Chris Rumph

NFC Coaching Notes: Phillips, McCarthy, Rumph

Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips was arrested Friday night and charged with misdemeanor operation of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert notes.

Phillips’ blood alcohol content was tested after he was stopped on I-394 at roughly 9:45pm, per the Minnesota State Patrol. His BAC was 0.10, putting it above the legal limit (0.08) for the state of Minnesota. Phillips was booked later that night and released on a $300 bond a few hours later. He has a court appearance scheduled for December 21, and for the time being, he is on track to continue his team duties.

“Wes immediately notified the team following his arrest last night,” a Vikings statement reads. “This morning we contacted the NFL, and after internal discussion, made the decision Wes will travel with the team to Las Vegas this afternoon. We will continue to gather information regarding the incident and have further comment at the appropriate time.”

Phillips is in his second season as Minnesota’s OC. The former Rams staffer followed head coach Kevin O’Connell to the Vikings in his first coordinator opportunity. The team ranked top 10 in total and scoring offense last year, though it has taken a step back in both categories in 2023. Improvement could be coming soon with wideout Justin Jefferson set to return on Sunday, however.

Here are some other coaching notes out of the NFC:

  • Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy had surgery for acute appendicitis earlier this week, threatening to keep him sidelined for Dallas’ upcoming divisional clash against the Eagles. It was announced at the time he intended to coach as usual, though, and that will indeed be the case. Owner Jerry Jones confirmed (via ESPN’s Todd Archer) McCarthy and Co. will be “business as usual” for tomorrow’s crucial matchup of NFC contenders.
  • Returning to Minnesota, Vikings D-line coach Chris Rumph has departed the team to take a college position. Clemson announced this week Rumph has joined the team’s staff under the title of assistant head coach/defensive ends. The 51-year-old took a leave of absence from the Vikings in October, and he will now return to the Tigers after coaching with them from 2006-10. Vikings assistant defensive line coach Pat Hill has filled in for Rumph during his absence, along with assistant head coach Mike Pettine and defensive coordinator Brian Flores, Seifert notes. That arrangement will likely continue for the rest of the season with Rumph’s future now clear.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/15/23

Wednesday’s minor roster moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

So far this year, Zakelj, the second-year interior offensive lineman, has only appeared in four games on special teams, but the team intended for him to compete with free agent signing Jon Feliciano for the backup center job behind starter Jake Brendel. With Aaron Banks out last week, and with the coaches wanting to get Feliciano more involved at right guard anyway, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports, Zakelj became a key backup at center. Unfortunately for Zakelj and the 49ers, a torn bicep will require surgery, taking Zakelj out for the remainder of the season.

Chargers’ Chris Rumph Likely Out For Season

The Chargers’ defense was shorthanded in Week 10 with Chris Rumph suffering a foot injury in warmups. They will likely be without the third-year edge rusher for the rest of the campaign as well.

Rumph has been diagnosed with a foot fracture and is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season as a result, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The news marks an unexpected end to his campaign, and it will leave Los Angeles without a rotational contributor along the edge as well as a regular on special teams.

Drafted in the fourth round in 2021, Rumph has found himself behind Joey Bosa and, for the past two years, Khalil Mack on the depth chart. Both Pro Bowlers have had productive seasons so far, combining for 15.5 sacks. As a result, Rumph has been limited to a defensive snap share of just 24%, a step back from his playing time last season. The 25-year-old recorded five tackles in six games in 2023.

With 2024 representing the final year of his rookie contract, Rumph will need to recover in full in search of an uptick in usage and production when back on the field. The Duke alum has totaled three sacks in 37 career games. Next season also marks the final one of Mack’s current deal, so it will be interesting to see how the Chargers handle their edge group from a financial standpoint next offseason. Rumph’s chances of earning a notable deal in free agency with Los Angeles or another team has been dealt a blow with today’s news, though.

As the 4-5 Chargers move forward to close out the rest of the season, they will no doubt continue to rely heavily on Bosa and Mack as starters. Second-round rookie Tuli Tuipulotu has had a strong debut campaign as well, recording four sacks and 15 pressures in nine games. That trio will be counted on down the stretch as Rumph turns his attention to recovery.

Chargers Rule Out RB Austin Ekeler For Week 2

It is now official that Chargers running back Austin Ekeler will miss his first game since 2020, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, due to an ankle injury that has been bothering him since the team’s loss to the Dolphins last weekend. Schefter also reports that defenders Eric Kendricks and Chris Rumph have been ruled out for tomorrow’s matchup in Tennessee, as well.

The loss of Ekeler is obviously the most significant, but last week’s game showed that Los Angeles may be set up well for his absence. While Ekeler showed his usual dual-threat impressiveness, rushing for 117 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown while adding 47 yards on four receptions through the air, backup running back Joshua Kelley was nearly as productive.

Kelley matched Ekeler’s 16 rushing attempts, amassing a still impressive 91 yards as a result and also scoring a touchdown. While Kelley hasn’t necessarily shown a similar aptitude for receiving out of the backfield in his career, backup running back and undrafted rookie Elijah Dotson was known for his versatility during his time with the Bears of Northern Colorado. In his final year of college football, Dotson caught 48 balls for 300 yards and two touchdowns. If the Chargers don’t want to shoulder Kelley with receiving back duties, Dotson should be more than capable of stepping in.

Highlighting the loss of Ekeler is not meant to minimize at all the loss of Kendricks. Kendricks is half of the team’s starting inside linebacker duo alongside Kenneth Murray. In last week’s loss to the high-powered Miami offense, Kendricks was one of only four defenders who played every defensive snap, the others being safeties Derwin James and Alohi Gilman and cornerback Michael Davis.

The Chargers didn’t see much action from backup off-ball linebackers in Week 1 at all. They do have depth at that spot on the roster, though. The three healthy options on the active roster (Tanner Muse, Nick Niemann, and Amen Ogbongbemiga) are all primarily special teamers who have played on defense sparingly throughout their respective careers. Los Angeles did use a third-round pick this year to acquire former Washington State linebacker Daiyan Henley, but after failing to play in Week 1, Henley is listed as doubtful to make his NFL debut tomorrow.

As for Rumph, the third-year rotation edge rusher will have to wait at least one more week to make his season debut. The team will likely hope to be seeing the return of Ekeler and Kendricks by that time, as well, but for now, they’ll have to make do without two of their more talented starters. To help fill in this week, the Chargers promoted outside linebacker Brevin Allen and safety Dean Marlowe from the practice squad as standard gameday elevations.

Vikings Notes: Coaching Staff, Scheme, O’Connell

With new head coach Kevin O’Connell in place, the Vikings made a number of announcements at his inaugural press conference. Among those was the confirmation of several assistants on his staff, as reported by ESPN’s Courtney Cronin (Twitter link). 

One of the most notable names on the list is that of Mike Pettine. The 55-year-old was reported to be joining the team’s staff earlier in the week, albeit not as the defensive coordinator as was originally thought by some. The team unveiled that his title will be assistant head coach, the highest-ranking position he’ll have had since his time in Cleveland in 2014-2015.

In addition, Ed Donatell was confirmed as the team’s new defensive coordinator, giving first-time HC O’Connell a vastly experienced staffer on the defensive side of the ball. Several assistants were also announced, each in the roles they were initially reported to be filling: Chris Rumph as defensive line coach, Chris O’Hara and Jerrod Johnson to work with the team’s quarterbacks, Chris Kuper and Justin Rascati to coach the offensive line, as well as Brian Angelichio and Curtis Modkins to serve as offensive pass and run game coordinators, respectively.

Here are some other Vikings notes, including further announcements from the presser:

  • As Ben Goessling of The Minneapolis Star Tribune writes, the Vikings will switch to a 3-4 base defense, something that hasn’t been seen in Minnesota since the 1980s. With that said, the team, like almost all in the NFL now, will still principally deploy its nickel package, and they plan to switch between three- and four-man fronts within drives and games.
  • In a widely expected announcement, O’Connell confirmed that he will call plays on offense. That will make him the first Vikings HC to do so since Brad Childress, and keep him in line with the structure he is leaving under the Rams and Sean McVay. O’Connell added that he plans to include the “up-tempo offensive concepts” he developed in L.A. within Minnesota’s offense.
  • One assistant coach who will not be following O’Connell to the Vikings is Jonathan Cooley. The Rams’ assistant defensive backs coach has been blocked from interviewing with Minnesota (Twitter link via Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic). Especially given the loss of Ejiro Evero earlier this offseason, keeping Cooley would be particularly important for the Rams.


Vikings Plan To Hire Mike Pettine, Not As DC

Now that Super Bowl LVI is over, the Vikings should be able to start moving forward with their coaching staff hires. One coach expected to join the staff in Minnesota is former Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Contrary to prior rumors that Pettine was the favorite to land the defensive coordinator job, Pelissero tweeted out that, with Ed Donatell reportedly hired to be the defensive coordinator, Pettine will join the staff in a different capacity. 

So far, no Minnesota coaching hires have officially been announced but, with the Rams’ season finally over, the Vikings will be happy to welcome Super Bowl Champion Kevin O’Connell to the facility. With his focus no longer on a postseason run, O’Connell and the Vikings can start making moves to build their new staff.

One of those first moves is Pettine. Although he will not serve as the defensive coordinator of the Vikings, Pettine brings a plethora of experience having served in that role in the past for the Jets, Bills, and Packers. He will also be able to provide some valuable head coaching insights to the rookie O’Connell. Pettine spent last season as a senior defensive assistant for the Bears after not being retained as the Packers’ defensive coordinator following an NFC Championship loss to the eventual Super Bowl LV champion Buccaneers.

Along with O’Connell, Donatell, and Pettine, rumored hirings in Minnesota include Chris Kuper as the expected offensive line coach, Chris Rumph as the expected defensive line coach, and Curtis Modkins as the expected run-game coordinator and backfield coach. Expect for official hires to start being announced and for the rest of the coaching staff to start coming into focus.

NFC Coaching Notes: Bears, Vikings, Giants

The post-Sean Payton era has started in New Orleans, with Dennis Allen officially taking over as the Saints new head coach. When speaking about his promotion, Allen mentioned the value of continuity within the franchise.

“I think that was one of the unique things about this job is that this was not a broken job. This is a job that’s a desirable job. This is a job that has a foundation and culture of winning that’s already been built,” Allen said (via ESPN’s Mike Triplett). “I don’t see this as something where we need to have a ton of change.”

While Allen acknowledged that he’ll preach a lot of the lessons he learned from Payton, he also intends to put his “own spin” on the job.

“I want to take the lessons that I’ve learned, I want to build upon those lessons, and I want to create my own legacy here with the New Orleans Saints,” the coach said.

More coaching notes out of the NFC…

  • Andre Curtis is the Bears new safeties coach, the team announced. The 45-year-old has spent the past seven years with the Seahawks, including the past four years as the defensive passing game coordinator. Per the Bears’ website, the Seahawks had six defensive backs earn at least one Pro Bowl nod during Curtis’s stint with Seattle.
  • The Vikings are expecting to hire Chris Kuper as their offensive line coach, reports Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network (via Twitter). Kuper had an eight-year playing career with the Broncos, and following a three-year coaching stint with the Dolphins, he joined the Broncos as their assistant offensive line coach in 2019. He ultimately spent three seasons in Denver.
  • The Vikings are also hiring Chris Rumph as their defensive line coach, per Wilson (on Twitter). The 50-year-old spent the 2021 season in the same role with the Bears, and he’s also had an NFL coaching stint with the Texans.
  • The Giants are hiring Mike Groh as their wide receivers coach, according to Pro Football Talk. Groh spent the past two years as the WRs coach with the Colts, and he had a previous stint with the Eagles that saw him getting promoted to offensive coordinator for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/20/21

A long list of players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. We listed the players who landed on the list today, as well as those who were activated off the list:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: DE John Franklin-Myers, DB Sharrod Neasman

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/18/21

A roundup of today’s mid-round draft pick signings:

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Pittsburgh Steelers