Marty Hurney

NFC Coaching Turner, Peetz, Linguist, Harris,Whitted

Norv Turner will not be returning to the Panthers coaching staff, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Turner had served as a special assistant to former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. Rivera, of course, was recently replaced by Matt Rhule and has since taken over in Washington. While nothing has been reported, it would not be a surprise to see Turner follow Rivera to the nation’s capital to work with young quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

At the same time, Carolina blocked running backs coach Jake Peetz from interviewing for other positions, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Breer adds that Rivera wanted to take Peetz with him, but Carolina general manager Marty Hurney valued Peetz and the team decided to reward him with a promotion to quarterbacks coach.

Here’s some more notes from coaching staff’s around the NFC:

  • The Cowboys hired Texas A&M cornerbacks coach Maurice Linguist to serve as the team’s defensive backs coach alongside Al Harris. Linguist did not have a history with either head coach Mike McCarthy or defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, but his personality impressed the pair so much that they offered him the job on the same day of his interview, according to Dallas Cowboys reporter Lindsay Cash Draper. Harris had been an assistant with Kansas City, but more notably, played under McCarthy during his tenure in Green Bay at cornerback.
  • Harris’ former team will be making a change at wide receivers coach. According Rob Demovsky of ESPN, the Packers have let Alvis Whitted go and have begun the process of searching for his replacement. Whitted was hired just a year ago to join Matt LaFleur’s staff, but it appears LaFleur will be going in a different direction.

Extra Points: Thielen, Panthers, Falcons, Raiders

Vikings WR Adam Thielen suffered a bad cut on his ankle during Wednesday’s practice, reports NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). The cut required stitches, but the team is optimistic that he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s playoff game against the 49ers. As the reporter notes, the organization is “still gathering information and will proceed with caution.”

The wideout appeared in 10 games this season – the first time in his NFL career that he didn’t appear in all 16 regular season contests. He finished the regular season with 30 receptions for 418 yards and six scores. He had a standout game during the Vikings win over the Saints last weekend, hauling in seven receptions for 129 yards.

If Thielen was forced out of the lineup, Kirk Cousins will predictably lean on wideout Stefon Diggs. The team could also turn to the likes of Olabisi Johnson, Alexander Hollins, and Laquon Treadwell.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Panthers general manager Marty Hurney will turn to head coach Matt Rhule as the team continues to rebuild the front office. Hurney told The Athletic’s Joe Person (Twitter link) that he’ll collaborate with Rhule as the organization hunts for an assistance GM. The executive cautioned that the search could take some time.
  • The Falcons will hire Joe Whitt Jr. for a defensive position on the coaching staff, reports ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. Whitt Jr. previously served as the Browns pass-game coordinator/secondary coach, and he was Atlanata’s assistant defensive backs coach back in 2007. It’s uncertain what specific role Whitt Jr. will take on under defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
  • Vic Tafur of The Athletic opines that the Raiders should add a playmaking wideout this offseason, and he notes that the organization “really like[s]” one impending free agent: Jets receiver Robby Anderson. Current Raiders senior offensive assistant John Morton was the Jets offensive coordinator when Anderson had his most productive season in 2017.

HC/GM Rumors: Gase, Lynn, Panthers, Shurmur

Black Monday is tomorrow, so let’s take a look at the latest coaching and GM rumors from around the league:

  • This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given that neither man was really believed to be on the hot seat, but Jets HC Adam Gase and Chargers HC Anthony Lynn will both be back in 2020, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (h/t NFL Update on Twitter).
  • We learned yesterday that the Panthers would seek to interview Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, which David Newton of ESPN.com confirmed today. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report believes Rhule would leave Baylor if the right opportunity presented itself, despite signing a lengthy extension with the school back in September (Twitter link).
  • Despite speculation that the Panthers could look to move on from GM Marty Hurney, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic says owner Dave Tepper remains intent on keeping Hurney, and Hurney wants to stay (Twitter link). Tepper does want to bring in an assistant GM, and Joe Person of The Athletic offers a list of potential candidates. The problem, as NFL insider Adam Caplan observes, is that Carolina could be blocked from interviewing candidates under contract with other teams unless the Panthers’ gig comes with decision-making responsibilities (Twitter link).
  • We heard earlier today that the Browns are doing their due diligence on HC candidates, which isn’t a good sign for Freddie Kitchens. As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets, the team wanted to see modest progress from Kitchens this year, which is why a loss to the Bengals on Sunday afternoon could seal his fate. But for all his faults, Kitchens remains well-liked in the building, so he’s not a goner just yet. We also heard today that Browns GM John Dorsey may be on the hot seat.
  • Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reiterates yesterday’s report that Ron Rivera is high on the Redskins‘ wish list, and that Rivera could have a new job as soon as tomorrow (video link). However, other clubs also want a crack at Rivera. One of those clubs, the Cowboys, will almost certainly move on from Jason Garrett if they are eliminated from playoff contention today, and Rapoport names Rhule, Lincoln Riley, and Rivera as names to watch for Dallas’ expected vacancy.
  • In the same report, RapSheet says Giants ownership is split on head coach Pat Shurmur, with Steve Tisch wanting to move on and John Mara not quite convinced. A win over the Eagles today could save Shurmur’s job.
  • Dan Graziano of ESPN.com confirms (via Twitter) that former Texans GM Rick Smith is definitely a name to watch if the Redskins move on from Bruce Allen, which they are expected to do. Graziano says it’s still unclear as to whether Smith wants to return to a front office, contrary to a report from last month, but if he is, Redskins owner Dan Snyder will be interested. Mark Maske of the Washington Post hears that Smith, who lost his wife to cancer 11 months ago, is not quite ready to return to football (Twitter link).

Redskins To Fire Bruce Allen

Bruce Allen may not have the chance to continue into a second decade with the Redskins. The franchise plans to fire its 10th-year football operations boss, J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington reports. This move has been in the works for a bit now, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Ben Standig of The Athletic writes that Allen may remain with the club as part of its stadium detail.

Dan Snyder has operated independently from his football staff during part of the Redskins’ coaching search, and the longtime owner has done work on GM candidates as well. Allen’s tenure as team president has not brought Washington much success, with this season producing a 3-12 record.

Allen has overseen a somewhat chaotic Redskins decade. From the Robert Griffin III chapter to an ugly divorce with GM Scot McCloughan to Kirk Cousins‘ departure to the Trent Williams fiasco, the franchise has seen its stock plummet during the 2010s. The Redskins are 62-96-1 during Allen’s 10-year tenure — one that has produced two playoff berths and one 10-win season (2012).

The son of former Redskins NFC champion coach George Allen, Bruce came over after a five-year stay with the Buccaneers. Prior to that, he spent nine years in the Raiders’ front office. The Redskins have only employed two full-time coaches under Allen — Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden — but they have gone through several quarterbacks and have only completed back-to-back winning seasons once.

While the Redskins have not been particularly successful throughout Snyder’s 21-year tenure, the owner looks set to commence a full-scale overhaul. Coaches Bill Callahan and Kevin O’Connell have a chance to stay on, potentially with a defensive-minded HC, but it certainly looks like the Redskins will have a new front office structure soon. Former Texans GM Rick Smith and ex-Redskins exec-turned-ESPN analyst Louis Riddick have been mentioned as potential candidates to oversee Washington’s football operations. Current Panthers GM Marty Hurney may also be in play, as Joe Person of The Athletic tweets.

Meanwhile, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says Redskins senior VP Eric Schaffer, who handles contract negotiations for the team, could see his role increase following Allen’s ouster (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Texans’, Panthers’ GM Search

We heard several weeks ago from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com that the Texans, who tried but failed to hire Patriots exec Nick Caserio as their GM this spring, were planning to operate without a GM in 2020. But Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports hears differently.

La Canfora says the Texans remain interested in Caserio, who is still a desirable GM candidate. Indeed, La Canfora reported back in October that Houston was expected to hire Caserio in 2020, after his contract with New England is up, which is one of the reasons why Rapoport’s report from earlier this month was a bit of a surprise.

But if the Texans do hope to hire Caserio this offseason, they could face some competition from multiple clubs, including the Panthers. Per La Canfora, Panthers owner David Tepper wants to speak with several coaches and executives with ties to New England, and he was among those who reached out to former Patriots executive Jack Easterby last year.

Coincidentally, Easterby ultimately became Houston’s executive vice president of team development, but La Canfora says Tepper could pursue him and/or Caserio in 2020. Of course, the Panthers currently employ Marty Hurney as GM, and Hurney is a part of the team’s head coach search following Ron Rivera‘s recent firing. But Tepper wants to add multiple people to his front office, and Hurney’s role could change as a result.

One way or another, Caserio will almost certainly not return to New England, and he could have a number of options available to him. Indeed, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says that the team’s extension talks with Caserio have gone nowhere, and the Patriots are bracing for a number of defections from their front office (video link).

In related news, Tepper has officially sold his minority interest in the Steelers, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Notes: Newton, HC Candidates, Bradberry

Panthers QB Cam Newton will undergo foot surgery, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, Newton is expected to be fully ready and able by March. Rapoport says Carolina has not ruled out retaining Newton — not that the team would publicly say anything different — but the expectation remains that the Panthers will look to trade the former No. 1 overall pick,

The QB market may be unusually robust in 2020, and Newton may be the most desirable piece. The Panthers will not give Newton away, but if they “get a large deal to make it worth their while,” they will pull the trigger.

Now for more out of Charlotte:

  • Of course, what the Panthers do with Newton may depend on who they hire as their permanent head coach. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reiterates his view that the Panthers will seek an offensive-minded or QB-driven coach, and what that person thinks of Newton, Kyle Allen, and Will Grier could impact the club’s offseason plans in a big way.
  • In the same piece linked above, Rapoport suggests that owner David Tepper will of course be on the lookout for a top-flight coordinator and someone who is unafraid to embrace analytics, but he suggests that Tepper’s top priority will be a strong manager of people. RapSheet names ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy, 49ers DC Robert Saleh, and Ravens OC Greg Roman as just a few of the possibilities.
  • Even if the Panthers retain GM Marty Hurney — which is not a guarantee — Adam Schefter of ESPN.com says Tepper, the former minority owner of the Steelers, could look to bring familiar faces from Pittsburgh to Carolina. Tepper plans to name an assistant general manager to focus on pro personnel evaluation and a vice president of football operations, and sources say he could be eyeing Steelers GM Kevin Colbert — whose contract is up at the end of the season — and/or vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan.
  • The Panthers have 28 players eligible for free agency this offseason, and Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic examines the decisions that the team will have to make with respect to a few of those players. The club just signed LB Shaq Thompson to a four-year extension, and Rodrigue’s source says the Panthers have made CB James Bradberry their next top priority.

Latest On Panthers’ Plans, Ron Rivera

Some personnel executives around the league and on the NFL periphery believed David Tepper would make changes after last season, and Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson notes GM candidates were viewing the Panthers as a job that would be open earlier this year. Tepper opted against firing Ron Rivera and second-stint GM Marty Hurney after last season but was discussing over the summer plans to revamp the organization, beefing up its analytics commitment, Robinson adds. Tepper confirmed Tuesday he plans to hire an assistant GM, and Robinson adds the second-year owner is expected to bring in multiple high-ranking execs to contribute to the operation. In the wake of Rivera’s ouster, Hurney’s future with the team is obviously uncertain. New scouts are expected to be brought aboard soon as well, though Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes no scouts or execs were fired along with Rivera on Tuesday.

Here is the latest out of Carolina, coming off the firing of a two-time coach of the year.

  • Having been run by defensive coaches throughout their 25-year history — from Dom Capers to George Seifert to John Fox to Rivera — the Panthers are expected to pursue an offensive-minded leader, David Newton of ESPN.com writes. Tepper may not be leaning toward hiring a college coach. Although he’s not dead-set against it, Newton adds the tougher transition for those coaches points to Tepper leaning in another direction. The Panthers are expected to pursue a younger coach who will support analytics more than Rivera did, per Newton. That’s certainly not dissimilar to how most of the HC-needy teams proceeded during this year’s hiring period.
  • Rivera broke the news to the coaching staff he had been fired, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Although Tepper praised Norv Turner and his son Scott, it’s certainly possible the organization moves on from the father-son tandem after their two-year run in Charlotte. Norv Turner will move from Carolina’s offensive coordinator to special assistant to the head coach, with Scott set for a four-game run as the team’s OC.
  • The most famous player Rivera coached expressed his support for the only NFL HC he’s known (Twitter link). Cam Newton, who will undergo surgery to repair his foot injury, is not certain to be back with the Panthers in 2020. One year remains on his contract.
  • Rivera revealed he wants to stay in coaching. The former Bears linebacker has been on an NFL sideline in each season since 1997.

Panthers Owner Discusses Coaching Change, Front Office, Future

Panthers owner David Tepper was forced to make a difficult decision today, firing long-term coach Ron Rivera. Since Tepper took over ownership of the organization in 2018, he’s had Rivera on the sideline. Now, the team will turn a page and start hunting for their next head coach.

Secondary coach Perry Fewell will serve as the Panthers head coach on an interim basis. The shakeup also will see offensive coordinator Norv Turner transition to special assistant to the head coach as quarterbacks coach Scott Turner moves to offensive coordinator. When it comes to the front office, GM Marty Hurney will keep his job, but Tepper revealed that he’ll be searching for an assistant general manager and/or a vice president of football operations.

Tepper sat down with Bill Voth of Panthers.com (Twitter link) this afternoon to discuss the coaching change, the owner’s outlook for the organization, and the team’s future shuffling of the front office. We’ve snagged all of the notable soundbites below:

On why he decided to fire Ron Rivera:

“[It was] a very hard move. Ron Rivera, besides being a good coach, is one of the finest men I’ve ever met in my life.

“Look, I came here two years ago. I wanted to show patience on the football side to see how it was going. On the business side, we made vast and sweeping changes. I didn’t want to make those vast and sweeping changes on the football side. I wanted to take time and patience to see how it could go.

“I just thought it was time, given the way things have gone the last two seasons, to put my stamp on the organization on the football side, as we’ve done on the business side of the organization. As much respect as I have for Ron, I think a change was appropriate to build things the way I want things to be built.”

On why the move was made now instead of after the season:

“There are competitive reasons why I wanted to make sure we were out there looking at all personnel possible for the future. I didn’t want to be having inquiries where Ron didn’t know what I was doing.

“I didn’t want to be doing things not upfront; thats not who I am. So I’d rather be straight-up and honest, and if I’m going to make a change, I’m going to make a change. And not to get a competitive disadvantage over other teams; if I need to talk to people, i want to talk to them, and I want to do it in a straight-forward, honest way.”

On why Fewell was chosen as the interim head coach:

“I have different coaches on the staff and I’m looking at the future now. And the future is: who may I have as potential candidates for different roles. Perry is a person who can command a room, can be a general, and I think that he is the right person to have that interim role… and to be auditioning for that role in the future.

“As far as the other choice we’ll probably make is to make Scott Turner a play-call offensive coordinator. In that respect, same thing: I want to see what Scott can do. Again, in an audition sort of way, see how he does it. He has some new ideas, and we’ll see how they get implemented.”

On the decision to move Norv Turner from offensive coordinator to special assistant to the head coach:

“Norv Turner is obviously still a tremendously knowledgable coach who I respect a lot. Norv has been around and is very knowledgable. Scott is potentially a future offensive coordinator of some sort. Why not see what he has to offer here.”

On what he’ll be looking for in a new head coach:

“What I want, just for the organization in general, is a mesh of old and new. Old football discipline. Modern processes, modern analytics, statistics, and the rest of that. But I respect old discipline, too. Listen, I was with a team in Pittsburgh that was the epitome of old-school discipline, so I want to see that brought in, I want to see that mesh. And what I want to have more than anything…I want to put the best people in the best positions to be successful. And I want those coaches to put our players on the field in the best positions to be successful, period.

“This whole process – they don’t build Rome in a day. People think if I make a magic change today, it’s going to make the organization better tomorrow… it is not. This is going to be a process.”

On how an assistant GM can help the front office:

“Marty Hurney is one of the best recognizers of college talent in the nation. I don’t want to lose that. And he’s also not a bad manager. There’s also new processes that I want to bring in. I think the modern football organization needs a couple people there [in the front office].”

On what today’s move means for the future of the organization:

“As far as a process is concerned, it’s the first step in a process. I’m making sure we have a standard of excellence on all sides of this business.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: Kaepernick, 49ers, Panthers

The only team connected to Colin Kaepernick since his 49ers run ended, the Seahawks had a representative in Atlanta for the free agent quarterback’s workout Saturday. However, they were one of the many teams who opted not to trek from the Falcons’ Flowery Branch, Ga., facility to Riverdale. Roughly an hour separates these Atlanta-area locales, and 18 teams on hand for the would-be showcase at the NFL facility did not travel to the high school where the workout ended up occurring.

Disappointed,” Pete Carroll said of the Seahawks missing the workout, via Curtis Crabtree of Sports Radio 950 KJR (via Pro Football Talk). “We had planned to be at that workout. It got changed around, and we couldn’t hang with it. Unfortunately, we sent somebody, but we couldn’t stay with the changes that happened. We missed it. We were real curious. I was real curious to see how the workout went. Just competing as always, you know.”

While Carroll said he has seen some of the workout, no team has yet expressed interest in the 32-year-old passer. Kaepernick’s agent is not optimistic a deal will materialize. The Seahawks met with Kaepernick in 2017 but cancelled a 2018 summit.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • In a state-of-the-union-style address, Panthers owner David Tepper asked that no Ron Rivera– or Marty Hurney-related questions be asked. The second-year owner said multiple times this week he will not accept mediocrity, via Joseph Person of The Athletic (subscription required). Carolina made the playoffs four times from 2013-17 but is 12-14 since. Tepper overhauled the Panthers’ business operations since taking over and considered making major football-ops changes after last season. Rivera is signed through the 2020 season. With Hurney also rehired as GMbefore Tepper took over, it is safe to assume both decision-makers’ jobs will be on the line over the season’s final six weeks.
  • Tepper did discuss Cam Newton‘s status, indicating the quarterback’s foot injury would be factored into the overall evaluation of the team and that no decision will be made on Newton until he is healthy again. With that potentially being months away, teams interested in trading for the former MVP may have to adjust their offseason blueprints. Tepper added that ideally Newton would be back and lead the Panthers to another Super Bowl but did not guarantee the 30-year-old passer would return.
  • The 49ers‘ retooled roster has restored the franchise as an NFC contender after five years off the radar. The team should not be expected to be a major player in 2020 free agency, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic (subscription required). However, the one exception would be at receiver, Barrows adds. Kyle Shanahan opted against adding a big-ticket receiver in 2018 or ’19, after 2017’s failed Pierre Garcon move. But the team traded for Emmanuel Sanders this year to address a key need. Sanders is a free agent at season’s end. The 2020 UFA receiver class as of now includes Amari Cooper, A.J. Green, Robby Anderson and Josh Gordon. But with Cooper and Green candidates to stay in their respective cities, this receiver class could be thin.
  • On the subject of NFC receiver situations, Cowboys wideout Noah Brown will not play this season. Stashed on Dallas’ PUP list after a June knee surgery, Brown recently underwent another procedure, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes. The 2017 seventh-round pick played in 21 Cowboys games between 2017-18. He is expected to be ready for the team’s offseason program.

Coaching Notes: Kaczor, Redskins, Panthers, Goodwin

The Redskins announced yesterday that they’ve hired Nate Kaczor as their new special teams coordinator. The long-time coach had interviewed with the organization earlier this week.

“We are excited to have Nate join our staff. We have had the opportunity to face his special teams play during his time at Tampa Bay and respected competing against him,” said head coach Jay Gruden. “He is a competitor and we have noticed and admired the intensity his units have played with through the course of his time as a special teams coordinator and assistant coach in the NFL.”

Kaczor had spent the past three seasons in the same role with the Buccaneers, and he previously served as the Titans’ special teams coordinator. He also had a stint as an assistant with the Jaguars. Prior to his tenure in the NFL, Kaczor spent 17 years in the NCAA, with jobs at Idaho and Nebraska-Kearney.

Let’s check out some more coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • Panthers owner David Tepper told reports that he didn’t want to “make rash decision[s]” on the status of head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney (via Joe Person of The Athletic on Twitter). Ultimately, the owner judge the duo throughout the entire 2018 season (not just the stretch run), and this led to him retaining the pair for the 2019 season.
  • Buccaneers assistant head coach Harold Goodwin wasn’t happy that Steve Wilks lost his job with the Cardinals, noting that his friend never got a chance to succeed. “That hurt a little bit,” Goodwin told ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “He’s a friend of mine. We worked together back in the day with the Bears. It’s hard to build something from the ground up with one year. It’s like, ‘Hey, I want you to start this Fortune 500 company, but you’ve got one year.’ That’s impossible. And that’s what he was tasked with.”
  • Goodwin also grumbled about the lack of minority hires around the NFL, noting that teams really don’t take the Rooney Rule seriously. “Every time I went in to interview, ‘You don’t call plays.’ Well, I did call plays in the preseason,” Goodwin said. “Are we looking for play-callers or are we looking for leaders? Leaders of men, who can help build an organization from the ground up on the football side…The next excuse was, ‘Well, we don’t like your staff.’ A lot of my staff is still coaching. Some guys are coordinators in the NFL now that have had a lot of success that were on my list.”
  • We learned yesterday that the Cardinals added another name to their offensive coordinator search, as former Browns head coach Hue Jackson is scheduled to interview for the gig.