Marc Colombo

Coaching/Front Office Notes: Browns, Broncos, Giants, Titans, Panthers, Dolphins

When previous frontrunner George Paton removed himself from consideration for the Browns’ general manager vacancy, there were reports that he had concerns about Cleveland’s power structure. That might’ve been a bit overblown, as sources told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that Paton was “not at all scared off by Browns’ structure” (Twitter link). Further, Fowler writes that Paton was “impressed with people in the building and thinks highly of” new head coach Kevin Stefanski, while it came down to the fact that he “felt he had a good thing still going in Minnesota.” Paton is currently an assistant GM with the Vikings. That’s good news for Browns fans, but the earlier reports are still concerning. Stefanski, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, and whoever the new GM is will all be reporting directly to owner Jimmy Haslam, which understandably turns off some prospective candidates.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks:

  • We heard Mike Shula’s interview with the Broncos went well, and now he’s about to be hired. Shula is going to become Denver’s next quarterbacks coach, the team is just working out contract details, a source told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link). Specifically, Klis writes that offsets with the Giants still need to be worked out. Shula had been the Giants’ offensive coordinator before Pat Shurmur was fired, and there was apparently offset language in his contract. Prior to joining New York, Shula was the Panthers’ OC for five seasons. Shurmur has since been hired as Denver’s offensive play-caller, so obviously there’s a lot of familiarity here.
  • Speaking of former Giants coaches, New York’s former head coach Ben McAdoo left his visit with the Browns without a deal, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). Garafolo notes that it is still unclear exactly what role McAdoo was interviewing for in Cleveland. Garafolo also writes he was “in play” to be Carolina’s new quarterbacks coach.
  • Jason Garrett is re-teaming with one of his guys. The new Giants offensive coordinator will be paired back up with Marc Colombo, who is going to be New York’s new offensive line coach, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Colombo had been Garrett’s O-line coach in Dallas. The Cowboys routinely had one of the league’s best offensive lines, so this seems like a strong hire.
  • Legendary assistant Dean Pees elected to retire as the Titans’ defensive coordinator, leaving Mike Vrabel with a big hole on his staff. The “expectation in [the] coaching community” is that Titans outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen will be promoted to DC, per Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL (Twitter link). Bowen had previously served as a defensive assistant with the Texans, so he has deep ties to Vrabel.
  • Rookie Panthers head coach Matt Rhule continues to fill out his inaugural staff, and he just made a couple of new hires. Rhule is expected to hire Pat Meyer away from the Chargers as his offensive line coach, and Jason Simmons away from the Packers as his defensive backs coach, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Meyer had been Los Angeles’ OL coach and run-game coordinator, while Simmons coached the Packers’ DBs. Rhule’s staff is now almost fully fleshed out.
  • Finally, the Dolphins are hiring a new defensive backs coach in Gerald Alexander, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald tweets. Alexander is coming from the college ranks, where he served as the defensive backs coach at Cal for the past few seasons. Alexander was briefly with the Dolphins as a safety during his playing days back in 2011. Miami had the vacancy after they promoted Josh Boyer to defensive coordinator following Patrick Graham’s departure.

Coaching Rumors: Giants, Caldwell, Browns

Joe Judge‘s first Giants staff will feature Jason Garrett overseeing the offense and Jerry Schuplinski as quarterbacks coach. The Giants are hiring the former Patriots and Dolphins assistant quarterbacks coach, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post notes. Brian Flores could have blocked the move but opted not to. This will be Schuplinski’s first stint as a franchise’s top quarterbacks coach. He and Garrett have not worked together, but Judge and Schuplinski coached together in New England from 2013-18. The latter’s NFL career began in 2013, after he spent 13 years coaching at alma mater John Carroll, a Cleveland-area high school (Trinity) and Cleveland-based Division III college Case Western Reserve. Schuplinski helped Ryan Fitzpatrick to some surprising performances this season, given the offensive line and backfield situation with which the veteran quarterback was saddled, and will now play a key role in developing Daniel Jones.

Here is the latest from the coaching world:

  • With Bill Callahan set to become the Browns’ offensive line coach, the Giants’ search to fill this position continues. The team will bring in longtime Garrett assistant Marc Colombo for an interview, Jordan Raanan and Todd Archer of ESPN.com report (on Twitter). Colombo will interview on Tuesday, per Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News. Given that Colombo worked under Garrett from 2016-19 as Cowboys assistant O-line coach and then O-line coach, it would seem the ex-Cowboys lineman has a good chance of landing this job. The Giants had Callahan on their radar and also interviewed former Judge Pats coworker Dave DeGuglielmo for the position.
  • After taking a leave of absence from Flores’ staff before the season began, Dolphins assistant Jim Caldwell did not coach during the team’s season. And the former Colts and Lions HC will not return to the Dolphins’ staff, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com notes. Caldwell, who stepped away for medical reasons, is back to full health and wants to coach again. He was recently mentioned in connection to the Eagles’ OC job.
  • A Joe WoodsBrowns partnership looks to be on hold for the time being. While the former Broncos DC and current 49ers secondary coach is expected to become the next Browns DC, no agreement is expected until Super Bowl LIV’s conclusion, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. Woods and incumbent Steve Wilks were vying for the job, and Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer confirms a Woods-over-Wilks has been made.
  • The Browns will retain run-game coordinator Stump Mitchell, Cabot adds. Serving as running backs coach under Freddie Kitchens, Mitchell helped Nick Chubb to 1,494 rushing yards. Chubb’s seven 100-yard games were the most any Browns back has compiled in 51 years, matching Hall of Famer Leroy Kelly‘s 1968 total.
  • Kevin Stefanski is also considering retaining DBs coach DeWayne Walker, per Cabot. Walker is a holdover from the Hue Jackson staffs, initially joining the Browns in 2017 after four years as the Jaguars’ secondary coach.

Cowboys Expected To Hire Joe Philbin

Mike McCarthy and Joe Philbin are on the verge of reuniting on the Dallas staff. The Cowboys are expected to hire the longtime Packers assistant and former Dolphins head coach as their offensive line coach, Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports.

Although Philbin did not coach this season, he spent 10 years with the Packers. Seven of those came under McCarthy. Philbin’s most recent Packers stint concluded as the team’s interim head coach, after McCarthy was fired in early December of last season.

Green Bay’s offensive coordinator from 2007-11, Philbin oversaw Brett Favre‘s resurgent 2007 showing and Aaron Rodgers‘ subsequent growth into a superstar. Following Philbin’s three-plus-season Dolphins stay, he coached the Colts’ O-line from 2016-17 and returned as Packers OC to start the ’18 season.

Philbin, 58, will replace Marc Colombo. The former Cowboys lineman took over for the fired Paul Alexander midway through the 2018 season. Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing that year, doing so despite Travis Frederick‘s season-long absence. Although Colombo’s contract runs through 2021, Archer adds he will not stay with the Cowboys. Dallas’ Pro Bowler-laden O-line ranked second in adjusted line yards and in pass protection, according to Football Outsiders.

Philbin’s anticipated hire will give the Cowboys three assistant coaches who once served as HCs. The Cowboys are bringing in ex-49ers coach Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator and fellow ex-San Francisco HC Jim Tomsula as D-line coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Cowboys’ Coaching Search

Jason Garrett is still technically the coach of the Cowboys, but everything continues to indicate they’ll be moving on with the team already scheduling interviews with Marvin Lewis and Mike McCarthy. Here’s the latest on everything pertaining to Dallas’ search:

  • The Cowboys were conspicuously quiet for a while, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t working behind the scenes. The McCarthy interview news just leaked Friday morning but the former Packers coach was apparently originally scheduled to interview on Thursday before rescheduling to accommodate his Browns interview, according to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). That proves owner Jerry Jones hasn’t just been sitting on his hands after the season ended.
  • Garrett, meanwhile, is continuing to lobby Jones for another chance, as Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported in Sunday’s FOX pregame show. Jones has been steadfast in his decision to move on from Garrett, but Garrett is doing everything he can to keep his post. Meanwhile, the team’s interview with McCarthy went so well that McCarthy stayed an extra day in Dallas.
  • Baylor coach Matt Rhule and Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley have also been connected to the Cowboys’ job. The Jones family should have a good read on their potential interest in the job since they have the same agent as McCarthy, tweets Albert Breer of SI.com. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says that Jones will gauge Riley’s interest, but Riley is unlikely to leave Oklahoma at this point (video link).
  • The Lewis interview caught a lot of people by surprise, but there is one interesting link between the two sides. Jones is very good friends with Bengals owner Mike Brown, tweets Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic. Dehner writes that the two men “hold very similar view[s]” on handling their teams. Lewis, of course, was Cincinnati’s coach for 16 seasons and Brown was very reluctant to let him go. It’s possible that Brown recommended Lewis to Jones.
  • Speaking of Lewis, Rapoport says the former Bengals HC would require that the Cowboys — or any club — hire Hue Jackson as his OC (video link). That could be a deal-breaker for the Cowboys given the presence of Kellen Moore.
  • Garrett had told his assistants on expiring deals they were free to start looking for other work. Most assistants were on expiring deals like Garrett, but that notably excluded Moore and offensive line coach Marc Colombo, Breer tweets. The organization thinks very highly of Moore and he generally received positive reviews in his first year calling plays. Since both are still under contract, it’s quite possible the Jones’ will retain them even when they hire a new coach. Breer adds that Garrett hasn’t spoken to any of his staff since Monday.

Cowboys Notes: Frederick, Colombo, Colman

Cowboys center Travis Frederick underwent shoulder surgery last week to repair a labrum issue, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Head coach Jason Garrett received the news of Frederick’s operation as a positive, an indication that Frederick is preparing for the 2019 campaign after missing the entirety of last season while battling Guillain-Barre syndrome. Frederick, an All-Pro caliber pivot when healthy, regained feeling in his hands in November, and hasn’t dealt with any recent numbness, per Archer. In December, Frederick expressed optimism that he’ll be ready for next season.

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Offensive line coach Marc Colombo will return to the Cowboys in 2019 after agreeing to a new contract, reports Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Colombo, 40, played for Dallas from 2005-10, then joined the club’s staff as assistant offensive line coach prior to the 2016 season. He interviewed for the Cowboys’ tight ends coach job last January, and was “in the mix” to take over Dallas’ front five after the team fired Frank Pollack following the 2017 season. Instead, that job went to Paul Alexander, whom Colombo ended up replacing midway through the 2018 campaign.
  • Cowboys defensive Antwaun Woods tore his labrum in the second quarter of Dallas’ Divisional Round loss to the Rams, and in an impressive show of will, played the rest of the game, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Woods underwent surgery to correct the issue today. A 2016 undrafted free agent who spent his first two NFL seasons on the Titans’ practice squad, Woods played the most snaps of any Cowboys defensive tackle last seaaon. He’s under contract at the league minimum in 2019, and will be a restricted free agent the following offesason.
  • The Cowboys have fired assistant special teams coach Doug Colman, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. At this point, that’s the only known change to the Dallas coaching staff. Colman, 45, previously served as a linebacker/special teams assistant with the Texans before joining the Cowboys last offseason. Dallas ranked 23rd in Football Outsiders’ special teams metrics in 2018.

Cowboys Fire OL Coach Paul Alexander

After the Cowboys’ slow start, there was speculation about the job security of Jason Garrett. Garrett remains in charge, but one of his top lieutenants is no longer with the team. On Monday afternoon, the Cowboys sacked offensive line coach Paul Alexander, according to a team announcement.

Alexander spent 27 season with the Bengals before becoming the Cowboys’ OL coach this year. Less than halfway into the year, he’s out of a job.

The Cowboys gave Alexander the keys to one of the league’s most talented offensive lines, but the unit took a major hit when Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Without Frederick, the offensive line has been inconsistent and unable to provide adequate pocket protection for quarterback Dak Prescott. Apparently, the Cowboys believe that Alexander’s direction and blocking schemes are at least partly to blame for the front five’s struggles.

Already, Prescott has been sacked 23 times, which is tied for fifth-most in the NFL. Last year, he was sacked 32 times all year and was brought down in the backfield just 25 times as a rookie in 2016.

Marc Colombo, who has served as the team’s assistant offensive line coach since 2016, will serve as the team’s primary offensive line coach. If Colombo can’t get the O-Line back on track, more heads could roll in Dallas.

Coaching Rumors: Vikings, Giants, Cowboys

As had been expected, Vikings quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski will garner an interview for the club’s vacant offensive coordinator position. Stefanski, who’s coached tight ends, running backs, and quarterbacks for Minnesota, will meet with head coach Mike Zimmer this weekend, reports Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Meanwhile, former Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell‘s interview with Zimmer will take place on Friday, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Ex-Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and former Broncos play-caller Mike McCoy have also speculatively been mentioned as candidates for the Vikings’ OC role, but neither has yet been asked to interview.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Giants have officially hired former Panthers special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey for the same role in New York, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com. This had been the expected outcome, but the Giants waited until they’d officially named Pat Shurmur as their new head coach before making any other staff additions. McGaughey, who’s also led special teams units with the 49ers and Jets, coached Carolina to a No. 6 ranking in ST DVOA in 2017. The Giants, meanwhile, ranked dead in the same metric last a season ago. Ex-Cardinals assistant special teams coach Anthony Blevins could also be joining New York’s special teams staff in the near future, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert will join the Giants under new head coach Pat Shurmur, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Tolbert, who led the Broncos’ wideouts from 2011-17, was fired earlier this month as part of a staff shakeup. However, he reportedly drew a good deal of interest around the NFL before deciding on the Giants, per Klis. That comes as no surprise, as Tolbert nearly left Denver last offseason when the Titans expressed interest.
  • The Cowboys interviewed assistant offensive line coach Marc Colombo for their vacant tight ends coach job today, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Colombo, who played for Dallas from 2005-10, was reportedly “in the mix” to become the Cowboys’ full-time offensive line coach earlier this year after Dallas fired Frank Pollack. However, the Cowboys ultimately selected former Bengals OL coach Paul Alexander for the job. Colombo, for his part, joined Dallas’ staff in 2015.
  • The Packers formally announced their 2018 coaching staff today, and the club noted a few new additions that we haven’t yet noted here at PFR. While previous reports had indicated Jim Hostler would be Green Bay’s wide receivers coach, he’ll actually take the title of offensive passing game coordinator, with David Raih — formerly the Packers’ “offensive perimeter” coach — is handling wideouts. Meanwhile, defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery will stay with Green Bay after previously having accepted a job as Texas A&M’s associate head coach/defensive line, tweets Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

East Notes: Cowboys, Cable, ASJ, Redskins

Having fired Frank Pollack last week, the Cowboys are casting a wide net as they search for a coach to lead an offensive line that was considered the NFL’s best as recently as 2016. Dallas has already interviewed former Bengal OL coach Paul Alexander last week, while incumbent Cowboys assistant offensive line coach Marc Colombo is reportedly “in the mix” for the vacancy, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Meanwhile, Dallas had interest in meeting with former Seahawks OL coach Tom Cable before he was hired by the Raiders, but no formal interview was ever arranged, per Archer, who adds the Cowboys also plan to meet with Giants offensive line coach Mike Solari.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • In addition to finding a new offensive line coach, the Cowboys are also looking for a new coach to head up the club’s wide receivers. Former Colts wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal is interviewing to replace Derek Dooley, who was fired last week, as Archer reports. Lal, 48, originally joined the NFL ranks with the Raiders in 2007, and has since coached wideouts for Oakland, New York, and Buffalo. At present, the only other candidate to interview for the Cowboys’ WRs coach job is former Dallas pass-catcher Miles Austin, who is currently a scout for Dallas but has never coached in the NFL.
  • While the Jets have interest in re-signing pending free agent tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, general manager Mike Maccagnan & Co. have no intent of “going crazy” to retain the 25-year-old, as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. Seferian-Jenkins, a former second-round pick who has overcome substance abuse issues, posted the best season of his career in 2017 by posting 50 receptions for 357 yards and three scores. While ASJ did tail off near the end of the year (he managed only 11 catches for 69 yards in New York’s final five games), his age and pedigree should allow him to garner a multi-year pact.
  • Stanford has hired former Redskins assistant offensive line coach Kevin Carberry as its new run game coordinator and offensive line coach, tweets Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports. To replace Carberry, Washington has inked ex-Broncos assistant Phil Rauscher as its next assistant OL coach, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link).

NFC Notes: Cardinals, Cowboys, Buccaneers

Cardinals running back Chris Johnson hasn’t played since late November because of a fractured tibia, but the team will activate him for Super Bowl 50 if it defeats Carolina in the NFC title game, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reports (Twitter link via Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo). Johnson, 30, rushed for 814 yards and three touchdowns in 11 regular-season games before landing on IR-DTR. He returned to practice earlier this month.

More on the potentially Super Bowl-bound Cards and a couple of their fellow NFC teams:

  • The Cowboys are making adjustments to their offensive coaching staff, per ESPN’s Todd Archer. Steve Loney, who was the Cowboys’ assistant offensive line coach this season, will become the tight ends coach. That leaves the future of incumbent TEs coach Mike Pope unclear. Marc Colombo, who played for Dallas from 2005-10, will take over Loney’s old post as the club’s assistant O-line coach.
  • Carson Palmer‘s $6.35MM base salary for 2016 is on track to increase by $800,000 because of playing time escalators, tweets CBS Sports’ Joel Corry. If that happens, Palmer’s $8.15MM base salary for 2017 will decrease by the same total, however, per Corry (Twitter link).
  • The Buccaneers are hiring Brett Maxie as a defensive backs coach, according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Bay Tribune (Twitter link). Maxie, who coached Vanderbilt defensive backs the last two years, will join Jon Hoke as the Bucs’ second DBs coach.