Paul Guenther

Coaching Rumors: Chiefs, Packers, Bengals

The Chiefs could promote running backs coach Eric Bieniemy to offensive coordinator, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears (on Twitter). Rapoport adds that he has “the inside track.” The vacancy opened up this weekend when Matt Nagy agreed to become the next head coach of the Bears.

Here’s the latest coaching news from around the NFL:

  • Packers secondary coach Darren Perry interviewed for the team’s defensive coordinator position on Monday, according to Alex Marvez of The Sporting News (on Twitter). The interview was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was delayed due to the team’s front office reorganization.
  • Contrary to a previous report, former Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese was not interviewed by the Browns on Monday, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets. When he does interview with the team, it will be for an offensive assistant job and not necessarily for the OC position.
  • The Raiders will officially ink contracts with offensive coordinator Greg Olson and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther before the big Jon Gruden press conference, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • The Bengals announced the signing of Bob Bicknell as the team’s new wide receivers coach. Bicknell, who has 25 years of professional and collegiate coaching experience, was Baylor University’s WRs coach in 2017. Meanwhile, defensive line coach Jacob Burney has been retained with a new two-year contract extension (Twitter link via Alex Marvez of The Sporting News).

Raiders To Name Jon Gruden As Their Head Coach On Tuesday

The worst kept secret in football is about to go public. The Raiders will name Jon Gruden as their head coach in a press conference on Tuesday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The news was first reported by author Steve Corkran (Twitter link). Jon Gruden (vertical)

Recently, Gruden admitted there is a “good chance” that he’ll become the next coach of the Raiders. However, he denied reports indicating that he will wind up with a piece of team ownership as part of the deal. Even without minority ownership, this is a colossal deal for Gruden. It’s a ten-year contract likely to be worth about $100MM, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

The sum of Gruden’s contract is jaw-dropping, but he provides a great deal of value to the Raiders outside of football. His presence will keep the fanbase in Oakland engaged for the next two years before the move to Las Vegas. Once they arrive in Nevada, Gruden’s popularity could boost ticket sales and the value of local media rights packages.

From a football perspective, Gruden offers familiarity with team ownership and a winning pedigree. It’s also an opportunity for the Raiders to rewrite history. Under Gruden, the Raiders reached the playoffs twice, ascending to the AFC Championship game in the 2000 season before their heartbreaking loss to the Patriots in the following year. In 2002, the Raiders traded Gruden to the Buccaneers for a whopping package that included two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and $8MM in cash. That season, of course, gave us the Gruden Bowl. Gruden’s Bucs blew the doors off of the Raiders and won by a score of 48-21.

One can’t help but wonder how the late Al Davis would feel about all of this. The Raiders owner always had a pension for defying popular thought, but his reluctance to dole out exorbitant salaries to coaches is what led to Gruden’s departure in the first place. Fifteen years later, Gruden is back in Oakland with a record-breaking contract.

Unlike the Cardinals, Bears, Lions, Colts, and Giants, the Raiders did not cast a wide net in their coaching search. This week, the team interviewed incumbent tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and met with one other unknown candidate to fulfill the Rooney Rule. With that obligation out of the way, the Raiders are set to announce the signing of the only coach they were ever interested in hiring.

Already, Gruden’s staff is taking shape. The Raiders will hire Rams quarterbacks coach Greg Olson as their offensive coordinator and former Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther as their new DC, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). And, as previously reported, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will be moving from Dallas to Oakland.

The deals for each coordinator will be four years in length, giving them two years in Oakland and two years in Las Vegas, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The deals will also be backloaded in order to capitalize on the absence of state income taxes in Nevada, Michael Gehlken of the Journal-Review tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Want To Keep DC Paul Guenther

On Wednesday morning, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis confirmed that defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will interview with the Raiders for their defensive coordinator job under a yet-to-be-named head coach (whom we’re pretty sure is Jon Gruden). However, Lewis says the Bengals hope to have a chance to bring him back, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweetsPaul Guenther (vertical)

It was previously reported that Guenther would be leaving the Bengals, but there’s apparently interest in keeping him on board. Guenther is a free agent, so he is free to pursue opportunities with the Raiders, Redskins, or any other team looking for a DC.

It appears that both Gruden brothers have their eye on Guenther. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden worked with Guenther in Cincinnati and tried to lure him to D.C. a season ago before the Bengals blocked his request. Clearly, Jon also took notice of his work.

If the Bengals and Lewis parted ways this offseason – as was rumored for weeks – it was said that Guenther would have been a strong internal candidate to take over as head coach. That opportunity is no longer on the table, so Guenther could be looking for a change of scenery. In the coming days, we’ll find out whether Lewis’ own lengthy history with Guenther can persuade him to stay.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

DC Paul Guenther To Leave Bengals

Although Marvin Lewis has signed an extension to remain as Bengals head coach, he’ll return in 2018 without his defensive coordinator. Paul Guenther will leave Cincinnati after 13 seasons to explore other opportunities, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).Paul Guenther (vertical)

Guenther, whose contract has expired, has enjoyed a long working relationship with Lewis, as the two overlapped for one year with the Redskins before Guenther was hired by the Bengals in 2005. After serving as a defensive staffer for nine seasons, Guenther took over as Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator after Mike Zimmer left to become the Vikings’ head coach. The Bengals have finished 14th, 10, 17th, and 14th in defensive DVOA in four full seasons under Guenther.

While he wasn’t promoted to head coach in Cincinnati given Lewis’ continued presence, Guenther should quickly resurface as a defensive play-caller elsewhere in the league. The Raiders, who will presumably hire Jon Gruden in the coming days, are reportedly interested in Guenther, as are the Redskins, who employ Guenther’s former coworker Jay Gruden as head coach.

Although unlikely, Guenther could also generate head coaching interest now that he’s on the open market. Guenther was linked to the Browns and Eagles head coaching vacancies in 2016, but never actually interviewed for either position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Gruden Rumors: ESPN, Morton, Guenther

Though he has not officially taken the job, Jon Gruden is expected to become the next head coach of the Oakland Raiders, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday night.

“The more you talked to people, the more they were convinced Jon would reenter coaching this year,” Schefter said. The return to coaching would be Gruden’s first job on the sideline since he left Tampa Bay in 2008. The Super Bowl XXXVII-winning coach broke into the league with the Raiders in 1998 at the age of 35 and amassed a 38-26 record in four seasons with the team.

Despite the rumors, ESPN has said that Gruden will call Saturday night’s playoff game with the Monday Night Football crew. That, of course, is likely to change should the announcement be finalized.

Here is the latest on the Gruden front:

  • News broke Sunday night that Jets offensive coordinator John Morton was expected to be a target for Gruden’s coaching staff. On Monday, the Jets are expected to let Morton out of his contract to join Gruden in Oakland, the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta hears (Twitter link).
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported (Twitter link) that Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is expected to be pursued by Gruden for the same role in Oakland. Guenther’s contract expired following the Bengals’ 31-27 win over the Ravens on Sunday. If Marvin Lewis is not retained in Cincinnati, however, Guenther could be a candidate for the head-coaching gig.
  • On Monday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported (Twitter link) that Gruden is expected to eventually say yes to the job after the team complies with the Rooney Rule. He also notes that Gruden is planning to call plays.

 

Coach Notes: Jackson, Patricia, Coordinators

Hue Jackson has accumulated a stunningly poor 1-30 record in almost two seasons as the head coach of the Browns. However, despite his poor performance, he looks to be safe for next season. Other factors such as a lack of talent and a disfunctional front office certainly play a big role in the team’s failures, but basic logic must win out in determining his coaching future, opines Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

La Canfora notes that while Jackson appears to be “immune to review” at the moment, the team should be thinking about moving on from their second-year head coach. It’s not ideal for a franchise that has shuffled through many coaches in the past, but La Canfora argues that the job is more attractive then some may think when just observing this season.

New general manager John Dorsey has a track record of success and the team could be bringing in a young franchise QB with the number one pick, even though Josh Rosen has reportedly had some reservations about going to Cleveland.

La Canfora notes that finding a better replacement to Jackson shouldn’t be hard, even if the team is unlikely to do so given most of the reports coming from Browns ownership.

Here’s more notes from around the coaching carousel:

  • The Lions have stood behind head coach Jim Caldwell for the past four seasons, despite not winning a playoff game. However, it may be time for the franchise to move on after the team lost to the Bengals on Sunday. Patriots defense coordinator Matt Patricia may be a prime candidate if the job opens up because of his relationship with current Lions general manager Bob Quinn, according to Alex Marvez of Sporting News (Twitter link). The two men worked together in New England when Quinn was a high level decision maker in the Patriots front office, so the hire would be a natural fit.
  • The Redskins missed the playoffs for the second straight season, but could still lose their quarterback coach Kevin O’Connell to another opportunity. O’Connell is reported to be a “top target” for the UCLA offensive coordinator post, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). New Bruins head coach Chip Kelly is looking for another offensive mind to add to his staff and the offensive coordinator job would be a difficult position to turn down if O’Connell was offered, according to Rapoport. Under O’Connell’s guidance, Kirk Cousins has continued to produce solid numbers in 2017, which has certainly helped make him more sought after for promotions at the collegiate level.
  • There’s a number of attractive coordinators who will be free agents this offseason. Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com run down a list that includes defensive coordinators: Gus BradleyPaul Guenther, Vic Fangio and George Edwards. They mention that Bradley in particular is an odd situation because he signed just a one-year deal with the Chargers last offseason and has a great track record as a defensive coordinator with the Seahawks as well. At the moment, the Chargers have the third ranked scoring defense in the league, which should help make him in high demand for open defensive coordinator jobs after this season is over. Guenther on the other hand has been mentioned has a potential replacement for longtime Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, although he would be free to look at other opportunities should the team opt to go in a different direction. The article also makes note that popular Eagles quarterback coach John DeFilippo and Cowboys passing game coordinator Matt Eberflus would bring widespread interest as well if they move on from their current teams.

Breer’s Latest: Texans, Raiders, Bengals

NFL teams searching for new general managers aren’t only looking for evaluators, as Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com writes. Instead, ownership groups want candidates who can not only spot talent, but communicate with staff, engage with each department within the team, and manage personalities. “This job, you can’t just watch tape all day,” an NFC GM told Breer. “You have the equipment guy reporting to you, the video guy reporting to you, you’re managing the roster, working with the cap guy, handling the owner. There’s a difference between being a personnel director and being a GM. They’re different jobs. … And I think with [ex-Panthers GM Dave] Gettleman and [ex-Chiefs/current Browns GM John] Dorsey, it was more, ‘I just wanna watch tape.’”

Let’s take a look at the highlights from the rest of Breer’s column:

  • Although Texans head coach Bill O’Brien says he won’t resign his position, it appears “less and less likely” that Houston’s current power structure — which also includes GM Rick Smith — will return in 2018, per Breer. O’Brien is entering the final season of his five-year contract, and given that most head coaches prefer not to work as “lame ducks,” O’Brien’s situation could be resolved this offseason. If he were fired, O’Brien would instantly be attractive to a number of teams that will be looking for new head coaches, according to Breer.
  • Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther‘s contract will expire following the 2017 campaign, meaning he’s likely to either replace Marvin Lewis as Cincinnati’s head coach or move to another club as DC, reports Breer. Confirming what Michael Lombardi of the Ringer mentioned earlier this month, Breer notes that Guenther could conceivably be hired by the Redskins, who employ former Bengals OC Jay Gruden as head coach. Cincinnati has finished 14th, 10th, and 17th in defensive DVOA in thee full seasons under Guenther, and currently rank 18th this year.
  • Given that the Raiders were one of this season’s greatest disappointments, the club will likely make coaching staff alterations over the next few months, and one such change could be the removal of offensive line coach Mike Tice, per Breer. Tice, a longtime OL instructor and former head coach of the Vikings, is a close friend of Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio, but he’s also considered a “polarizing presence,” says Breer.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Lewis, Browns

While Marvin Lewis is denying a report that a decision has been made on his future as Bengals head coach, he hasn’t necessarily said the core of the report — that he won’t return to Cincinnati in 2018 — is incorrect. If he does move on, Browns head coach Hue Jackson could potentially be in the running to replace Lewis, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com and Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Of course, Cleveland has indicated Jackson will be retained for next season, but those plans are always subject to change. Jackson, formerly the Bengals’ offensive coordinator, was approached regarding a Cincinnati succession plan in 2016, but because no such deal could be arranged, he bolted for the Browns job.

Here’s more from the AFC North, with a focus on the Bengals and Browns:

  • Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is considered a candidate to become Bengals head coach in 2018, but if he’s not promoted, Guenther could end up as the Redskins‘ DC next year, tweets Michael Lombardi of the Ringer. Washington head coach Jay Gruden (who worked with Guenther in Cincinnati) wanted to hire Guenther as his defensive coordinator a season ago, but the Bengals would not release his contract. Cincinnati has finished 14th, 10, and 17th in defensive DVOA in thee full seasons under Guenther, and ranked 19th heading into Week 15.
  • The Browns had hoped to hire Josh McCown as their quarterbacks coach for 2017 had he not continued his career, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Earlier this year, Jackson predicted McCown would be a “rising star” in the coaching ranks, and a number of clubs reportedly had interest in adding McCown to their staff. Instead, McCown inked a one-year deal with the Jets and proceeded to post one of the best seasons of his career. McCown hasn’t made any decisions about his future, but he would presumably have a number of offers if he wants become a coach.
  • New Browns general manager John Dorsey may plan to fire the club’s entire scouting staff after taking over the front office one week ago, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Of course, any new decision-maker is going to make changes to a front office, but Dorsey could plan to shift away from Cleveland’s recent reliance on analytics. Last week, Dorsey chided the Browns’ previous regime, claiming that former GM Sashi Brown & Co. didn’t acquire “real players.”

Marvin Lewis To Leave Bengals After 2017?

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is expected to leave the team after this season to “pursue opportunities elsewhere,” per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Following today’s loss to the Vikings, however, Lewis denied the report and stated he’s made no decisions about his future, per Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link).

Marvin Lewis (Vertical)

Lewis is the second-longest-tenured head coach in the league, behind only Bill Belichick of the Patriots. He was a linebackers coach in the collegiate ranks and for the Steelers before becoming the defensive coordinator of the expansion Ravens in 1996. He rose to prominence as an architect of the record-setting 2000 Ravens defense that helped capture Super Bowl XXXV and then served as the defensive coordinator/assistant head coach for the Redskins in 2002. He was hired by Cincinnati in 2003, when the Bengals were a laughingstock, and he restored them to relevance. He has posted a 123-111-3 regular season record and has guided the Bengals to four division titles. Despite his successes, however, his head coaching resume is marred by his 0-7 career playoff record, which has hung over his head especially heavily in recent seasons.

Nonetheless, there is expected to be a plethora of head coaching jobs available this offseason (even more than usual), and Schefter reports that the 59-year-old Lewis would be on the short list for a number of those positions. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, though, tweets that Lewis plans to move to a front office role. Schefter does suggest that a front office or coaching adviser job is a possibility, but only if a head coaching job does not materialize.

As for the Bengals, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Lewis’ decision came as a surprise to the team. And, as most, if not all, of the team’s assistant coaches are also on expiring contracts — some of whom are unhappy with the way they have been treated financially — Schefter suggests that Cincinnati is likely to undergo a major coaching overhaul.

Nonetheless, Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network suggest that the Bengals could opt to replace Lewis with an internal candidate like current DC Paul Guenther or special teams coach Darrin Simmons (Twitter links). But Michael Lombardi of The Ringer tweets that the Bengals’ head coaching job is highly desirable, so the team will not be hurting for quality candidates.

The Bengals do not have a comment on the situation at the moment.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bridgewater, Steelers, Ravens

Mike Zimmer shed some light on Teddy Bridgewater‘s progress recently, revealing (via Jay Glazer of Fox Sports; Twitter link) there is a “possibility” the fourth-year quarterback returns for the Vikings this season. Zimmer reiterates Bridgewater has not been able to practice yet, further pointing to an uncertain future for the former starting quarterback.

CBA language is murky regarding what could happen if Bridgewater begins the season the Reserve/PUP list, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noting this, as written, would cause the passer’s contract to toll and keep him on the Vikings in 2018 as part of his rookie deal. While this subject has been broached a few times this offseason, Florio adds that this contract rule as applied would suggest Bridgewater would need to miss the entire season for his deal to be carried over onto Minnesota’s 2018 books. So, the former Louisville star returning from the PUP list this season could be pivotal for his career, even if Sam Bradford has a firm grip on the starting job.

This could be a drawn-out process for Bridgewater and the Vikings without a near-future resolution, but it’s definitely a worthwhile subplot to their season. Here’s the latest in relevant North-divisions subplots.

  • Several backups complemented Antonio Brown for the Steelers in the AFC championship game last season as injuries and unavailability mounted, and they’re almost all on the roster bubble now. Sammie Coates and Darrius Heyward-Bey are not locks to make the Steelers’ 53-man roster, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes. Coates, Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter, Cobi Hamilton and Demarcus Ayers are fighting for the final two spots — behind Brown, Martavis Bryant, Eli Rogers and JuJu Smith-Schuster, per Fittipaldo. The Steelers started Ayers, Hamilton and Heyward-Bey at least once apiece in their three-game playoff sojourn last season, but now that they are deeper, won’t need some of these players to return. Coates not being given a third year would be notable for the 2015 third-round pick, who’s been inconsistent, but the remainder of these players mostly saw action due to higher-level performers’ unavailability in 2016.
  • The Ravens aren’t as deep as their rivals at wideout, and injuries have limited the competition behind locks Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun writes. Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore and Chris Matthews and rookie UDFA Quincy Adeboyejo lead the competition for the final spots, per Zreibec. This would stand to put Griff Whalen and Keenan Reynolds on the outside looking in. Zreibec calls the recently re-signed Campanaro close to a roster lock but assigns slipping stock to Moore. Adeboyejo may see a knee injury dash his hopes at making the team.
  • Bengals DC Paul Guenther discussed the prospect of acquiring defensive end Chris Smith with player personnel director Duke Tobin, expressing support for a move that eventually came April 11 via trade from the Jaguars, Paul Dehner Jr. of cincinnati.com reports. Smith participated in only 311 defensive plays in three Jacksonville seasons, and did not suit up in 10 games last season, but looks to have made a good case for more playing time in Cincinnati, Dehner Jr. writes.
  • Kyle Long not set to play in the Bears‘ third preseason game — and likely not Chicago’s fourth exhibition tilt — makes the guard’s Week 1 status uncertain, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. The Bears are being cautious with their top guard after he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in November 2016.