Lunda Wells

Cowboys Make Staff Changes

In announcing their coaching staff, the Cowboys revealed more new names coming to join Mike McCarthy in his first season.

Although this offseason featured a few ex-Cowboys assistants going to New York to follow Jason Garrett, McCarthy hired former Giants staffer Lunda Wells to be his tight ends coach. Wells joins assistant offensive line coach Jeff Blasko and first-year coach Scott Tolzien as the latest additions to McCarthy’s first Dallas staff.

However, the most notable move may be a holdover changing roles. Doug Nussmeier will move from tight ends coach to leading the Cowboys’ quarterbacks.

This marks a notable promotion for the two-year tight ends coach, but this new position will mark a return to the kind of responsibilities the longtime college assistant enjoyed. Nussmeier served as QBs coach and offensive coordinator at several major college programs — Washington, Alabama, Michigan and Florida among them — from 2009-17. In between, he served as the Rams’ QBs coach under Scott Linehan from 2006-07. Linehan helped bring Nussmeier to Dallas before the 2018 season.

The Cowboys retained Kellen Moore as their OC, and Nussmeier’s role with the franchise grew last year after the team transitioned from Linehan to Moore in that job. Nussmeier was also a candidate to be Dallas’ OC. His rise within the organization continues, with McCarthy tabbing Moore and Nussmeier to be his top voices on the offensive side of the ball. Nussmeier, 49, will replace Jon Kitna as QBs coach.

Set to move into Nussmeier’s previous role, Wells spent the past eight seasons with the Giants — seven of those coaching Big Blue’s offensive line or tight ends. Blasko worked under James Campen in Cleveland last year. Blasko worked with McCarthy in Green Bay.

Given starts with the Packers and Colts, prior to a stay in the Alliance of American Football, Tolzien will transition to coaching. The 32-year-old ex-quarterback spent three seasons with McCarthy in Green Bay before moving to Indianapolis to be one of Andrew Luck‘s backups in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Giants, Foles, Patriots

New Giants head coach Pat Shurmur and GM Dave Gettleman — in stark contract to their predecessors at this time last year — recognize that Big Blue needs to make significant improvements to its O-line in order to return to contention in 2018, as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes. Schwartz views the rapid improvement that the Vikings’ O-line made from 2016 to 2017, in large part due to heavy free agent and draft investment, as an indication that New York will be able to make a similar jump under Shurmur.

Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg are unrestricted free agents and there is no guarantee that either will be re-signed, John Jerry can be cut without many salary cap implications, and the new regime has no connection to Ereck Flowers, so the Giants’ line will be in for a major overhaul, and Schwartz thinks Shurmur is the right man to lead that change.

Now for more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Shurmur was able to retain Giants assistant offensive line coach Lunda Wells, who also garnered interest from the Raiders and other teams. New York will promote Wells to tight ends coach. In addition, the team is expected to retain RB coach Craig Johnson, per Schwartz (via Twitter).
  • Carson Wentz believes he will be ready for the start of the 2018 season, which is already leading to speculation as to what the Eagles will do with Nick Foles, who has guided the team to a berth in Super Bowl LII in Wentz’s absence. Jimmy Kempski of the PhillyVoice says the team’s medical staff also believes Wentz will be available when Week 1 of the 2018 season rolls around, and Foles will count for $7.6MM against the cap in 2018, the last year of his current deal. Rather than let Foles leave in free agency after 2018, Kempski speculates that Philadelphia could trade Foles to a QB-needy team this offseason. Of course, the Eagles have the luxury of simply holding onto one of the best backups in the league if they do not get an offer they like.
  • Patriots QB Tom Brady had an appointment earlier this week to remove the 12 stitches on his throwing hand that he played with in the AFC Championship Game last Sunday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Brady is expected to be fully healthy for Super Bowl LII.
  • James Harrison has given the Patriots‘ defense a nice boost since joining the team on December 26, and the 39-year-old said he does not intend to retire at the end of the season. Per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, Harrison says he may want to play for up to two more years.
  • Assuming the Jets are not able to land Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold in this year’s draft, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes Gang Green would prefer Josh Allen over Baker Mayfield (Twitter link). Although Allen may be more raw than Rosen or Darnold, some believe he has the highest ceiling of any signal-caller in the draft.