Matt Cavanaugh

Jets To Hire Matt Cavanaugh As Assistant

Matt Cavanaugh is back for a second stint with the Jets. The team’s former quarterbacks coach will return as a senior offensive assistant, according to ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini.

The longtime NFL assistant was last with the Jets from 2009-12, when he oversaw Mark Sanchez‘s initial development. Cavanaugh will now provide some experience for the Jets’ new offensive staff, which is set to groom No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson.

This hire comes in an emergency circumstance. The Jets sought an experienced coach, per Cimini, to fill the void that emerged when Greg Knapp died from injuries sustained in a bicycle accident July 22. The Jets hired Knapp to be their passing-game coordinator this year. Now, Cavanaugh will provide assistance to new OC Mike LaFleur.

Cavanaugh, 64, began his NFL coaching career back in 1994. He served as offensive coordinator for three franchises — the Bears, Ravens and Washington — and last worked on Jay Gruden‘s staff in Washington two years ago. Cavanaugh’s Ravens OC stint, from 1999-2004, overlapped with Jets GM Joe Douglas‘ Baltimore stay. Douglas began as a Ravens scout in 2000.

The Jets have a first-time NFL play-caller (LaFleur) and a first-time quarterbacks coach (Rob Calabrese) on Robert Saleh‘s first staff. Cavanaugh, a former NFL backup QB, has 22 years’ experience on an NFL sideline.

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Redskins Promote Kevin O’Connell To OC

Two years ago, the Redskins lost their young offensive coordinator to the Rams. They are pivoting back in that direction. Washington promoted quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell to OC on Tuesday.

Two-year OC Matt Cavanaugh will remain with the franchise, being set to shift to a senior offensive assistant role.

Cavanaugh took over for Sean McVay after he took the Rams’ HC job. Now, the 33-year-old O’Connell will be one of the Redskins’ top assistants and continue his climb through the coaching ranks. The former quarterback began his coaching career in 2015, overseeing the Browns’ QBs, and will become a first-time OC. Jay Gruden added “passing game coordinator” to O’Connell’s title in 2018.

It is not yet known if O’Connell will call plays for the Redskins next season, but John Keim of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) it may be heading in that direction. Cavanaugh did not call plays during his two-year run as Washington’s OC, but McVay did when he was in that position.

The Redskins’ QBs coach for the past two seasons, O’Connell received an interesting assignment in 2018. Washington lost both Alex Smith and Colt McCoy for the season and turned to Mark Sanchez in the emergency situation. When Sanchez faltered, workout veteran and AAF-affiliated Josh Johnson took his first NFL snaps in seven years. In three starts, Johnson helped Washington win a game — over the Jaguars, the only contest the Redskins won post-Smith.

Cavanaugh, 62, worked as Washington’s quarterbacks coach under McVay for two seasons before his promotion. These past two slates marked his first work as a coordinator since the mid-2000s, when he was the Ravens’ OC for six seasons. Washington finished 29th in scoring this season, though the team lost two quarterbacks and was without several linemen, but was 16th during Kirk Cousins‘ final D.C. season.

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NFC Notes: Redskins, Cowboys, Lions, Saints

Earlier this week, the Redskins promoted Matt Cavanaugh from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Despite Kirk Cousinsquestionable future with the team, the quarterback was happy that the organization valued continuity on the coaching staff.

“I love the fact that we’re not starting over,” Cousins said (via Jake Kring-Schreifels of Redskins.com). “We’ve learned a certain way of doing things for a couple of years now and with Coach Cav as the coordinator, we’ll be able to keep that rolling, as opposed to having to start all over with a brand new system and terminology and philosophy.”

Cavanaugh had served as the Redskins quarterbacks coach since 2015, and he played an important role in helping Cousins’ production over the past two seasons.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from the NFC…

  • The Cowboys recently exercised the fifth-year option on offensive guard Zack Martin, but both sides are hoping the player’s tenure with the team lasts beyond 2017. Jon Machota of the Dallas News writes that the team is hoping to hammer out a long-term deal with the three-time Pro Bowler, and the 26-year-old echoed that sentiment. “It would be huge,” Martin said. “I’m not real worried about that. I’m worried about playing. Obviously I’ll be here for hopefully a long time. These guys make it fun to come to work every day…Hopefully we can get something done.”
  • The Lions need some talent on the defensive side of the ball, and ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein believes the team can acquire those types of players via free agency. The writer lists a number of impending free agents who could be intriguing fits for the Lions, including Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan, Rams cornerback T.J. McDonald, Patriots defensive end Jabaal Sheard, Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones, and Jaguars running back Denard Robinson.
  • Lions defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker missed out on a $150K playing time bonus by only seven snaps, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The five-year veteran was required to play 35-percent of his team’s defensive snaps in order to earn the incentive, but he ended the season having played 34.4-percent of the defense’s snaps. Walker was a healthy scratch during his team’s Week 11 win over the Jaguars, and that decision surely cost the defensive tackle his bonus.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has a history of trading up in the draft, but the executive told Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com that he doesn’t have a definitive process when it comes to their draft strategy. “I think it depends on how the board falls,” he said. “You just kind of have to pay attention to the players that are still available for you and what players are below them and how are you going to acquire those players.” The Saints traded up twice in last year’s draft to select second-round safety Vonn Bell and fourth-round defensive tackle David Onyemata.

Redskins Promote Matt Cavanaugh To OC

Matt Cavanaugh will receive another chance to run an NFL offense after the Redskins made him their new offensive coordinator on Monday. He will rise from the quarterbacks coach position he occupied the past two seasons.

This continues Washington’s promote-from-within strategy regarding its coordinators, with outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky being elevated to DC after a lengthy search. Cavanaugh’s ascent didn’t come after an extensive pursuit like Manusky’s did, though. Ten different candidates were mentioned as being in the running for Washington’s DC, with several interviewing. No outside candidates surfaced in the running for the Redskins’ OC job, and Cavanaugh wasn’t linked to any other OC jobs.

The former Ravens and Bears’ OC has not served in this capacity since 2004. Cavanaugh, 60, will succeed 30-year-old Sean McVay as the top offensive assistant under Jay Gruden, who is still expected to call plays in Washington next season.
will fill Cavanaugh’s spot as QBs coach.

Cavanaugh has presided over Kirk Cousins‘ rise from backup to near-5,000-yard passer. This followed a stint as the QBs instructor for the Jets and Bears. The veteran assistant is mostly known for his work in Baltimore from 1999-2004. Although it resulted in Cavanaugh receiving a Super Bowl ring for the 2000 Ravens’ work, his offenses lagged well behind the dominant defenses of that era, eventually leading to his dismissal after five years under Brian Billick.

However, a close relationship with both Cousins and backup Colt McCoy will work in Cavanaugh’s favor

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Redskins Likely To Promote Matt Cavanaugh To OC

The Redskins are in talks to promote quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post (Twitter link), who cautions that no deal is yet official.Matt Cavanaugh (Vertical)

[RELATED: 2017 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Tracker]

Cavanaugh, 60, would fill the void left by former OC Sean McVay, who accepted the Rams’ head coaching position earlier this month. Washington hasn’t held a former search for a new play-caller, though incumbent offensive line coach Bill Callahan has been mentioned as a possible candidate. Once the Redskins hired Kevin O’Connell as their new QBs coach, however, Cavanaugh became the instant favorite for the offensive coordinator job.

Cavanaugh does offer NFL coordinator experience, as he’s called plays during two previous stints around the league: the Bears from 1997-98 and the Ravens from 1999-2004. However, Cavanaugh likely won’t direct the offense if he is indeed promoted to OC in Washington, as head coach Jay Gruden is expected to take on play-calling duty, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com recently reported. Still, Cavanaugh’s close relationship with the Redskins’ quarterbacks will come in handy, as both Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy have discussed Cavanaugh’s “detailed approach,” per John Keim of ESPN.com.

Washington now appears close to finalizing its coaching staff on both sides of the ball, as the club promoted linebackers coach Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator earlier today.

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Latest On Redskins’ Offensive Staff

Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan has come up as a possibility to fill the vacant O-coordinator positions with both Washington and the Rams, but he’s uninterested in leaving his current role.

Bill Callahan

“It’s not that he’s dismissive of an opportunity to, at some point in time, become a coordinator,” agent Bob LaMonte told Liz Clarke of the Washington Post. “But at this time, he’s not interested because he’s enjoying the players he works with and enjoying working for Jay (Gruden).”

Callahan, 60, has already been a coordinator with the Raiders (1998-2001) and the Cowboys (2012-14). After leaving Dallas, he took over the Redskins’ offensive line and is now coming off a season in which the unit allow the fourth-fewest sacks in the NFL (23) and sent two players – left tackle Trent Williams and right guard Brandon Scherff – to the Pro Bowl. Callahan’s line also finished the season as Football Outsiders’ sixth-ranked front five and Pro Football Focus’ seventh-best group.

With Callahan not open to taking the place of ex-Redskins O-coordinator and now-Rams head coach Sean McVay, it’s now even likelier than before that quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh will become Gruden’s top offensive assistant, according to Clarke. Tight ends coach Wes Phillips is also in the mix, but he could join his father, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, on McVay’s staff in Los Angeles.

Cavanaugh has been in charge of the Redskins’ signal-callers since 2015, Kirk Cousins‘ breakout year. He was formerly a coordinator with the Bears and Ravens.

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Coaching/FO Notes: Manning, Redskins, Jaguars, Broncos

Despite Jim Irsay’s dream of a superstar decision-making duo featuring Peyton Manning and Jon Gruden failing to come to fruition, the Colts‘ owner is still trying to land Manning in a key front office role, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports (on Twitter). During an appearance on Fox NFL Sunday, Glazer described Irsay as making a “strong push” to bring Manning back to the Colts.

However, the 40-year-old recently retired quarterback may not be ready to do that at this time. Previously loosely connected to a pursuit of a front office career, Manning coming back to the Colts is unlikely at this time, Bob Kravitz of WTHR tweets. The Colts did release Manning in 2012, but the future Hall of Fame passer did return for a special Colts-centric retirement ceremony last year.

Nevertheless, the owner’s faith in the Ryan Grigson/Chuck Pagano tandem may be wavering, despite each being tentatively expected to keep their jobs. Although, Irsay has yet to come out publicly and confirm that.

Here’s the latest from the NFL’s post-regular-season hiring period.

  • Today’s revelations have Irsay going after splashy candidates for jobs that aren’t yet open, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports the owner has yet to reach out to Nick Saban about the HC job. The Colts have been connected to Saban via rumors for a while now, but nothing substantial has come out of it.
  • The Redskins are “very likely” to promote quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh to their OC position to take Sean McVay‘s place, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. This arrangement would entail Jay Gruden calling plays, La Canfora notes. Cavanaugh has previously served as OC for two different franchises, doing so for the Bears and Ravens, but hasn’t functioned in that capacity since 2004. The 60-year-old longtime assistant has been with Washington since 2015.
  • Tom Coughlin has thus far either shown faith in the existing Jaguars assistants or brought in former Giants coaches in his first week in Jacksonville. The newly hired executive went in the latter direction on Saturday, hiring former Giants DC Perry Fewell to coach the Jags’ defensive backs, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports (on Twitter). This will mark Fewell’s second stay in this role. His first NFL coaching gig came as the Jags’ secondary coach under Coughlin from 1998-2002. The 54-year-old coach served as the Redskins’ DBs boss during the past two seasons. Fewell was Coughlin’s DC from 2010-14, serving as the coach whose Super Bowl champion 2011 team unveiled its famous NASCAR package. But Fewell will serve under retained DC Todd Wash and work a sixth stint as a secondary coach.
  • Manning’s second NFL team continued to piece together its Vance Joseph-led coaching staff. The Broncos are retaining strength and conditioning coach Luke Richesson, Mike Klis of 9News reports (via Twitter). Richesson will enter his sixth year in this position.

NFC Notes: Saints, Benson, Rams, Eagles

Saints officials say that owner Tom Benson has maintained an active role in running the team, Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune writes.

I talk to him every day, just as I have for 15 years,” GM Mickey Loomis said. “He talks to me about the same subject matter: The status of the team. And after the season: What are the issues? How are we going to fix the issues? Nothing’s changed here.”

Benson’s involvement with the team, as well as his overall health, came into question after the latest claims made by his ousted granddaughter. Here’s more on the Saints’ ownership situation, as well as a few more notes from across the NFC:

  • Team officials told Duncan that an anecdote in which Benson could not identify the president of the United States was misrepresented by his estranged relatives. The Saints owner was given a concussion protocol test after he fell and hit his head at the NFL owners meetings last May in Atlanta. However, daughter Renee Benson and grandchildren Rita Benson LeBlanc and Ryan LeBlanc tried to portray the incident as something different. Benson’s relatives want the owner to undergo a psychological evaluation, as Andy Grimm of The Times-Picayune details. The would-be heirs are challenging the 87-year-old’s mental fitness.
  • With Nathaniel Hackett no longer in the running for the Rams‘ offensive coordinator position, an in-house candidate landing the job is “all but a certainty” at this point, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Tight ends coach Rob Boras and quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti are the top contenders, and Thomas thinks Boras probably has the edge.
  • Running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin were the Eagles‘ two most effective offensive weapons in 2014, but it remains to be seen whether the team will be able to bring both players back for the 2015 season, says Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News.
  • Washington has announced the hiring of Matt Cavanaugh as quarterbacks coach (via Twitter). Cavanaugh, who served in the same position for Chicago the last two seasons, will be charged with jump-starting Washington’s troubled quarterback situation.
  • If he were running the Cowboys, Bob Sturm of the Dallas Morning News would make it a top priority to retain DeMarco Murray this offseason.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC North Notes: Harbaugh, Browns, Maualuga

When John Harbaugh was originally interviewing for the Ravens head coaching position, he received a bit of help from one of his colleagues. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gave owner Steve Bisciotti a call, endorsing the former Eagles special teams coach for the opening. Harbaugh eventually got the job, and as Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun writes, the coach still appreciates the recommendation from his upcoming playoff opponent:

“It meant everything. As far as probably getting the job, it didn’t hurt. You have to ask Steve and Ozzie [Newsome] if it made the difference or not. But the fact that he was willing to do that at the time, I was stunned when I heard the story much later.

“I would describe the relationship as very good, great admiration for coach. I’ve never worked with him, specifically, but for whatever reason he has been always willing to kind of take me under his wing in a way and give me time and insight and things like that.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from the AFC North…

  • Former Bears quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh is on the Browns “radar” for the offensive coordinator opening, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Cavanaugh previously worked with coach Mike Pettine at the University of Pittsburgh, and they reunited again in the NFL with the Ravens and Jets.
  • Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com takes a look at some other potential candidates for the Browns offensive coordinator opening. His list includes Raiders quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, former college coach/NFL coordinator Charlie Weis, former Bears coach Marc Trestman and Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan.
  • Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther believes upcoming free agent linebacker Rey Maualuga will ultimately return to the Bengals. “I believe he does,” Guenther said (via ESPN.com’s Coley Harvey). “You saw when he came back the effect he had on us.”
  • Harvey also focuses on five major questions surrounding the Bengals entering the offseason, including the future of tight end Jermaine Gresham.