Alex Van Pelt

Assessing NFL’s OC Landscape

This offseason showed the turnover that can take place at the offensive coordinator position. As a result of several decisions in January and February, the NFL no longer has an OC who has been in his current role for more than two seasons. Various firings and defections now have the 2022 batch of hires stationed as the longest-tenured OCs.

One of the longest-tenured coordinators in NFL history, Pete Carmichael is no longer with the Saints. The team moved on after 15 seasons, a stay that featured part-time play-calling duties. The Browns canned their four-year non-play-calling OC, Alex Van Pelt, while three-year play-callers Arthur Smith and Shane Waldron are relocating this winter. Brian Callahan‘s five-year gig as the Bengals’ non-play-calling OC booked him a top job.

The recent lean toward offense-oriented HCs took a bit of a hit of a hit this offseason, with five of the eight jobs going to defense-oriented leaders. Callahan, Dave Canales and Jim Harbaugh were the only offense-geared candidates hired during this cycle. But half the NFL will go into this season with a new OC. Following the Seahawks’ decision to hire ex-Washington (and, briefly, Alabama) staffer Ryan Grubb, here is how the NFL’s OC landscape looks:

2022 OC hires

  • Ben Johnson, Detroit Lions*
  • Mike Kafka, New York Giants*
  • Wes Phillips, Minnesota Vikings
  • Frank Smith, Miami Dolphins
  • Adam Stenavich, Green Bay Packers
  • Press Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars*

Although this sextet now comprises the senior wing of offensive coordinators, this still marks each’s first gig as an NFL OC. Three of the six received HC interest this offseason.

Johnson’s status back in Detroit has been one of the offseason’s top storylines and a development the Commanders have not taken especially well. The two-year Lions OC was viewed as the frontrunner for the Washington job for weeks this offseason, and when team brass did not receive word about Johnson’s intent to stay in Detroit (thus, waiting until at least 2025 to make his long-expected HC move) until a Commanders contingent was en route to Detroit for a second interview, a back-and-forth about what exactly broke down took place. Johnson should be expected to remain a high-end HC candidate next year, but Dan Campbell will still have his services for 2024.

Kafka interviewed for the Seahawks’ HC job, and the Giants then blocked him from meeting with the NFC West team about its OC position. Rumblings about Kafka and Brian Daboll no longer being on great terms surfaced this year, with the latter yanking away play-calling duties — given to Kafka ahead of the 2022 season — at points in 2023. Taylor may also be on the hot seat with his team. Doug Pederson gave Taylor the call sheet last season, and Trevor Lawrence did not make the leap many expected. After a collapse left the Jaguars out of the playoffs, the team had begun to look into its offensive situation.

2023 OC hires

  • Jim Bob Cooter, Indianapolis Colts
  • Nathaniel Hackett, New York Jets*
  • Mike LaFleur, Los Angeles Rams
  • Joe Lombardi, Denver Broncos
  • Todd Monken, Baltimore Ravens*
  • Matt Nagy, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Drew Petzing, Arizona Cardinals*
  • Brian Schottenheimer, Dallas Cowboys
  • Bobby Slowik, Houston Texans*

Only nine of the 15 OCs hired in 2023 are still with their teams. One (Canales) moved up the ladder, while others were shown the door following that organization canning its head coach. The Eagles were the only team who hired an offensive coordinator last year to fire that staffer (Brian Johnson) after one season. Nick Sirianni fired both his coordinators following a wildly disappointing conclusion.

Hackett may also be drifting into deep water, given what transpired last year in New York. Rumblings of Robert Saleh — who is on the hottest seat among HCs — stripping some of his offensive play-caller’s responsibilities surfaced recently. This marks Hackett’s fourth chance to call plays in the NFL; the second-generation staffer did so for the Bills, Jaguars and Broncos prior to coming to New York. After the 2022 Broncos ranked last in scoring, the ’23 Jets ranked 31st in total offense. Hackett’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers has largely kept him in place, but 2024 may represent a last chance for the embattled coach.

Of this crop, Monken and Slowik were the only ones to receive HC interest. Neither emerged as a frontrunner for a position, though Slowik met with the Commanders twice. The Texans then gave their first-time play-caller a raise to stick around for C.J. Stroud‘s second season. Stroud’s remarkable progress figures to keep Slowik on the HC radar. Monken, who is in his third try as an NFL OC (after gigs in Tampa and Cleveland), just helped Lamar Jackson to his second MVP award. The former national championship-winning OC did not stick the landing — as Jackson struggled against the Chiefs — but he fared well on the whole last season.

Schottenheimer is on his fourth go-round as an OC, while Lombardi is on team No. 3. The latter’s job figures to be more secure, being tied to Sean Payton, compared to what is transpiring in Dallas. With the Cowboys having Mike McCarthy as the rare lame-duck HC, his coordinators probably should not get too comfortable.

2024 OC hires

  • Joe Brady, Buffalo Bills*
  • Liam Coen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
  • Ken Dorsey, Cleveland Browns
  • Luke Getsy, Las Vegas Raiders*
  • Ryan Grubb, Seattle Seahawks*
  • Nick Holz, Tennessee Titans
  • Kliff Kingsbury, Washington Commanders*
  • Klint Kubiak, New Orleans Saints*
  • Brad Idzik, Carolina Panthers
  • Kellen Moore, Philadelphia Eagles*
  • Dan Pitcher, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Zac Robinson, Atlanta Falcons*
  • Greg Roman, Los Angeles Chargers*
  • Arthur Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers*
  • Alex Van Pelt, New England Patriots*
  • Shane Waldron, Chicago Bears*

The 49ers do not employ a traditional OC; 16 of the 31 teams that do recently made a change. Most of the teams to add OCs this year, however, did so without employing play-calling coaches. This naturally raises the stakes for this year’s batch of hires.

Retreads became rather popular. Dorsey, Getsy, Moore, Van Pelt and Waldron were all OCs elsewhere (Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle) last season. Smith will shift from calling the Falcons’ plays to running the show for the Steelers. Dorsey, Getsy and Van Pelt were fired; Moore and Waldron moved on after the Chargers and Seahawks respectively changed HCs. Moore and Smith will be calling plays for a third team; for Moore, this is three OC jobs in three years.

Coen, Kingsbury and Roman are back after a year away. Kingsbury became a popular name on the OC carousel, having coached Caleb Williams last season. This will be his second crack at an NFL play-calling gig, having been the Cardinals’ conductor throughout his HC tenure. This will be Coen’s first shot at calling plays in the pros; he was Sean McVay‘s non-play-calling assistant in 2022. Likely to become the Chargers’ play-caller, Roman will have a rare fourth chance to call plays in the NFL. He held that responsibility under Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco; following Harbaugh’s explosive 2015 49ers split, Roman moved to Buffalo and Baltimore to work under non-offense-oriented leaders.

Grubb, Holz, Idzik, Pitcher and Robinson represent this year’s first-timer contingent. Grubb has, however, called plays at the college level. Robinson is the latest McVay staffer to move into a play-calling post; he was a Rams assistant for five years. A host of teams had Robinson on their OC radar, but Raheem Morris brought his former L.A. coworker to Atlanta. Pitcher appeared in a few searches as well, but the Bengals made the expected move — after extending him last year — to give him Callahan’s old job.

* = denotes play-calling coordinator

2024 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

The offensive and defensive coordinator carousels are in winding down. Here is how the OC and DC searches look:

Updated 2-14-24 (5:50pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dave Ragone)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Ken Dorsey)

  • Joe Brady, interim offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (Bills): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed

Carolina Panthers (Out: Thomas Brown)

  • Marcus Brady, senior offensive assistant (Eagles): Interview requested
  • Brad Idzik, wide receivers coach (Buccaneers): Hired

Chicago Bears (Out: Luke Getsy)

Cincinnati Bengals (Out: Brian Callahan)

  • Andy Dickerson, offensive line coach (Seahawks): To interview
  • Dan Pitcher, quarterbacks coach (Bengals): Promoted

Cleveland Browns (Out: Alex Van Pelt)

Las Vegas Raiders (Out: Mick Lombardi)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Kellen Moore)

New England Patriots (Out: Bill O’Brien)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Pete Carmichael)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Brian Johnson)

  • Jerrod Johnson, quarterbacks coach (Texans): Interviewed
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Interviewed 1/23
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator (Chargers): Hired

Pittsburgh Steelers (Out: Matt Canada)

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Shane Waldron)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Dave Canales)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Tim Kelly)

  • Nick Holz, passing game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed
  • Eric Studesville, associate head coach/running backs coach (Dolphins): Interview requested

Washington Commanders (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Chip Kelly, former head coach (Eagles/49ers): On team’s radar
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Hired

Defensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Ryan Nielsen)

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Mike Macdonald)

  • Zach Orr, inside linebackers coach (Ravens): Promoted

Buffalo Bills

  • Bobby Babich, linebackers coach (Bills): Promoted
  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Sean Desai, former defensive coordinator (Eagles): To interview

Chicago Bears (Out: Alan Williams)

  • Joe Barry, former defensive coordinator (Packers): To interview 1/27
  • Chris Harris, secondary coach (Titans): To interview
  • Eric Washington, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Bills): Hired
  • Terrell Williams, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Titans): To interview

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Dan Quinn)

Green Bay Packers (Out: Joe Barry)

Jacksonville Jaguars (Out: Mike Caldwell)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Derrick Ansley)

  • Jesse Minter, defensive coordinator (Michigan): Hired

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Raheem Morris)

Miami Dolphins (Out: Vic Fangio)

New England Patriots

  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Promoted
  • Michael Hodges, linebackers coach (Saints): To interview
  • Tem Lukabu, outside linebackers coach (Panthers): To interview
  • Christian Parker, defensive backs coach (Broncos): Interviewed

New York Giants (Out: Don Martindale)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Sean Desai)

  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Vic Fangio, former defensive coordinator (Dolphins): Hired
  • Ron Rivera, former head coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/22

San Francisco 49ers (Out: Steve Wilks)

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Clint Hurtt)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Shane Bowen)

  • Brandon Lynch, cornerbacks coach (Browns): Interviewed 1/30
  • Dennard Wilson, defensive backs coach (Ravens): Hired

Washington Commanders (Out: Jack Del Rio)

  • Joe Cullen, defensive line coach (Chiefs): Considered a candidate
  • Joe Whitt, defensive backs coach (Cowboys): Hired

Alex Van Pelt Lands Patriots’ OC Job

5:20pm: The Patriots have officially announced the hiring. The organization also revealed that they’ve hired Jeremy Springer as their new special teams coordinator.

Springer spent the past two seasons as the Rams assistant special teams coach, and he had previous ST coordinator gigs at Marshall and Arizona. Springer had a pair of interviews for the Patriots job, with the coach having a dinner with Patriots brass last week.

4:20pm: A thorough Patriots search to replace Bill O’Brien took place, and it will end with a recently dismissed coordinator seeing a responsibility increase. Alex Van Pelt will be the Pats’ choice as offensive coordinator, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets.

Fired after four seasons as the Browns’ non-play-calling OC, Van Pelt will move into position to call plays for the Patriots. He will become New England’s fourth OC in four seasons. After Josh McDaniels reclaimed the Pats’ play-calling reins for a 10-year period, his Las Vegas exit destabilized this situation. Van Pelt had interviewed for the Buccaneers and Raiders’ jobs, but he will end up with the AFC East club.

The team, which employed O’Brien and Matt Patricia as its primary play-callers over the past two seasons, will look to Van Pelt to offer more consistency. The Pats have now filled their OC and DC posts. With Jerod Mayo bringing a defensive background into his first chance as a head coach, the Van Pelt hire is naturally more important than the recent DeMarcus Covington promotion. After working as a Kevin Stefanski game-planning aide for four years, Van Pelt will pick up play-calling duties in Foxborough.

This hire comes at a rather important juncture for the franchise. The Patriots hold the No. 3 overall pick. Although this was long regarded as a draft that would begin with Caleb Williams and Drake Maye before a potential drop-off at quarterback, Heisman winner Jayden Daniels has made inroads toward being an early draftee. Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest ESPN mock draft has Daniels going off the board to Washington at No. 2, with Maye falling to New England at 3. Whichever passer the Pats end up with, it would be their top draft investment at the position since choosing Drew Bledsoe first overall in 1993.

Chosen seven rounds after Bledsoe in that 1993 draft, Van Pelt played quarterback in the NFL for 11 years. The 53-year-old assistant has primarily coached QBs during his time on the sidelines. Van Pelt was in place as Aaron Rodgers‘ position coach from 2014-17, which overlapped with the second of the ex-Packer great’s four MVP awards. This is now his third crack as an offensive coordinator. The longtime Bills backup QB received an early chance to call plays in Buffalo, back in 2009 under Dick Jauron. A Bills coaching change sent Van Pelt back to the position coach circuit, but the Browns moved him back to the coordinator tier in 2020.

The Browns made the decision to fire Van Pelt, running backs coach Stump Mitchell and tight ends coach T.C. McCartney. These ousters proved curious due to the play at certain positions. Cleveland received a boost from its Joe Flacco signing, with the recent Jets backup showing much better form than he displayed in New York. While Flacco could not lead the Browns past the Texans in the wild-card round, Stefanski and Van Pelt helped the aging QB morph from emergency late-season signing to Comeback Player of the Year finalist.

Van Pelt interviewed well in Tampa, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, potentially giving him options. The Bucs and Raiders will continue their respective searches. The Patriots are attempting to bounce back from a rough two-season stretch on offense. Mac Jones‘ value tanked in that span, going from Offensive Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2021 to a player demoted to the third-string spot by the end of his third seasons.

The Pats ranked 31st in points and 30th in total yardage under O’Brien, who left to become Ohio State’s offensive coordinator. The team will turn to Van Pelt (and likely a rookie QB) in an effort to change its fortunes on offense. This will be Van Pelt’s 19th season as an NFL assistant.

With Van Pelt now in the fold, the Patriots can start filling out the rest of their coaching staff. ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports that the team is eyeing Andy Dickerson as their offensive line coach. Following a nine-year stint as the Rams assistant OL coach, Dickerson spent four years on the Seahawks staff, serving as the offensive run game coordinator and (later) the offensive line coach.

Buccaneers To Interview Alex Van Pelt For OC Position

The Buccaneers’ search for a new offensive coordinator will include a meeting with a familiar face for quarterback Baker Mayfield. Alex Van Pelt is set to interview with Tampa Bay today, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

[RELATED: Raiders Conduct OC Interview With Van Pelt]

Van Pelt worked alongside Mayfield during their time together with the Browns. The former’s time after Deshaun Watson was acquired was not sufficient for him to remain in place, however, and he was fired after the Browns’ season came to an end. A return to the Buccaneers’ coaching staff could now be in play.

From 2010-11, Van Pelt served as Tampa Bay’s quarterbacks coach. That tenure came after his stint as OC of the Bills, and preceded his time with the Packers and Bengals before he took on his next coordinator opportunity with the Browns. During Van Pelt’s first season in Cleveland, Mayfield posted a career-high passer rating of 95.9 while helping guide the team to an 11-5 record. A strong run game played a major part in that success, but Mayfield’s performances took a turn for the worse after that season.

The former No. 1 pick bounced around to the Panthers and Rams after the end to his Browns tenure, but he impressed during his debut Buccaneers campaign. Mayfield may have played his way into a new deal with Tampa Bay, but an extended tenure with the team would not come with Dave Canales at the helm. The latter parlayed his one-year OC run into the head coaching job with the Panthers.

The Buccaneers put up middling numbers in several categories this season, but the team’s struggles on the ground continued. Tampa Bay finished last in the league in rushing, and the team’s new OC will be tasked with guiding a turnaround in that department. A reunion with Van Pelt (who did not call plays during his overlapping time alongside head coach Kevin Stefanski in Cleveland) in Tampa Bay could help produce a better balance on offense while giving Mayfield a familiar face on the sidelines.

Here is an updated look at the Buccaneers’ ongoing search:

Raiders To Interview Luke Getsy, Alex Van Pelt For OC Job; Kliff Kingsbury On Radar

4:04pm: Kliff Kingsbury is also believed to be on the radar for this position, SI.com’s Albert Breer notes. No interview request has emerged, but with the Raiders hiring Tom Telesco as GM, the team can move toward addressing its coordinator spots. Kingsbury joined Robinson in interviewing for the Bears’ job that went to Waldron.

Kingsbury, 44, spent this past season as USC’s quarterbacks coach. This marked a return to the college ranks for Kingsbury, whom the Cardinals fired months after authorizing an extension. Kingsbury led the Cards to the playoffs in 2021, with that offense ranking 11th. The team plummeted to 21st offensively in 2022, a season that concluded with Kyler Murray down with an ACL tear and DeAndre Hopkins missing eight games. Kingsbury called plays throughout his Arizona tenure, giving him more experience in that area than anyone else in this Raiders mix.

1:06pm: With the Raiders making it official with Antonio Pierce, they are going to work on their offensive coordinator position. Two names recently dismissed by other teams are being considered for the job.

The team is planning to interview Luke Getsy and Alex Van Pelt for the vacancy, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. The Bears and Browns, respectively, fired these staffers earlier this month. Getsy and Van Pelt join up-and-coming assistants Dan Pitcher (Bengals) and Zac Robinson (Rams) as candidates for the Raiders’ play-calling job.

While Getsy was with the Bears for the past two seasons, the Browns axed Van Pelt following four in Cleveland. This would still be a move up the ladder for Van Pelt, who operated as a non-play-calling OC under Kevin Stefanski. Despite the Browns staying afloat on offense amid potential season-wrecking injuries — to Deshaun Watson, Nick Chubb and their top three tackles — the organization is attempting to adjust its offensive philosophy around Watson’s skillset. As a result, Van Pelt joined running backs coach Stump Mitchell and tight ends coach T.C. McCartney in being canned.

Van Pelt, 53, spent six seasons with the Packers, the final four as Aaron Rodgers‘ position coach, and stopped through Cincinnati as QBs coach from 2018-19. Back in 2009, the former NFL QB received an initial try as an OC, being in that role with the Bills. The job did not last past that season, sending Van Pelt back to position coach roles. The Browns advanced to the playoffs twice during the Stefanski-Van Pelt years, and this season’s ticket could well bring Stefanski another Coach of the Year honor. But some of his offensive lieutenants are out anyway.

The Bears are retooling as well, having hired Shane Waldron to lead their offense. Waldron may well have the chance to coach Caleb Williams in Chicago, though the team could still keep Justin Fields and trade its No. 1 pick for a second straight year. Getsy geared his offense around Fields’ rushing talents; the Bears ranked first and second, respectively, in rushing offense with Getsy calling plays over the past two seasons.

Fields also showed progression as a passer this season, but the Bears did not deploy a consistent aerial attack under Getsy, who joined Van Pelt with the Packers from 2014-17. Getsy, 39, also coached Rodgers from 2019-21. Between them, Van Pelt and Getsy were in place as the position coach for three of Rodgers’ four MVP awards. These mark the first OC interviews for either Getsy or Van Pelt since their respective firings.

Browns To Fire OC Alex Van Pelt, Two Others

10:18am: Van Pelt is indeed out. The four-year Browns OC confirmed to ESPN.com’s Jake Trotter he is no longer in place as Stefanski’s top lieutenant on offense. With Stefanski not going anywhere, the Browns will soon begin a search to fill their non-play-calling OC post. The Browns and Van Pelt explored a reassignment of duties, Trotter adds, but ultimately decided to separate.

8:22am: Kevin Stefanski may well collect his second Coach of the Year award in four seasons, but the Browns are coming off a one-sided wild-card loss. Days after the Texans’ Round 1 rout, the Browns are making changes on their offensive staff.

Cleveland is firing running backs coach Stump Mitchell and tight ends coach T.C. McCartney, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson reports. More significantly, Alex Van Pelt may well be on his way out as well. The four-year Cleveland OC has informed some with the team he has also been fired, according to Anderson.

While Mitchell and McCartney are out, both cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport indicate Van Pelt is being evaluated. The Browns are seeking fresh ideas on offense, per Cabot, who notes a Van Pelt dismissal is on the table. Van Pelt’s contract includes the 2024 season, Rapoport adds.

Operating as a non-play-calling OC throughout the Stefanski era in Cleveland, Van Pelt has been an NFL staffer since 2006. Aaron Rodgers‘ former QBs coach in Green Bay, Van Pelt is in his second go-round as a coordinator. While Van Pelt served as the Bills’ OC in 2009, it took him 11 years to land another coordinator opportunity. The 53-year-old assistant being moved off the Browns’ staff would certainly be notable, given the form the team’s offense showed amid injuries to its centerpiece players.

The Browns lost Nick Chubb and Jack Conklin for the season in September and were without Deshaun Watson and Jedrick Wills around midseason. Fill-in tackle starter Dawand Jones also sustained a season-ending malady. The Browns nevertheless made a surprising voyage to the AFC playoffs, finishing 11-6 behind a stunning Joe Flacco effort. Flacco could not carry his momentum into the playoffs, throwing back-to-back pick-sixes in a 45-14 loss to the Texans. But the Browns were able to withstand significant injuries to qualify for their second playoff berth under Stefanski, who may well still beat out DeMeco Ryans for Coach of the Year honors as a result.

Mitchell and McCartney have been with the Browns since 2020 as well. A former NFL running back, Mitchell — save for a three-year stint as a college HC — has coached RBs in the league since 1999. The 64-year-old assistant did not have any history with Stefanski prior to his 2020 arrival. Chubb has continued his ascent under Mitchell, becoming one of the best backs in franchise history. The team made do without its Pro Bowl back this season, using Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt to intermittent success.

McCartney, 34, has been Cleveland’s tight ends coach since 2022, moving up from the offensive assistant level. The former Broncos QBs coach helped foster David Njoku‘s long-awaited breakout year. The former first-round pick smashed his career-high numbers in receptions (82) and receiving yards (881) this season, which also included a career-best six touchdowns. Regardless of the outcome with Van Pelt, the Browns will have some vacancies to fill on their offensive staff.

AFC North Rumors: Browns, Steelers, Gordon

This offseason, the Browns gave offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt the added responsibility of quarterbacks coach. According to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, the move was part of a concerted effort to give quarterback Deshaun Watson everything he may need in order to succeed.

The team went out this offseason and secured receiving reinforcements for the veteran passer. This offseason, the team added two speedsters of varying vintage. The younger Elijah Moore comes over from the Jets in a trade as he tries to find his footing in the NFL. He’ll have an established veteran to learn from in Marquise Goodwin, whom the team signed back in March. They also added tight end Jordan Akins in free agency and used their top draft pick on Tennessee receiver Cedric Tillman in the third round.

Lastly, they gave Van Pelt the added title, a move that Watson reportedly endorsed heavily. Van Pelt has coached quarterbacks before for the Bills, Buccaneers, Packers, and Bengals, so the move isn’t completely out of left field. But the promotion of such an important coaching position shows just how far Cleveland will go to keep Watson happy.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC North:

  • It’s no surprise that the Steelers plan to start this year’s first-round pick, Broderick Jones, as a rookie. The surprise is that, in their efforts to start the tackle out of Georgia, they are resorting to shuffling around their offensive line configuration. Last year, Chukwuma Okorafor started every game at right tackle for Pittsburgh, while Dan Moore covered every game on the blindside for the Steelers. According to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor, the Steelers opened up the first team period of camp this week with Jones at left tackle, pushing Moore over to the right side of the line. Neither Moore nor Okorafor were necessarily stellar at their positions last year, hence the drafting of a tackle in the first round, but to see Pittsburgh push Moore out of position to make room for Jones shows just how much they want Jones to be in a position to succeed. Keeping Moore in the lineup shows that the Steelers are more concerned with starting the best tackles than keeping their tackles specialized on either side of the line.
  • The Ravens added some veteran running back depth last month in Melvin Gordon on a deal reportedly worth up to $3.1MM. Jamison Hensley of ESPN was able to provide us a few more details on the deal, disclosing that the contract has a base salary of $1.17MM with no reported guarantees. The remaining $1.94MM to get to the potential ceiling of the deal comes from undisclosed incentives that are not likely to be earned, meaning they won’t count against the team’s salary cap this year. If Gordon does, in fact, earn the full value of the contract, the $1.94MM will be counted against the 2024 salary cap.

Browns Add Bill Musgrave To Staff

Veteran offensive coach Bill Musgrave has found his way back to the NFL, landing a job with the Browns, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. A former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for several NFL franchises over the years, Musgrave’s initial reintroduction to the league will be as an offensive assistant.

Musgrave began his coaching career before his playing career had even ended. After announcing his retirement in 1997, Musgrave joined the Raiders as a quarterbacks coach. When Oakland head coach Joe Bugel was fired, Musgrave made an attempt to return as a player with the Colts but was released before the season began. He quickly found a job as an offensive assistant with the Eagles and took over play-calling duties for the final 10 games of his second season as a coach in the NFL.

Since then, Musgrave has served as either an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach for the Panthers, Jaguars, Falcons, Vikings, Broncos, and Washington, as well as second stints with both the Eagles and Raiders. The only time he didn’t hold one of those two titles was when he served a season as the Falcons’ assistant head coach. He also spent two seasons from 2001-02 at the University of Virginia as offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and tight ends coach. His most recent position was a return to the college coaching ranks, calling plays and coaching quarterbacks at Cal. He was fired by the Golden Bears midway through the 2022 season after the team had lost their sixth game in a row.

Musgrave’s career has seen a repetitive pattern. Musgrave excels as an offensive assistant or quarterbacks coach, mentoring the likes of Michael Vick, Matt Schaub, and Matt Ryan in Atlanta and helping Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez to combine for 4,581 passing yards in 2014, a total that would’ve ranked sixth in the league that year if accomplished by a single passer. Upon viewing that success and being aware of his experience calling plays, he’s then rewarded with an opportunity as a play caller. Ultimately, all of his offensive coordinator opportunities at the NFL level have ended in termination or refusal to retain.

In years where he hasn’t served primarily as quarterbacks coach, his development of quarterbacks has been less than stellar. In Jacksonville, quarterback Byron Leftwich had middling seasons. When he called plays for the Vikings, he had the league’s Offensive Player of the Year in running back Adrian Peterson, but his quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder, also returned middling results. His next opportunity to call plays was for the Raiders. He helped lead breakout years by quarterback Derek Carr, but Carr continued to develop even after Musgrave was let go.

With former Browns quarterbacks coach Drew Petzing taking the next step in his career as Jonathan Gannon‘s new offensive coordinator in Arizona, the position mentoring quarterbacks was open in Cleveland. Any speculation that Musgrave would be coaching Deshaun Watson, Kellen Mond, and company was quickly put to bed, though, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported that Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt would be adding quarterbacks coach to his duties.

Van Pelt has coached quarterbacks for the Bills, Buccaneers, Packers, and Bengals over his career and will now take on the additional duties of mentoring Watson this season. It stands to reason that, with Musgrave’s specialty teaching passers over the years, Musgrave will assist Van Pelt in this endeavor, but Van Pelt will be the one leading the room in 2023.

Kevin Stefanski To Continue Calling Browns’ Plays

While the Browns search for answers on offense during their bye week, at least one thing will remain the same. Head coach Kevin Stefanski will retain play-calling duties rather than handing them to offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, as Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot writes. 

“We talk about a lot of things every single week,’’ Stefanski said in his press conference Monday. “I’m comfortable with the communication that goes on throughout the week and on gameday. The offensive staff is outstanding, especially [offensive line coach] Bill [Callahan] and Alex throughout the game, so I’m comfortable with how we are doing it right now. We just have to be better. I have to be better. That’s the truth. We just have to find ways to stay on the field and get sevens when we are down there in the red zone.”

The Browns currently sit 19th in the NFL averaging 21.2 points per game, and rank 16th when it comes to yards per game at 372. Since their decisive win over the Bengals in Week 9, Cleveland has put up point totals of 7, 13 and 10, respectively. Clearly, the removal of oft-maligned wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has not helped quarterback Baker Mayfield engineer a more efficient passing attack. Meanwhile, the Browns totaled just 40 rushing yards on Sunday night against Baltimore, even with Kareem Hunt back in the lineup.

After the bye, the Browns will have an immediate chance at revenge against the Ravens at home in Week 14.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Landry, Steelers

A change of plans for Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Initially, Landry said he would go the rest-and-rehab route for his lingering hip issue. Instead, he went under the knife recently to correct the problem, per a team announcement.

The Browns expect Landry to make a full recovery for the 2020 season, so this shouldn’t impact their plans very much. And, even though there’s a new regime in Cleveland, Landry (and Odell Beckham Jr.) are expected to remain in the fold, giving Kevin Stefanski as many offensive weapons as possible.

Landry, 28 in November, played through the pain in all 16 games last year. In fact, he’s never missed a game in his six-year career. The LSU product – who finished out with 83 catches, 1,174 yards, and six touchdowns – has three years to on his five-year, $75.5MM deal.

More from the AFC North:

  • Even after inking nine contract extensions over the past year, the Ravens could have more on the way. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic looked at the club’s remaining extension candidates, including outside linebacker Matt Judon and defensive tackle Michael Pierce. Center Matt Skura hasn’t been talked about as much, but he could also be in line for a fresh deal as he nears unrestricted free agency. The former UDFA gave the Ravens consistent play in the middle up until his major knee injury in November. The injury might complicate things a bit, but he expects to be back in time for training camp.
  • Alex Van Pelt is the Browns‘ new offensive coordinator, but he’s not sure if he’ll be the one calling the plays (via WKYC). That responsibility could be kept by Stefanski, who previously donned the headset for the Vikings.
  • Steelers cornerback Artie Burns has switched to Drew Rosenhaus, as Liz Mullen of SBJ tweets. Burns, a former first-round pick who had his fifth-year option declined by the team, will be a free agent in March. In 2019, he appeared in just ten games and started only once.
  • Another pending Steelers free agent – linebacker Bud Dupree – will be switching representation (Twitter link via Mullen). For now, all we know is that Dupree is parting ways with CAA. In the next few days, we should know who his agent will be. Dupree’s stock is pretty high after he registered 11.5 sacks in 2019, though the Steelers could cuff him with the franchise tag.