Mike Caldwell

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Falcons, Panthers

New Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will call plays in Tampa Bay, head coach Bruce Arians told The Rich Eisen Show (Twitter link via Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times). That’s something of a surprise, as Arians led the offense when he was the Cardinals’ head coach. Leftwich took over as Arizona’s OC after Mike McCoy was fired four games into the 2018 campaign, but he couldn’t get the Cardinals out of the NFL rankings cellar in terms of points and yards. Arians will still have a heavy hand in Tampa Bay’s offense, while new run game coordinator Harold Goodwin will also have input.

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • Former Redskins special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica has joined the Falcons in the same capacity, Atlanta announced today. He’ll replace Keith Armstrong, who was one of three Atlanta coordinators fired after the 2018 campaign. Washington ranked two spots higher in special teams DVOA than Atlanta a season ago, per Football Outsiders, finishing with better results in kickoffs and punt returns. Kotwica has worked in the NFL since 2007, working his way up from quality control coach to special teams coordinator with the Jets.
  • Armstrong, meanwhile, will take over as the Buccaneers‘ new special teams coach, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. He’d been linked to Tampa Bay ever since Arians was rumored to be taking the head coaching position, and for good reason: as Auman notes, Armstrong played for Arians at Temple 35 years ago. Armstrong, who was a candidate for the Cardinals’ head coaching job in 2018, was fired by the Falcons last week, but quickly interviewed for a gig with the Bills before landing with the Buccaneers.
  • The Buccaneers have hired former Broncos offensive line coach Sean Kugler for the same position, reports Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). The Bills also had interest in interviewing Kugler before he signed on with Tampa Bay, according to Ryan Talbot of New York Upstate. Kugler, previously the head coach at UTEP, joined Denver in 2018 and guided a Broncos front five which ranked as a top-12 unit in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate. Other Tampa Bay hires include former Jets coach Mike Caldwell (linebackers) and ex-Cardinals coach Rick Christophel (tight ends), per Auman (Twitter links).
  • After being fired by the Jaguars last week, Perry Fewell is interviewing for the Panthers‘ secondary coach job on Wednesday, tweets Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. A former defensive coordinator for the Bills and Giants, Fewell worked with Carolina coach head coach Ron Rivera in Chicago in 2005. The Panthers still have Richard Rodgers in place as a secondary coach, but they’ve lost multiple defensive backs coach within the past year. Curtis Fuller resigned as the team’s secondary coach last summer, while assistant Jeff Imamura was fired as part of a housecleaning in early December.

Jets Feared Todd Bowles Had Heart Attack

Todd Bowles was admitted to a hospital earlier today and did not travel with the Jets to Foxboro for the Week 16 Patriots tilt. He’s questionable to coach in this game, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reveals why (Facebook link).

Jets officials initially feared the 53-year-old head coach had a heart attack on Friday. The coach was throwing up, complained of chest and back pains and was unable to keep medication down. This caused team officials to become “extremely concerned,” leading to the hospital trip.

Doctors, however, determined Bowles did not have a heart attack but do want to visit with him after the season to see if any action needs to be taken, Schefter reports.

The team announced he’s in stable condition, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets the plan is for Bowles to spend tonight in the hospital. The Jets and Patriots are set for a 1 p.m. kickoff Saturday. Bowles still hopes to coach the Jets in that game, Schefter reports, but the longtime reporter calls it a doctor’s decision whether or not he can travel to New England. Assistant head coach Mike Caldwell would take over in the event Bowles cannot coach.

The second-year Jets leader is normally the first coach in the building, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter), arriving by around 4 a.m. Anderson adds the energy Bowles usually exhibits was absent today. GM Mike Maccagnan visited Bowles in the hospital before the team left, Anderson reports (via Twitter). The Jets also conducted a staff meeting, which deviates from their normal road schedule outside of position meetings, Anderson tweets.

New York is 4-10 this season after finishing Bowles’ debut campaign at 10-6. Bowles is the fourth head coach to be hospitalized this season, following Gary Kubiak, Bruce Arians and Mike Zimmer.

The 45-year-old Caldwell followed Bowles from Arizona, where the former NFL linebacker was the Cardinals’ LBs coach, before becoming an assistant head coach with the Jets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: NFLPA, Mayo, Van Pelt, Raiders

The NFL Players Association has formally filed a grievance against the league challenging the NFL’s new personal conduct policy, which was adopted in December despite the NFLPA’s objections, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. The union contends that it didn’t have an opportunity to collectively bargain many key points of the new policy, arguing that the policy violates the CBA and that it was adopted “without the consent, and over the objections, of the NFLPA.”

While we wait to see what comes of the union’s grievance, let’s round up several items from across the NFL….

  • Injured Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo has been prioritizing his rehabilitation after a season-ending knee injury, and fully intends to get back on the field in 2015, but he has also developed an interest in coaching during his time spent on injured reserve, writes Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “I’m just trying to learn as much as I can,” Mayo said. “If I do choose to go down that road, hopefully I can apply some of these principles that I’ve learned from coach [Bill] Belichick in my coaching career.”
  • While a previous report revealed the Packers turned down the Rams’ request to speak to Alex Van Pelt about their offensive coordinator job, St. Louis wasn’t the only team rebuffed by Green Bay. According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the Jaguars and Bears were also denied permission to interview Van Pelt.
  • The Raiders have officially confirmed a handful of new additions to Jack Del Rio’s staff, announcing in a press release that they’ve hired Todd Downing (QB coach), Marcus Robertson (DB coach), Sal Sunseri (LB coach), and Mike Tice (OL coach).
  • The Jets also announced several new assistants in addition to their new coordinators. According to the team, Mike Caldwell (assistant HC/ILB coach), Mark Collins (OLB coach), Joe Danna (DB/S coach), and Karl Dorrell (WR coach) are among the new arrivals.
  • Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey isn’t phased by the fact that 2015 could be a make-or-break season for him and head coach Joe Philbin, suggesting that he approaches every season as if it’s make-or-break, writes Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.
  • The Texans have made some front office changes, promoting Jon Carr to director of college scouting and hiring Matt Jansen to the new position of college scouting coordinator, per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links).
  • We learned yesterday that Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett met with the Dolphins at the Senior Bowl, but Miami is far from the only team to interview Lockett. The wideout, who is generating plenty of buzz in Mobile, tells James Walker of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that he spoke to 28 NFL teams this week.

Coaching Notes: Quinn, Musgrave, Gailey

With the Seahawks pulling out an impressive win today, their defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will have to wait until after the Super Bowl to sign on as the head coach of an NFL team. Our own Dallas Robinson told us that the Falcons are planning on hiring him whenever his season with the Seahawks is over, but will now have to wait until the first week of February to make it official. The team would not be able to sign or announce him as the new coach until after that time, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (via Twitter).

Quinn is set to have his second interview with the Falcons tomorrow in Seattle, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

Here are some other NFL coaching notes from around the league:

  • The Raiders have expressed interest in Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave for the team’s offensive coordinator vacancy, according to Pat Sheridan of ESPN.com. Musgrave has served in either position with the Panthers, Falcons, Jaguars, Washington, and the Vikings.
  • The Jets have widely been reported to be close to hiring Chan Gailey to be the team’s offensive coordinator, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the hire is not a done deal (via Twitter).
  • The Jets are also close to finalizing a deal that would make Cardinals linebackers coach Mike Caldwell as the team’s assistant head coach, according to La Canfora. Caldwell will rejoin Todd Bowles in New York.
  • While it is already known that former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio left his interview with Washington without finalizing a deal to become their defensive coordinator, Zac Boyer of the Washington Times reports that he was not even offered the position (via Twitter).

Coach Updates: Fangio, Allen, Kromer, Tarver

The Bears have requested permission to interview ex-49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for the same position, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (via Twitter). Previous reports indicated Fangio was released from his San Francisco contract earlier today, so technically Chicago shouldn’t need to ask the Niners for approval. Meanwhile, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com “continues to hear” (Twitter link) that former Raiders head coach Dennis Allen is the favorite for the Bears DC job.

Here’s the latest on the coaching front…

  • The Bills have hired former Bears assistant Aaron Kromer as their offensive line coach, per Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (on Twitter). FootballScoop.com was the first to hear the Kromer rumblings, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeted the two sides were “closing in” on a deal. Additionally, Rapoport says (Twitter link) that Buffalo has also hired David Lee as its quarterbacks coach. Lee worked with new Bills coach Rex Ryan with the Jets from 2013-14.
  • After hiring his defensive coordinator earlier today, new Jets head coach Todd Bowles has added another staff member, ex-Cardinals linebackers coach Mike Caldwell (Twitter link via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic). Per Somers, Caldwell will be named an assistant head coach in New York after the Cards let him out of his contract.
  • It’s been speculated that former Raiders DC Jason Tarver could have a role on Jim Tomsula’s 49ers staff, and today Tarver interviewed for a position with San Francisco, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. Tarver previously spent ten years with the Niners, beginning in 2001.
  • The 49ers will not retain special teams coordinator Brad Seely, reports Maiocco. Seely, a 22-year NFL coaching veteran, had been with SF since 2011. Meanwhile, Maiocco adds that the Bills have requested an interview with Niners offensive assistant Ronald Curry, who has not been fired by San Francisco.
  • The Browns continue to interview candidates for their vacant offensive coordinator position, and met with Jim Hostler today, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN. Hostler, currently a senior offensive assistant with the Bills, was the 49ers’ play-caller during the 2007 season.

Coach Notes: 49ers, Jets, Falcons, Raiders

After promoting one coach earlier today, it sounds like the 49ers will be parting ways with the rest of their coaching staff. Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez reports (via Twitter) that the organization plans on dismissing all assistants except running backs coach Tom Rathman. A member of that coaching staff told CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco that they are “in the dark” regarding the team’s plans (Twitter link). Its unclear if any of the remaining coordinators, including defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, are safe.

Meanwhile, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tweets that “several” 49ers assistants will likely join former offensive coordinator Greg Roman with the Bills, while others will likely follow Fangio.

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

  • Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is set to interview with the Broncos on Friday, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). Austin was late arriving to Atlanta, and D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that his second interview with the Falcons will be pushed back to Thursday.
  • The Raiders want to talk to Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice, but Atlanta is denying them permission, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • Cardinals linebacker coach Mike Caldwell will likely join Jets head coach Todd Bowles in New York as the team’s assistant head coach, tweets Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 in Phoenix.
  • ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson says Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio is “aiming high” in his coaching staff search, and the writer notes that Kyle Shanahan could be among the offensive coordinator candidates (via Twitter).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Jets Hire Todd Bowles

WEDNESDAY, 5:05pm: The Jets (on Twitter) have made it official: Bowles is their new head coach.

TUESDAY, 10:36pm: Dolphins defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers is very likely to be Bowles’ defensive coordinator, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). It’s possible that Caldwell will also join the staff, but maybe in a different role.

10:20pm: Bowles’ choice for defensive coordinator might be linebackers coach Mike Caldwell, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

10:09pm: It’s a four-year deal worth at least $16MM, according to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter). Gailey, he hears, will be hired as Bowles’ offensive coordinator.

9:23pm: The Jets have reached agreement with Todd Bowles to become their next head coach, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). It’s a four-year deal, Schefter adds (link).Todd Bowles (vertical)

Gang Green’s contingent of new GM Mike Maccagnan, owner Woody Johnson, and team consultants Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf met with Bowles earlier tonight in the New York area. The Cardinals defensive coordinator was slated to visit with the Falcons on Wednesday, but those plans have ostensibly been 86’d. The Jets were likely concerned about Atlanta beating them too the punch and made their offer quickly.

The new position marks a homecoming in more than one way for Bowles. The 51-year-old is a native of Elizabeth, New Jersey, a short drive from the Jets’ Meadowlands home. Bowles also has previous experience with the Jets, having served as their defensive backs coach in the 2000 season. The defensive-minded coach is a disciple of the legendary Bill Parcells, who served as the Jets’ coach from 1997-1999 as as their GM in 2000.

The Jets were impressed with, among other things, the staff ideas Bowles had, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network (on Twitter). Former Bills coach Chan Gailey, who has been out of the game for some time, is a strong possibility to be the team’s next offensive coordinator.

Casserly’s fingerprints appear to be all over the Jets’ new hires. Maccagnan worked under Casserly as a scout while Bowles is one of his former players. The Jets coveted Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, but the uncertainty over whether they could land him combined with Bowles’ strong interviews led them to this hire, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Quinn can’t accept a job elsewhere until the conclusion of the Seahawks’ season, which might not be until February.

As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes, Bowles is now the Jets’ sixth straight head coach with a defensive background. Rex Ryan, Eric Mangini, Herm Edwards, Al Groh, and Parcells were all defense-first coaches.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coach Notes: Meyer, Browns, Fangio, Raiders

Wins over Alabama and Oregon in the NCAA’s first College Football Playoff created plenty of buzz for Urban Meyer, but the Buckeyes head coach quickly dismissed any speculation that his success at Ohio State would result in a jump to the NFL this offseason. “Not right now. I have a commitment to Ohio State and these players,” Meyer said when asked about the possibility of an NFL job, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.

Let’s check in on several coaching situations from around the league, as a handful of teams look to hire new head coaches and/or coordinators….

  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter links) provide an update on the Browns‘ hunt for an offensive coordinator, with Rapoport noting that Marc Trestman interviews tomorrow and Raiders quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo meets with the team on Friday. Per Schefter, the Browns have also requested permission to talk to Jets running backs coach Anthony Lynn about the position.
  • Raheem Morris‘ meeting with Washington about the team’s defensive coordinator vacancy is expected to be the last of the club’s interviews, tweets Rapoport, who believes either Morris or Joe Barry will land the job.
  • Michael Silver of NFL Network (Twitter links) hears that the word in coaching circles is that 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio may want to leave the team unless he (or Mike Shanahan) is hired as the head coach. In that case, writes Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, the Raiders should kick the tires on Fangio as a potential head coaching candidate.
  • Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, who is working on a new deal of his own, says defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has told him he wants to stay with the team, tweets Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com. Per Archer, talks on new contracts for the team’s coaches are ongoing.
  • In a tweet, Kawakami also suggests keeping an eye on Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, who has multiple options, and would likely be Jim Tomsula‘s top choice for defensive coordinator if he lands the 49ers‘ head coaching job.
  • If Todd Bowles is hired as a head coach, he’d like to take Cardinals linebackers coach Mike Caldwell with him as a defensive coordinator, tweets Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910.
  • The Giants are interested in talking to former Raiders head coach Dennis Allen about their defensive coordinator position, says Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, adding that it’s not clear whether an interview has been scheduled yet.