Danny Barrett

Staff Updates: Texans, Falcons, Colts, Jags

The Texans announced a slew of adjustments to their coaching and front office staffs for the 2023 season under new head coach DeMeco Ryans, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. The moves included confirmed new hires, promotions, and title additions throughout the staff.

On the coaching staff, Danny Barrett, who was confirmed to be sticking around as running backs coach as a holdover from last year’s staff back in February, has reportedly added the mantle of assistant head coach to his title. He’s been with the team for the past five years, providing Ryans with crucial insight into team dynamics. Wilson also announced that William Burnham has been hired as assistant special teams coordinator, replacing Sean Baker in the role. This is also news for Baker, as we were previously informed that he would be retained in the role for 2023 when the team finalized the coaching staff back in February.

In the personnel office, James Liipfert was promoted to executive director of player personnel after being promoted to assistant director of personnel/director of college scouting a year ago. John Ritcher joined Mozique McCurtis as a national scout for the team in 2019. Now the two are both moving up together into co-college scouting director jobs. Brad Matthews, a Midwest Area scout since 2018, will move into one of the open national scout roles. The team officially announced that Chris Blanco will rejoin the staff after two years in Minnesota. After reaching the role of director of pro personnel in his two years with the Vikings, Blanco will serve as assistant director of player personnel in Houston. Lastly in personnel, general manager Nick Caserio will add the title of executive vice president to his role.

Finally, in operations, Joe Vernon was officially announced as special advisor to football ops, leaving his job as an attorney at Miller Canfield in Michigan. The team also added Jeremy Stabile, who announced on Twitter that he would be leaving the Dolphins to accept the role of football data analyst in Houston.

Here are a few other staff updates from around the league, most of them coincidentally coming out of the AFC South, as well:

  • The only move not out of the AFC South, the Falcons hired Brian Zeches as their new player personnel coordinator. Zeches in the son of Jim Zeches, who was a scout in the NFL for 16 seasons. The younger Zeches has spent seven years in Washington and has experience with the Chiefs and the Senior Bowl, as well. He also has college experience, coaching at UTEP, Weber State, and New Mexico.
  • The Colts announced a number of promotions to their front office, as well, recently. In operations, Melainey Lowe has been named director of football operations after serving as a football operations intern in 2021 and the football operations assistant in 2022. In analytics, Nick Bayh was named strategic football analyst. He was previously a military intelligence officer for the US Army Reserve before serving as a personnel assistant in his first year with the Colts last year. In personnel, former scouting assistant Andrew Hoyle has been promoted to player personnel scout. He started with the team as an equipment intern in 2018 before moving his way through the ranks of the personnel department.
  • Lastly, the Jaguars made a couple of moves in their analytics department, according to ESPN’s Seth Walder. Previously under the title of director of coaching analytics, Ryan Paganetti‘s title has been changed to director of football analytics. Additionally, the team recently hired Avery Horvath as a data scientist.

Texans Finalize 2023 Coaching Staff

The Texans have made changes to most of their coaching staff this offseason, following the hire of new head coach DeMeco Ryans and then the additions of offensive and defensive coordinators Bobby Slowik and Matt Burke. Houston has since announced that the finalization of its coaching staff for the 2023 season, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2. We’ve covered several of the minor staff updates as they’ve happened in real time, but here are the final updates that we have not yet reported.

On the offensive side of the ball, Houston announced a few names from former head coach Lovie Smith‘s staff that have been retained under Ryans. Running backs coach Danny Barrett will be sticking around after coaching rookie running back Dameon Pierce to an impressive first season of play. Also being retained are offensive assistants Jarrod James and DeNarius McGhee. McGhee has been with the team in this position since 2020, while James joined the staff last year.

Three other coaches were officially hired to the offensive staff. We had seen rumors that former Colts offensive line coach Chris Strausser was the favorite to coach the same position for Ryans in Houston, and that rumor was confirmed today as he was announced with the finalized staff. Also announced was assistant offensive line coach Cole Popovich, who hasn’t coached in the NFL since he parted ways with the Patriots in 2021. He spent last year as the offensive line coach at Troy. Lastly, Ryans and Slowik have brought on Bill Lazor as a senior offensive assistant. Lazor didn’t coach last year after being fired by the Bears but brings experience as someone who’s been an offensive coordinator for three NFL franchises.

On the defensive side of the ball, Houston kept a few mores names from Smith’s former staff. Cornerbacks coach Dino Vasso will return to coach a talented group that includes veterans Steven Nelson, Desmond King, and Tavierre Thomas, as well as youngster Derek Stingley. Ryans has also chosen to retain defensive assistant Ben Bolling. Other defensive assistants Ilir Emini and Dele Harding were not retained by Ryans and Burke. Lastly on defense, it had been rumored that former 49ers defensive passing game specialist and secondary coach Cory Undlin would be reuniting with Ryans in a similar role with the Texans. This latest announcement shows that Undlin will not have a position coaching role but has been officially hired as the team’s defensive pass-game coordinator.

There are a few more updates to wrap things up. We knew that special teams coordinator Frank Ross was being retained in Ryans’s new staff, but now we have word that assistant special teams coordinator Sean Baker will also be sticking around. We also have the official title for former Kent State director of football operations and Yale chief of staff Jake Olson. He will serve as assistant to the coaches in Houston. Lastly, Smith’s special assistant to the head coach for football performance, Tobijah Hughley, has not been retained under Ryans’ new staff.

There it is. The Texans are now ready to herald a new era under Ryans and his staff. The teams needs a lot of work following a 3-13-1 season, and now Ryans has the group of coaches on which he’ll rely to usher in this new age of Texans football.

Coaching Rumors: Cardinals, McAdoo, Fins

The Cardinals interviewed two more head coach candidates today, but the search will continue into next week, according to Kent Somers of AZCentral Sports. The Cardinals have met with Steve Wilks and Keith Armstrong twice and will not need to interview current defensive coordinator James Bettcher another time because of his history with the organization. The team will also interview John DeFilippo and Brian Flores next week, per Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com (Twitter link).

In addition, Somer states that the team could look at giving Jim Schwartz a second interview, but Jurecki did not mention the Eagles defensive coordinator in his tweet. The search is mostly continuing because both the Eagles and Patriots will be playing in their respective conference championships, so depending on how the games shake out, Arizona could resolve their head coaching search by the end of next week.

Finally, Somers importantly notes that former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has recommended Bettcher and Armstrong among this pool of coaches the front office is considering.

Here are more a coaching notes from around the NFL:

  • In more Cardinals coaching staff news, now two former staffers have now left for new opportunities, reports Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). In addition to former special teams coordinator Amos Jones moving onto the same position with the Browns, former wide receiver coach Darryl Drake has been hired by the Steelers.
  • Hue Jackson is adding an offensive coordinator to his staff and have interviewed former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo for the job. He interviewed with the Browns three days ago and apparently “It went fine”, a Browns source tells Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Anderson adds that the source mentioned that they are “Just not going to rush into anything” after speaking to two candidates as of right now. Cleveland is also interviewing a high profile college coach in LSU’s RB coach Tommy Robinson for the same position on their staff, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
  • The Dolphins announced a slew of coaching moves today. The biggest apart from Dowell Loggains being brought on as offensive coordinator is former OC Clyde Christensen being reassigned as the team’s new director of football and player development. Shawn Jefferson was wide receivers coach, but will now be an assistant head coach working with the offense. They are also are promoting Ben Johnson to WR coach. He got experience with this group of players as an assistant WR coach last season.
  • The Bears have named Brock Olivo as the team’s new assistant special teams coach, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Olivo was the Broncos’ special teams coordinator last year and was with Matt Nagy on the Chiefs’ staff from 2014-16 as an assistant to special teams coordinator Dave Toub. He previously was a former running back for the Lions back in his playing days.
  • The Texans have promoted Anthony Midget to the team’s secondary coach, according to Mark Berman of Fox26 (Twitter link). Berman also notes that they have also hired Danny Barrett as the RB coach and Tracy Smith as an assistant special teams coach.

Staff Notes: Fins, Cowboys, Texans, Chiefs

Having interviewed for the Giants’ HC position earlier this week, Eric Studesville will make a trip to Miami. With the Giants zeroing in others for their top coaching job, Studesville is set to interview with the Dolphins for a position on their offensive staff, Alex Marvez of the Sporting News tweets.

This comes on the same day a running backs coach vacancy opened up with the Dolphins, who are relieving Danny Barrett of his duties overseeing the team’s backfield, per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (on Twitter). Salguero adds Studesville could be a candidate for the running backs job but possibly something else. Adam Gase tried to hire Studesville as RBs coach in 2016, but the Broncos blocked the move, Salguero reports.

Studesville coached the Broncos’ running backs for the past eight seasons and was listed as a Denver assistant head coach prior to being fired after this season. Studesville has coached NFL backfields since 1997 and instructed the Bears’, Giants’ and Bills’ running backs from 1997-2009. Barrett coached in college and in the CFL prior to leading the Fins’ backfield the past two seasons. Gase worked with Studesville for a longer period of time, however. The two spent five seasons together on Broncos staffs.

Here’s the latest from the assistant carousel.

  • Elsewhere in the RBs-coaching game, the Chiefs are interviewing USC running backs coach Deland McCullough for the job Eric Bieniemy vacated when he received a promotion to OC, per Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). McCullough has coached the Trojans’ backs for one season but is better known for helping Indiana ball-carriers from 2011-16. Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard thrived under McCullough’s tutelage in Bloomington.
  • Gary Brown‘s become a coveted assistant over the past two weeks. The Cowboys want to retain him, and the Raiders were interested prior to hiring their next RBs instructor as well. The Texans are now in the mix, with Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting Brown has offers to coach in Houston and Dallas. Brown is a coaching free agent; he led the Cowboys’ RBs from 2013-17. The Texans fired running backs coach Charles London last week.
  • Miles Austin interviewed for the Cowboys’ wide receivers coach position, Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports. The Cowboys saw previous WRs coach Derek Dooley join Missouri’s coaching staff as OC. Austin’s worked in Dallas’ scouting department the past two seasons since retiring.
  • The Browns hired a new wideouts coach in Adam Henry, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It’s a three-year deal for Henry, who was previously the Giants’ receivers coach. Henry coached Big Blue’s wideouts the past two seasons.
  • The Bengals hired former Cowboys offensive line coach Frank Pollack, Hill reports. Pollack coached Dallas’ O-line from 2015-17. He’ll replace Paul Alexander, whom the Bengals fired after more than two decades on staff. Alexander could make this a swap, with Hill reporting he interviewed Thursday to become Cowboys offensive line coach.
  • Cowboys tight ends coach Steve Loney is retiring, Hill reports. The 65-year-old assistant worked with five NFL teams and served as OC for Iowa State and Minnesota during the late 1990s and early ’00s.

Dolphins Finalize Coaching Staff

The Dolphins have finalized Adam Gase‘s coaching staff for the 2016 season, announcing today in a press release that a number of assistants have been added or retained. The team had previously confirmed the hires of Clyde Christensen as offensive coordinator and Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator, among others, so today’s announcement doesn’t feature any major changes, but a few key roles have been filled.Lou Anarumo

[RELATED: Dolphins hire Adam Gase as head coach]

Here’s a breakdown of some of the noteworthy additions, promotions, or assignments announced today:

  • Danny Barrett, running backs coach
  • Ben Johnson, assistant wide receivers coach
  • Chris Kuper, offensive quality control
  • Lou Anarumo, defensive backs coach
  • Terrell Williams, defensive line coach
  • Charlie Bullen, assistant linebackers coach
  • Rusty McKinney, defensive quality control
  • Darren Rizzi, assistant head coach/special teams
  • Marwan Maalouf, assistant special teams
  • Dave Puloka, head strength and conditioning coach

Anarumo is perhaps the most interesting name on the list, since he finished the season as the Dolphins’ interim defensive coordinator after taking over for Kevin Coyle last October. Anarumo interviewed for the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator job earlier this month, but ultimately returned to Miami in the same role that he held for the club prior to his promotion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Barrett, Jets, Reed

The Dolphins have hired Danny Barrett as their new running backs coach, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. Barrett, 54, most recently served as the interim head coach at the University of Central Florida, but he has a varied background, having acted as a collegiate positional coach and as the head coach of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Now for some more notes from the league’s East divisions:

  • Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com tweets that the Jets will not look to retain free agent linebacker Demario Davis, regardless of what the team does in the draft.
  • In a full-length post, Cimini observes that Jets GM Mike Maccagnan is about to face his second major test. In his first year as GM, Maccagnan was armed with a great deal of cap space to supplement his roster, but in 2016, he not only has less cap space to work with, but six of the team’s eight highest cap charges belong to players who will be at least 31 next season (a statistic that does not yet includ 33-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick). Maccagnan will now have to make his team younger without sacrificing wins, one of the toughest things to do in professional sports.
  • Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com wonders if Washington should pursue a contract extension with Jordan Reed, noting that although the tight end is set to earn just $685K in 2016–the last year of his current deal–it may make more sense long-term to lock him up now, despite his injury history.
  • The Giants will of course run Ben McAdoo‘s West Coast offense in 2016, but who the offensive play-caller will be remains up in the air. As Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, McAdoo himself is the most qualified, but he may prefer to get his head out of the play chart to better concentrate on the entire game. New York’s offensive coordinator, Mike Sullivan, and quarterbacks coach, Frank Cignetti, both have play-calling experience.
  • Despite his recent injuries, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo thinks he’ll be fine for the foreseeable future. “There’s no question, I will be able to play for awhile,” Romo told Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Romo, 36 in April, will reportedly undergo a CT scan this week to determine if he needs surgery on his collarbone.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.