Pat O'Hara

Coaching Rumors: Giants, Texans, Chiefs

New Giants head coach Pat Shurmur will call his own offensive plays in New York but still plans to hire an offensive coordinator, and Vikings quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski is a “strong candidate” for the position, sources tell Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Stefanski, of course, worked under Shurmur in Minnesota, and is now a candidate to take over Shurmur’s old role with the Vikings (where he’d presumably get the opportunity to call games). Minnesota, however, is also considering former Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell and Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan for its coordinator job, so if Stefanski isn’t promoted, he could conceivably bolt for New York. Meanwhile, Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley is a “name to watch” for the Giants’ OC position, while ex-Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin could also “be in the mix,” per Vacchiano.

Here’s more on the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • Former Raiders and Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano will join the Texans as a linebackers coach, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Specifically, Pagano is now a senior defensive assistant who will coach outside linebackers, while Bobby King — already on Houston’s staff — will coach inside ‘backers, per Mark Berman of FOX 26 (Twitter link). Pagano, the brother of former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, spent five years as the Chargers’ DC before landing with the Raiders in 2017. When Oakland fired Ken Norton Jr. midway through last season, Pagano stepped in as the club’s defensive coordinator.
  • The Chiefs will promote offensive quality coach Mike Kafka to quarterbacks coach, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Kafka, 30, originally entered the league as a 2010 fourth-round of Andy Reid‘s Eagles and went to play for six other clubs before hanging up his cleats. He coached at Northwestern (his alma mater) before joining Kansas City’s staff in 2017. Reid’s coaching tree is obviously impressive, and the past two men to serve as quarterbacks coach under his employ — Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy — are now head coaches with the Eagles and Bears, respectively.
  • The Titans also have a new quarterbacks coach: former Texans offensive assistant Pat O’Hara, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, who adds ex-Texans defensive assistant Shane Bowen is now Tennessee’s outside linebackers coach. O’Hara interviewed for the Bears’ quarterbacks coach job earlier this year, but Chicago ended up retaining Dave Ragone for the role. Meanwhile, new Titans assistant coach Kerry Coombs will indeed lead defensive backs in Tennessee, meaning he’ll coach the same position group that he did at Ohio State, tweets Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel offered incumbent secondary coach Deshea Townsend a job as Coombs’ assistant (read: a demotion), but Townsend will instead leave the club.
  • The Panthers have hired Air Force defensive coordinator Steve Russ as their new linebackers coach, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Russ will replace Al Holcomb, who followed Steve Wilks to Arizona earlier this week to become the Cardinals’ new defensive coordinator. Although he enjoyed a four-year pro career, the 45-year-old Russ has never coached at the NFL level. He’s been at Air Force since 2012, and previously spent time at Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Ohio. Carolina has also added former Seahawks assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell for the same role, reports Omar Ruiz of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Bears Interviewing Todd Downing

Former Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing is interviewing to become the Bears’ next quarterbacks coach, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Adam Caplan of SiriusXM (Twitter link) reports that while Downing is indeed meeting about a position on Chicago’s offensive staff, the interview isn’t necessarily for the QBs coach vacancy.Todd Downing (vertical)

Downing, Oakland’s quarterbacks coach from 2015-16, lasted only a single season as the Raiders’ offensive play-caller before being fired along with head coach Jack Del Rio and the rest of the Oakland staff. During Downing’s short stint atop the offense, the Raiders slipped in yards (from sixth in 2016 to 17th in 2017), points (seventh to 23rd), and DVOA (eighth to 13th).

However, the 37-year-old Downing drew rave reviews for his work as quarterback Derek Carr‘s position coach during the latter’s second and third NFL campaigns. Carr undoubtedly posted the two best seasons of his four-year career with Downing as his tutor, a sign that Bears signal-caller Mitch Trubisky — the No. 2 overall selection in the 2017 draft — could thrive under Downing.

Downing isn’t the only candidate for Chicago’s quarterbacks coach vacancy, however, as Texans offensive assistant Pat O’Hara interviewed for the job today, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Mark Berman of FOX 26 first reported last week that Chicago could have interest in O’Hara, while Biggs added that an O’Hara addition wouldn’t necessarily mean that incumbent Bears QBs coach Dave Ragone moves on.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: DeFilippo, Chiefs, Raiders

John DeFilippo interviewed for the Cardinals’ HC job, but if the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach does not land it, he could be an offensive coordinator option elsewhere. DeFilippo’s contract expires at season’s end, Albert Breer of SI.com reports. The second-year Eagles QBs coach looks to have caught the eye of Steve Wilks, who has interviewed for two HC jobs. Breer notes Wilks would want DeFilippo to run his offense if he lands an HC job. Interestingly, Wilks’ best path to said job looks to be with the Cardinals. The Bears met with DeFilippo as well but have already selected their next HC.

Here’s the latest from the coaching ranks.

  • While Wilks and DeFilippo could be connected, Josh McDaniels and Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus may be a possible pairing as well. Breer notes the Patriots’ OC accepting a head-coaching job could lead to Eberflus becoming McDaniels’ DC. Eberflus has coached Dallas’ linebackers since the 2011 season. Prior to that, he served as the Browns’ LBs coach.
  • The Chiefs made quick work of replacing since-promoted Eric Bieniemy as their running backs coach. They interviewed USC running backs coach Deland McCullough for the position on Thursday and will hire him, Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star reports. McCullough, 45, played for the Bengals and Eagles in the late 1990s and coached the likes of Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard at Indiana during a six-year stay as the Hoosiers’ RBs boss. He coached at USC for one season.
  • Bobby Johnson received a Raiders HC interview that is being scrutinized by the NFL, since it may have happened after a Mark Davis/Jon Gruden agreement, but Johnson won’t be a part of Gruden’s 2018 staff. The Raiders are firing their tight ends coach and are expected to hire Bears tight ends coach Frank Smith, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). A previous contender for the Oakland offensive line coaching job, Smith coached the Bears’ tight ends for three years.
  • The Raiders are casting a wide net for their next O-line coach. Former Patriots and Dolphins OL boss Dave DeGuglielmo is in the mix and will interview Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Dolphins, who hired DeGuglielmo to replace the fired Chris Foerster in October, granted permission for this meeting. Miami hired Jeremiah Washburn to coach its O-line, so this would seemingly pave a path out of south Florida for DeGuglielmo.
  • New Packers DC Mike Pettine hired former Giants and Patriots defensive assistant Patrick Graham, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. A Patriots staffer from 2009-15, coaching both New England’s defensive line and linebackers, the 38-year-old Graham is expected to be in charge of Packers ‘backers in some capacity, per Silverstein. Green Bay’s ILBs job is available, and Graham prefers to coach linebackers rather than D-linemen, Silverstein notes.
  • The Bears are interested in Texans offensive assistant Pat O’Hara to become their quarterbacks coach, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets. O’Hara and Matt Nagy were both Arena League quarterbacks in the 2000s, although O’Hara is 10 years older than Nagy. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets an O’Hara hire doesn’t mean incumbent QBs coach Dave Ragone will be dismissed. Ragone, a former wideouts coach with the Titans, was a possible candidate to stay despite a new HC’s hire.

South Notes: Falcons, Colts, Saints, Texans

In addition to announcing Dan Quinn as their new head coach today, the Falcons confirmed several other members of their coaching staff, via a team release. As previously reported, Kyle Shanahan will serve as the offensive coordinator in Atlanta, while Richard Smith will be the defensive coordinator and Raheem Morris will hold the title of assistant head coach and defensive passing game coordinator.

Other members of Quinn’s staff include Bobby Turner (RBs coach), Mike LaFleur (offensive assistant), Keith Armstrong (ST coordinator), Bryan Cox (DL coach), Wade Harman (TEs coach), Terry Robiskie (WRs coach), and Eric Sutulovich (assistant ST coach).

Here’s more on the Falcons and a few other teams from the NFC South and AFC South:

  • Perhaps more interesting than any of the Falcons‘ assistant coach announcements was the revelation that Quinn will indeed have control of the 53-man roster, as had been speculated (Twitter link via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution). As Albert Breer of the NFL Network tweets, GM Thomas Dimitroff still has final say over the draft and free agency, so it’s a setup similar to the one in Seattle.
  • Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will get paid, but Stephen Holder of the Indy Star doesn’t necessarily see it happening this offseason. When Luck does get that fat contract, likely worth $20-$25MM annually, it won’t leave the Colts completely thin across the board as the team has been anticipating this for quite some time. The Colts currently rank in the bottom half of the league in current spending, giving them significant flexibility both this year and in years to come.
  • Evan Woodbery of The Times-Picayune writes that the Saints will still have to do some serious financial maneuvering this offseason beyond turning roster bonuses into signing bonuses. That maneuvering, while keeping the Saints “legal” for the start of the new league year on March 10, would leave no room for signing new players or improving the roster. Many have said that the Saints will be impeded by their big spending, but Woodbery notes that they have found themselves in this spot before. Last offseason, they didn’t find themselves with a lot of breathing room, but they still found a way to sign safety Jairus Byrd to a large multi-year deal.
  • The Texans have hired Mike Devlin (OL coach), Pat O’Hara (offensive assistant), and Paul Pasqualoni (DL coach), and promoted Anthony Pleasant to a defensive assistant role, the team announced today in a press release.

Zach Links contributed to this post.