Matt Eberflus

Coaching Updates: Arians, Bucs, Cardinals, Bowles, Eberflus, Browns, Munchak, Broncos

Ever since Bruce Arians stepped away from his job with the Cardinals, his name has been buzzed about as a potential head coaching candidate. He sat out the 2018 season while calling games for CBS, but appears set to return to the sidelines. He’s been publicly lobbying for the Browns’ job for a while now, but has seemingly now set his sights on the Buccaneers’ job. Because Arians retired with time still left on his contract with Arizona, the consensus was that whatever team would want to hire Arians would need to give some compensation to the Cardinals, but that’s apparently not the case, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.

Florio notes in a tweet that the Cardinals would’ve needed to exercise their option on Arians in order to have a claim on him, which they didn’t do. As such, Florio writes in his article that the Buccaneers didn’t even bother to notify the Cardinals they were interviewing him. As of now, Arians seems like a strong favorite to be Jameis Winston‘s next coach.

Here’s more from the coaching carousel:

  • We’ve heard that former Jets coach Todd Bowles will be in high demand as a defensive coordinator and possibly even head coach, and he might be even more sought after than anyone realized. Multiple head coaching candidates in this cycle are telling people they’ll try to get Bowles to be their defensive coordinator, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). It’s unclear exactly what teams might be in the mix, although there have been rumors he could reunite with Arians wherever he lands. Bowles was Arians’ defensive coordinator in Arizona for two seasons before being hired by the Jets.
  • We heard on Black Monday that the Browns were hoping to interview Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus for their vacancy, and now the interview has been scheduled. Eberflus will meet with Cleveland’s team tomorrow, the day after his team’s playoff win over the Texans, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN (Twitter link). Eberflus has done a great job running Indy’s young defense this year, and has been a hot name in this cycle.
  • Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak has “strong interest” in the Broncos’ opening, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN. Schefter notes that Munchak has “professional and personal ties to Denver” and that he shares an agent with Broncos GM John Elway. Munchak, who turned down a head coaching job last year according to Schefter, was the Titans’ head coach for three years before being fired and landing in Pittsburgh. Schefter writes that Munchak has been very reluctant to leave “because of his feelings for the Steelers”, but it sounds like the Broncos will be able to pull him away if they want to.

Latest On Browns’ Coaching Search

A flurry of head coaching moves have been made last night and this morning, but one team already had a significant head start on the process. The Browns were the first team to move on from their coach, firing Hue Jackson after eight games, and have had a while to formulate a plan. The team went 5-3 after moving on from Jackson, and might have the most attractive opening of any team with Baker Mayfield looking like a star in the making.

The Browns’ first step in the process will be to interview Gregg Williams tomorrow, GM John Dorsey revealed at a press conference this morning, per Pat McManamon of ESPN (Twitter link). Williams is the interim coach right now and although he isn’t expected to land the full time job, Cleveland’s strong play down the stretch certainly earned him consideration. Dorsey also said that offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who has drawn rave reviews for his work with Mayfield, will get an interview although he wasn’t sure when that would occur.

Meanwhile, the Browns have also requested to interview Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Flores is in his first year calling plays, but is highly regarded around the league and was a candidate for the Cardinals’ job last year. The Browns are also expected to interview former Titans head coach and current Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, according to Alex Marvez of Sporting News (Twitter link). We heard earlier this morning that the Broncos have interest in Munchak as well, who’s earned a ton of praise for his work with the Steelers and is instrumental in Pittsburgh and far more influential than your average offensive line coach.

We first heard late last night that the Browns had reached out to Mike McCarthy, and while he wouldn’t confirm anything, Dorsey certainly didn’t throw cold water on the rumors. Dorsey said he has “a lot of respect for Mike McCarthy and what he’s done”, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Dorsey also praised Kitchens, saying the first time coordinator has “done [a] wonderful job developing [a] relationship with” Mayfield, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal (Twitter link).

As soon as Adam Gase was fired by the Dolphins, he was immediately linked to Cleveland. Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald tweets that Gase going to the Browns is a “very real possibility”, and Mike Garafolo of NFL Network followed up with a tweet saying Peyton Manning, a very close friend of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, is a “big fan” of Gase. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk tweeted that Haslam “aggressively pursued” Gase five years ago, “but Gase decided to wait to become a head coach.”

The Browns have also put in a request to interview Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Campbell has been a popular darkhorse candidate for some jobs, and impressed during his brief stint as the Dolphins’ interim head coach in 2015. In addition to Campbell, Rapoport tweets they requested an interview with Vikings interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.

Two last candidates for the Browns are Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, as Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets that the Browns have submitted an interview request for him, and Colts offensive Nick Sirianni is also on their interview list Pelissero tweets separately. Adam Schefter followed up on Pelissero’s report by tweeting that while the Browns do want to interview Eberflus, they won’t be able to this week with the Colts playing a playoff game this weekend, and the same presumably goes for Sirianni.

Cleveland will be one of the most buzzed about teams in the coming days and weeks, and we should know a lot more about their intentions soon, and they’re clearly casting a very wide net. At this point, it still seems most likely that they’ll pursue an offensive coach to pair with Mayfield despite their reported interest in Flores and Eberflus.

Teams Eyeing Colts’ Matt Eberflus

The Colts are surging and the rest of the league is taking notice. At least two teams are doing homework on Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as a possibility to become their next head coach, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears.

Eberflus was the Cowboys’ linebackers coach for seven seasons before signing on to be the Colts’ defensive coordinator under Josh McDaniels in January. When McDaniels bailed, the Colts resolved to do right by Eberflus and the other assistants who had already inked contracts with the team. It was a stand-up move by the organization and it paid off big time.

After an abysmal 1-5 start, the Colts have rallied to win seven of their last eight games and put themselves squarely in the playoff hunt. Their latest win – a 23-0 romp over Eberflus’ last employer – further underscored the talents of the 48-year-old defensive guru.

If the Colts can top the Giants and Titans in the next two weeks, they’ll likely land in the playoffs and complete one of the most improbable turnarounds in NFL history. If that happens, the Colts may have to search for a new defensive coordinator in the offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Colts, Bucs, Falcons, Newton

Although Matt Eberflus was tied to Josh McDaniels when he accepted the offer to become the Colts‘ defensive coordinator, Stephen Holder of The Athletic notes (subscription required) Chris Ballard was the driving force behind the then-Cowboys linebackers coach moving to Indianapolis. The second-year Colts GM held Ebeflus in such high regard that he may have been the DC choice without McDaniels’ involvement, though likely not had the Colts hired a defensively geared coach. But in nearly all of the interviews the Colts conducted, Holder reports Eberflus’ name was broached. Despite a host of young players for a unit not expected to be particularly strong, the first-year DC has the Colts holding the No. 11 DVOA defense going into Week 15. The 2017 Colts produced the No. 27 DVOA defense.

The latest from some South teams, continuing to Tampa.

  • It is possible DeSean Jackson has played his final game with the Buccaneers. Playing on a contract that includes no additional guaranteed money, the 32-year-old wide receiver had his injured thumb immobilized, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. Jackson has been unable to grip footballs with his injured hand, forcing him to miss the past two Bucs games. He had previously played through this malady, per Auman (on Twitter). Tampa Bay’s top deep threat hopes to play again this season, but that’s not a lock. And with a nonguaranteed $10MM base salary on the Bucs’ books next year, Jackson is a prime release candidate in 2019.
  • Most believe Buccaneers GM Jason Licht has a better chance of returning in 2019 than Dirk Koetter does, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com writes. Despite the Bucs still staring at what will likely soon become an 11-season playoff drought, Licht’s ability to draft and extend the likes of Mike Evans and Cameron Brate has pleased ownership, Laine adds. Licht signed an extension that takes him through the 2019 season, but it remains possible the Glazers move on from he, Koetter and Jameis Winston and start fresh next year.
  • Arthur Blank said he has not lost faith in Thomas Dimitroff or Dan Quinn, but the Falcons have since endured another one-sided defeat and now sit 4-9. They already made other moves, like replacing highly paid right tackle Ryan Schraeder with Ty Sambrailo, for the future. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes more losses will continue to cause suspicion as to whether Blank will change his mind and pivot to a new power structure.
  • Derek Newton‘s Saints contract is a two-year pact, according to his agency (Twitter link). It appears the Saints will use their upcoming practices to gauge whether the former longtime Texans right tackle is fit enough to the point he could be more than an injury fill-in.

Colts DC Matt Eberflus Discusses McDaniels Ordeal

Back in January, Matt Eberflus was hired to be Josh McDaniel‘s defensive coordinator in Indy. Of course, things quickly changed. After having accepted the gig, McDaniels rejected the Colts and decided to stick with the Patriots.

The Colts ended up settling on Frank Reich as their new head coach, but general manager Chris Ballard still ended up honoring the coaching contracts that had already been signed. That meant that despite the unexpected coaching change, Eberflus ended up sticking around as the Colts’ defensive coordinator.

While the Colts’ front office has been pretty clear about their feeling on McDaniel’s flip-flopping, the team’s coaching staff has been relatively quiet. Thanks to an ongoing interview series by Andrew Walker on Colts.com, we’ve got to hear some of Eberflus’ thoughts on the ordeal. While the entire article is worth reading, we’ve highlighted some of the notable soundbites below…

On his reaction to Josh McDaniel’s decision to not take the Colts coaching gig and remain with the Patriots:

“Yeah, when you get a situation like that — and I was here with Chris (Ballard), because Chris and I had been talking and I got hired here beforehand — so to me it was a situation where I trusted in Chris, where Chris’ vision was and what he was doing, what he’s all about — the kind of man he is; really the kind of organization this is, from Mr. (Jim) Irsay all the way down. And, to me, it was not unsettling at all. It was very calming to me; it wasn’t a problem, and I knew I wanted to be here, and I’m excited to be here in Indianapolis.”

On whether he was questioning his job security after the team hired Frank Reich as their head coach:

“No. Nope. As soon as it happened, Chris walked right in my office and we had a conversation, and it was done from that point.”

On his feelings about the defensive coordinator gig after learning about McDaniel’s decision:

“Well, you know what? In life adversities happen, and it’s how you handle them that count.”

On transitioning his mindset from being McDaniel’s defensive coordinator to being Reich’s defensive coordinator:

“Well, I just found out right from the beginning what kind of guy Frank Reich is. I mean, he is a high-character — same with Chris, same with Mr. Irsay. You find that out when those things happen, and you’re dealing with solid individuals and a solid franchise. And, to me, it was, ‘Step forward from there and let’s go.’”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching/FO Notes: Colts, Giants, Broncos, Texans

The Colts may not have a head coach, but they certainly aren’t lacking a defensive scheme. As Stephen Holder of IndyStar.com writes, general manager Chris Ballard has stated that he intends to keep Matt Eberflus as the team’s defensive coordinator next season.

“I got to know Matt Eberflus a few years ago and was blown away by Matt,” Ballard said. “Matt was a coveted coach. He’s a very talented defensive coordinator. I feel very lucky to have Matt Eberflus in the building running a scheme that I think fits our team that we can scout for.”

What scheme will the defense be learning in 2018? As Holder writes, the team is planning to replicate the “Tampa 2-style defense” that the Colts and Bears used throughout the early-2000s. The system also “will be a speed-based, 4-3 scheme that relies heavily on the defensive front to create pressure on quarterbacks,” similar to what the Cowboys have been running in recent seasons.

“We’re playing on an indoor surface,” Ballard said. “We’re going to be playing in ideal weather eight to 12 games a year (and) that’s going to be based on athletic ability and speed. That’s how this defense is built. It’s easy for young players to play because it’s simple and it allows them to play fast and physical and that’s what we want to be.”

Let’s take a look at some more coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • Giants GM Dave Gettleman has brought in former Panthers director of player personnel Mark Koncz as a consultant, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. The two worked together with the Panthers, but Koncz was let go last year after Gettleman was fired and Marty Hurney took over as interim GM. Koncz will work with the scouting department as they prepare for the draft in April.
  • Rob Grosso has been named as an assistant to Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, reports Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post (via Twitter). Grosso served as an operations intern with the organization in 2017. Previous coaching assistant Phil Rauscher joined the Redskins staff as their assistant offensive-line coach.
  • The Texans parted ways with several members of their staff yesterday, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Among those who were let go include assistant director of pro personnel Larry Wright, senior director of player engagement Sean Washington, director of sports science Erik Korem and pro scout Tolu Lasaki.

Latest On Colts, Josh McDaniels

On Wednesday morning, GM Chris Ballard faced the media in the wake of Josh McDaniels‘ shocking decision to back out on becoming the team’s next head coach. Here’s a look at the highlights plus other news on McDaniels’ flip-flop:

  • McDaniels’ agent, Bob LaMonte, told him that he’s making perhaps the biggest professional mistake of his career by backing out of this Colts job at this point, according to sources who spoke with Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). On Wednesday afternoon, LaMonte terminated his relationship with McDaniels, a source tells Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (on Twitter). LaMonte is forfeiting a potentially large commission down the road should McDaniels become a head coach again, but he is also protecting future business by distancing himself from the Patriots OC.
  • Colts were going to pay McDaniels “fabulously,” a source tells Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter), so money was not the issue in Indianapolis. Pelissero hears that the coach also wasn’t warded off by Andrew Luck’s injured shoulder, owner Jim Irsay, or Ballard. At the end of the day, the Patriots just convinced him to stay. There’s no new contract in place for McDaniels yet, but Pelissero expects that to happen soon.
  • Ballard says two doctors who looked at Luck after the season have determined that he does not need surgery (Twitter link via Pelissero). Luck’s arm strength is good, the GM says, but he is now working on motion and arm speed. He has yet to pick up a football, but the team will not rush him or skip any steps.
  • The GM confirmed that none of the coaches from the initial wave of interviews will be in the mix, meaning that Kris Richard and Matt Rhule will not be considered (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • There were other candidates the Colts wanted to interview, Ballard said, but the playoffs got in the way (Twitter link via Stephen Holder of ESPN.com). The Colts are expected to request an interview with Eagles OC Frank Reich and he fits the bill as a coach who was tied up during the playoffs. Of course, the same could be said of McDaniels and that did not stop Indy from interviewing him.
  • The Colts will honor the contract of defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and others who have already signed their deals. That’s not an issue for Ballard who explained that he knew Eberflus well through Rod Marinelli. The former Dallas assistant was already a guy he wanted to run his defense.
  • The Colts got an uneasy feeling a week ago that something could be stalling with McDaniels, despite moving forward with his contract (Twitter link via Jay Glazer of FOX Sports).
  • McDaniels arrived at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday with the intention of cleaning out his office, but Bill Belichick‘s willingness to take his mentorship to a higher level played a big part in McDaniels reversing course, sources tell ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. Belichick told McDaniels that he would spend more time with him on the inner workings of the team, including roster construction and salary-cap management, which was viewed as “extremely valuable” to McDaniels. That could be part of a succession plan for Belichick in the future, but no assurances have been made to McDaniels.

Colts To Keep Matt Eberflus

Josh McDaniels bailed on the Colts, but the Colts are not bailing on his would-be assistants. At least, not the ones that have already signed contracts. On Wednesday morning, GM Chris Ballard confirmed that defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and other coaches who inked deals with the team will be staying on board. Matt Eberflus (Vertical)

In addition to Eberflus, Dave DeGuglielmo (offensive line) and Mike Phair (defensive line) have also inked deals, so they’ll still have a place on the staff. That still leaves some key openings, like offensive coordinator, so the Colts’ next coach can at least choose some of his own assistants.

Prior to the McDaniels debacle, it was reported that the team was pushing for Darrell Bevell to be the new offensive coordinator while McDaniels was pushing for Raiders quarterbacks coach Jake Peetz. The Colts may still try to bring Bevell into the mix, but they may also leave it up to the next coach given that he’ll be made to work with McDaniels’ hires.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Details On Josh McDaniels’ Rejection Of Colts HC Job

In a move not seen since Bill Belichick resigned as “HC of the NYJ” in 2000, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels decided not to accept the Colts’ head coaching position after the club had already formally announced his hire. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, who originally reported the McDaniels story, has since offered more details on the New England play-caller’s decision:

  • While McDaniels’ decision to remain with the Patriots may lead many to speculate that Belichick is close to retirement, that may not be the case, per Schefter. In fact, had Belichick made it clear that he was about to leave New England, McDaniels would have been more inclined to accept a head coaching offer. As Schefter reported earlier, Patriots owner Robert Kraft “sweetened” McDaniels’ contract over the past few days — had that overture started sooner, McDaniels may not have taken any head coaching interviews, at all.
  • Although McDaniels ultimately decided to reject the Colts’ offer, his decision was not based on money, according to Schefter. Instead, McDaniels had concerns about moving his family away from the New England area (the same worries he reportedly had while considering the 49ers’ job a year ago). His unease with leaving the Patriots lead to the Colts having McDaniels in for a second interview. While Indy formally announced McDaniels as its new head coach earlier today, McDaniels had never officially signed a contract, per Schefter.
  • Despite rejecting this present opportunity, McDaniels would still like to become a head coach again, per Schefter. It seems incredibly unlikely that any team will trust McDaniels with a head coaching job in the near future given his decision to bail on the Colts, but — clearly — he does have some interest in becoming the next Patriots’ head coach when Belichick retires.
  • McDaniels was reportedly offering jobs to assistants earlier today, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Some coaches, such as Matt Eberflus (defensive coordinator), Dave DeGuglielmo (offensive line), and Mike Phair (defensive line) have already signed contracts with the Colts, and they’ll be offered roles under the new Indianapolis head coach, whomever that may be, per Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link).
  • Kraft’s decision to put the full-court press on McDaniels may have deeper roots, as one source texted Schefter (Twitter link): “That’s Kraft putting it to the Colts again. He will forever try and (expletive) that place ever since DeflateGate.”

Coaching Rumors: Cowboys, Falcons, Jets

Former Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus will reportedly become the Colts’ next defensive coordinator under presumptive head coach Josh McDaniels, but Dallas was willing to promote Eberflus to DC in order to retain him, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. The Cowboys would have named current defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli assistant head coach, paving the way for Ebeflus to become the club’s new defensive play-caller. But Eberflus “did not want to step on the toes” of Marinelli, per Archer, and therefore decided to head to Indianapolis.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Falcons are interviewing former UCLA offensive coordinator/interim head coach Jedd Fisch and longtime NFL coach Greg Knapp for their quarterback coach position, per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) and Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). Fisch, 41, has served in both the collegiate and pro ranks over the past 20 years. In the NFL, Fisch was the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator from 2013-14, and has also worked for the Texans, Ravens, Broncos, and Seahawks, mostly as a quarterbacks or wide receivers coach. Knapp, meanwhile, has coordinated offenses for the 49ers, Falcons, Raiders (two stints), and Seahawks, but was most recently the Broncos’ QBs coach from 2013-16.
  • Now that he’s been passed over for a promotion to Packers defensive coordinator, cornerbacks coach Darren Perry is interviewing to become the Texans‘ secondary coach, according to Marvez (Twitter link). Perry, who’s worked in Green Bay since 2009, would replace John Butler, who was fired by Houston earlier this month. One of three internal candidates to replace former Packers DC Dom Capers, Perry could now leave Green Bay given that Mike Pettine is leading the club’s defense. However, Perry isn’t a lock to defect from the Packers, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, while Texans assistant defensive backs coach Anthony Midget is also in the running for Houston’s secondary coach job, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
  • The Buccaneers have exercised their 2018 club options for each of their assistant coaches, reports Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). That should come as no surprise, given that Tampa Bay made the relatively surprising decision to retain head coach Dirk Koetter. However, there could be several “tweaks” to the Buccaneers’ coaching staff, per Stroud, although it’s unclear what those changes might entail. Koetter is signed through the 2020 campaign, while general manager Jason Licht recently had his 2018 option picked up.
  • Assistant defensive backs coach Daylon McCutcheon will not return to the Jets in 2018, sources tell Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. McCutcheon, who worked in New York for the past two seasons, will leave the club in order to move closer to his family on the West Coast, per Mehta.