Pat Shurmur

Coaching Notes: Giants, O’Connell, Browns

Since former Mississippi State coworker Joe Judge landed the Giants‘ HC job, Freddie Kitchens has been linked to a staff position. A report circulated Tuesday indicating Judge will hire Kitchens for an unspecified role (Twitter link via AL.com), but ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan tweets nothing is finalized between the Giants and the former Browns coach. The Giants have hired a quarterbacks coach, Jerry Schuplinski, but certainly could add the longtime offensive assistant in another capacity.

Here is the latest from the coaching carousel:

  • Before deciding to reunite with Scott Turner, Ron Rivera interviewed 2019 Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell for the job, J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington notes. Rivera was interested in former Giants HC Pat Shurmur for OC, but he declined the interview and opted for the Broncos’ play-calling job. O’Connell landed on his feet as well, becoming the Rams’ offensive coordinator.
  • While the Kitchens hire is not yet certain, veteran secondary coach Jerome Henderson will be joining Judge’s Giants staff, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets. Most recently the Falcons’ DBs coach/defensive passing-game coordinator, the 50-year-old Henderson has also coached the Jets’, Browns’ and Cowboys’ secondaries dating back to 2008. Henderson was a 1991 first-round pick who played eight NFL seasons.
  • The Giants will also add Jody Wright to their staff, according to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman (Twitter link). Wright worked with Judge at Mississippi State in the 2000s and was most recently an offensive assistant with the Browns under Kitchens in 2019. Wright also spent time at Alabama during the 2010s and was an assistant head coach at UAB prior to relocating to Cleveland.
  • On the subject of the Browns, they are not retaining several Kitchens staffers. Most notably, Kevin Stefanski will not bring back quarterbacks coach Ryan Lindley, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Lindley, tight ends coach John Lilly, assistant defensive line coach John Parella and quality control staffers Deuce Schwartz, Tyler Tettleton and Alonso Escalante will not be back. Lindley, 30, served as Browns running backs coach after Kitchens was promoted to OC midway through the 2018 season, and the former quarterback held Cleveland’s QBs coach job this past season.
  • The Cardinals hired another recent Browns staffer, bringing in offensive assistant Jim Dray, Yates adds. A former Cardinals seventh-round pick in 2010 as a tight end, Dray played eight seasons — mostly in Arizona and Cleveland — and wound up with the Browns in 2019 as an offensive quality control coach.
  • Recently notified he was out in Cleveland, James Campen may have an opportunity with Carolina. The Panthers are interested in the former Browns offensive line coach, David Newton of ESPN.com tweets. Campen was Mike McCarthy‘s offensive line coach from 2007-18 and spent 15 years as a Green Bay assistant prior to his Cleveland move last year. The Browns hired Bill Callahan to replace him on Monday.

Coaching Notes: Giants, Kitchens, Cowboys

The Giants have interviewed both former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and incumbent offensive coordinator Mike Shula for their vacant OC position, but new head coach Joe Judge may have a few other names in mind, as well. Judge is interested in speaking to ex-Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens and former Dolphins OC Chad O’Shea about positions on his staff, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Kitchens served as the Browns’ offensive play-caller during the latter portion of the 2018 campaign before becoming head coach in 2019, while O’Shea lasted only one year in Miami. Both could presumably also be considered as position coaches on Judge’s staff.

Here’s more from the coaching circuit:

  • The Broncos have formally announced the addition of former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur as their new offensive coordinator, and Shurmur will receive a two-year contract, tweets Mike Klis of 9 News. Shurmur reportedly had other offers on the table, but chose the opportunity in Denver after the Broncos surprisingly fired first-year play-caller Rich Scangarello earlier this week. A longtime NFL OC, Shurmur will bring in his own quarterbacks coach, as incumbent T.C. McCartney has been fired, per Benjamin Allbright (Twitter link).
  • Former Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada has been hired as the Steelers‘ new quarterbacks coach, the club announced. Pittsburgh did not have a formal QBs coach in 2019, as offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner held the role. Canada, who has a long history of coaching in the collegiate ranks, took over as the Terrapins’ interim coach in 2018 after D.J. Durkin was placed on administrative leave.
  • New Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has hired Skip Peete as running backs coach, reports Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Peete, who previously coached in Dallas from 2007-12, spent the last four seasons with the Rams, and also has experience with the Raiders and Bears. He’ll be replacing Gary Brown, who had taken over for Peete in 2013.
  • The Panthers requested permission to interview Saints assistant offensive line coach Brendan Nugent, but New Orleans rejected the ask because Carolina is a division rival, according to Jeff Duncan of The Athletic (Twitter link), who adds Nugent is a longtime friend of new Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Nugent previously spent time with the Bears as well as in the collegiate ranks.
  • Michigan linebackers coach Anthony Campanile is joining the Dolphins‘ staff in an as-yet unspecified role, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Campanile recently turned down an opportunity to become the defensive coordinator at Rutgets, per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Bears Hire Bill Lazor As OC

The Bears fired offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich at the end of the 2019 season, and they have now filled their vacancy. Chicago has hired former Dolphins and Bengals OC Bill Lazor to replace Helfrich, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

Lazor, 47, was hired as Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach in 2016 but ended up taking over as the team’s play-caller three games into the 2017 campaign. In 2018, his first full season as the Bengals’ OC, Lazor led a unit which ranked 17th in points, 19th in DVOA (efficiency), and 26th in yardage. In his first year as Miami’s OC, 2014, the ‘Fins finished 8th in DVOA, but they plummeted to 22nd the following year and Lazor was given the boot.

Part of Lazor’s responsibilities in Chicago will include getting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky back on track — assuming the Bears stick with Trubisky as their starter — and helping fix an offense that finished the 2019 season 29th in total offense, 31st in yards per play, and 29th in scoring. Head coach Matt Nagy, though, will retain play-calling duties.

Per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears were interested in Pat Shurmur for their OC job, but Shurmur was recently hired by the Broncos, for whom he will call offensive plays. The presence of Nagy as play-caller and Trubisky under center could be a deterrent for the upper echelon of OC candidates, which may be why the team had to opt for a second-tier choice in Lazor.

Lazor was out of the league in 2019, though he did interview for the Redskins’ quarterbacks coach job last January.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos To Hire Pat Shurmur As OC

Pat Shurmur wasn’t out of a job too long. Less than two weeks after being fired as head coach of the Giants, Shurmur has agreed to become the new offensive coordinator of the Broncos, sources told Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

Garafolo notes that the deal isn’t officially set yet, but that Shurmur has accepted the job. Despite getting run out of New York he was a pretty hot name. We heard recently that four different teams had expressed interest in Shurmur as an OC, and the Redskins were reportedly sniffing around before hiring Scott Turner. Denver surprisingly elected to fire Rich Scangarello earlier today, and they moved quickly to lock up Shurmur.

Shurmur’s reputation took a hit during his time with the Giants, but it wasn’t too long ago that he was receiving a ton of praise for his work in helping guide Case Keenum to the NFC Championship game with the Vikings. That performance landed him the job in New York, but he flamed out while going 9-23 in two years.

Shurmur is a veteran play-caller, and has served as an offensive coordinator with the Rams and Eagles as well as being a head coach with the Browns for two years in 2011 and 2012. Denver started three different quarterbacks last year, but they hit a bit of a groove down the stretch with rookie Drew Lock under center. Shurmur will now be responsible for Lock’s development.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Latest On Redskins Staff, Washington Interested In Pat Shurmur For OC

Ron Rivera became the first head coach hired this cycle when the Redskins brought him in, and he isn’t wasting anytime assembling his staff. Notably, Rivera is raiding his old Panthers coaching staff and bringing a bunch of guys with him.

Panthers offensive line coach John Matsko, receivers coach Jim Hostler, and trainer Ryan Vermillion are all joining Rivera in Washington, according to a Twitter thread from Joseph Person of The Athletic. Person adds that defensive line coach Sam Mills III will also interview for a spot on Rivera’s staff. Obviously, the new head coach is interested in getting the gang back together again. We had heard initially that he was likely to keep offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who did good work with Dwayne Haskins down the stretch, but that might not necessarily be the case.

We heard yesterday that Panthers offensive coordinator Scott Turner would get an interview in Washington, and there’s apparently another high profile contender. Recently fired Giants coach Pat Shurmur is getting consideration for the job, Grant Paulsen of The Athletic is told (Twitter link). John Keim of ESPN.com later tweeted confirmation that the Redskins are interested in Shurmur. That would certainly be interesting, especially with Shurmur potentially staying in the NFC East, though Keim says no interview is imminent and it’s unclear if there will be an interview at all.

Shurmur has never panned out as a head coach, but he’s been highly regarded as an offensive coordinator. Right before getting hired by the Giants, he received a ton of praise for his work with Case Keenum in Minnesota. Matsko had been with Rivera since he started in Carolina in 2011, so it’s not surprising he got brought along.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants GM Dave Gettleman On Not Wanting To Fire Pat Shurmur, Coaching Search

Giants GM Dave Gettleman has caught a lot of flak from both the media and fans, but he is surviving for at least one more year. The team fired head coach Pat Shurmur after the season, but announced they’d be retaining Gettleman for 2020. With his job safe for the time being Gettleman made a couple of appearances on ESPN Radio and WFAN in New York and made some interesting comments, via Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post.

Perhaps most notably, Gettleman admitted that he didn’t want to fire Shurmur, the first coach he hired, and that the order came directly from ownership. “Came from above,” he said of the decision. There were reports that co-owner Steve Tisch was pushing for Shurmur’s firing, and his view ultimately won out with controlling owner John Mara. Many questioned the decision to bring back Eli Manning for 2019 and pay his hefty salary if they were going to bench him after only two games, but Gettleman insisted ownership played no role in making that call.

Gettleman was previously the GM in Carolina, where he worked with recently hired Redskins coach Ron Rivera. Gettleman revealed that New York would’ve been interested in a reunion, but they didn’t have the chance because they waited until after the season to fire Shurmur, whereas Washington had a head start. “Before we could turn around,” Gettleman said, “the [Redskins] deal was done.”

The front office head also revealed that it was Shurmur who originally identified and brought quarterback Daniel Jones to his attention. Gettleman then fell in love with the signal-caller from Duke, and ended up taking him sixth overall. Gettleman said on both radio programs that he would be willing to give up some of his power on personnel decisions to a new head coach depending on the candidate. With ownership calling the shots, he might not have a choice.

New York has been busy, already scheduling a slate of interviews, which you can keep track of via our head coaching search tracker. Below are a list of names we’ve heard about as of right now:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Fire HC Pat Shurmur, Will Retain GM Dave Gettleman

The Giants have fired head coach Pat Shurmur, according to multiple sources, including Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Shurmur went 9-23 in his two seasons as Big Blue’s sideline general.

Meanwhile, the club will retain GM Dave Gettleman, as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). A report from ESPN yesterday indicated that this was the expected outcome, but it could have a bearing on the team’s head coaching search. Several sources, like Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (via Twitter), believe Baylor head coach Matt Rhule will be New York’s top choice to replace Shurmur, but a candidate like Rhule could require authority over personnel matters before agreeing to accept a head coaching position and leaving his current comfortable post.

In any event, the writing was on the wall for Shurmur. There was some thought that he could be retained for a third year in order to maintain continuity for QB Daniel Jones, but his play-calling and decision-making were repeatedly called into question during his brief tenure with the Giants, and we heard earlier this month that organizational support for him was dimming. He was by no means gifted with a playoff-worthy roster, but it’s difficult to fault the Giants for the move.

However, New York will now be seeking its fourth head coach in four years, and with their QB of the future apparently in tow, the club needs to get this hire right. Announcing that Gettleman will be back before the HC search can truly commence seems to be an odd way of doing business, but the job is attractive enough that the Giants may still be able to land the candidate of their choice. Indeed, Rhule and Gettleman worked together on the 2012 Giants and do have a relationship.

In a statement, co-owner John Mara said:

“Dave Gettleman is our general manager in 2020 and hopefully for many years after that. We believe he is the right person to lead us going forward. Dave has a long record of success. We think he’s capable of putting a great team together and he’s going to get that opportunity. To the extent we need to make changes in personnel or the way we do things, we’re going to discuss that.”

The statement also indicated that the team’s search for a new HC will be “extensive.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

HC/GM Rumors: Gase, Lynn, Panthers, Shurmur

Black Monday is tomorrow, so let’s take a look at the latest coaching and GM rumors from around the league:

  • This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given that neither man was really believed to be on the hot seat, but Jets HC Adam Gase and Chargers HC Anthony Lynn will both be back in 2020, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (h/t NFL Update on Twitter).
  • We learned yesterday that the Panthers would seek to interview Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, which David Newton of ESPN.com confirmed today. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report believes Rhule would leave Baylor if the right opportunity presented itself, despite signing a lengthy extension with the school back in September (Twitter link).
  • Despite speculation that the Panthers could look to move on from GM Marty Hurney, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic says owner Dave Tepper remains intent on keeping Hurney, and Hurney wants to stay (Twitter link). Tepper does want to bring in an assistant GM, and Joe Person of The Athletic offers a list of potential candidates. The problem, as NFL insider Adam Caplan observes, is that Carolina could be blocked from interviewing candidates under contract with other teams unless the Panthers’ gig comes with decision-making responsibilities (Twitter link).
  • We heard earlier today that the Browns are doing their due diligence on HC candidates, which isn’t a good sign for Freddie Kitchens. As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets, the team wanted to see modest progress from Kitchens this year, which is why a loss to the Bengals on Sunday afternoon could seal his fate. But for all his faults, Kitchens remains well-liked in the building, so he’s not a goner just yet. We also heard today that Browns GM John Dorsey may be on the hot seat.
  • Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reiterates yesterday’s report that Ron Rivera is high on the Redskins‘ wish list, and that Rivera could have a new job as soon as tomorrow (video link). However, other clubs also want a crack at Rivera. One of those clubs, the Cowboys, will almost certainly move on from Jason Garrett if they are eliminated from playoff contention today, and Rapoport names Rhule, Lincoln Riley, and Rivera as names to watch for Dallas’ expected vacancy.
  • In the same report, RapSheet says Giants ownership is split on head coach Pat Shurmur, with Steve Tisch wanting to move on and John Mara not quite convinced. A win over the Eagles today could save Shurmur’s job.
  • Dan Graziano of ESPN.com confirms (via Twitter) that former Texans GM Rick Smith is definitely a name to watch if the Redskins move on from Bruce Allen, which they are expected to do. Graziano says it’s still unclear as to whether Smith wants to return to a front office, contrary to a report from last month, but if he is, Redskins owner Dan Snyder will be interested. Mark Maske of the Washington Post hears that Smith, who lost his wife to cancer 11 months ago, is not quite ready to return to football (Twitter link).

NFC East Notes: Shurmur, Vander Esch, Eagles

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur is clearly on the hot seat, and everything we have heard this year suggests that he could be fired at season’s end. And as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, the sentiment for bringing Shurmur back for the 2020 season is dimming within the organization because there is simply no concrete reason to suggest that he should be retained. Previous reports indicated that Shurmur could keep his job simply for the sake of giving young QB Daniel Jones some continuity, but Schwartz says the cons of keeping Shurmur outweigh that potential pro.

Schwartz does not offer an update on Big Blue’s plans for GM Dave Gettleman, and the fact that the Giants have historically practiced patience with their GMs and knew that they were tasking Gettleman with a rebuilding job could mean that he is safe for 2020. But will the team trust him to hire another HC since the Shurmur hire has flopped, or will ownership just clean house and start afresh? All options are definitely on the table.

Let’s take a swing around the NFC East:

  • Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has not played since November 17 due to a neck injury, and while there has been some improvement, the 23-year-old is still not ready to practice, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes. The club is not ready to put Vander Esch on IR just yet, but it sounds like that could be a possibility.
  • The Eagles may have lost WR Alshon Jeffery for the season, and as Bo Wulf and Zach Berman of The Athletic write, Nelson Agholor‘s status remains up in the air. Agholor sat out the team’s Monday night win with a knee injury, so Philly may need to make more than one WR roster move. Old friend Jordan Matthews just signed with the 49ers, so Berman believes it’s more likely that the team will promote one or two of their taxi squad wideouts than sign a free agent. Wulf, though, names a few players on other practice squads that the Eagles could poach.
  • Speaking of Jeffery, Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com says the Eagles have no choice but to release the veteran wideout if they cannot find a trade partner for him (which seems highly unlikely). Because the team guaranteed Jeffery’s 2020 salary earlier this year in order to create more cap room, cutting Jeffery will result in an enormous dead cap number of over $26MM in 2020. That seems like an impossible pill to swallow, even if the club were to designate him as a post-June 1 cut to spread out the dead cap money over two years, but Shorr-Parks believes the team will indeed cut Jeffery if he cannot be traded.