Frank Okam

AFC Coaching Notes: Ventrone, Browns, Broncos, Joseph, Raiders, Dolphins, Texans

After the Colts changed coaching staffs, Bubba Ventrone will have an opportunity to land on his feet. The Indianapolis special teams coordinator is on track to interview with the Browns, and’s Stephen Holder tweets the Colts are expecting to lose him to the Cleveland job. Ventrone spent five seasons in Indianapolis and is a well-regarded ST coordinator. The Browns are also interviewing Giants assistant special teams coach Anthony Blevins, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports tweets. That meeting is expected to commence via Zoom today, per CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson (on Twitter). The Browns fired ST coordinator Mike Preiffer earlier this week. Blevins has been with the Giants for the past five years.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Prior to the Cardinals making Nick Rallis the NFL’s youngest active coordinator, at 29, the Broncos had him on their radar. Denver showed interest in the former Philadelphia linebackers coach, Troy Renck of Denver7 notes. Rallis is a cool 31 years younger than the favorite to land the Denver job (Rex Ryan), but the Broncos are still eyeing Vance Joseph. Despite being fired after two seasons as Denver’s HC, Joseph is interested in coming back, Renck adds. The Eagles also have eyes on the ex-Cardinals DC; they are finishing up a two-day interview Wednesday.
  • The Colts are hiring University of Cincinnati offensive coordinator Tom Manning as their tight ends coach, Aaron Wilson of KPRC tweets. This will be a reunion for Manning, who was on Frank Reich‘s first Colts staff as tight ends coach. Manning had recently accepted Cincinnati’s offer to be its OC, coming over after a four-year stay on Matt Campbell‘s Iowa State staff. The ex-Cyclones OC drew interest from multiple NFL teams, per Wilson.
  • The Browns will look to the college ranks as well. They are set to hire Utah State defensive coordinator Ephraim Banda to be their safeties coach, according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel (Twitter links). Prior to his two-year run in Utah, Banda spent the previous two seasons as the University of Miami’s co-DC.
  • To fill their safeties coach post, the Dolphins are adding Eagles assistant Joe Kasper, Cameron Wolfe of tweets. Kasper joined the Eagles’ staff in Nick Sirianni‘s first year; this will be a move up the ladder, bringing positional responsibilities Kasper’s way for the first time.
  • The Raiders fired defensive line coach Frank Okam, Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes. A former NFL D-lineman, Okam came to Las Vegas after two years on Matt Rhule‘s Carolina staff. The Raiders struggled on defense for most of the season, dropping from 14th to 28th in total defense. Rather than can DC Patrick Graham, the team is moving on from one of his lieutenants.
  • In addition to ST coordinator Frank Ross, the Texans are also retaining wide receivers coach Ben McDaniels, Wilson writes. The younger brother of Josh McDaniels, Ben has been with the Texans since Nick Caserio‘s 2021 arrival. While Ben McDaniels has never worked for the Patriots, Caserio has been close with Josh McDaniels for many years. The Texans promoted Ben McDaniels from assistant wideouts coach in 2022.

AFC Coaching Notes: Pederson, Broncos, Bills, Raiders, Texans

Although the Jaguars had offensive-oriented coaches in place as head coach in Doug Marrone and Urban Meyer, neither operated as the team’s primary play-caller. That pattern will change with Doug Pederson. The former Eagles HC will call the Jaguars’ offensive plays, Ian Rapoport of tweets. This is not surprising, with the former Super Bowl-winning coach having been Philadelphia’s play-caller during his five seasons at the helm. Pederson also helped establish his HC case by calling plays at points with the Chiefs. Pederson’s primary task will be relaunching Trevor Lawrence‘s career after the prized quarterback prospect struggled under Meyer and Darrell Bevell. OC Press Taylor has not called plays previously, but passing-game coordinator Jim Bob Cooter has. They will be Pederson’s right-hand men on his Lawrence reboot effort.

Here is the latest from the AFC coaching ranks:

  • In addition to making the long-expected Ejiro Evero defensive coordinator hire, the Broncos are plucking two more assistants off the Rams’ staff in the wake of Super Bowl LVI. Dwayne Stukes is coming to Denver to be the team’s special teams coordinator, while Marcus Dixon is leaving Los Angeles for Colorado to be the new Broncos D-line coach. Stukes, 45, spent the 2021 season as the Rams’ assistant ST coordinator. Stukes has experience as an ST coordinator — with the 2011 Buccaneers — and has been an assistant ST coach with the Bears and Giants. Dixon will also be a one-and-done with the Rams, having been hired as their assistant D-line coach last year. Previously, Dixon spent four years as an assistant at Division I-FCS Hampton.
  • The Raiders are hiring a new defensive line coach, tabbing Frank Okam for that role, per’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). This comes more than a month after the Panthers fired Okam. Carolina brought Okam from Matt Rhule‘s Baylor staff in 2020, when he served as the Panthers’ assistant D-line coach. Carolina bumped Okam to its D-line coach last year. He will follow ex-Panthers assistant Jason Simmons to Las Vegas.
  • The Bills are expected to hire Marcus West as a defensive assistant, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic tweets. Previously a co-defensive coordinator at Charlotte, West is on track to be the Bills’ assistant D-line coach, per Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic (on Twitter). This will be West’s first NFL coaching gig.
  • One of the Marrone-era holdovers Meyer kept on his lone Jaguars staff, Joe Danna is now on board as the Texans’ safeties coach, Aaron Wilson of tweets. Danna spent five seasons in Jacksonville and was with the Jets and Falcons as well, serving as DBs coach with both teams.

Panthers Reworking Staff

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has had some difficulties making the same immediate impact in Carolina that gained him notoriety in Waco. In two years at the helm, Rhule hasn’t succeeded in improving his team’s win total from the season before he was hired. In an attempt to make some needed improvements, the Panthers announced that they were letting go of offensive line coach Pat Meyer, defensive line coach Frank Okam, and special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn.

The team struggled on both sides of the line this year and it looks like any attempts to improve will be made by new position coaches, while the special teams unit saw four different kickers and three punters throughout the year, including the preseason.

Meyer has been with Rhule since the move to Carolina. He’s been coaching in the NFL for 8 years with stops at the Chargers, Bills, and Bears. Meyer entered the NFL with Marc Trestman, moving with the coach from the CFL to Chicago.

Okam joined Rhule at Baylor and followed the notably loyal coach to the Panthers. Rhule had brought much of his staff from Temple with him to Baylor, so it was safe to assume some of the Baylor staff would end up in Carolina, as well. Despite coaching up young draft picks like Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Bravvion Roy and seeing career numbers from Brian Burns, Efe Obada, and Marquis Haynes, it seems Rhule is wanting a bit more from this position group.

Chase Blackburn was a longtime linebacker for the Giants before spending his final two years playing in Carolina. After about a year of retirement from playing, Blackburn became a special teams intern in Ron Rivera‘s staff. When Rhule came in to replace Rivera, Blackburn was one of two holdovers from the staff along with Jake Peetz, who is now the offensive coordinator at LSU.

It’s yet to be seen who will replace them, but Rhule continues to show hints of what made him successful at the college level by attempting to make the necessary changes to succeed. With young talent on both sides of the ball, Rhule may yet turn this team around.

Panthers Add Several To Coaching Staff

As could be expected given Matt Rhule‘s hiring, the 2020 Panthers will feature a heavy Baylor feel on their coaching staff. In addition to Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow, several more Baylor assistants will make the jump to the pros.

The Panthers announced additional hires to their staff Friday. Among them are assistant head coach Jeff Nixon, wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson, tight ends coach Brian Angelichio, assistant offensive line coach Marcus Satterfield, assistant D-line coach Frank Okam, cornerbacks coach Evan Cooper and assistant special teams coach Ed Foley.

Nixon and Jackson played key roles under Rhule at Baylor, but both are ex-NFL assistants. Nixon, who will coach Carolina’s running backs, led the Dolphins’ running backs for five years before working on Chip Kelly‘s 49ers staff in 2016. He was Rhule’s co-offensive coordinator at Baylor from 2017-19. Most of Jackson’s work has come at the college level, but he spent 2017 as the Titans’ wideouts coach.

Angelichio has more experience at the NFL level, coaching tight ends previously for the Redskins in 2019. Instead of working for former Panthers coach Ron Rivera, he will trek to Charlotte for a role with Rivera’s old team. Previously, Angelichio was tight ends coach with the Buccaneers, Browns and Packers since 2012.

Rhule’s former Temple OC, Satterfield was Baylor’s tight ends coach last season. He is an NFL first-timer. A former NFL lineman, Okam is as well. He spent the past two seasons as Baylor’s assistant D-line coach. Also set to become an NFL rookie staffer, Cooper will move from Baylor’s assistant cornerbacks coach to running that position in Carolina. On Rhule’s Temple and Baylor staffs, Foley headed up the Owls’ special teams and was their interim HC after Rhule took the Baylor job. He is also set for his first NFL coaching gig.

The Panthers also hired E.J. Barthel, Grant Udinksi and Cedric Whitaker as coaching assistants. Barthel and Whitaker will make major jumps to the NFL after respectively spending 2019 at Houston Baptist and William & Mary, respectively. Udinski will make the Baylor-to-Carolina transition.