Matt Campbell

Coaching Notes: Campbell, Smith, Dolphins

Prior to hiring Adam Gase, the Jets requested an interview with Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell. The Browns were interested as well, before promoting Freddie Kitchens. Instead, the Big 12 leader signed an extension to stay in Ames. But Campbell is intrigued by the prospect of coaching in the NFL, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. Known for his offensive acumen and the revitalization effort he authored at Iowa State — which has started 5-2 this season — Campbell could be a more serious contender to fill one of the league’s coaching vacancies next year. Since the last time he popped up on the NFL radar, Kliff Kingsbury and Matt Rhule have made the jump. The Cyclones’ 40-year-old HC may be next.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Unsurprisingly, Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has emerged as a coaching candidate. “A lot of intrigue” surrounds Tennessee’s second-year OC, Pelissero adds. Smith, 38, did not receive looks last season, but Ryan Tannehill‘s sustained success — Thursday night’s underwhelming performance notwithstanding — after a mediocre Miami career has turned heads. Smith figures to receive interview requests in 2021.
  • Despite the NFL’s recent trend of preferring offense-oriented coaches, Brandon Staley is viewed by some as a future head coach. The Rams plucked Staley off Vic Fangio‘s Broncos staff, making the 37-year-old assistant their defensive coordinator. He is viewed by current and former colleagues as a future HC, Pelissero adds. However, teams may want to see Staley be a coordinator for more than one season. Prior to his Los Angeles arrival, he served as outside linebackers coach in Chicago and Denver.
  • Shifting to current coaching situations, a few teams will be without staffers Sunday. The Dolphins will be hit hardest on this front. After placing Christian Wilkins and Kyle Van Noy on their reserve/COVID-19 list, the Dolphins will be without quarterbacks coach Robby Brown, defensive line coach Marion Hobby, outside linebackers coach Austin Clark and quality control staffer Kolby Smith against the Chargers because of coronavirus protocols, per ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe (on Twitter). Running backs coach Eric Studesville and former Texans OC George Godsey will assist Chan Gailey with QB responsibilities.
  • The Bengals and Steelers have a combined 10 players on their respective COVID lists. The Bengals will also be without wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell because of “COVID-19 reasons,” the team announced. Assistant wideouts coach Troy Walters will take on more responsibility.

Iowa State’s Matt Campbell Signs Extension

Head coach Matt Campbell has agreed to a contract extension through the 2025 season, Iowa State announced. The deal keeps one of the NFL’s hottest young coaching candidates off the radar – at least, for the time being.

Last year, Campbell was said to be on the Browns’ radar before they hired Freddie Kitchens. The Jets also reportedly requested an interview with the Cyclones head coach, though he turned them down.

This year, Campbell was expected to get some more NFL looks, but his new contract probably means that he won’t be in the mix for the 2020 season. Beyond that, a jump to the pros remains possible, depending on the size and scope of his buyout clause.

I greatly appreciate Dr. (Wendy) Wintersteen’s and (Iowa State AD) Jamie’s (Pollard) proactive approach to extending my contract,” Campbell said in the press release. “My staff and I will be on the road this week actively recruiting the next class of Cyclones and it is important for recruits and their families to understand my commitment to Iowa State.”

The Cyclones will play in a bowl game for the third straight year with the opportunity to hit three consecutive eight-win seasons for just the second time in school history.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Gase, Broncos, Dolphins, Arians, Buccaneers, Jets, Cardinals

Adam Gase might’ve been the most surprising firing of Black Monday, and he likely won’t be out of a job too long. Gase has “heard from the majority of teams with an HC opening” within hours of being let go by the Dolphins, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link), who notes that Gase will begin taking head coaching interviews this week. While Gase has been linked to numerous jobs, including the Browns’ opening, don’t expect a reunion in Denver. Although he was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator during their peak with Peyton Manning, GM John Elway said at his press conference today Gase isn’t a candidate “at this time”, according to Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Gase got the Dolphins job because of his work with the Broncos, but there have long been rumors of bad blood between him and Elway. Elway reportedly told interested teams he didn’t think Gase was ready to be a head coach years ago, and Gase ran up the score on the Bronocs as revenge last year, kicking an onside kick while up 24 points late in the game. While it won’t be in Denver, at this point it would be a surprise if Gase isn’t a head coach somewhere next season.

Here’s more on the coaching carousel:

  • Speaking of Gase, the Dolphins will be undergoing a complete rebuild as they look for his replacement. They shook up their front office earlier today and are likely to move on from Ryan Tannehill this offseason. As for their next coach, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald “would be shocked” if Dan Campbell doesn’t get an interview (Twitter link). Campbell, the Saints’ assistant head coach, has already been requested by the Browns and is expected to be a hot candidate. He was the Dolphins’ interim coach in 2015 after they fired Joe Philbin four games into the season. Miami has also put in a request to interview Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, according to Schefter (Twitter link), adding to a long list of teams looking to talk to Flores.
  • While former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has repeatedly said the only job he would come out of retirement for would be the Browns’, he might be having a change of heart. The legendary offensive coach told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link), that he knows Buccaneers GM Jason Licht, and “would listen” if the Bucs came calling. Tampa is almost certainly looking for an offensive coach to revitalize Jameis Winston‘s career, and Arians would be a very intriguing option.
  • The Jets have made their first two interview requests as they look to replace Todd Bowles. The team is looking to talk to Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link), and also wants an interview with Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken, according to Rapoport (Twitter link). Rapsheet also tweets the team requested an interview with Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, but Campbell denied the request. Finally, Rapoport notes in a fourth tweet that the Jets are one of two new teams interested in former Lions coach Jim Caldwell, along with the Browns. All of these requests are in line with the thinking that the Jets are interested in bringing in an offensive coach to work with Sam Darnold.
  • The Jets aren’t the only team interested in Bieniemy, as Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports tweets that the Buccaneers and Dolphins have reached out as well. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network added in a tweet that the Cardinals have also requested an interview, bringing the number of teams interested in Bieniemy to four. Given the success that members of the Andy Reid coaching tree has had in recent years, it’s not surprising he’s a sought after name.
  • Speaking of the Cardinals, the team has requested Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Rapoport tweets. The Cardinals are in desperate need of an offensive coach who can help Josh Rosen after Rosen’s woeful rookie campaign, and Taylor is very highly thought of in some circles. Rapoport notes the team has “been doing work on him”, so this seems like more than just a courtesy interview.

Coaching Rumors: McDaniels, Arians, Marrone

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels seemed to irreparably damage his future head coaching prospects with every team in the league except New England when he infamously jilted the Colts last offseason. But he has already been mentioned as a candidate for the Browns‘ head coaching job, and as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, there will be no shortage in interest in McDaniels when the head coaching carousel starts spinning in 2019. La Canfora does not specifically name any teams who are expected to pursue the 42-year-old, but his sources indicate that McDaniels will be under strong consideration despite the fiasco in Indianapolis.

Now let’s take a look at other rumors concerning current, and possibly future, head coaches:

  • Speaking of the Browns, former Colts and Cardinals HC Bruce Arians recently said he would only consider becoming a head coach again if he were hired by Cleveland, but he walked those comments back shortly thereafter. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Arians was serious the first time and that he will contemplate returning to the sidelines if he can become the Browns’ head coach. Arians indicated that he will not consider overtures from any other clubs, but that if he does land the Cleveland gig, he would keep Freddie Kitchens as offensive coordinator and would consider keeping defensive coordinator Gregg Williams — currently the Browns’ interim HC — as well.
  • It remains to be seen whether Arians’ interest in the Browns is mutual, but La Canfora reports that the team is expected to reach out to Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, who is very much on the NFL’s radar as a legitimate head coaching candidate. We have heard previously that Cleveland GM John Dorsey is a big fan of Campbell.
  • Although the Jaguars are in the midst of a hugely disappointing season, Rapoport says that head coach Doug Marrone is not on the hot seat and is in no danger of losing his job at the moment (video link).
  • Despite unceremonious ousters from Oakland and Cleveland, La Canfora writes that Hue Jackson could become a head coach again as soon as next year. Jackson is back in Cincinnati as special assistant to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, and if Lewis were to retire or transition to an upper-management position, JLC suggests that Jackson could take the reins. Team owner Mike Brown, who does things his own way, is a big fan of Jackson, and league sources say they would not be surprised if Brown goes that route.
  • The Bears‘ defense is excelling in 2018, which means that Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will once again garner significant interest from teams looking for a new HC this offseason, per La Canfora. Fangio has interviewed previously for the head-coaching jobs in Chicago and San Francisco, and the Bears paid him very well to keep him aboard as Matt Nagy‘s DC when they hired Nagy to be their head coach earlier this year. There is a general bias against defensive-oriented coaches these days, but Fangio is regarded as one of the best defensive minds in the game and has a strong reputation for being able to connect with troubled players and to get the most out of his units.

Browns Fallout: Jackson, Staff, Mayfield

In firing Hue Jackson and Todd Haley, the Browns axed the top two voices behind their offense on Monday. This came after reports of friction between the two, accounts that turned out to be very real and ones that could’ve been envisioned for anyone who saw Hard Knocks.

The message today is we’re not going to put up with internal discord,” owner Jimmy Haslam said, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “… We had some concerns going into the game, obviously (Sunday’s) performance was disappointing. We had several of our key people involved in this conversations last night and this morning and did what we think’s best for the organization.”

Haslam said he met with John Dorsey on Sunday night, and actions came down Monday morning. Although Jackson went 1-31 in his first two seasons with the team, Haslam opted to give him a third year because the aggressive rebuild — put forth by former GM Sashi Brown — put Jackson in a “difficult spot” (Twitter link via Cabot). Gregg Williams was the only person the Browns considered to be the interim HC, Haslam said (per Nate Ulrich of ohio.com, on Twitter).

Some Browns began to question Jackson’s credibility, as a result of the third-year HC following through on his intent to give Haley autonomy to run the offense, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. After running the offense in 2016 and ’17, Jackson wasn’t nearly as involved this season. Jackson, in turn, was frustrated Haley would “do his own thing,” Breer adds. Jackson’s message grew stale as the losses mounted, per Yahoo’s Terez Paylor. This is obviously not uncommon for teams in losing situations, and that descriptor might not be strong enough to describe the state of the Browns under Haslam. The seventh-year owner’s now fired four head coaches, and the Browns have won more than five games just once under his watch.

Baker Mayfield‘s development shifts to front and center, and Breer notes the Jackson firing probably won’t bother the rookie quarterback much. They didn’t exactly see eye to eye, per Breer. Though, the No. 1 overall pick now has to finish a season without a proven offensive voice in the building and will have to learn a new offense in 2019.

Williams is technically still defensive coordinator, in addition to becoming a first-time head coach at age 60. But some around the league believe he will promote his son, Blake Williams, to that post, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Blake Williams has been Cleveland’s linebackers coach for two seasons.

As far as a possible Jackson/Williams successor, Breer points out Dorsey has “the highest respect” for what Iowa State coach Matt Campbell‘s done. Campbell, 38, is from the Cleveland area (Massillon, Ohio) as well. While Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley may well get a look, since he’d be a natural fit given his mentoring of Mayfield with the Sooners, he doesn’t envision leaving Oklahoma (video link). Gregg Williams will also be a candidate for the full-time job, Haslam said (via Cabot, on Twitter). But such a scenario would be hard to envision.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bills, McCoy, Chargers, Texans

Delicia Gordon, the ex-girlfriend of Bills running back LeSean McCoy, will hold a press conference on Friday to explain why she is “certain” McCoy was involved in a July home invasion that left her battered and bloodied, writes Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. While Georgia police haven’t yet uncovered any direct evidence linking McCoy to the incident, Gordon is offering a $20K reward for information tying McCoy to the crime. Reports earlier this month indicated McCoy was not expected to face charges stemming from the invasion, while the NFL also hasn’t expressed any interest in suspending him. On the field, McCoy is questionable for Sunday’s contest against the Vikings as he deals with a rib injury.

  • Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget is suing athletic trainer Ian Danney for $15MM in damages after Danney allegedly injected the former first-round pick with a banned NFL substance, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com details. Danney reportedly told Liuget he was using an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory to treat pain, but Liuget alleges the substance led to his four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension. Liuget ultimately accepted a hefty pay cut from Los Angeles, as his pay was slashed from $8MM to just $935K (with more money available via incentives). As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, Danney treats dozens of NFL players, so this case could be crucial on a league-wide basis.
  • The Texans are open to moving veteran defensive back Kareem Jackson back-and-forth between safety and cornerback, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. Jackson, a longtime corner, shifted to safety this offseason to replace Andre Hal, but moved back to corner against the Titans in Week 2. Now 30 years old, Jackson graded as just the No. 95 cornerback in 2017, per Pro Football Focus, so lining him up in that position certainly has its risks. Houston head coach Bill O’Brien said Jackson’s role will be determined on a week-to-week basis, and where Jackson lines up will affect whether Aaron Colvin (cornerback) or Justin Reid (safety) is viewed as a starter.
  • Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell is a name to watch in NFL circles, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. A general manager brought up Campbell’s name this summer, per Breer, and another executive mentioned Campbell after the Cylcones competed with Oklahoma last weekend. Campbell, who was highly successful at Toledo before taking over the Iowa State program in 2016, finished with an 8-5 record last year.