 49ers have given offensive coordinator Greg Roman permission to pursue the Bills’ HC job, and that interview will take place on Friday.
  • After speaking to several outside candidates, the Raiders will conduct their interview with interim head coach Tony Sparano tomorrow, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links).
  • Former Raiders head coach John Madden sat in on Oakland’s interview with Mike Shanahan in recent days, multiple sources tell Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com. Bair adds that it’s not clear how involved Madden is in the Raiders’ coaching search, but “it speaks some to the legitimacy of Shanahan” as a candidate for the job.
  • A pair of candidates’ names have surfaced as the Jaguars search for a new offensive coordinator. Rapoport tweets that Jacksonville has asked to speak to Vikings running back coach Kirby Wilson, and Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union (Twitter link) says Roman will also interview for the position.
  • Preparing for the possibility that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan leaves Cleveland this winter, the Browns have “reached out to guys like Charlie Weis,” tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
  • A longtime NFL executive who has been involved in many interviews for coaches tells Peter King of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link) that Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is “the most impressive candidate” he has seen.

Vikings Links: Ponder, Greenway, Wilson

With a win over the Bears on Sunday, the Vikings can finish with a 7-9 record — given the Adrian Peterson incident, and the presence of both a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach, such a conclusion would certainly be a positive sign for the future. Let’s look at a few notes regarding even more changes that could occur in Minnesota during the offseason…

  • Too much baggage makes it highly unlikely Christian Ponder and the Vikings will renew vows during the offseason, even though the team’s other veteran quarterback, Matt Cassel, could be prowling for another starting job elsewhere. Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press sat down with the former first-round pick to discuss his time in Minnesota. Ponder says that his No. 1 priority in free agency will be looking for playing time.
  • The longest-tenured Viking on the roster, linebacker Chad Greenway has been in Minnesota since being selected in the first round of the 2006 draft. However, he isn’t sure he’ll be back with the team in 2015. “I guess we’ll find out,” Greenway told Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Twitter link). “I don’t have the answer there.” Greenway, who accepted a $1MM pay cut earlier this year, is set to count $8.8MM against the Vikes’ cap in 2015.
  • Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson left the Steelers after being considered for the offensive coordinator job with the Ravens, but after a good season making due without Adrian Peterson, he may be up for another offensive coordinator job soon, writes Ben Goessling of ESPN.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.