Mike Nolan

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.

Kellen Moore To Stay With Cowboys

Kellen Moore will remain the Cowboys’ OC in 2020 as a member of new head coach Mike McCarthy‘s staff, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. In addition, the team will add former Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel to serve in the same capacity in Dallas, and it is also hiring Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator and Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach.

Moore, 30, had drawn interest from Washington for the Pac-12 program’s OC job, but Mike Garafolo tweeted yesterday that the expectation was for the wunderkind coach to stay with the Cowboys.

Despite Dallas’ disappointing season, the team is intent on keeping Moore. Jerry Jones made it a point during the Cowboys’ HC interviews to express his desire for Jason Garrett‘s eventual successor to retain Moore. And McCarthy is a fan of the one-year coordinator. One year remains on Moore’s contract.

Although Moore went to Boise State, he is from a town southeast Washington. So, the Huskies OC job would generate natural appeal. And McCarthy being an offensive-minded coach would stand to lessen Moore’s impact with the 2020 Cowboys. But Jones being in the young coach’s corner will likely make a difference in shaping McCarthy’s offensive staff.

Under Moore, the Cowboys jumped from 22nd in total offense to first from 2018-19. Dak Prescott surpassed his previous career-high yardage total by more than 1,000, and his 30 touchdown passes were seven more than his previous career high. The fourth-year quarterback fell one yard shy of Tony Romo‘s single-season Cowboys record. The franchise appears to be on the verge of a McCarthy-Moore partnership, which would be an interesting meld of offensive philosophies given that the new head coach is steeped in the West Coast offense and Moore ran a version of Air Coryell.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Rhule, Giants, Cowboys

Even after Joe Judge‘s standout interview Monday led to him becoming the Giants‘ head coach, the franchise still had Matt Rhule as their preferred candidate. The Panthers‘ seven-year, $62MM offer to the Baylor head coach essentially prompted the Giants to fold their hand on this front, with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY noting Big Blue balked at the contract length and salary. Rhule’s $8.9MM salary makes him the sixth-highest-paid coach in the league — behind Bill Belichick ($12MM per year), Pete Carroll ($11MM AAV), Jon Gruden ($10MM), Sean Payton ($9.8MM) and John Harbaugh ($9MM). The Panthers also paid Baylor a $6MM buyout, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Just months ago, Rhule agreed to an extension with the Big 12 program.

Here is the latest from the coaching front:

  • In addition to missing out on the Ron Rivera boat, the Giants wanted to speak with Mike McCarthy again, Vacchiano adds. The Cowboys swooping in prevented such an opportunity.
  • Big Blue received a ringing Judge endorsement from Belichick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The former Giants defensive coordinator and six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach called the Giants to sell them on Judge’s credentials, despite his non-traditional candidacy as a special teams coordinator.
  • Shifting to McCarthy’s Cowboys staff, the team is expected to hire Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel to the same position, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Fassel’s contract was up. The second-generation NFL coach will relocate to Dallas after spending eight seasons with the Rams. Fassel came over from the Raiders in 2012, when Jeff Fisher took over in St. Louis, and stayed on with Sean McVay‘s team for three seasons. Fassel served as Rams interim HC in 2016, after the franchise fired Fisher. The Rams are losing their DC and ST coordinators, with Wade Phillips also out of the picture.
  • Other candidates have surfaced to relocate to Texas. Cowboys assistants expect Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan to be named Dallas’ new defensive coordinator, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Nolan was the 49ers’ head coach in 2005, when McCarthy served as San Francisco’s OC. Additionally, Redskins defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is on McCarthy’s radar, per Pelissero (on Twitter). Tomsula was the 49ers’ HC in 2015 and has been the Redskins’ D-line coach since 2017.
  • The Bengals and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons have agreed to an extension, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). A longtime Dolphins ST boss, Simmons interviewed for the Bengals’ HC job last year and joined Cincinnati’s staff as a key assistant after the top job went to Zac Taylor. Despite Cincinnati’s 2-14 record, the team ranked first in special teams DVOA under its first-year leader.

Coaching Rumors: Panthers, Rhule, McDaniels

The latest from around the NFL:

  • Saints assistant Mike Nolan is a name to watch as new Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy searches for his next defensive coordinator, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) hears.
  • The Panthers‘ interview with Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski will take place in Minneapolis on Thursday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) reports. The Browns could also schedule a chat with Stefanski for that same day. During Stefanski’s first full season at the helm, the Vikings ranked as a top-10 offense in points. With Stefanski on the sidelines, the Vikings also managed a 26-20 win over the Saints on Sunday to advance to the divisional round.
  • The Giants‘ interview with Baylor head coach Matt Rhule has been scheduled for Tuesday, Schefter hears. After that, they’ll meet with Patriots OC Josh McDaniels on Wednesday. Both interviews will take place in New Jersey.
  • At least 4 NFL teams have expressed interest in former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur as an offensive coordinator, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) hears. Shurmur has also heard from “a college team or two.” Shurmur was fired by the Giants after amassing a 9-23 record over the course of two disappointing seasons.

Bengals Considering Mike Nolan For DC?

The Bengals and new head coach Zac Taylor have “kicked the tires” on hiring Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com.

Cincinnati previously expressed interest in hiring Nolan’s boss, Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, but New Orleans quickly locked up the latter to a new three-year contract. As indicated in PFR’s Coordinator Tracker, the Bengals also spoke with former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio (but decided the fit was not correct) and have been linked to ex-NFL head coach John Fox.

All three of those coaches offer prior head coaching experience, and Nolan would as well. In addition to working as a defensive coordinator for seven NFL clubs, Nolan also served as the 49ers’ head coach from 2005-08. Taylor, a first-time head coach at the age of 35, may feel the need to bring in a seasoned coach on the defensive side of the ball, perhaps emulating the setup employed by his former Rams club. When Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay was first hired at age-31, one of his first moves was to add veteran DC Wade Phillips to his staff.

Nolan, for his part, has historically preferred to run 3-4 schemes (although he’s worked in a 4-3 defense for the past two years in New Orleans). The Bengals used a 4-3 look for the duration of Marvin Lewis‘ time with the club, and there’s been no indication Cincinnati will move in a 3-4 direction. Given the prevalence of nickel and dime packages, the different fronts mean less than they once did.

The Bengals’ defense was a train wreck in 2018: the unit allowed 6,618 yards, the most yardage given up by a defense since the 2015 Giants. Lewis fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin at midseason and took on defensive play-calling duties, but Cincinnati’s defense arguably declined following Austin’s dismissal. The Bengals finished 27th in defensive DVOA, Football Outsiders‘ efficiency metric, but ranked 31st in weighted DVOA, which puts greater emphasis on more recent games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

GM/Staff Notes: 49ers, Colts, Saints, Broncos

The 49ers’ shocking general manager choice, John Lynch, will face a “steep” learning curve as a front office neophyte, ex-Lions GM Matt Millen told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. As was the case with Millen, whom Detroit hired in 2001, Lynch is coming from the broadcasting booth to take the helm of a franchise. It didn’t go well for Millen, under whom Detroit went 31-84 before it fired him in 2008. “You need to be schooled,” said Millen. “You need to be mentored. You need to have somebody you can go to. That’s not easy.” Lynch could have a less difficult time breaking into his new job than Millen, notes Branch, who points out that soon-to-be 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is likely to have 53-man roster control. Assistant GM Tom Gamble will also be around to help Lynch make the transition.

More on the NFL’s front offices and coaching staffs:

  • Newly minted Colts GM Chris Ballard received a five-year contract, according to Mike Chappell of FOX59. Colts vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III was among the candidates Ballard beat out for the role, and owner Jim Irsay revealed Raye nearly got the job, per Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. Irsay assured Raye, who will remain in the Colts’ Ballard-led front office, that someone else will give him a shot as a GM if the Colts orchestrate a turnaround (all Twitter links here).
  • While Ballard reportedly isn’t committed to going forward with Chuck Pagano beyond the 2017 season, he spoke glowingly of the five-year head coaching veteran Monday. “There were no other options. Chuck Pagano is a great coach,” said Ballard (Twitter link via Holder). Upon Ballard’s hiring, Pagano stated Sunday that he’s “extremely excited” to work with the rookie GM (via the Colts’ Twitter account).
  • The Saints have hired Mike Nolan to coach their linebackers, his previous employer, SiriusXM NFL Radio, announced (on Twitter). Nolan coached the Chargers’ linebackers in 2015 and has been a defensive coordinator with seven teams, though he’s best known for an 18-37 run as San Francisco’s head coach from 2005-08.
  • Broncos head coach Vance Joseph has added “assistant head coach” to running backs coach Eric Studesville‘s title, tweets Mike Klis of 9News. Studesville drew interest from the Jets earlier this month in their search for an offensive coordinator, but he elected to stay in Denver, where he has coached RBs since 2010.

Coaching Notes: Jets, Saints, Jaguars, Bears

Jets head coach Todd Bowles wasn’t blindsided by former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey‘s retirement. The second-year coach told Darryl Slater of NJ.com that Gailey had told him last offseason that 2016 would be his final season in the NFL. Bowles acknowledged that this made it easier to plan for the upcoming offseason, and he refuted suggestions that Gailey’s impending retirement had a negative impact on the Jets’ offense.

“No, I respect Chan to the utmost,” Bowles said. “He doesn’t do anything without thinking about it — and for a reason. And I respect his privacy. I won’t even go into that. But I love him to death. I still do. I’m happy for him. He wanted to go out his way, and he did.” 

So who will replace Gailey as the team’s new offensive coordinator? Bowles is apparently leaning towards one candidate, but he wouldn’t reveal who that is.

“I’m pretty sure where I’m going,” Bowles told Connor Hughes of NJ.com. “I can’t say anything. When we hire somebody, I will let you know.”

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

  • The Saints were busy today. Alex Marvez of The Sporting News reports (via Twitter) that the team interviewed former Alabama defensive line coach Bo Davis for the same position, and he notes that the team will interview both Brian VanGorder and Mike Nolan for defensive staff positions. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adam Caplan tweets that the organization also interviewed 49ers outside linebackers coach Jason Tarver to be their next linebackers coach.
  • Speaking of Nolan, Marvez tweets that the longtime coach has taken himself out of the running to become the Jaguars linebackers coach. However, the former 49ers head coach is still “considering other opportunities.” The 57-year-old last worked in the NFL as the Chargers’ linebackers coach in 2015.
  • While Nolan and others are potentially looking to join the Saints coaching staff, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com caught up with Bill Johnson, who was recently let go as the team’s defensive line coach. Johnson had spent eight seasons in New Orleans, including the team’s Super Bowl-winning campaign. However, he understood that all good things must come to an end. “I was there a long time,” he said. “Everybody’s got a shelf life, and you move on. But, it was good.”
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets that the Bears still haven’t hired a replacement for outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt, who left the organization to join the Seahawks. Biggs notes that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and defensive quality control assistant Sean Desai have been working with the outside linebackers during practice for the Senior Bowl.

Coaching Notes: 49ers, Jaguars, Broncos

During their head coaching search, which is now down to Kyle Shanahan and Tom Cable, the 49ers have admitted to candidates that their “roster is in shambles,” writes Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. As such, CEO Jed York and executive vice president of football operations Paraag Marathe have promised during interviews that they’ll exhibit patience and a willingness to expend resources. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels bowed out of the race for San Francisco’s head coaching job Monday, but he did praise both York and Marathe. “I was really impressed with Jed York and Paraag and Brian (Hampton), and people that came for the 49ers organization,” McDaniels told reporters (via Maiocco). “They did a great job with their presentation.” 

More coaching updates:

  • Speaking of San Francisco, the Jaguars plan to interview Mike Nolan for their vacant linebackers coach position, reports Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). Nolan, 57, is best known for serving as San Fran’s head coach from 2005-08, during which the team went just 18-37. He also has extensive experience as an assistant, having worked as a defensive coordinator for seven different clubs. Now an analyst, Nolan last served as a linebackers coach with the Chargers in 2015.
  • The Broncos are set to hire Marcus Robertson as their defensive backs coach, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). He’ll take over for Joe Woods, whom new Broncos head coach Vance Joseph promoted to defensive coordinator. Robertson, who played in the NFL from 1991-2002, has coached secondaries in Tennessee, Detroit and Oakland since 2007. He was the Raiders’ DBs coach over the past two seasons.
  • Panthers wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl is stepping down to spend more time with his family, tweets Jordan Rodrigue of ESPN.com. The former wideout was Carolina’s receivers coach for four years.
  • The Jaguars will add Clemson assistant Marion Hobby to their staff, likely as the defensive line coach, per Marvez (Twitter link). Hobby has been the co-defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach at Clemson since 2011, and is coming off a national championship-winning season with the Tigers.

NFC QB Notes: Cousins, Rodgers, 49ers, Giants

The Redskins didn’t put forth much of an effort to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal in advance of Friday afternoon’s deadline for franchise-tagged players, reports Mike Garafolo of NFL Media. In fact, the offer the Redskins presented Cousins at February’s scouting combine – $16MM per year and a total of $24MM in guarantees – never changed before the deadline, per Garafolo. Accepting that would’ve placed Cousins an underwhelming 21st among QBs in average annual salary, notes Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com. Cousins will instead play the year under the $19.95MM franchise tender he signed in March, and while that doesn’t give the 2015 breakout star long-term security, he is set to lead all signal-callers in 2016 salary. If Cousins proves last year wasn’t a fluke and the Redskins tag him again as a result, he’ll rake in an even richer amount, $23.94MM.

More on Cousins and some other NFC passers:

  • Although the Redskins’ offer to Cousins wasn’t in line with his outstanding production from last season, the organization thought it better to err on the side of caution and continue to make the 27-year-old prove he’s worthy of a substantial commitment over the long haul, writes John Keim of ESPN.com. Cousins has fans within the franchise, but others lack full certainty that he isn’t a one-year wonder. “It’s a critical moment for Kirk and the franchise,” one of Cousins’ teammates told Keim in regards to the upcoming season. “If this pans out, the franchise is set for the next eight years.” Like the anonymous player, Keim expects the Redskins to give Cousins a multiyear contract if he has another strong season.
  • In an interview with HBO’s Bill Simmons, the PackersAaron Rodgers relayed the possible reason why the 49ers passed on him with the first pick in the 2005 draft (via CSNBayArea.com). “The story that I heard—and I don’t know if it’s true or not—that Mike Nolan said that when he saw Alex (Smith) open the car door for his mom that he knew that was the quarterback he wanted,” Rodgers said of Nolan, who was then the 49ers’ head coach. “And I said, ‘Well, I was at lunch with him. My mom wasn’t there and my dad wasn’t there.” Smith, now with the Chiefs, has experienced a fine career after some initial growing pains, but Rodgers – who fell to the 24th selection that year – is a Super Bowl champion and a Pro Football Hall of Fame shoo-in. Nolan, who may have taken the wrong QB based on preposterous rationale, is out of work after spending last season as the linebackers coach in San Diego. The 49ers went 18-37 during his three-plus-year tenure.
  • The Giants plucked Logan Thomas off waivers less than a month ago, but his time with Big Blue could be short-lived, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Rookie head coach Ben McAdoo‘s predecessor, Tom Coughlin, was a proponent of keeping two QBs, and Schwartz writes that it wouldn’t be a surprise for McAdoo to operate the same way. With Eli Manning and Ryan Nassib atop the Giants’ depth chart under center, Thomas might not make it to Week 1 in their uniform.

West Notes: Lynch, Irvin, Nolan, Cardinals

Appearing on Dave Mahler’s radio show on 950 KJR, former Seahawks fullback (and current NFL Network commentator) Michael Robinson said “it’s fair to assume” that Seattle will part ways with running back Marshawn Lynch prior to next season, per Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk. Seahawks general manager John Schneider said last month that Lynch may retire, but the smart play for Beast Mode is probably to force the team to release him, as he wouldn’t have to return signing bonus money if he’s cut. If Seattle does release Lynch, they’d save $6.5MM against their 2016 salary cap.

Let’s take a look at a few more notes from the West divisions:

  • Vinny Curry‘s recent extension with the Eagles is a good sign for Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin, opines Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. Curry’s contract — five years, $47MM, $18MM guaranteed — could set a target for Irvin, who is heading for unrestricted free agency, and as Kapadia notes, is probably a more versatile player than Curry. Irvin did suggest last month that he’d accept less money to stay in Seattle.
  • Longtime NFL coach Mike Nolan expressed interest in the 49ers defensive coordinator position earlier this year, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com (Twitter link). Nolan, of course, served as San Francisco’s head coach 2005-08, but spent last season as the Chargers’ linebackers coach. He’s been linked to the Cowboys’ defensive backs position this offseason.
  • Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill believes that with a “couple more pieces,” his club will be a Super Bowl contender in 2016, writes Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Bidwill voiced his faith in Arizona’s “core players,” which makes it sound as though the club will target upgrades on the margins. Indeed, head coach Bruce Arians said last month that while the Cardinals will look for pass rush help this offseason, they don’t expect to make a big splash in free agency.
  • In their efforts to complete a deal for a new stadium, San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer and Chargers owner Dean Spanos have spoken by phone this week, but have yet to meet face-to-face, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The two sides are expected to begin more formal talks soon, per Acee.