Dan Roushar

Coaching Notes: Fangio, Kocurek, Broncos, Dolphins, Falcons, Gray, Lions, Bills, Bears

The 49ers showed interest in Vic Fangio, joining almost every other DC-seeking team. But Fangio’s former team did not have the chance to bring him back in for an interview; Fangio finally committed to the Dolphins on Thursday morning. The 49ers were interested in a Fangio reunion, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, and 9News’ Mike Klis adds Fangio was also intrigued by coming back to San Francisco. The 49ers’ usage of a 4-3 scheme throughout Kyle Shanahan‘s tenure would not have been a major issue regarding a reunion with the 3-4 guru, Branch adds. That would make sense, as the 4-3/3-4 divide is not nearly as big an issue — thanks to sub-packages’ rise — as it was several years ago.

San Francisco remains on the hunt for a DeMeco Ryans replacement, placing Steve Wilks and Chris Harris (not the cornerback) on its interview list. The 49ers also are considering promoting defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports tweets. The well-regarded staffer has been Nick Bosa‘s position coach throughout the All-Pro’s career and has fostered development from others as well. Ryans, meanwhile, is interested in bringing Kocurek to Houston as his DC.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Some recently dismissed assistants may be on the Broncos‘ radar. Ex-Sean Payton staffers Joe Lombardi, Kris Richard and Dan Roushar are in the mix for Broncos gigs under their new coach, Klis notes. Lombardi worked on Payton’s Saints staff for 11 years, the final five as QBs coach, but lost his Chargers OC gig recently. The Saints parted ways with both Richard and Roushar recently. The ex-Seahawks DC was in New Orleans for just one season (2021) under Payton, while Roushar had been on the Saints’ staff for the past 10 years. Richard may be in the running for Denver’s DC post, though Klis adds the Ejiro Evero-Payton talks began Wednesday night. The parties continued discussions today. Evero, who is under contract, staying on staff and leaving for a head coaching job in 2024 would net the Broncos two third-round picks.
  • The Falcons brought in former DC Jerry Gray as an assistant head coach. Gray, 60, spent the past two years as the Packers’ secondary coach but worked with Arthur Smith in Tennessee. Smith and Gray were both Titans staffers in the early 2010s, when the latter was Tennessee’s DC. The Falcons hired Ryan Nielsen as their defensive boss last week, but Gray will be a key assistant. Green Bay let Gray’s contract expire, with ESPN’s Rob Demovsky noting (via Twitter) Gray and DC Joe Barry were not on the same page.
  • Once again, the Dolphins will look for a new offensive line coach. Miami fired Matt Applebaum after one season, Outkick.com’s Armando Salguero notes (Twitter link). Mike McDaniel‘s next hire will be the Dolphins’ eighth O-line coach in nine seasons. Applebaum, 39, joined McDaniel’s staff in 2022 after spending his previous coaching years in the college ranks.
  • The Lions added two fairly recent NFLers to their staff. They brought in Dre’ Bly and Steve Heiden to coach cornerbacks and tight ends, respectively. Bly, who played for the Lions from 2003-06 and made two Pro Bowls with the team, has not coached in the NFL previously. He spent the past four seasons coaching cornerbacks at North Carolina, his alma mater. Heiden will come over from the Cardinals, who employed the ex-NFL tight end as their tight ends coach throughout Kliff Kingsbury‘s tenure. The ex-Cardinal had been on Arizona’s staff for 10 years.
  • Acting quickly after making a change late last week, the Bills filled their safety coach role by hiring Joe Danna. Working under Lovie Smith with the Texans this season, Danna was in Jacksonville under Doug Marrone and Urban Meyer for the previous five yeras.
  • After the Falcons hired Nielsen, they fired Jon Hoke. But the veteran position coach will land in Chicago. The Bears hired Hoke as their cornerbacks coach and passing-game coordinator. This is a reunion for Hoke, who coached Bears DBs for six seasons (2009-14) previously. The team also promoted Omar Young from the quality control level to assistant QBs and wide receivers coach. Young is a 14-year coaching veteran who spent time with OC Luke Getsy in Green Bay.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Saints, Matthews

Panthers GM Scott Fitterer provided rare transparency about his team’s first-round decision ahead of last year’s draft, indicating the team was likely down to quarterback or left tackle at No. 6 overall. The pick became Ikem Ekwonu, and the non-Kenny Pickett QB contingent tumbled into the third round. Carolina scooped up one of those arms, Matt Corral, but he missed the season due to injury. With Sam Darnold ticketed for free agency, the Panthers face another offseason of QB questions.

Both Fitterer and assistant GM Dan Morgan spent much of the fall scouting the top four quarterbacks in the 2023 class in person, according Joe Person of The Athletic (subscription required). Some of these passers will be gone by the time the Panthers pick at No. 9. Mel Kiper Jr.’s first 2023 mock draft has Carolina, however, taking the fourth quarterback in this year’s class — Florida’s Anthony Richardson — in Round 1. The scouting missions to see Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Will Levis and the team’s long-running need at the position will connect it to a potential trade-up maneuver. The Bears, who traded up for Justin Fields after the Panthers passed on Stroud’s Ohio State predecessor two years ago, are open for business at No. 1. It remains to be seen which non-QB-needy teams from Nos. 2-8 will join them.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • The Saints are retaining offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael for what will be his 14th season in the role, but Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com notes they moved on from their second-longest-tenured offensive staffer. The Saints parted ways with Dan Roushar after 10 seasons. Roushar, 62, had held a number of key roles on New Orleans’ staff since 2013 — offensive line coach and running backs coach among them — but was working as the team’s run-game coordinator and tight ends coach over the past two seasons. The Saints ranked 18th and 19th on the ground, respectively, over the past two years. A former college OC, Roushar has only coached for the Saints at the NFL level.
  • As more details surface on Michael Thomasrecent restructure, the likelier it appears the Saints will release him. The former All-Pro’s reworked deal includes a $31MM roster bonus due on Day 3 of the 2023 league year, and Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football adds Thomas would collect a whopping $30MM if he is active for four games next season (Twitter link). So, if Thomas is on the Saints’ roster absent another restructure, he would collect a cool $61MM. That reality seems … unlikely to commence. If Thomas is designated as a post-June 1 cut, the Saints would only be tagged with $11MM-plus in dead money this year.
  • In more Saints restructure news, the team pushed back the void-year vesting dates for David Onyemata and Marcus Davenport. Both D-linemen’s contracts are now set to void March 14, as opposed to February 17, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. That gives the team more time to negotiate extensions with each free agent-to-be, and GM Mickey Loomis said recently (via Underhill) the team is interested in re-signing both. Due to restructuring Davenport’s fifth-year option, the Saints would be tagged with $7.6MM in dead money absent an extension before March 14 — the final day of the 2022 league year. A $10.2MM bill would come if Onyemata is not extended by that date.
  • The Falcons created $4.2MM in 2023 cap space by doing another Jake Matthews restructure. The team accelerated $7MM of the left tackle’s 2023 roster bonus onto its 2022 payroll, Yates tweets. After eating considerable dead money over the past two years — much of it from the Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and Deion Jones trades — the Falcons are set to hold the second-most cap space in the NFL — more than $56MM.

Saints To Be Without 8 Assistants Due To COVID-19 Protocols

SATURDAY: The Saints will be down two more coaches due to virus protocols. Defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen and pass rush specialist Brian Young will not coach in Week 2 as well. However, the team announced Nugent will be able to be on the sidelines Sunday. The Saints are still down eight coaches, with two defensive assistants now joining offensive and special teams staffers set to skip the Charlotte trip.

FRIDAY: Following reports earlier this week of several Saints assistants testing positive for COVID-19, the team announced which coaches will miss their Week 2 game due to the NFL’s coronavirus protocols.

Run-game coordinator and tight ends coach Dan Roushar, offensive line coach Brendan Nugent, wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson, running backs coach Joel Thomas, assistant special teams coach Phil Galiano, offensive assistant Declan Doyle and offensive analyst Jim Chaney will not be with the team for its Week 2 game against Carolina.

This group of coaches is fully vaccinated, according to Sean Payton. New Orleans’ recent run of COVID-19 issues also included Michael Thomas, who tested positive earlier this week. Thomas was already on New Orleans’ reserve/PUP list and is out until Week 7. As a result of these positive tests, Saints players will be required to be tested daily — regardless of vaccination status — and wear masks at the team’s facility until the NFL permits the team to exit the heightened protocols, NFL.com’s Kevin Patra notes.

The Saints’ virus issues do not quite match the Browns’ from late last season, when several staffers missed Week 17 and Kevin Stefanski missed the team’s wild-card game. And the Saints staffers’ vaccinations make this development a lesser concern than last season’s virus cases on coaching staffs. But it is certainly notable as the NFL begins its second season since the pandemic began.

Coach Rumors: Giants, Tabor, M. Smith, Haslett

Ben McAdoo didn’t announce any decisions on his coaching staff during his introductory press conference this morning, but the new Giants head coach alluded to players improving in their second season in a defensive scheme, suggesting Steve Spagnuolo will be back.

Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that Spagnuolo will, in fact, return as the Giants’ defensive coordinator. A source tell Marvez (Twitter link) that the Giants will also keep secondary coach David Merritt on McAdoo’s staff.

As for McAdoo, Giants owner John Mara said today that the club had initially scheduled a second interview for him on Thursday of this week. However, when the Giants got wind of the Eagles’ strong interest in McAdoo, they pushed that second interview up a day to Wednesday, and ultimately promoted him to head coach (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News).

Here are a few more coaching-related updates from around the NFL:

  • Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has been retained by new head coach Hue Jackson, the team announced today in a press release. Tabor has been in his current role since 2011, working under Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, and now Jackson.
  • The Browns are also expected to add Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson to their staff as a running game coordinator, if Minnesota approves the move, writes Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • Former Falcons head coach Mike Smith is a “hot name” as a defensive coordinator and has several options, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). We’ll see if Smith, who interviewed for a pair of head coaching jobs, has interest in returning in 2016 as an assistant.
  • Jim Haslett will be named the Bengals‘ new linebackers coach, according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com (via Twitter). Haslett, who served as a consultant for Penn State in 2015, was replaced by Joe Barry as Washington’s defensive coordinator a year ago.
  • Saints offensive line coach Bret Ingalls, offensive assistant Kyle DeVan, and secondary coach Wesley McGriff are leaving the team, with the latter two landing college jobs, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune tweets that Dan Roushar will likely move from tight ends coach to offensive line coach to accommodate new addition Dan Campbell.