Eric Washington

AFC Coaching Notes: Titans, Jets, Bills, Steelers, Raiders, Patriots

After parting ways with the Panthers early this year, former NFL linebacker Chase Blackburn has joined the Titans as the team’s assistant special teams coach. After playing ten years in the NFL for the Giants and Panthers, Blackburn transitioned into the coaching world working his way up to the role of the Panthers’ special teams coordinator, a position he held for four seasons.

Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule initially retained Blackburn from former head coach Ron Rivera‘s staff, but fired him this January. He finds second life with fellow former NFL linebacker and current Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel. Additionally, after season-long tryouts, the Titans have promoted Clint McMillan (defensive line assistant) and Kylan Butler (offensive assistant) to full time positions.

Here are a few other coaching updates from around the AFC:

  • The Jets announced a series of assistant coach hirings including Ben Wilkerson and Dan Shamash. Wilkerson moves from one New York team to another, taking the same position as assistant offensive line coach on head coach Robert Saleh‘s staff. Shamash is a New York native that returns to the tri-state area after five seasons as the Chargers’ assistant tight ends coach to become the Jets’ situational football/game management coordinator. He’s worked with Saleh before in Jacksonville.
  • Elsewhere in New York, the Bills announced that they’ve added Mike Shula as a senior offensive assistant. The former college head coach and NFL offensive coordinator spent the past two seasons in Denver as the Broncos’ quarterbacks coach. They also announced the promotion of Eric Washington. The Bills’ defensive line coach of the past two seasons will have the title of senior defensive assistant added to his billing.
  • The Steelers announced the hiring of their new assistant line coach earlier this month. Isaac Williams joins the NFL coaching ranks after years in college football. Williams has been the offensive line coach at North Carolina Central University (2021), Morgan State (2018-20), and Northern Colorado (2016-17).
  • Las Vegas has hired former college coaching assistant Frederick Walker as a new offensive assistant assigned to work with quarterbacks, according to Myles Simmons of NBC Sports. Walker most recently worked as the quarterbacks coach for the UMass Minutemen. His time in the college ranks saw him working with Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones at Duke University as well as Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott during his time at Mississippi State. He’ll work underneath new head coach Josh McDaniels and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi to assist Derek Carr and company on their road back to consecutive playoff seasons.
  • After being passed up by Matt Groh for the director of player personnel promotion, Eliot Wolf was announced as the Patriots’ new director of scouting on Friday, a promotion from his previous title of front office consultant. According to Wilson, the team also announced that Camren Williams would be named college scouting director.

Redskins Hire Ron Rivera As HC

The Redskins didn’t let him get away. Washington will hire former Panthers HC Ron Rivera as its next head coach and will give him a five-year contract, per Ian Rapoport of (via Twitter). The hire will be announced tomorrow.

Washington fired former head coach Jay Gruden in October, which allowed owner Dan Snyder to get a jump on the hiring process. That may have been crucial, because when Rivera was let go by Carolina earlier this month, he immediately became one of the most qualified coaching candidates on the market, and he would have had other suitors, like the division-rival Cowboys and Giants. But Snyder, who perhaps realized that his silver tuna acquisition of Mike Tomlin was never going to happen, acted quickly to bring Rivera to Washington and keep him there.

Rivera, who played linebacker for the Bears from 1984-92 and who was a part of Chicago’s Super Bowl XX victory, became the team’s quality control coach in 1997. He paid his dues and moved up the coaching ranks, ultimately becoming the Bears’ defensive coordinator in 2004. But it was his stint as the Chargers’ defensive coordinator from 2008-10 that solidified him as one of the best defensive minds in the game, and he parlayed that status into a head coaching gig with the Panthers in 2011.

The Panthers never captured the Lombardi Trophy with Rivera, but he did get them to Super Bowl 50 at the end of the 2015 season, and he earned Coach of the Year honors that year. Including playoffs, Carolina went 79-67-1 with Rivera at the helm.

Although Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins may never be Cam Newton, Rivera obviously feels comfortable enough with the Ohio State product to accept the Washington job. Indeed, many believed it would be difficult for the Redskins to attract a top HC candidate, so it’s a good sign for Washington fans that Rivera apparently believes in the direction the team is heading. And now that Bruce Allen is out of the building and Rivera is in, perhaps the team can bring in a top exec as well (though Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that the team may not complete its front office changes until after the draft).

As far as Rivera’s staff is concerned, there has been speculation linking his former defensive coordinator in Carolina, Steve Wilks, to the same job in Washington. Though Wilks is currently under contract with the Browns — and therefore in limbo — John Keim of says he will not be coming to Washington (Twitter link). Indeed, Adam Schefter of tweets that Rivera is targeting former Jaguars and Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio as his defensive coordinator, which could make for a very strong staff in the nation’s capital. Schefter says Del Rio is the leading candidate for the job.

Joe Person of The Athletic says (via Twitter) that Eric Washington and Sam Mills III could be other names to watch for the DC job, and La Canfora says Rivera is likely to retain offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.

The hire has been well-received, and given the way Snyder handled the Rivera hire and the Allen dismissal, perhaps Redskins fans can feel a bit of optimism heading into the new year.

Coaching Rumors: Panthers, Packers, Giants

Eric Washington will return as the Panthers‘ defensive coordinator in 2019, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. Head coach Ron Rivera took over defensive play-calling late last season and will continue with those responsibilities next year, but Washington will be back as DC. Carolina is interviewing former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and former Jaguars defensive backs coach Perry Fewell, but neither of those potential hire would affect Washington’s standing on the Panthers’ staff.

Here’s more from the 2019 hiring cycle:

  • The Cardinals will retain special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, tweets Jeff Darlington of Kliff Kingsbury convinced Rodgers to stay even though he was fielding offers from other clubs, per Darlington. Meanwhile, the Cardinals received permission to interview Packers wide receivers coach David Raih for the same position, per Rob Demovsky of (Twitter link). Green Bay wasn’t planning to retain Raih, who coached alongside Kingsbury at Texas A&M in 2013.
  • Former Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers was thought to be following Todd Bowles to the Buccaneers, and while that union may still occur, Rodgers today interviewed for a senior defensive position with the Giants, tweets Ian Rapoport of If Rodgers does end up in Tampa Bay, he’ll be the club’s new defensive line coach, but it’s unclear what exactly his role would be with New York. Per RapSheet, the Giants would actually create a new position for Rodgers if he were to come on board.
  • Rodgers’ status with the Buccaneers is still up in the air, but Tampa Bay and new head coach Bruce Arians are well on their way to formulating a staff. In addition to a few hires which were reported yesterday, the Bucs will hire former NFL offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen as quarterbacks coach, reports Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). Additionally, former Cardinals defensive backs coaches Kevin Ross and Nick Rapone will join Arians in Tampa Bay. Wide receivers coach Kevin Garver is also making the Arizona-to-Tampa trek, tweets Josh Weinfuss of
  • The Falcons have made of number of small changes to their coaching staff, tweets D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Dave Brock will move from running backs coach to assistant wide receivers coach, while Bernie Parmalee will switch from running backs coach to assistant special teams coach.

Panthers To Promote Eric Washington To DC?

The Panthers have now lost their defensive coordinator to a head coaching job two years in a row. The good news is that, yet again, it seems like they have someone in-house who is ready to take over. Eric Washington (vertical)

[RELATED: 2018 NFL Draft Order]

Panthers defensive line coach Eric Washington is likely to ascend to DC, according to Peter Schrager of NFL Network (on Twitter). Earlier this month, COO Tina Becker and GM Marty Hurney inked Washington to new deal, ensuring him the position if Wilks were to leave.

On Monday morning, we learned that Wilks is primed to take over as the Cardinals’ new head coach. Last year, the Panthers were in the same boat when Sean McDermott left to become the new head coach of the Bills. Wilks spent just one year as Carolina’s DC before getting his big chance, so this could be a launching pad to an HC opportunity for Washington down the line.

Last year marked Washington’s seventh season as the Panthers’ defensive line coach. In his time at that position, the Panthers have boasted one of the league’s most fearsome front fours. The Panthers have ranked in the top 10 in sacks in five of the past six seasons, including first in 2013, second in 2016, and third in 2017.