Paul Alexander

East Notes: Redskins, Cowboys, Jets

Earlier today, we looked at how the Redskins plan to deploy their supplemental draft choice, Adonis Alexander. Now let’s take a look at notes from several other east division clubs, starting with more out of Washington:

  • The Redskins‘ lack of a consistent running game in the Jay Gruden era is the byproduct of a number of factors, as John Keim of ESPN.com observes. While the offensive line is generally a good one (when healthy), the team has struggled mightily in short-yardage situations over the last few years, and some question whether Washington is committed enough to the run, as it ranks 27th in the league in total carries since 2014. But, as Keim points out, the Redskins rank 10th in first-down carries over that same span; the problem is that they rank 30th in yards per carry on first down. So, as one scout suggests, the issue is not running more, it’s running more effectively. The addition of Derrius Guice should help, as would a healthy season from the starters on the O-line and more effective blocking from receivers and tight ends. If Washington is going to push for a playoff spot, it will need an effective ground game to help out Alex Smith and the passing attack.
  • The Cowboys have a new O-line coach in Paul Alexander, who spent the last 24 seasons with the Bengals. He inherits one of the best offensive lines in the league, so he is under a good deal of pressure to keep the train rolling. To that end, he does not plan on making a drastic overhaul, but as Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News writes, Alexander and OC Scott Linehan are implementing concepts that are noticeably different from the ones that previous O-line coaches Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack employed. Star running back Ezekiel Elliott is impressed with the modifications, and Alexander suggests that the linemen themselves have also bought in.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com touched on the Jets‘ tight end battle in a mailbag item yesterday, a situation that he delves into more deeply today. Per Slater, Jordan Leggett — whom the team selected in the fifth round of the 2017 draft, but who missed his entire rookie campaign with a knee injury — is a roster lock, as is 2018 fourth-rounder Chris Herndon. Both players are essentially rookies, and while they both have upside, rookie tight ends rarely produce a great deal in the passing attack. Slater suggests that Leggett and Herndon could see a fairly even split in snap distribution, though they will both need to improve as blockers. He adds that New York is expected to keep three tight ends, and Eric Tomlinson — who is a capable blocker — is currently the favorite for the No. 3 TE job.
  • Per Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins could build a training facility that will allow them to practice where they play. Miami is considering building a $75MM complex on team-owned land adjacent to Hard Rock Stadium, which would be a considerable upgrade from the facility at Nova Southeastern University that the team has trained in since 1993. Although that facility has been improved over the years, it is still a far cry from the first-class complexes that are becoming more commonplace around the league. Other locations remain in consideration, but an upgrade is coming, and it could come as soon as 2020.

Coaching Rumors: Spagnuolo, Fins, Cowboys

While Giants interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo interviewed for the position, there is an upside for him in current Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur likely accepting the team’s offer to be their next head coach. With Shurmur on board, the veteran defensive coordinator is a more likely option to stay in the role he began the 2017 season in, opines Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com.

Back in 2008, Spagnuolo hired Shurmur as his offensive coordinator when he got the Rams head coaching job. The two also have history in the Andy Reid‘s coaching tree back when the now Chiefs head coach hired both coaches out of the college ranks.

Spagnuolo does have a track record of defensive success, and while this past season was more trying, the Giants unit was one of the best in football just two years ago. Based on the coaches’ history with one another, it appears that Spagnuolo has a good shot to retain his job. But if Shurmur does decide to go in a different direction, Dunleavy throws at names like Ohio State linebackers coach Bill Davis, Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Chiefs linebackers coach Gary Gibbs that could make sense for the post.

Here’s more coaching news from around the league:

  • The Dolphins have let go of their secondary coach Lou Anarumo, per Barry Jackson the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Anarumo had been with the team since 2012. This is just one of a few changes Miami has made in regards to their coaching staff this offseason.
  • The Cowboys and Bengals have switched offensive line coaches this offseason. After Cincy hired former Dallas offensive line coach Frank Pollack to the same role, we learned today that the Cowboys have hired the guy who held that post for the Bengals in Paul Alexander, reports Alex Marvez of SiriusXM (Twitter link).
  • In other offensive line coach news, the Seahawks have brought in Mike Solari to replace Tom Cable as the primary guy handling the offensive front, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network (Twitter link). Solari has a history in Seattle, he served as the team’s offensive line coach from 2008-09. The team also recently hired Ken Norton Jr. to replace Kris Richard as defensive coordinator earlier today.
  • Andy Reid is adding a new face to the Chiefs coaching staff for 2018. The team has hired Jay Valai as a defense quality control coach, reports Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star (Twitter link). Perez adds that Valai will also assist the either the Chief’s defensive back of linebacker group in addition to his primary duties.

Staff Notes: Fins, Cowboys, Texans, Chiefs

Having interviewed for the Giants’ HC position earlier this week, Eric Studesville will make a trip to Miami. With the Giants zeroing in others for their top coaching job, Studesville is set to interview with the Dolphins for a position on their offensive staff, Alex Marvez of the Sporting News tweets.

This comes on the same day a running backs coach vacancy opened up with the Dolphins, who are relieving Danny Barrett of his duties overseeing the team’s backfield, per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (on Twitter). Salguero adds Studesville could be a candidate for the running backs job but possibly something else. Adam Gase tried to hire Studesville as RBs coach in 2016, but the Broncos blocked the move, Salguero reports.

Studesville coached the Broncos’ running backs for the past eight seasons and was listed as a Denver assistant head coach prior to being fired after this season. Studesville has coached NFL backfields since 1997 and instructed the Bears’, Giants’ and Bills’ running backs from 1997-2009. Barrett coached in college and in the CFL prior to leading the Fins’ backfield the past two seasons. Gase worked with Studesville for a longer period of time, however. The two spent five seasons together on Broncos staffs.

Here’s the latest from the assistant carousel.

  • Elsewhere in the RBs-coaching game, the Chiefs are interviewing USC running backs coach Deland McCullough for the job Eric Bieniemy vacated when he received a promotion to OC, per Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). McCullough has coached the Trojans’ backs for one season but is better known for helping Indiana ball-carriers from 2011-16. Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard thrived under McCullough’s tutelage in Bloomington.
  • Gary Brown‘s become a coveted assistant over the past two weeks. The Cowboys want to retain him, and the Raiders were interested prior to hiring their next RBs instructor as well. The Texans are now in the mix, with Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting Brown has offers to coach in Houston and Dallas. Brown is a coaching free agent; he led the Cowboys’ RBs from 2013-17. The Texans fired running backs coach Charles London last week.
  • Miles Austin interviewed for the Cowboys’ wide receivers coach position, Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports. The Cowboys saw previous WRs coach Derek Dooley join Missouri’s coaching staff as OC. Austin’s worked in Dallas’ scouting department the past two seasons since retiring.
  • The Browns hired a new wideouts coach in Adam Henry, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It’s a three-year deal for Henry, who was previously the Giants’ receivers coach. Henry coached Big Blue’s wideouts the past two seasons.
  • The Bengals hired former Cowboys offensive line coach Frank Pollack, Hill reports. Pollack coached Dallas’ O-line from 2015-17. He’ll replace Paul Alexander, whom the Bengals fired after more than two decades on staff. Alexander could make this a swap, with Hill reporting he interviewed Thursday to become Cowboys offensive line coach.
  • Cowboys tight ends coach Steve Loney is retiring, Hill reports. The 65-year-old assistant worked with five NFL teams and served as OC for Iowa State and Minnesota during the late 1990s and early ’00s.

Coaching Rumors: Bengals, Cowboys, Colts

A roundup of the latest coaching news and rumors from around the NFL: