Deshea Townsend

Lions Add Jim O’Neil To Staff; John Fox No Longer With Team

The Lions are making some changes on their defensive staff. One of the moves will be bringing former defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil back to the NFL.

Out of the league since the 2020 season, O’Neil will return as a Detroit defensive assistant. The 45-year-old staffer spent two seasons as Northwestern’s DC, but was last in the pros as the Raiders’ DBs coach under Jon Gruden.

O’Neil is best remembered in the NFL for rising to the coordinator level with the Browns and 49ers during the 2010s. The former Rex Ryan Jets assistant climbed to the DC tier at 36, working under Mike Pettine. His second crack at running a defense ended quickly, after the 2016 49ers went 2-14 and bailed on a Chip Kelly experiment. Northwestern fired O’Neil after the 2022 season, a 1-11 campaign for the Wildcats. Lions DC Aaron Glenn worked under O’Neil in Cleveland, opening a door to a rebound opportunity.

Additionally, the team appears to be moving on from John Fox. The three-time NFL HC is no longer with the NFC North champions, per the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. Fox was only with the Lions for one season, being hired as a senior defensive consultant last year. It appears O’Neil will be moving into that type of role. Fox, 69, had worked on the Colts’ staff in 2022, returning to the league after a five-year hiatus.

The team has also let senior offensive assistant Jim Hostler‘s contract expire, Birkett adds. A former 49ers offensive coordinator, Hostler has been in the NFL since 2000. After three years on Ron Rivera‘s Washington staff, the 57-year-old assistant moved to Detroit. Former Lions cornerback Dre’ Bly also appears to be out of the picture, per the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers. The Lions hired Bly, who had not previously coached in the NFL, as cornerbacks coach last year.

Seeing DBs coach Brian Duker leave for a Dolphins job, the Lions have a new voice overseeing their secondary. Ex-Steelers mainstay Deshea Townsend was hired after his Jaguars ouster last month. The Lions confirmed Wednesday that Townsend is their DBs coach.

NFC Coaching Notes: Eagles, Clay, Pettine, Vikings, Panthers, Giants, Lions, Rams

The Eagleschanges at offensive and defensive coordinator show how quickly job security can evaporate in the NFL, and Nick Sirianni‘s seat has heated up as a result. But the Eagles are not changing out all their coordinators. They will extend special teams boss Michael Clay, according to’s Ian Rapoport. This marks the second straight year in which the Eagles have extended Clay, who is going into his fourth season as their ST coordinator. Just 32, Clay has been a special teams coach in the NFL since 2015, serving as the 49ers’ assistant ST coach for five years. Clay debuted with the Eagles, however, joining Chip Kelly‘s staff in 2014. The Eagles vaulted from 31st to 10th on Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings in 2023.

Philly is adding former Titans inside linebackers coach Bobby King to their staff,’s Tim McManus tweets. While Brian Callahan kept a handful of Mike Vrabel assistants, he did not retain King. Under King’s guidance last season, Titans free agency pickup Azeez Al-Shaair tallied 163 tackles — the most by anyone during the franchise’s 25-season Titans period.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Fired as the Jaguars’ defensive pass-game coordinator last month, Deshea Townsend has another gig lined up. The Lions are hiring the former NFL cornerback in the same capacity, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz tweets. Townsend, who won two Super Bowls during his 12-year Steelers run as a player, has been in coaching since his 2011 retirement. Prior to his two-year Jacksonville stay, Townsend coached DBs with the Bears, Giants and Titans and Cardinals. The Lions recently lost DBs coach Brian Duker to the Dolphins.
  • After working as a Vikings senior defensive assistant over the past two years, Mike Pettine will have a more defined role this year in Minnesota. The Vikings announced the veteran DC and ex-Browns HC will be their outside linebackers coach in 2024. Still carrying an assistant HC title, Pettine worked with the Vikes’ OLBs under Brian Flores last season. This will be the 57-year-old coach’s 22nd season in the NFL.
  • The Vikings also hired Marcus Dixon to be their defensive line coach. Brought over from the Broncos, Dixon was a Nathaniel Hackett hire in Denver. Ejiro Evero took Dixon with him from the Rams in 2022; he served as the Broncos’ D-line coach for two years. The Broncos are losing their only two pre-Sean Payton defensive assistants this offseason, seeing DBs coach Christian Parker rejoin Vic Fangio in Philadelphia. Evero tried to take both Parker and Dixon with him to the Panthers last year, per 9News’ Mike Klis, but the Broncos blocked the effort and kept them around to work under Vance Joseph.
  • The Giants are doling out some new titles. QBs coach Shea Tierney and DBs coach Jerome Henderson will respectively serve as the team’s offensive and defensive pass-game coordinators. Henderson has been with the Giants since 2020, while Tierney came over from the Bills with Brian Daboll. The Giants also moved former safety Mike Adams from assistant secondary coach to assistant DBs coach.
  • Additionally, Big Blue hired Charlie Bullen to replace Drew Wilkins as outside linebackers coach. Daboll fired Wilkins, a longtime Don Martindale right-hand man, and that choice keyed an explosive conclusion to the Daboll-Martindale relationship. Wilkins is now with the Patriots. Bullen spent last season as Illinois’ OLBs coach; he spent the previous four years coaching linebackers with the Cardinals. The veteran assistant previously worked with Dolphins LBs under Joe Philbin and Adam Gase.
  • The Rams recently interviewed former Packers pass-game coordinator Greg Williams for their inside linebackers coach gig, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones notes. This is not the ex-St. Louis Rams DC better known for Bountygate; the two-G Greg Williams spent time with the Broncos and Cardinals prior to spending last season in Green Bay.

Jaguars Fire DC Mike Caldwell, Others

JANUARY 9: Changes on the offensive side of the ball have been made as well. Running backs coach Bernie Parmalee and offensive line assistant Todd Washington are out, per a statement from Pederson. The former was fired while the latter did not have his contract renewed, as noted by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

JANUARY 8: Following their late-season collapse, the Jaguars will make a major move. They are firing Mike Caldwell after his second season as defensive coordinator, Fox Sports’ Greg Auman reports.

Although the Jaguars struggled on both sides of the ball to close out this disappointing season, Caldwell will be the first domino to fall. The Jags hired the former NFL linebacker after he helped the Buccaneers win a Super Bowl as linebackers coach, but it is certainly unsurprising to see Jacksonville move forward with a big change.

As should be expected, the changes will not stop at Caldwell. Jacksonville is firing its defensive staff, according to’s Ian Rapoport. While DVOA placed the Jaguars’ defense 10th overall, the group slipped down the stretch. Jacksonville allowed at least 28 points in four of its final six games — all losses. After an 8-3 start, the team closed what had looked like a promising season at 9-8.

Among the members of Caldwell’s defensive staff: D-line coach Brentson Buckner, pass-game coordinator Deshea Townsend, inside linebackers coach Tony Gilbert, safeties coach Cody Grimm and senior defensive assistant Bob Sutton. The Jags ranked 26th in pass defense. While the team did not make strides on offense after Doug Pederson handed play-calling reins to OC Press Taylor this season, no changes have emerged on that side of the ball yet.’s Michael DiRocco adds that three defensive assistants — assistant D-line coach Rory Segrest, outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey and quality control staffer Patrick Reilly — will be retained.

The Jags splurged on both sides of the ball in 2022, allocating big bucks on free agents in Pederson’s first offseason as HC. They also added Travon Walker with the No. 1 overall pick while following that up with first-round linebacker Devin Lloyd. The Jags signed Foye Oluokun, Foley Fatukasi and Darious Williams in 2022. They extended Roy Robertson-Harris in 2023, largely returning the same cast from a defense that ranked 12th (scoring) and 24th (yardage) last season. Despite Josh Allen‘s contract-year sack surge, the Jags did not improve on that side of the ball as a whole.

DVOA, however, ranked Caldwell’s 2022 defense — additions notwithstanding — 26th. Yet, the Jaguars largely stood pat and ran it back following their AFC South title. The questionable decision burned the team, with Pederson pointing out missed assignments and missed tackles. Derrick Henry submitted a throwback performance Sunday, in what appears to be his Titans finale, by rampaging for 153 yards in a win-and-in game for the Jags. Jacksonville allowed 28 points to a Tennessee team that was previously 0-5 in AFC South play.

This firing means the Jaguars, by the 2024 season, will employ four defensive coordinators in five years. Todd Wash departed after the Doug Marrone firing, while Urban Meyer‘s DC (Joe Cullen) left after the unfit HC’s one-and-done. Caldwell, 52, played 11 NFL seasons and has been an NFL assistant for the past 16 years.

AFC Coaching Notes: Chargers, Steelers, Jaguars

Al Golden is leaving Cincinnati after all. The Bengals coach is joining Notre Dame as their new defensive coordinator, reports ESPN’s Pete Thamel (on Twitter). Golden is inking a three-year deal with the school.

The 52-year-old had spent the past two seasons with the Bengals as the team’s linebackers coach. Following a successful 2021 season, Golden was expected to ink a new deal with Cincy. Instead, he’ll be heading back to the college ranks.

Golden spent almost two decades in the NCAA, including stints as head coach at Temple and Miami. He joined the NFL in 2016 when he was hired as the Lions tight ends coach, and he eventually switched over to the defensive side of the ball in 2018.

More coaching notes out of the AFC…

  • The Chargers are looking to hire Brendan Nugent as their offensive line coach, as Charean Williams of passes along. Frank Smith left to become the Dolphins offensive coordinator, leaving a vacancy on the LAC staff. Nugent had spent the past seven years with the Saints, earning the promotion to OL coach in 2021.
  • The Steelers have also been seeking a new OL coach, and Brooke Pryor of ESPN tweets that the team is hiring Pat Meyer for the role. Meyer spent the past two seasons as the Panthers offensive line coach, and he also served in that role with the Chargers. The 49-year-old has also had coaching stints with the Bills and Bears.
  • Richard Angulo is heading south. The Ravens assistant offensive line coach is joining the Jaguars as their new tight ends coach, reports Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (on Twitter). The former player had been coaching in Baltimore since 2014. Meanwhile, Aaron Wilson of tweets that the Jaguars have finalized deal with Deshea Townsend as defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach. Before his three-year stint as the Bears secondary coach, Townsend had stints on the Giants and Titans coaching staffs.
  • Nathaniel Hackett continues to add to his Broncos staff. According to Wilson (on Twitter), Denver has hired Ramon Chinyoung as an offensive quality control. Chinyoung had been serving as head football coach/athletic coordinator at Willowridge High in Houston. Meanwhile, the team announced (on Twitter) that they’ve hired Derek Haithcock as assistant to head coach (Dwight Schrute?) and John Vieira as instructional designer.
  • The Colts are finalizing a deal with Richard Smith to be their new linebackers coach, reports Mike Chappell of FOX59/CBS4 Sports in Indy (on Twitter). Smith has had a long NFL coaching career that saw him serve as the defensive coordinator with the Dolphins, Falcons, and Texans. He’s also been on the coaching staffs for the Oilers, Broncos, 49ers, Lions, Panthers, Chargers, and Raiders.
  • The Jets are adding Nathaniel Willingham as a defensive assistant, reports Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter). The son of former college coach Tyrone Willingham, Nathaniel Willingham worked at Stanford for four years before spending the past three seasons as a quality control coach with the Broncos.

AFC Coaching Notes: Bengals, Broncos, Texans, Jaguars

While Super Bowl LVI didn’t go the way the Bengals wanted, their 2021 postseason run demonstrated that they are set to be a force in the AFC for years to come. One of the results of their success is not only an expected contract extension for head coach Zac Taylor, but a number of assistants on his staff as well.

As Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network writes, the list of coaches receiving new deals includes at least five names. On the offensive side of the ball, wide receivers coach Troy Walters is listed; he jumped into coaching almost immediately after an eight-year playing career, and has worked with the Bengals’ wideouts since joining the team in 2020. The other offensive assistant is tight ends coach James Casey, who has coached that position (after playing it himself in the NFL) since 2017. He has been in Cincinnati for the past three seasons.

Defensively, new deals are forthcoming for linebackers coach Al Golden and defensive line coach Marion Hobby. The former has been coaching since 1993, between the college and NFL ranks, including the last two years with the Bengals. The latter is equally experienced, and coached the position in Cincinnati this year, after four seasons doing the same in Jacksonville and Miami. Wilson adds that strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese is the final name on the list.

Here are some other coaching notes from around the AFC:

  • Nathaniel Hackett‘s new staff continues to take shape in Denver. Wilson tweets that Tyrone Wheatley is the new running backs coach. He has previously coached the position at four colleges, including Michigan, as well as the Bills and Jaguars. He was most recently the head coach at Morgan State.
  • The other offensive addition in Denver is Jake Moreland, who is taking over as tight ends coach, according to 9News’ Mike Klis (Twitter link). The 45-year-old’s first NFL coaching gig came with the Jets this past season, serving as an assistant offensive line coach. Klis notes that his background is the same as fellow newcomer Ben Steele.
  • Defensively, the Broncos are adding Bert Watts to their staff. He was most recently the associate head coach at Auburn, but he also held the titles of special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach. The latter will be his purview in Denver, where he was an assistant in 2012 (Twitter link via ESPN’s Dan Graziano).
  • The Texans have made an interesting hire on their offensive staff. Wilson tweets that Ted White, who was a quarterback during the days of NFL Europe, and also in the CFL, has been hired as an offensive assistant. His coaching career includes stints at five college programs, and most recently in the XFL, with a background in working with QBs.
  • Graziano tweets that Jacques Cesaire is coming to Houston as their defensive line coach. The former Charger defensive end began coaching in San Diego in 2015, also spending two years with the Bills as an assistant at that same position.
  • Finally, Deshea Townsend is being hired by the Jaguars, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). This comes as a surprise, since he was expected to join the Vikings’ staff, but changed course due to a perceived sense he’ll get a “bigger role within the defense” in Jacksonville (Twitter link via Chris Tomasson of The St. Paul Pioneer Press). He has previously worked with cornerbacks with five different teams, including four in the NFL, Chicago being the most recent.

Staff Notes: Bengals, Bears, Panthers

The Bengals requested permission to interview Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant for defensive coordinator last week, and Cincinnati has now been granted that opportunity, according to Vincent Bosnignore of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link). Pleasant, regarded as a rising star in the coaching ranks, worked for the Browns and Redskins before joining Los Angeles in 2017. The Bengals’ DC job is the only vacant coordinator position remaining in the NFL, and a number of candidates (Dom Capers, Jack Del Rio, Dennis Allen) have bowed out of the running to become a top aide to head coach Zac Taylor. Other coaches who have been linked to the job include Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan, former Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, Texas A&M DC Mike Elko, Florida DC Todd Grantham, and Saints defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn.

Here’s more from the 2019 coaching carousel:

  • The Bears have continued to fill out their staff under new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, announcing that defensive quality control coach Sean Desai has been promoted to safeties coach, while fellow defensive QC coach Bill Shuey was promoted to pass analyst/assistant linebackers coach. Additionally, DeShea Townsend, who was originally hired as Chicago’s defensive backs coach in January, has had his title changed to secondary coach. The Bears’ defense ranked first in scoring, third in yardage, and posted the best defensive DVOA since the 2015 Broncos, but they’ll have to fight off regression and adjust to new coaches in order to repeat as NFC North champions.
  • Former Panthers pass-rusher Everette Brown has re-joined the club as assistant linebackers coach, tweets Field Yates of Carolina selected Brown with the 43rd pick of the 2009 draft, but he collected only six sacks over two seasons before being released. Brown, now 31 years old, subsequently spent time with the Chargers, Lions, Eagles, Cowboys, Redskins, and Browns, but played in only 16 more games after leaving the Panthers. He served as a coaching intern for Carolina last summer.
  • In case you missed it, expected Chiefs linebackers coach Matt House will instead stay on as the University of Kentucky’s defensive coordinator. The Wildcats were previously willing to allow House to leave a buyout, but apparently changed their minds as the hiring process unfolded.

Extra Points: Cowboys, Bears, Ravens, Chargers

The Cowboys made a big splash today, firing longtime offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Speculation immediately began swirling about who Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett would tap to be his replacement, and Jon Machota of Dallas News is out with a list of potential replacements. Machota writes that Cowboys tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier is “the favorite” for the job, and notes that Garrett has spoken highly of the former Alabama and Florida offensive coordinator. He also lists quarterbacks coach Kellen Moore and receivers coach Sanjay Lal as candidates.

If the Cowboys opt not to promote someone from within, they could be interested in Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley and Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell, who played for the Cowboys from 2003 to 2005. Mike Florio of tweeted that “it’s hard to imagine that Jerry Jones fired Scott Linehan without knowing in advance precisely who the replacement would be,” so it’s possible we hear very soon who it’ll be.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Bears lost defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, who followed Vic Fangio to Denver to become the Broncos’ new defensive coordinator, and now they have a replacement. The team is hiring Deshea Townsend to be their new defensive backs coach, the team announced in a tweet. Townsend spent last year as an assistant DB’s coach with the Giants.
  • Tyrod Taylor could be a candidate to be Lamar Jackson‘s backup with the Ravens next year, according to Jamison Hensley of Baltimore will be moving on from Joe Flacco this spring, and Taylor has plenty of connections to the team, who drafted him in the sixth round back in 2011 and gave him his start in the league. Taylor, a free agent this spring after his one year with the Browns ended in him being benched for Baker Mayfield, played for current Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman in Buffalo. Hensley also notes that the team has reached out to Robert Griffin III, who served as the third string quarterback this year behind Jackson and Flacco, about potentially returning in 2019. Both are mobile quarterbacks and could provide continuity in the offense if Jackson were to go down.
  • The Chargers struggled to stop the run all season long and especially in their playoff loss to the Patriots, and Chargers GM Tom Telesco said at his end of year press conference that linebacker will be a priority for them this offseason, according to Sam Fortier of The Athletic. The Chargers suffered a rash of injuries to their linebacking corp this season, with starters Kyzir White, Denzel Perryman, and Jatavis Brown all suffering serious injuries. The Chargers pick 28th in this April’s draft, and very well could target a linebacker with their first pick.


East Rumors: Patriots, Cousins, Giants, Foles

Will Rob Gronkowski retire this offseason? The tight end hinted at the possibility following the Patriots‘ Super Bowl loss, but head coach Bill Belichick isn’t panicking.

At the end of every season, every person goes through somewhat of a process at the end of the season and then the following season,” Belichick said (via Ryan Hannable of “I think everyone that is involved in a NFL season, you get pretty drained especially after a season like this. [You] go through the end of the year process. The following year is the following year. It’s the same for everybody. I certainly can’t speak for anybody else.

You’d have to ask any individual for every situation, but I would say five minutes after the game, or the day after the game is not really the time to make those decisions.

Gronkowski maxed out his incentive-laden 2017 contract by returning to first-team All-Pro status, the fourth time he’s done so in his eight-year career. Only Tony Gonzalez (six) earned more first-team All-Pro distinctions. Gronk will turn 29 in May and still has two seasons remaining on his extension signed back in 2012. He’s set to earn $8MM in base salary in 2018 and take up $10.91MM of the Patriots’ cap.

Here’s more from the AFC champions and the latest from the NFC East.

  • Take this with a grain of salt, but Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told reporters that he will not address whether he’s going to join the Colts as their new head coach or stay in New England as their offensive coordinator (Twitter link via Doug Kyed of NESN). A report emerged during Super Bowl LII that McDaniels was considering backing out of his unofficial Indianapolis agreement.
  • Redskins president Bruce Allen has been speaking to rival executives about possibly tagging Kirk Cousins, but they don’t see the logic in doing that, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. The feeling around the league, La Canfora says, is that consideration of the tag feels overly personal. As PFR’s Rory Parks explained over the weekend, tagging and trading Cousins could wind up backfiring hard on the team.
  • The Giants are planning to hire two more assistants for Pat Shurmur‘s first staff. Deshea Townsend and Ben Wilkerson will be joining the staff as assistant defensive backs coach and assistant offensive line coach, respectively, Alex Marvez of the Sporting News reports. A 13-year NFL veteran corner, Townsend served as the Titans’ DBs coach during Mike Mularkey‘s two-year run. Wilkerson spent the past three seasons on John Fox‘s Bears staff.
  • Carson Wentz‘s severe knee injuries would make the Eagles “fools” to trade Nick Foles now, especially considering what Jimmy Garoppolo fetched in a trade in October, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes. Signed to just a two-year, $11MM deal, Foles could serve as an elite insurance policy while Wentz recovers. While the Super Bowl champions’ franchise quarterback is hopeful to return in time for the start of the 2018 season, the December setback could leave him on the shelf going into training camp.
  • Conversely, the Eagles’ lack of a second- or third-round pick in next year’s draft could make acquiring a second-rounder more important than keeping Foles while Wentz recovers, Les Bowen of writes. Foles’ previous shortcomings as a starter should give teams pause, but his 72 percent playoff completion rate this year was third in NFL history — behind only Joe Montana (1989) and Troy Aikman (1993) — for a player with at least 75 throws. And his stock will probably never be higher. The 29-year-old passer would be an interesting name on an already complex QB market.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Coaching Rumors: Giants, Texans, Chiefs

New Giants head coach Pat Shurmur will call his own offensive plays in New York but still plans to hire an offensive coordinator, and Vikings quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski is a “strong candidate” for the position, sources tell Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Stefanski, of course, worked under Shurmur in Minnesota, and is now a candidate to take over Shurmur’s old role with the Vikings (where he’d presumably get the opportunity to call games). Minnesota, however, is also considering former Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell and Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan for its coordinator job, so if Stefanski isn’t promoted, he could conceivably bolt for New York. Meanwhile, Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley is a “name to watch” for the Giants’ OC position, while ex-Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin could also “be in the mix,” per Vacchiano.

Here’s more on the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • Former Raiders and Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano will join the Texans as a linebackers coach, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Specifically, Pagano is now a senior defensive assistant who will coach outside linebackers, while Bobby King — already on Houston’s staff — will coach inside ‘backers, per Mark Berman of FOX 26 (Twitter link). Pagano, the brother of former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, spent five years as the Chargers’ DC before landing with the Raiders in 2017. When Oakland fired Ken Norton Jr. midway through last season, Pagano stepped in as the club’s defensive coordinator.
  • The Chiefs will promote offensive quality coach Mike Kafka to quarterbacks coach, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Kafka, 30, originally entered the league as a 2010 fourth-round of Andy Reid‘s Eagles and went to play for six other clubs before hanging up his cleats. He coached at Northwestern (his alma mater) before joining Kansas City’s staff in 2017. Reid’s coaching tree is obviously impressive, and the past two men to serve as quarterbacks coach under his employ — Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy — are now head coaches with the Eagles and Bears, respectively.
  • The Titans also have a new quarterbacks coach: former Texans offensive assistant Pat O’Hara, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, who adds ex-Texans defensive assistant Shane Bowen is now Tennessee’s outside linebackers coach. O’Hara interviewed for the Bears’ quarterbacks coach job earlier this year, but Chicago ended up retaining Dave Ragone for the role. Meanwhile, new Titans assistant coach Kerry Coombs will indeed lead defensive backs in Tennessee, meaning he’ll coach the same position group that he did at Ohio State, tweets Paul Kuharsky of Titans head coach Mike Vrabel offered incumbent secondary coach Deshea Townsend a job as Coombs’ assistant (read: a demotion), but Townsend will instead leave the club.
  • The Panthers have hired Air Force defensive coordinator Steve Russ as their new linebackers coach, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Russ will replace Al Holcomb, who followed Steve Wilks to Arizona earlier this week to become the Cardinals’ new defensive coordinator. Although he enjoyed a four-year pro career, the 45-year-old Russ has never coached at the NFL level. He’s been at Air Force since 2012, and previously spent time at Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Ohio. Carolina has also added former Seahawks assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell for the same role, reports Omar Ruiz of (Twitter link).

Titans Fire OC Terry Robiskie

In a move that should come as no surprise, the Titans have parted ways with offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie, according to Paul Kuharsky of (Twitter link).Terry Robiskie (Vertical)

New Titans head coach Mike Vrabel is currently formulating a staff, and there was never any expectation that Robiskie would be retained for the 2018 campaign. Indeed, Tennessee has already been linked to potential OC candidates — including Ohio State’s Ryan Day (who will not accept the position) and ex-Lions quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan — so Robiskie’s dismissal was a mere formality.

Under Robiskie, the 2017 Titans offense ranked 13th in yards, 17th in points, and 18th in DVOA. But the club’s play-calling and handling of mobile quarterback Marcus Mariota was often questioned, as Robiskie & Co. seemingly failed to put the former No. 2 overall pick in the best situations. Tennessee finished just 28th in situation neutral offensive pace, a notably slow speed given Mariota’s collegiate success in Chip Kelly’s quick-game offense.

Tennessee has also fired special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman and linebackers coach Lou Spanos, per Kuharsky, and in fact plans to part ways with nearly every one of former head coach Mike Mularkey‘s assistants, reports Cameron Wolfe of (Twitter link). The only coach who might stick around is defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend, who played with Vrabel in Pittsburgh. Vrabel will interview Townsend for the role at the Senior Bowl, per Wolfe.