Mike Tomlin

North Notes: Ravens, Amos, Steelers

Rumors of the Ravens becoming the latest team to execute a tag-and-trade transaction have not surfaced in months, and Matt Judon is not expecting to be dealt. The franchise-tagged outside linebacker signed his tender Thursday night and expects to be with the Ravens this season, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Although the Ravens acquired All-Pro defensive lineman Calais Campbell, they did not make a big move at outside linebacker this offseason. They will need their top 2019 edge defender back to anchor their pass rush.

Here is the latest from the North divisions, continuing first with more news out of Baltimore:

  • John Harbaugh said (via Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun) cornerback Jimmy Smith could see some time at safety. The veteran cornerback re-signed earlier this year and is set to play a 10th season in Baltimore. The Ravens have Earl Thomas and the recently extended Chuck Clark at safety, so it will be interesting to see how they deploy Smith this season.
  • The pectoral injury Adrian Amos battled in the playoffs did not require surgery, and the Packers safety said he is back to 100%, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, on Twitter. Amos played all but four of Green Bay’s defensive snaps during the regular season but was unable to finish the NFC championship game.
  • Two of the league’s most influential decision-makers were against the fourth-and-15 proposal, which the NFL tabled Thursday. Both Steelers owner Art Rooney II and HC Mike Tomlin, the latter a member of the competition committee, came out against the proposal — one that gained steam from last year to the point where ownership was split on it. “We’re open to thinking, ‘Is there something we can do with the kickoff in more of a traditional setting that might allow onside kicks a better chance of happening? But this one was too much of a gimmick,” Rooney said, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “(Tomlin) and I didn’t like the idea.” Rooney said interest remains in finding an alternative to the current onside kick setup, which has hindered comeback efforts since a recent rule change prevented kicking-team players from running starts prior to the kick.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Notes: Harrison, Tomlin, Ebron

Notorious cheap-shot artist and Steelers icon James Harrison last set foot on the field in 2017, but he is back in the headlines today. In an interview on Barstool Sports’ “Going Deep” podcast, Harrison said that Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin handed him an envelope after Harrison laid a brutal hit on Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi in October 2010 (story via TMZ).

“And, I ain’t gonna lie to you, when that happened, right? [T]he G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that,” Harrison said. “I ain’t gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.”

The clear implication, of course, is that the alleged envelope contained money, either as a “reward” for the hit or to help Harrison pay the ensuing $75K fine from the league. One way or another, it could spell trouble for Tomlin if the league chooses to investigate (though since the alleged incident took place prior to sanctions being levied in the Saints’ Bountygate scandal, that may not happen).

Team president Art Rooney II, of course, denies the allegation (via Mike Florio of PFT), and so does Harrison’s agent, Bill Parise (via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). After the public tied Harrison’s comments to Bountygate, Harrison himself took to social media to deny that Tomlin gave him a “bounty,” but he notably did not deny that the envelope helped offset his fine. Most likely, this will all be forgotten in short order, but it will be interesting to see if the NFL does decide to launch some sort of investigation.

Now for more from the Steel City:

  • New Steelers tight end Eric Ebron has passed his physical, as Ebron himself announced (via Twitter). An ankle injury wiped out his 2019 season almost completely, but he still managed to land a two-year, $12MM pact with Pittsburgh, thanks in large part to his Pro Bowl performance in 2018. He will join fellow tight end Vance McDonald as a seam-stretching target and red zone threat for Ben Roethlisberger.
  • After a promising 2018 campaign, Steelers RB James Conner was limited by injuries in 2019, and he averaged a full five fewer runs per game last season than he did the year before. But Tomlin prefers having a bell-cow in his backfield, and he hopes Conner can return to that role in 2020. “James is a featured guy and proven runner when healthy,” Tomlin said (via Rutter). “We’re excited about him getting back to health and displaying that in 2020.” Conner is entering a contract year, so a return to form as the Steelers’ RB1 could also land him a nice payday.
  • The Steelers may be in the market for a nose tackle after losing Javon Hargrave to the Eagles in free agency, as Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes. While pure nose tackles are going the way of the dodo, Hargrave was so valuable because of his ability to generate pass rush from the interior while also serving as a traditional NT against power-running teams, but those players are tough to find on the open market. If the club makes a move to add a veteran via free agency or trade, Kaboly believes it will not happen until after training camp. Until then, Daniel McCullers and seventh-round rookie Carlos Davis will attempt to fill the void left by Hargrave.

Latest On Redskins’ HC Plans, Front Office

After little emerged on the Redskins front for weeks following Jay Gruden‘s firing, the struggling franchise is dominating the early-weekend news cycle. Bruce Allen‘s role as team president is not safe, with a Black Monday dismissal being considered.

The Redskins are considering firing their 10-year front office czar, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports, adding that Allen may have a chance to remain with the organization in a non-football role. That would be an interesting setup given Allen’s tumultuous tenure in Washington, but Dan Snyder is pondering widespread changes to his football operations department.

Replacement options for Allen include ex-Texans GM Rick Smith and former NFL executive-turned-TV analyst Louis Riddick, La Canfora adds, noting Snyder has done research on a few personnel execs. Smith resigned from his Houston post after the 2017 season but is open to returning to the league. Riddick worked with the Redskins from 2001-07, serving as a scout and pro personnel director. He subsequently held the same role with the Eagles.

As for Washington’s HC opening, Snyder has “strong interest” in Ron Rivera, per JLC. The longtime Redskins owner is also interested in Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, ex-Jets HC and current Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles, longtime Bengals HC Marvin Lewis and former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. These are consolation prizes, though, with La Canfora reporting Snyder’s primary hope is to work out a trade for Mike Tomlin. Snyder is not optimistic about such a deal. The prospect of bringing the Virginia native to Washington surfaced two-plus months ago.

The prospect of bringing aboard a defensive coach opens the door to Washington sticking with top offensive incumbents Bill Callahan and Kevin O’Connell. Snyder is high on both his interim HC and first-year OC, according to La Canfora. Callahan expressed interest in staying on, though it’s not known if he would stick around under another head coach, and O’Connell has been the primary Dwayne Haskins developer this season. Snyder was the driving force behind the Redskins’ Haskins pick, overruling Gruden.

Allen has not excelled in Washington, but neither have most of the head coaches under Snyder. The Redskins have not made the playoffs in consecutive seasons under the 21st-year owner.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Tomlin, Green, Browns

There may be plenty of Steelers fans unhappy with head coach Mike Tomlin, but he has navigated his team through some turbulent waters over the last couple of seasons, and after starting the 2019 campaign 0-3 and losing Ben Roethlisberger to injury, Pittsburgh is now 4-4 and is back in the AFC playoff picture. As Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com writes, Steelers players believe Tomlin is in the midst of one of his finest coaching performances, and that should go a long way towards quieting outside criticism. Thanks to an (admittedly unusual) one-year extension that he signed in July, Tomlin is under contract through 2021, and his standing within the organization seems strong.

Now for more from the AFC North:

  • Bengals WR A.J. Green will miss Sunday’s game against the Ravens after it was initially reported that he would be making his 2019 debut against Baltimore, and Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic believes the sudden turn of events could suggest that Green is preparing to sit out for the remainder of the season (which may be what he wanted all along). However, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network observed that Green was working out on the field Sunday morning and says his ankle will be reassessed this week (Twitter link). As of right now, the team is not planning on shutting Green down for the year.
  • In addition to Green, the Bengals have been without LT Cordy Glenn all year. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, Glenn is still taking scout-team reps in practice, and it’s unclear whether he will be activated at all in 2019. Of course, Glenn and the Bengals are at odds over the team’s handling of his concussion, so it’s possible Glenn has already played his last snap for Cincinnati.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the Browns‘ analytics department believed Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, not Freddie Kitchens, was the right man for Cleveland’s head coaching job. Of course, the Browns went against that recommendation, but given the club’s disappointing 2019 season, the team could be back in the market for an HC in 2020, and if that happens, Stefanski — who was reportedly the runner-up to Kitchens — should be on the short list of potential replacements.
  • Browns RB Kareem Hunt will make his Cleveland debut against the Bills on Sunday after serving an eight-game suspension, and La Canfora says Hunt is expected to be a major part of the team’s offense right away. Even more importantly, Hunt has not only fulfilled all of the league’s requirements for reinstatement, but he has taken on a number of non-mandatory responsibilities. Per La Canfora, Hunt meets with women’s groups, participates in community service, and continues to speak to a counselor regularly.

Extra Points: Coaches, Bears, Bell, Tomlin

About halfway through the 2019 NFL season, one head coach has already been fired (Jay Gruden), and several more are on the hot seat. With that in mind people’s attentions are starting to turn to the next crop of head coaches, and it should be a pretty busy carousel this offseason. The league has begun their annual process of internally identifying top head coach and general manager candidates, and a committee will meet again in Week 11 to come up with a list, sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. La Canfora notes that Stanford coach David Shaw has been “receiving ringing endorsements and has very strong support within the league,” although he has rebuffed NFL advances in the past.

La Canfora also highlights several current NFL assistant coaches who have already talked about heavily. Interestingly, he identifies some potential new general manager candidates who we haven’t heard as much about. La Canfora writes that there is “heavy support” for fired Giants GM Jerry Reese to receive another job. “Former Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland, former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie and former Lions GM Martin Mayhew are also generating support from the committee,” La Canfora writes. He also throws out ESPN analyst Louis Riddick as someone who is highly regarded, and we’ve heard those same rumblings before.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Miles Sanders has played a big role for the Eagles this season, and he racked up 73 yards in their win over the Bears on Sunday. Apparently, as the rookie revealed to the media earlier this week, he almost ended up in Chicago. “I thought I was going to end up there,” Sanders said of the Bears, who didn’t have a pick in April’s draft until the third round, via Zach Berman of The Athletic. “They knew I was probably going to be gone before the third round, but they were also talking about trading up to get me,” he said. The Penn State product was the second running back taken in the draft, and the Bears ended up nabbing David Montgomery in the third round. Sanders has been a part of a timeshare backfield with Jordan Howard so far.
  • Jets running back Le’Veon Bell surprised everybody by saying the Steelers called about trading for him at the deadline, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed they did. Not so fast says Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin, who replied “not to my knowledge, no,” when asked if the Steelers tried to acquire Bell, per Mark Kaboly of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’s possible the truth lies somewhere in between, and the most likely scenario is that the Steelers made an exploratory phone call but never got at all serious about it. Bell coming back to the city he started his career in would’ve at least made a dull trade deadline a lot more interesting.
  • In case you missed it, the Seahawks apparently thought about adding Antonio Brown before claiming Josh Gordon off waivers.

Redskins Will Try To Trade For Steelers’ HC Mike Tomlin

Here’s some pie-in-the-sky fodder for your Sunday morning. Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Redskins owner Dan Snyder — who recently fired head coach Jay Gruden — is expected to make a strong push to acquire Mike Tomlin from the Steelers this offseason. La Canfora adds that Snyder, who has long admired Tomlin, is prepared to trade draft picks to Pittsburgh to bring the Super Bowl-winning HC to Washington.

Although there is a large contingent of Steelers fans who are unhappy with Tomlin, his standing within the organization seems just fine. Pittsburgh did raise some eyebrows when it gave Tomlin a one-year extension in July instead of the usual two-year re-up, especially since his new extension does not have an option for a future year. However, he is still under contract through the 2021 campaign, and team ownership has never expressed anything less than full confidence in him.

On the other hand, the Steelers may be nearing something of a crossroads in franchise history. Although Ben Roethlisberger is expected to make a full recovery from his recent elbow surgery and reclaim his starting job in 2020, the team is likely going to need to usher in a new quarterback era in the next couple of years, and GM Kevin Colbert is only under contract through May 2020 (Colbert apparently wants to go year-to-year, which means Pittsburgh may also be looking for a new top personnel exec in the not-too-distant future).

Plus, the Steelers are short on high-level draft capital in the 2020 draft as a result of their trades for Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick, so an offer for Tomlin could be more appealing than it otherwise might be. Sources close to Tomlin suggest the Redskins’ job could appeal to him, particularly since Snyder is willing to give him a top-of-the-market salary and full authority over personnel. Tomlin also has relationships with Washington team president Bruce Allen and GM Doug Williams.

But when weighing the Steelers’ record of stability and status as a perennial contender against the Redskins’ history of dysfunction and misery under Snyder, it is difficult to imagine a trade like this coming to fruition. If Snyder is unsuccessful in his pursuit of Tomlin, La Canfora says current Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles would be a top alternative, and we recently heard that Washington OC Kevin O’Connell will also receive strong consideration.

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com neither refutes nor supports La Canfora’s report, but he does say Snyder will be patient in this process and will not begin his head coaching search until after the season. Snyder will give interim HC Bill Callahan and O’Connell the remainder of 2019 to prove their worth without any additional distractions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Tomlin, Ravens, Browns

Let’s take a quick look at the latest happenings from the AFC North, starting in Pittsburgh:

  • The Steelers gave Mike Tomlin a one-year extension (through 2021) instead of their usual two-year re-ups, and this one does not have an option for a future year. But the 13th-year Steelers sideline boss does not look to be on shaky ground, despite the franchise missing the playoffs last season and parting ways with two of the most talented players in team history this year. Tomlin, 47, also has no plans to walk away any time soon. “He certainly hasn’t put any sticker date on himself, and neither have we,” Steelers owner Art Rooney said, via Albert Breer of SI.com. “He’s still a relatively young guy in the coaching profession and has certainly as much energy and enthusiasm as he’s ever had. So I don’t think there’s any particular window that he’s going to coach through. He hasn’t given me any indication that he’s got any date in mind.”
  • The Ravens boast one of the NFL’s premier secondaries and auditioned another Pro Bowler who could potentially fill a role there. Safety Brynden Trawick worked out for his former team recently, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Trawick is known more for his special teams acumen, having made the 2017 Pro Bowl as a Titans special-teamer. But Trawick began his career in Baltimore, the former UDFA playing three seasons with the Ravens from 2013-15.
  • Duke Johnson‘s agent was in Berea, Ohio, this week to discuss his client’s complicated situation with the Browns. Drew Rosenhaus met with John Dorsey and assistant GM Eliot Wolf, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. Dorsey maintains the Browns are not going to trade Johnson, who has requested to be dealt out of Cleveland. For now, the passing-down back remains sidelined with a hamstring injury — one that could keep him out “a little while,” Cabot adds.
  • It looks like the best-case scenario for A.J. Green is a late-September return. Zac Taylor acknowledged the Bengals will likely be without their Pro Bowl wideout to start the season.

Steelers Notes: Colbert, Tomlin, Burns, Haden

The Steelers staved off questions about Mike Tomlin’s job status, at least temporarily, by giving him a one-year extension recently. They didn’t do the same for GM Kevin Colbert, and that was apparently at his request. Colbert told reporters at training camp today that “he’s not getting an extension because he wanted to go year-to-year based on ‘personal request’ to organization,” per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Fowler notes that Colbert is only under contract until May of 2020, and that the GM said his age could be a factor in whether or not he steps away. Colbert, 62, has been Pittsburgh’s front office head since 2010.

This is the first we’ve heard of any potential retirement for Colbert, so as Fowler points out, this is a “big development.” Steelers owner Art Rooney chimed in, saying “at this stage of the game, he’s really not looking to do any long-term planning,” per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We talked and we agreed he’d rather wait till after the season to talk about the contract.” Fowler noted in a follow-up tweet that Colbert indicated he could still be around for several more years, but he’s got “wiggle room” now. The Steelers have undergone a lot of change the last couple of years, and this would be another huge one.

Here’s more from Pittsburgh:

  • Tomlin’s job security has been a hot topic in recent years, and he’s one of the more polarizing coaches out there. He usually receives two-year extensions, so it was notable that this time around he only got one. When asked what he thought about that, Tomlin insisted it didn’t matter to him. “Nothing,” he told reporters, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “I really don’t think a lot about it to be quite honest with you. I focus on the task at hand, and if you do that, contractual things take care of themselves.” Tomlin has been the coach since 2007, but he’ll be under intense pressure to win in 2019. If the Steelers struggle, his seat will start getting awfully hot.
  • Tomlin’s old contract had an option year that was triggered due to hitting a certain number of wins, Dulac tweets. A source told Dulac that Tomlin’s new recently signed contract doesn’t have any similar provisions.
  • The Steelers don’t only have to worry about the contract situation of their coach and general manager, some players need to be decided on as well. Pittsburgh didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on former first-round pick Artie Burns back in May, which led to a lot of speculation that he’d be cut. Burns was due an $800K roster bonus this weekend, so a decision was always going to have to be made right around now. Burns will in fact collect the $800K and he’ll be a member of the Steelers in 2019, reports Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Burns hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but he did start six games last year and all 16 the year before that.
  • In the same tweet, La Canfora notes that the team is “working on extending” cornerback Joe Haden. Haden is entering the final year of the three-year, $27MM deal he signed after being released by the Browns back in 2017, and we heard a couple of days ago that the two sides had begun talking.

Steelers Sign Mike Tomlin To Extension

Mike Tomlin isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. On Thursday, the Steelers extended their head coach through the 2021 season, per a team announcement. 

I am very appreciative of this contract extension and opportunity and want to thank Art Rooney II and everyone in the organization for the support in my first 12 seasons,” Tomlin said. “We have a goal of winning the organization’s seventh Super Bowl championship, and I couldn’t be more excited about this upcoming season.”

The Steelers pride themselves on consistency and have had only three head coaches since 1969. There was some speculation about Tomlin’s job security after the Steelers missed the playoffs last year, but the team clearly has confidence in him as a leader.

This season may prove to be Tomlin’s most challenging yet – he’ll look to get the Steelers back into contention without the services of superstars Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.