Brent Vieselmeyer

Commanders Fire DC Jack Del Rio

The Commanders have not yet fired their head coach, and plans do not appear in place for that to happen during the season. But the team is moving on from one of its coordinators. After a one-sided Thanksgiving loss in Dallas, Washington will fire DC Jack Del Rio,’s Ian Rapoport reports.

A former Jaguars and Raiders head coach, Del Rio had been with Washington throughout Ron Rivera‘s four-year tenure. But the veteran HC/assistant’s defense has struggled this season. Following the Cowboys’ 45-10 romp, the Commanders will make a significant change. Rivera will now call the Commanders’ defensive plays, per the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala. The Commanders have since announced Del Rio’s ouster.

In addition to the Del Rio move, the Commanders are also firing defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer,’s Tom Pelissero tweets. Like Del Rio, Vieselmeyer had been on Washington’s defensive staff since 2020. He served as a Raiders assistant during Del Rio’s three-year Oakland tenure. Cristian Garcia will take over as Washington’s DBs coach, Jhabvala adds, with safeties coach Richard Rodgers assisting Rivera with game-planning.

Although Commanders ownership playing the lead role in the team trading top defensive ends Montez Sweat and Chase Young has factored into the team’s defensive unraveling, Del Rio’s unit was not thriving before the deadline deals. The Commanders allowed at least 33 points five times between Weeks 2-8, with both Young and Sweat being in the lineup in each of those contests. Following the Cowboys’ demolition, the Commanders rank last in points allowed, 29th in total defense and 30th in defensive DVOA.

Del Rio received this opportunity after not coaching for two years. The Raiders fired Del Rio following his third season, despite the team going 12-4 a year prior, to give Jon Gruden a 10-year contract. The 60-year-old coach did not have an NFL gig during the 2018 and ’19 seasons. His Washington tenure produced a mixed bag. The team ranked fourth in points allowed in 2020 and seventh in this area last season, though the 2021 campaign produced a 25th-place result. While this Commanders edition saw its edge-rushing muscle stripped away, ownership will sign off on Rivera making an in-season change.

Giving Rivera a green light to make these moves would point to ownership being committed to the veteran HC through season’s end. Rivera appears a likely chopping-block candidate in January, but Del Rio served as one of the Commanders’ interim HC options in the event Josh Harris axed Rivera during the season. OC Eric Bieniemy resides as an interim option as well, but the team would not have much in the way of defensive leadership in the wake of Friday morning’s dismissals. This appears likely to end with Rivera and potentially Bieniemy being gone as well, as Harris remodels the organization he recently acquired, but the fourth-year HC remains in place for now. A Harris statement indicates Rivera recommended the changes.

In the Rivera-Del Rio partnership’s first season, Washington won the NFC East — albeit with a 7-9 record — after forming a stacked defensive line by drafting Young second overall. Young paired with former first-rounders Sweat, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Ryan Kerrigan to form a strong pass rush. This unit helped cover for a QB situation that featured a struggling Dwayne Haskins and a limited Alex Smith, and Washington accounted itself well in a close wild-card loss to Tampa Bay. But the team is headed toward a fourth straight .500-or-worse season under Rivera. Del Rio’s role in that will cost him his job early.

The Del Rio-Rivera defense fared well despite Young barely playing in 2022, with the unit also withstanding the free agency miss on William Jackson, whom the team benched early last season and sent to the Steelers for a low-end return. This year brought a regression on most fronts, even with Young returning to full strength following his November 2021 knee injury. High-powered offenses like the Bills and Eagles ran out to 30-plus points against the Commanders, but the Bears and Broncos also combined for 73 points during the season’s first half. Although a six-turnover effort hamstrung the Commanders in the Giants rematch, Del Rio’s unit allowed rookie UDFA Tommy DeVito to throw three touchdown passes in New York’s two-score Week 11 win (as a two-score underdog).

A former linebacker, Del Rio has been an NFL staffer since 1997. Vieselmeyer has only served as an NFL coach under Del Rio. Primarily vacillating between the high school level and a Del Rio assistant (with a few college seasons mixed in), Vieselmeyer was on the Raiders’ staff throughout Del Rio’s three-year tenure. Washington hired him as its assistant secondary coach in 2020. Following Chris Harris‘ defection to the Titans this offseason, Vieselmeyer moved up to DBs coach. The Commanders exit Week 12 having allowed an NFL-most 49 pass plays of at least 20 yards, per’s John Keim. Washington has not intercepted a pass in six games.

Coaching Notes: Chiefs, Colts, Clay, Zampese

As Matt Nagy returns to the offensive coordinator post he held from 2016-17, the Chiefs are promoting his lieutenant. Former assistant quarterbacks coach David Girardi will replace Nagy as QBs coach, Andy Reid confirmed this week. Girardi has been the Chiefs’ assistant QBs coach for the past two years, working under Nagy and Mike Kafka. He previously served as a quality control assistant in Kansas City, moving to the NFL from Division I-FCS Lafayette College. Girardi will now move closer to a potential OC position, seeing as four Reid assistants have either become HCs or OCs elsewhere during his time in Missouri.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Ken Zampese interviewed for the Commanders‘ OC job, and while the recent Washington QBs coach will be staying with the team, he will not remain in that position under Bieniemy . Zampese, a former Bengals OC, is moving to the role of senior offensive advisor/game management. He has been with the team throughout Ron Rivera‘s tenure. Bieniemy is bringing in Tavita Pritchard to become the Commanders’ next QBs coach. This previously rumored hire will take Pritchard from his longtime place on David Shaw‘s Stanford staff. Formerly an assistant under Shaw and Jim Harbaugh, Pritchard spent the past five seasons as the Pac-12 program’s OC.
  • Previously the QBs coach on Kliff Kingsbury‘s Cardinals staff, one that did not employ an OC, Cam Turner is joining the Colts. Shane Steichen is hiring Turner to be Indianapolis’ QBs coach, Tom Pelissero of tweets. Turner, 35, was previously with the Panthers prior to the four-year Arizona stay; he will replace Scott Milanovich in Indy. The Colts are also hiring Tony Sparano Jr. as their offensive line coach, Art Stapleton of the Bergen Record notes (on Twitter). The second-generation NFL coach spent last season as the Giants‘ assistant O-line coach; he had held that role with the Jaguars and Panthers previously. Sparano, 36, joins ex-Giants running backs coach DeAndre Smith as Steichen Colts hires.
  • Although the Eagles became the first team since the Bengals nine years ago to see both their OC and DC become head coaches in the same offseason, the NFC champs are retaining their third coordinator. ST boss Michael Clay will also receive a new contract. The Eagles are adding a year to Clay’s deal and giving him a raise, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. Clay, 31, has been with the team since 2021.
  • Sean Payton is hiring former Northwestern running backs coach Lou Ayeni to work in the same role for the Broncos, Jeremy Fowler of tweets. Northwestern HC Pat Fitzgerald has been on the NFL radar for a bit, and the Wildcats will lose their second assistant to the NFL this offseason. Ryan Smith is now the Cardinals’ DBs coach. Ayeni has worked mostly at the college level, being the run-game coordinator at Iowa State during David Montgomery‘s tenure.
  • Ravens outside linebackers coach Rob Leonard will join the Raiders‘ staff, per John Harbaugh. Leonard is joining Josh McDaniels‘ assistant cadre as linebackers coach. Leonard joined the Ravens in 2022, having spent the previous three seasons on Brian Flores‘ Dolphins staff. He spent the previous six years with the Giants. The Ravens are still searching for wide receivers and safeties coaches, The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec adds. Harbaugh said internal hires are possible there (Twitter link).
  • The Commanders are also reshuffling a bit on their defensive staff. Brent Vieselmeyer will rise to the role of secondary coach, with Christian Garcia set to be the team’s assistant DBs coach. Vieselmeyer will replace Chris Harris, who received DC interest this offseason before moving to Tennessee’s staff as the team’s cornerbacks coach.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Mills, Eagles

The Giants continue to entertain the prospect of Brian Daboll not calling plays when the season opens. Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka will hold that responsibility in the team’s preseason opener Thursday, via the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy. Working behind Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy as Chiefs quarterbacks coach, Kafka was not in a play-calling position in Kansas City. The former NFL backup QB also was not expected to be a play-calling OC, with Daboll being at the controls for Josh Allen‘s star turn. Daboll has not ruled out calling plays himself, but this matter being uncertain entering the preseason is an interesting development for the team.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Just before their preseason slate, the Commanders are making a staff change. Ron Rivera announced the firing of defensive line coach Sam Mills III. Assistant D-line coach Jeff Zgonina will move up, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post (on Twitter), with assistant DBs coach Brent Vielselmeyer set to help out. Mills, 44, has been with Rivera throughout his coaching career, beginning with the Panthers — the team with which his late father, the recently inducted Hall of Fame linebacker, retired — in 2005 and staying on for Rivera’s nine-season tenure (2011-19). Rivera brought Mills with him from Carolina in 2020, and the latter headed up a defensive line that did plenty to spark the team’s surprise playoff run that year. Rivera (via Jhabvala, on Twitter) described the separation as having to do with this offseason and training camp, rather than previous years’ performance.
  • Darius Slayton has gone from the Giants‘ 2019 and ’20 receiving leader to a trade candidate to a player in danger of being waived. While it should not be ruled out another team trades for the contract-year wide receiver, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes it would be a surprise if Slayton was on the team’s 53-man roster (subscription required). Slayton was not receiving many first-team reps during the offseason, when much of Big Blue’s receiving corps was battling injuries, showed where this could be headed. He has continued to be a second- or third-teamer at camp. If cut, the former fifth-round pick will surely generate waiver-wire interest.
  • Darnay Holmes appears to have seized command of the Giants’ slot cornerback competition. Competing with third-round rookie Cor’Dale Flott, Holmes has taken every first-team rep at the position during camp, Duggan adds. Their configuration could change during the preseason, but the Giants look set to go with Holmes, Adoree’ Jackson and 2021 third-rounder Aaron Robinson at corner.
  • Jeremiah Washburn has been working as an Eagles coach and executive for a bit now, and this rare combination has since come with a promotion. Washburn is now in charge of Philadelphia’s edge defenders, being named the team’s defensive ends and outside linebackers coach. He was previously a senior defensive assistant. Washburn remains the team’s player personnel director. Alex Tanney is also rising up the Eagles’ staff, moving from the quality control level to the team’s assistant quarterbacks coach.
  • Cowboys national scout Drew Fabianich left for a job at Auburn recently, Ian Rapoport of tweets. He will become the SEC program’s general manager and director of football scouting and development. Fabianich was with Dallas for nearly 20 years.

Redskins Announce 16 Coaching Hires

New Redskins head coach Ron Rivera had already brought in new coordinators on both sides of the ball (Scott Turner on offense, Jack Del Rio on defense), and he’s now filled out the rest of his staff. Rivera and Washington announced the following 16 hires earlier today:

  • Pete Hoener, tight ends
  • Jim Hostler, wide receivers
  • Randy Jordan, running backs
  • John Matsko, offensive line
  • Drew Terrell, assistant wide receivers
  • Travelle Wharton, assistant offensive line
  • Ken Zampese, quarterbacks
  • Chris Harris, defensive backs
  • Sam Mills III, defensive line
  • Richard Rodgers, assistant defensive backs
  • Steve Russ, linebackers
  • Brent Vieselmeyer, assistant defensive backs
  • Luke Del Rio, offensive quality control
  • Ben Jacobs, assistant special teams
  • Vincent Rivera, defensive quality control
  • Todd Storm, offensive quality control

Both Hostler and Zampese have both previously served as offensive coordinators. Hostler was the 49ers’ OC for a single season in 2007 under head coach Mike Nolan, but was fired after only one year at the helm. Zampese, meanwhile, was the Bengals’ offensive playcaller in 2016 and part of 2017 before being let go. He’s since coached for the Browns, the AAF’s Atlanta Legends, and the University of Florida.

Unsurprisingly, a number of new Redskins coached worked under Rivera in Carolina, including Hoener, Hostler, Matsko, Terrell, Wharton, Mills, Rodgers, and Russ.

West Notes: Cardinals, Joeckel, Raiders

Let’s take a quick swing around the league’s west divisions:

  • We learned earlier today that Tony Jefferson‘s new deal with the Ravens will pay him up to $37MM over four years. We also heard reports in recent days that the Browns and possibly the Jets offered him slightly more money, but that he spurned those offers to sign with Baltimore. As Andy Benoit of TheMMQB writes in a detailed piece on Jefferson’s free agent journey, Jefferson’s former team, the Cardinals, made him an initial “low-ball” offer of three years, $12MM, before upping their proposal to four years and $24MM, still well short of the winning bid.
  • Mike Jurecki of FoxSports910 passes along some contract details on two of the Cardinals‘ recent signings (Twitter links). Jurecki reports that safety Antoine Bethea‘s new three-year deal will pay him yearly base salaries of $2MM, $3MM, and $3MM, while A.Q. Shipley‘s new two-year pact is worth a total of $3.5MM with base salaries of $775K and $1.5MM, $725K in guarantees, and $250K in roster bonuses for 2017 and 2018.
  • Luke Joeckel‘s new one-year deal with the Seahawks will pay him a fully-guaranteed $7MM, with an additional $1MM available in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets that Robbie Gould‘s new two-year pact with the 49ers is worth a total of $4MM, with $1MM fully guaranteed.
  • The Raiders will likely not have a lease agreement for a proposed Las Vegas stadium in place before the league owners meet later this month, a meeting during which they could approve the team’s relocation bid. However, as noted in a piece from the Associated Press, the absence of a finalized lease agreement does not mean the league owners will be precluded from voting on the relocation proposal. Instead, they could conditionally approve the relocation as long as the lease adequately addresses issues that are important to the league.
  • The Raiders have made a few changes to their coaching staff, as Scott Bair of writes. Last season’s assistant secondary coach, Rod Woodson, will coach cornerbacks, as he did previously, and Brent Vieselmeyer, who was assistant linebackers coach last year, will coach the safeties in 2017. Meanwhile, Travis Smith has been promoted from quality control to outside linebackers coach, and Nick Holz is now the assistant receivers coach. Nate Tice, son of offensive line coach Mike Tice, is the offensive quality control coach.
  • We learned earlier today that the Broncos and OT Donald Stephenson have agreed to a restructured deal.