Mike Shula

Coaching/Front Office Notes: Browns, Broncos, Giants, Titans, Panthers, Dolphins

When previous frontrunner George Paton removed himself from consideration for the Browns’ general manager vacancy, there were reports that he had concerns about Cleveland’s power structure. That might’ve been a bit overblown, as sources told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that Paton was “not at all scared off by Browns’ structure” (Twitter link). Further, Fowler writes that Paton was “impressed with people in the building and thinks highly of” new head coach Kevin Stefanski, while it came down to the fact that he “felt he had a good thing still going in Minnesota.” Paton is currently an assistant GM with the Vikings. That’s good news for Browns fans, but the earlier reports are still concerning. Stefanski, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, and whoever the new GM is will all be reporting directly to owner Jimmy Haslam, which understandably turns off some prospective candidates.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks:

  • We heard Mike Shula’s interview with the Broncos went well, and now he’s about to be hired. Shula is going to become Denver’s next quarterbacks coach, the team is just working out contract details, a source told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link). Specifically, Klis writes that offsets with the Giants still need to be worked out. Shula had been the Giants’ offensive coordinator before Pat Shurmur was fired, and there was apparently offset language in his contract. Prior to joining New York, Shula was the Panthers’ OC for five seasons. Shurmur has since been hired as Denver’s offensive play-caller, so obviously there’s a lot of familiarity here.
  • Speaking of former Giants coaches, New York’s former head coach Ben McAdoo left his visit with the Browns without a deal, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). Garafolo notes that it is still unclear exactly what role McAdoo was interviewing for in Cleveland. Garafolo also writes he was “in play” to be Carolina’s new quarterbacks coach.
  • Jason Garrett is re-teaming with one of his guys. The new Giants offensive coordinator will be paired back up with Marc Colombo, who is going to be New York’s new offensive line coach, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Colombo had been Garrett’s O-line coach in Dallas. The Cowboys routinely had one of the league’s best offensive lines, so this seems like a strong hire.
  • Legendary assistant Dean Pees elected to retire as the Titans’ defensive coordinator, leaving Mike Vrabel with a big hole on his staff. The “expectation in [the] coaching community” is that Titans outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen will be promoted to DC, per Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL (Twitter link). Bowen had previously served as a defensive assistant with the Texans, so he has deep ties to Vrabel.
  • Rookie Panthers head coach Matt Rhule continues to fill out his inaugural staff, and he just made a couple of new hires. Rhule is expected to hire Pat Meyer away from the Chargers as his offensive line coach, and Jason Simmons away from the Packers as his defensive backs coach, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Meyer had been Los Angeles’ OL coach and run-game coordinator, while Simmons coached the Packers’ DBs. Rhule’s staff is now almost fully fleshed out.
  • Finally, the Dolphins are hiring a new defensive backs coach in Gerald Alexander, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald tweets. Alexander is coming from the college ranks, where he served as the defensive backs coach at Cal for the past few seasons. Alexander was briefly with the Dolphins as a safety during his playing days back in 2011. Miami had the vacancy after they promoted Josh Boyer to defensive coordinator following Patrick Graham’s departure.

Broncos Notes: Shula, Bolles, Harris

Mike Shula met with Broncos head coach Vic Fangio about the team’s QB coach vacancy, reports Troy Renck of Denver7 (via Twitter). While the two sides didn’t agree to deal, the meeting went well and Shula is considered the favorite for the gig.

Shula was the Giants’ OC for the last two years under Pat Shurmur, and he interviewed to keep his gig on Joe Judge’s new staff. Shula helped in the development of quarterback Daniel Jones, who showed promise at times in 2019. On the other hand, the Giants offense struggled as a whole during Shula’s tenure, as the club went 9-23 over the last two seasons.

Former Broncos QBs coach Rich Scangarello was fired on January 10. The Broncos are looking to reinvent their offense under new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.

Let’s check out some more news out of Denver…

  • Nose tackle Shelby Harris has hired Drew Rosenhaus for representation, the agent announced on Twitter. Following a career year, the 28-year-old is set to hit free agency this offseason. Harris set career-highs across the board this season, finishing with 49 tackles and six sacks in 16 games (16 starts). The former seventh-rounder was slapped with a second-round restricted free agent tender last offseason.
  • The Broncos are going to be busy this offseason, but it sounds like the organization will be patient when it comes to left tackle Garett Bolles. General manager John Elway said the team will take its time as they determine whether they should pick up the former first-rounder’s fifth-year option. “We’ll wait,” Elway said (via the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran on Twitter). “There’s no sense doing it early. We’re not going to do it until May. We’ll see when we get there where we are.” As Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com points out, Bolles has been flagged 32 times for holding throughout his career, but the organization has also been fond of his durability.
  • We learned yesterday that the Broncos had moved on from “salary cap guru/contract negotiator” Mike Sullivan.

Giants Interview Mike Shula

New Giants head coach Joe Judge interviewed incumbent offensive coordinator Mike Shula for the same job on his staff, sources tell Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Shula was the Giants’ OC for the last two years under Pat Shurmur and he’ll have a chance to stick under Judge.

[Poll: Which NFL Team Made The Best HC Hire?]

Shula helped in the development of quarterback Daniel Jones, who showed promise at times in 2019. On the other hand, the Giants offense has struggled as a whole during Shula’s tenure and the club went 9-23 over the last two seasons.

Over the weekend, Judge hired Patrick Graham away from the Dolphins to serve as his defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. We also recently learned that Judge’s deal with the G-Men is for five years – they hope he’ll last the full length of the contract, since the Giants’ last couple of coaches only lasted two years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons To Interview Bevell, Dorsey

The Falcons are interviewing multiple free agent coaches for their vacant quarterbacks coach position. Recently fired assistants Darrell Bevell and Ken Dorsey are set to interview for the post, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Bevell has spent the past 12 seasons as an offensive coordinator, with the Vikings from 2006-10 and Seahawks from 2011-17. He will interview for this lower-level perch nonetheless. Mike Shula won’t, however, with Ledbetter reporting the ex-Panthers offensive coordinator wants to catch on as an OC somewhere else.

The Falcons also interviewed Greg Knapp and Jedd Fisch for this job, one that’s becoming quite the competition. The Falcons already announced Steve Sarkisian will return for a second season as OC, and the team looks set to add a big name to work under him.

These coaches are vying to replace Bush Hamdan, who left at season’s end to become OC at the University of Washington.

Bevell last worked as a QBs coach from 2003-05, when he oversaw Brett Favre‘s work with the Packers. Dorsey coached Panthers passers from 2013-17. Bevell and Quinn worked together as coordinators in Seattle from 2013-14.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Fire OC Mike Shula

The Panthers announced that offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey have been fired. Mike Shula (vertical)

Shula spent the past seven seasons with the team, working as quarterbacks coach for two seasons before becoming offensive coordinator in 2013. Last year, Carolina finished 19th in total offense (323.7), 17th in offensive DVOA, fourth in rushing offense (131.4), 28th in passing (192.3), and 12th in points (22.7). Ultimately, it wasn’t good enough as the Panthers were eliminated in the first stage of the playoffs.

Dorsey has been the Panthers’ QBs coach for the last five seasons. Although he has groomed Cam Newton into one of the league’s finest quarterbacks, the Panthers believe that they can do better.

The staff shakeup comes just days after a multi-year extension for head coach Ron Rivera. Between the firing of Shula and Dorsey and the likely departure of Steve Wilks, the Panthers will see serious turnover in 2018.

The Panthers join the Bears, Browns, Packers, and Giants as teams in search of a new offensive coordinator.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Panthers, Bears, 49ers, Jets

After going 15-1 and losing the Super Bowl last season, the Panthers have taken a huge step back in 2016. The team enters the final week of the season with a 6-9 record, and both the offense and the defense rank towards the bottom half of the league in several team stats.

Despite the struggles, coach Ron Rivera indicated that he isn’t anticipating any changes to his coaching staff…as long as it’s his decision.

“Remember, it’s the same group that was 15-1, same group that led the league in scoring,” Rivera told Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “And in the last five years, we’ve had a top-10 defense. So as I look it and break things down, yeah, there’s some things that we have to work on and change. You guys heard me talk about evolving. We have to.”

As Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com points out, Rivera hasn’t stuck to similar promises in the past. For instance, the team relieved special teams coach Richard Rodgers of his duties following the 2014 campaign. Gantt believes that offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey could find themselves on the hot seat.

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

  • Things haven’t gone as planned during John Fox‘s second season with the Bears. The team is looking to avoid their worst 16-game record in franchise history, and blame will naturally lie on the head coach. Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes that chairman George McCaskey will likely wait until the end of the season to make any decisions on his coaching staff’s fate. Campbell notes that the organization waited until the 2014 offseason to fire general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman.
  • Eric Branch of SFGate.com wonders if head coach Chip Kelly‘s unwillingness to adjust his fast-paced gameplan could ultimately lead to his demise with the 49ers. As the writer notes, the coach wasn’t necessarily put in a position to succeed with a lack of talent on the roster. However, Campbell believes the coach’s devotion to his gameplan could come up during offseason discussions with CEO Jed York and a new general manager (assuming Trent Baalke is fired). For what it’s worth, Kelly hasn’t indicated that he’s willing to change his ways. “I think we always look at everything on a weekly basis trying to see how we can improve,” Kelly said following his team’s overtime loss to the Jets in early December. “You look at the game yesterday: It’s about making one more play than the other team. It’s not like we’re getting taken to the woodshed and don’t have an opportunity to compete and play.”
  • Jets head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan are expected to receive a “mulligan” from owner Woody Johnson for the team’s subpar performance this season, writes ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini. The writer acknowledges that it’s been a tough year for the organization, but he also notes that it’d be a knee-jerk reaction to fire the tandem after only two seasons.

NFC South Notes: Saints, Norman, Shula

Saints offensive tackle Terron Armstead and defensive tackle John Jenkins will see their salaries increase by nearly $1MM apiece for 2016, based on the proven performance escalator clause in their rookie contracts, writes Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Both players had been slated to earn a base salary of about $700K, but will now make $1.696MM each.

Let’s round up a few more of today’s items from out of the NFC South:

  • The Panthers may end up using the franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman this winter, which could postpone a lucrative, long-term extension for at least a few months. However, as Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link) outlines, it’s just a matter of time until Norman lands that big, multiyear deal.
  • In a separate video for Bleacher Report, Cole wonders if Mike Shula‘s lack of an agent could hinder his chances of landing a head coaching job. The Panthers offensive coordinator didn’t draw much interest last month from the seven teams conducting head coaching searches, despite Carolina’s success this season.
  • Drew Brees turned 37 years old last month, and is entering the final year of his contract, but the Saints don’t need to find his replacement quite yet, says Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.
  • Improving team speed, particularly at linebacker, will be a main focus for Falcons head coach Dan Quinn this winter, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Within his piece, McClure takes a look at some fast, athletic linebacker prospects who may catch Atlanta’s eye as the draft approaches.

Coach Rumors: Shula, Lynn, 49ers, Manusky

It was widely reported during the week leading up to the NFL’s Wild Card games this month that Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula wasn’t interested in interviewing for any head coaching jobs while Carolina remained alive in the playoffs. However, speaking to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, Shula says he’s not sure where that perception came from.

“All I said (to the media) was I’m focused on the playoffs,” Shula said. “The other quote was if it did happen, if I was approached, I’d have to consider that at the time. Those were my only quotes … Somebody said I had an agent out there talking, too. I don’t have an agent. I have a friend that helps me, but he definitely wasn’t that person … I don’t know where that (report) came from.”

It’s somewhat odd that Shula would clarify his stance now, after all the vacant head coaching positions have been filled, rather than earlier in the interview process. Those reports suggesting he was reluctant to interview for other jobs while preparing for Panthers playoff games didn’t materialize out of thin air, so even if Shula claims he would have been open to opportunities, I’d imagine he’s happy to remain in his current role.

Here are a few more coaching-related updates from around the NFL:

  • Bills running backs coach and assistant head coach Anthony Lynn is interviewing for the 49ers‘ offensive coordinator job, a source tells Marvez (Twitter link). Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears that the interview is scheduled to take place on Thursday. Lynn previously met with the Niners during the team’s head coaching search.
  • Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com provides another update on the 49ers, tweeting that Chip Kelly is interested in finding a spot on his staff for Jeff Nixon, who spent five years as the Dolphins’ running backs coach.
  • According to Marvez (Twitter link), Washington is set to hire Greg Manusky – who was the Colts’ defensive coordinator up until the end of the 2015 season – as the club’s outside linebackers coach. However, Mike Jones of the Washington Post (Twitter link) and ESPN’s John Keim hear there’s no deal in place yet, though they both say Washington has interest in Manusky, with Keim confirming the team interviewed him.
  • The Titans have one more defensive line coach interview taking place today before making a decision on the position, tweets Marvez. Former Giants assistant Robert Nunn is one candidate for the job.

Extra Points: Shula, Irvin, Falcons, Packers

Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula made it known during the head coaching hiring cycle that he wasn’t interested in taking interviews until Carolina’s playoff run was complete, preferring to focus on the task at hand. While it’s certainly an admirable approach, it may have cost him at least one job, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins never reached out to Shula because they wanted to hire a head coach quickly. Miami did become the first franchise to hire a new HC, agreeing to terms with Adam Gase on January 9.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Although Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin recently told the media that he’d be willing to accept less money to stay with the Seahawks, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com isn’t necessarily buying it. Irvin is an Atlanta native, and the Falcons would be offering him a chance to reunite with ex-Seattle coordinator Dan Quinn. Plus, notes McClure, Atlanta has shown a willingness to spend on defensive acquisitions in the past.
  • In other Falcons news, receiver Devin Hester is set to face a three-to-six month recovery after undergoing toe surgery today, according to McClure. Hester, who missed 11 games in 2015 due to the injury, might miss some offseason work, but should be healthy by the start of the 2016 season.
  • The Packers and GM Ted Thompson are interested in Mississippi State linebacker Beniquez Brown, a source tells Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net. Brown is a potential third-round pick, in the estimation of Pauline.
  • CFL receiver Eric Rogers recently worked out for the Colts, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). This is Rogers’ third PFR mention today, so it’s clear that he’s getting attention around the league.

Coach Rumors: 49ers, Shula, McDaniels, Gruden

The 49ers‘ head coaching search is starting to heat up, with meetings for Chip Kelly, Anthony Lynn, and John DeFilippo having been reported since Thursday night. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee weighs in with a couple more updates on the search, writing that the team may circle back to candidates it interviewed last year after it finishes with its first round of interviews. That group could include Mike Shanahan, Adam Gase, and Josh McDaniels, among others.

According to Barrows, the 49ers have also inquired about Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula. However, Shula’s agent has indicated that his client doesn’t plan to interview for jobs while Carolina remains alive in the playoffs. So if the Niners hope to talk to Shula, they’ll have to wait until at least January 17th, and possibly longer.

Let’s round up some more of Friday’s coaching-related items….

  • Despite having generated interest from multiple teams, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels won’t interview for any head coaching jobs during New England’s bye week, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
  • As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk rightly observes, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie prefers a head coach who can co-exist with Howie Roseman, and won’t engage in the same sort of power struggle Chip Kelly did. So even if Jon Gruden has interest in the Eagles’ head coaching job, he may not be the type of candidate the team is seeking. I discussed the Gruden rumors earlier today.
  • At least two teams have conveyed interest in speaking with former Niners head coach Jim Tomsula, a source tells Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Tomsula figures to draw interest as a defensive line coach or defensive assistant.