Luke Steckel

Coaching Rumors: Pats, Chargers, Texans

The Patriots are currently the only club without a defensive coordinator in place, and New England could follow in the footsteps of the Eagles — who may not hire an OC — and not officially name a new coordinator, as Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com speculates (via Twitter). Incumbent linebackers coach Brian Flores is viewed as the favorite to succeed Matt Patricia on the Patriots’ staff, but as Breer notes, Bill Belichick has given former assistants time to grow before placing them in coordinator roles. Patricia, for one, called New England’s defensive plays for two seasons before being given the DC title. Additionally, current offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels called plays for the Patriots in 2005 despite not having the official coordinator moniker.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • Jerry Schuplinski had been expected to follow McDaniels to Indianapolis, but now that that ship has sailed, Schuplinski will return to the Patriots‘ staff as assistant quarterbacks coach, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Reports earlier this offseason indicated Schuplinski had an “outside chance” to succeed McDaniels as New England’s offensive play-caller, but a path to the Colts had seemed more likely as of last week. Now, Schuplinski — who has been with the Patriots since 2013 — will work with Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, and possibly another signal-caller if New England selects a passer in the upcoming draft.
  • The Chargers have announced several new hires, including the addition of former Bills wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan in the same role. McGeoghan, who spent only one season in Buffalo, will replace Nick Sirianni, who is now the Colts’ offensive coordinator. He’ll get to work with a receiving corps that includes Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Travis Benjamin. Additionally, Los Angeles has hired Keith Burns (assistant special teams) and Addison Lynch (defensive quality control).
  • Two AFC South clubs — the Titans and Texans — have finalized their 2018 coaching staffs and announced a few hires that hadn’t been previously reported. Tennessee has retained Luke Steckel (offensive assistant) and hired Matt Edwards (assistant special teams), Scott Booker (defensive assistant), Ryan Crow (defensive assistant) , while Houston had added Will Lawning (offensive assistant/offensive line) and Matt O’Donnell (defensive quality control).
  • The Cardinals have hired former University of Findlay offensive coordinator Troy Rothenbuhler as an offensive quality control coach, reports Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Rothenbuhler had spent his entire coaching career in the collegiate ranks, and spent the past seven years as Findlay’s play-caller.

Coaching Rumors: Titans, Lions, Packers

Although at least one report indicated new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel would overhaul the majority of Tennessee’s coaching staff, that’s not necessarily the case, says Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com (all Twitter links). Tight ends coach Arthur Smith, assistant special teams coach Craig Aukerman, and assistant wide receivers coach Luke Steckel will join previously-reported defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend in interviewing with Vrabel during the Senior Bowl. Among the coaches who will part ways with the Titans include offensive line coach and NFL Hall of Famer Russ Grimm (who is retiring), quarterbacks coach Jason Michael, running backs coach Sylvester Croom, defensive assistant Brandon Blaney, and assistant defensive backs coach Steve Jackson.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Lions are expected to revamp their defensive coaching staff under new head coach Matt Patricia, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). That should come as no surprise given Patricia’s defensive background, and the current Patriots DC spoke with members of the Detroit staff last week to inform them they aren’t part of the club’s 2018 plans, per Birkett. Specifically, Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan and defensive backs coach Alan Williams have been fired, reports Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. The Lions, of course, have already lost a number of defensive staffers to other teams, as former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin joined the Bengals while ex-defensive line coach Kris Kocurek landed with the Dolphins.
  • The Packers will continue their staff overhaul under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine by hiring former Bowling Green safeties coach Ryan Downard, likely as a defensive quality control coach, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links). Downard was an assistant under Pettine in Cleveland before heading to BGSU, so there is a level of familiarity between the two. Downard’s addition does not have an effect on the status of incumbent cornerbacks coach Darren Perry, per Silverstein. Meanwhile, La Canfora (via Twitter) has clarified Jason Simmonsrole change with Green Bay, noting that he’s been moved to secondary coach.
  • The Panthers are interviewing Seahawks assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell for the same position, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). If hired, Farwell would work alongside former NFL linebacker Chase Blackburn, who was recently named Carolina’s new special teams coach. Farwell, an ex-NFL ‘backer in his own right, joined the coaching ranks in 2016.
  • The Seahawks have mutually parted ways with senior defensive assistant Travis Jones, the club announced today. Jones had served as Seattle’s defensive line coach from 2013-16 before being bumped to a new role last season. He’s just the latest coach to leave the Seahawks’ staff this month, adding to a growing list that includes OC Darrell Bevell and DC Kris Richard.

AFC South Notes: Colts, Jags, Titans, Walden

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano believes bringing in a young running back is “paramount,” per Kevin Bowen of Colts.com (Twitter link). Indianapolis’ backfield is currently composed of Frank Gore, who is entering his age-34 season, and 27-year-old Robert Turbin, who was recently re-signed on a two-year deal. Backs that could be available when the Colts are on the board at pick No. 15 include Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Christian McCaffrey.

Here’s more from the AFC South:

  • Although the Colts will likely sign a fourth quarterback in the coming weeks, that shouldn’t be taken as a sign the club is worried about Andrew Luck‘s health, tweets Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. New general manager Chris Ballard simply is accustomed to keeping four signal-callers on the offseason roster, a strategy the Chiefs employed when Ballard worked in Kansas City. At present, Indianapolis has Luck, Scott Tolzien, and Stephen Morris under contract.
  • The Jaguars are likely to begin extension conversations with the younger members of their roster in the near future, but cornerback Aaron Colvin — who is entering his contract year — is likely to play out the season and hit the open market with the hope of moving to outside corner, a source tells Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida-Times Union. Colvin only played in 10 games in 2016 due to a suspension and an ankle injury, and his playing time will be limited once again in 2017 thanks to the presence of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.
  • Free agent linebacker Erik Walden fired agent Todd France three days after meeting with the Titans earlier this month, according to Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com, who adds Walden has not yet found new representation. Walden’s visit with Tennessee is the only known meeting he’s taken so far this offseason after the Colts informed him he wouldn’t be retained. PFR ranks Walden as the sixth-best edge defender remaining on the board.
  • The Titans have promoted offensive assistant Luke Steckel to assistant wide receivers coach, per Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com (Twitter link). Steckel will now work under Frisman Jackson, whom Tennessee hired as it WRs coach earlier this year. Prior to joining the Titans, Steckel spent four seasons in Cleveland as an assistant to the head coach