Larry Izzo

Coaching Rumors: Cardinals, Bears, Giants

Pat Shurmur will be a busy man this week. The Vikings offensive coordinator has four interviews lined up in the coming days, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com: in addition to his previously reported Thursday meeting with the Lions, Shurmur will interview with the Cardinals (Thursday), Bears (Friday), and Giants (Saturday). Shurmur is currently linked to four vacancies in the NFL, tied with Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks for tops among candidates. Given that Minnesota has secured a first-round playoff bye, Shurmur is free to interview as he chooses this week.

Here’s more from the 2018 hiring cycle:

  • Although Redskins quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell was reportedly UCLA head coach Chip Kelly‘s “top target” to become the Bruins’ offensive coordinator, he won’t be going anywhere just yet. O’Connell has agreed to become Washington’s passing game coordinator, an elevated title that represents a promotion, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. O’Connell, who enjoyed a five-year playing career, has also coached for the Browns and 49ers.
  • The Texans have fired special teams coordinator Larry Izzo, assistant special teams coordinator Doug Colman, and secondary coach John Butler, while running backs coach Charles London is leaving the club of his own volition, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. Izzo’s departure shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially since Houston’s special teams have ranked in the bottom-seven of DVOA in each of Izzo’s two seasons in charge.
  • ESPN analyst Jon Gruden appears set to become the next Raiders head coach, and he’s reportedly been contacting potential staff members for weeks. Two of those coaches may be Rams quarterbacks coach Greg Olson and Bears offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn, per Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter links). Gruden is also reportedly interested in Jets OC John Morton and Bengals DC Paul Guenther.

AFC South Notes: O’Brien, Titans, Khan

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien had a lot of good things to say about his new additions to the coaching staff. Since the end of the season, the organization has added special-teams coordinator Larry Izzo, receivers coach Sean Ryan and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver.

“Larry came highly recommended to me from a number of people,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “When we brought him in to interview, I thought he did an excellent job. He was able to really articulate really his plan for special teams and how he saw things.

“He had studied our tape. He kind of knew what we were doing. I was very impressed with him. I had known him as a player. I had never coached with him. I think he’s going to be a good addition to our staff.”

Check out the link to see what O’Brien also had to say about Ryan, the former Giants receivers coach, and Weaver, the former Browns defensive line coach. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some more notes from around the AFC South…

  • The Titans will have some interesting decisions to make with the top overall pick in the draft, writes Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. The writer currently opines that the team should look to trade the pick for extra assets, although he notes that that’s easier said than done.
  • Wyatt writes that the team could use help on the offensive line and at running back, although the writer wouldn’t be a fan of signing Ray Rice. Wyatt also points to the secondary and linebackers as areas that could use some reinforcement.
  • At the Jaguars‘ State of the Franchise meeting, owner Shad Khan was adamant that the franchise will be staying in Jacksonville. “This is a community that has supported this franchise faithfully and impressively for over two decades,” he said (via Ryan O’Halloran of Jacksonville.com). “And we don’t want to just exist here, we want to flourish here.”

AFC Notes: Jones, Texans, Browns, Bengals

Despite not failing a drug test or being arrested, Chandler Jones could be subject to discipline under the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.

Jones’ recent incident reportedly involving synthetic marijuana and a police report indicating a smell of burned marijuana in Jones’ apartment would be enough to place the Patriots defensive end in Stage 1 of the substance-abuse program, Florio notes.

Synthetic marijuana isn’t among the substances for which the NFL tests, but being placed in the program would open up Jones to tests for other substances, and potential advancement within the program would about subsequent discipline a subsequent test comes back positive.

Jones’ recent bizarre happening won’t result in a suspension, Florio reports, unless the fourth-year defender was already in an advanced stage of the program. Confidentiality limits that knowledge to a select few, but Jones is not believed to be among those in the substance-abuse program.

Here are some more notes from AFC as the divisional round nears.

  • Ray Horton wants to be the Browns‘ defensive coordinator if he doesn’t receive a head-coaching opportunity, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports. John Wooten of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an organization that promotes minority coaches, front office personnel and scouts, told Cabot Horton “would love to come back to the Browns.” Horton served as Cleveland’s DC in 2013 under Rob Chudzinski but wasn’t retained after Chudzinski was fired after one season.
  • In addition to pursuing Kirby Wilson as their running-game coordinator, the Browns will attempt to land Packers assistant offensive line coach Mike Solari as their offensive line coach, with an aim to possibly give him more responsibilities, Cabot reports. The 60-year-old Solari’s most notable role came as Chiefs offensive coordinator in 2006-07 under Herm Edwards. Since, Solari served as the offensive line coach for the Seahawks (2008-09) and 49ers (2010-14) before joining the Packers’ staff.
  • The Texans hired former Patriots linebacker Larry Izzo as their special teams coordinator, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Izzo had previously served as the Giants’ assistant special teams coach. The 41-year-old Izzo played for three Patriots Super Bowl champion teams in the 2000s and is a Houston-area native.
  • Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has taken a lot of heat for deploying the likes of Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones this week, but other coaches and executives believe the responsibility falls more on the Bengals’ ownership, Albert Breer of NFL.com reports. “I don’t think Marvin and that staff are about that stuff. Ownership is. They look at value, and see a way to gain an advantage,” one head coach told La Canfora. An NFC personnel man echoed that, questioning Mike Brown‘s organization’s offseason choices. “People want Marvin to pay with his job, but what about the GM? They went through this period of time where they had a bunch of dirtbags in there, guys like Corey Dillon, and they’ve changed some. But it’s still there. The Brown family, I love and respect them. They’re as high character and have as much integrity as any owners I’ve met. Yet, sometimes, the player selections make you scratch your head.”
  • Both Brock Osweiler and Malik Jackson will command contracts “well north” of $10MM per year, Mike Klis of 9News estimates. Both will be the Broncos‘ top priorities once Von Miller is likely franchise-tagged, Klis notes. The Broncos opted to let most of their departing talent walk the past two offseasons, save for Demaryius Thomas and Chris Harris, but today signed Derek Wolfe to a contract paying $9MM AAV. That figure sits seventh among 3-4 defensive ends, according to OverTheCap. The Broncos have $20MM+ worth of cap space heading into 2016, and that’s before factoring in Peyton Manning‘s likely departure, freeing up more than $20MM of additional dollars.