Jerrod Johnson

Vikings Notes: Coaching Staff, Scheme, O’Connell

With new head coach Kevin O’Connell in place, the Vikings made a number of announcements at his inaugural press conference. Among those was the confirmation of several assistants on his staff, as reported by ESPN’s Courtney Cronin (Twitter link). 

One of the most notable names on the list is that of Mike Pettine. The 55-year-old was reported to be joining the team’s staff earlier in the week, albeit not as the defensive coordinator as was originally thought by some. The team unveiled that his title will be assistant head coach, the highest-ranking position he’ll have had since his time in Cleveland in 2014-2015.

In addition, Ed Donatell was confirmed as the team’s new defensive coordinator, giving first-time HC O’Connell a vastly experienced staffer on the defensive side of the ball. Several assistants were also announced, each in the roles they were initially reported to be filling: Chris Rumph as defensive line coach, Chris O’Hara and Jerrod Johnson to work with the team’s quarterbacks, Chris Kuper and Justin Rascati to coach the offensive line, as well as Brian Angelichio and Curtis Modkins to serve as offensive pass and run game coordinators, respectively.

Here are some other Vikings notes, including further announcements from the presser:

  • As Ben Goessling of The Minneapolis Star Tribune writes, the Vikings will switch to a 3-4 base defense, something that hasn’t been seen in Minnesota since the 1980s. With that said, the team, like almost all in the NFL now, will still principally deploy its nickel package, and they plan to switch between three- and four-man fronts within drives and games.
  • In a widely expected announcement, O’Connell confirmed that he will call plays on offense. That will make him the first Vikings HC to do so since Brad Childress, and keep him in line with the structure he is leaving under the Rams and Sean McVay. O’Connell added that he plans to include the “up-tempo offensive concepts” he developed in L.A. within Minnesota’s offense.
  • One assistant coach who will not be following O’Connell to the Vikings is Jonathan Cooley. The Rams’ assistant defensive backs coach has been blocked from interviewing with Minnesota (Twitter link via Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic). Especially given the loss of Ejiro Evero earlier this offseason, keeping Cooley would be particularly important for the Rams.

 

NFC Coaching Notes: Giants, Seahawks, Bears

Brian Daboll is naturally making some changes to the Giants coaching staff. Per Aaron Wilson on Twitter (detailed in four tweets), the Giants have hired Drew Wilkins as linebackers coach, Christian Jones as an offensive assistant, Laura Young as director of coaching operations, Bobby Johnson as offensive line coach, Shea Tierney as quarterbacks coach, DeAndre Smith as running backs coach, Mike Groh as wide receivers coach, Andy Bischoff as tight ends coach, Tony Sparano Jr. as assistant offensive line coach, and Andre Patterson as defensive line coach.

Daboll also retained a handful of holdovers from Joe Judge’s staff. That grouping includes Jerome Henderson (defensive backs coach), Mike Treier (assistant defensive backs coach), Anthony Blevins (special teams assistant), and Nick Williams (special teams quality control coach).

Finally, the Giants shifted Ryan Hollern to college scouting coordinator and named Mark Loecher as assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Some more coaching notes out of the NFC…

  • The Seahawks will promote Andy Dickerson to their offensive line coach, per ESPN’s Brady Henderson (via Twitter). Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron recruited Dickerson from the Rams last offseason, with Dickerson earning the role of run-game coordinator. Now, he’ll earn the (apparent) promotion to OL coach. The Seahawks fired former offensive line coach Mike Solari last week, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). This was the 67-year-old’s second stint with the organization, and he had served as the team’s OL coach since 2018.
  • The Bears announced last week that they hired Carlos Polk as their assistant special teams coach. The 44-year-old coach has served in the same role with a handful of teams, including the Chargers, Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Jaguars. He spent the 2021 campaign in Jacksonville.
  • The Cardinals have hired Matt Burke as their defensive line coach, reports Pelissero (on Twitter). The 45-year-old was the Dolphins defensive coordinator between 2017 and 2018, and he most recently worked for the Jets as a “game management coach.” Burke has also had coaching stints with the Eagles, Bengals, Lions, and Titans.
  • The Vikings have hired Brian Angelichio as their pass game coordinator/tight ends coach, reports ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (via Twitter). Angelichio spent the past two years as the Panthers tight ends coach, so he’s getting a slight promotion in Minnesota. Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the Vikings are hiring Jerrod Johnson as an offensive assistant. Johnson is expected to work with the QBs. The coach was a two-time participant in the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, and he spent last season as the Colts quality control coach.
  • Matt Rhule has made some changes to his staff. The Panthers announced that they’ve hired Joe Dailey as wide receivers coach. Dailey has spent the past two seasons as Boston College’s offensive coordinator. Meanwhile, Robert Kugler was hired as assistant offensive line coach while defensive analyst Kevin Gilbride Jr. was promoted to TE coach (replacing Angelichio).

Cowboys Trim Roster To 53

The Cowboys have made the following moves in order to cut their roster down to 53:

Cut:

Waived/Injured:

  • DE Mike McAdoo

Reserve/Suspended:

NFI:

Cowboys To Sign Jerrod Johnson

Rejoice, Texas A&M fans. The Cowboys will sign Jerrod Johnson to serve as Jameill Showers‘ emergency backup for tonight’s preseason finale against the Texans, Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram tweets. Jerrod Johnson (vertical)

Johnson, 28, has yet to appear in a regular season game for an NFL team, but he has had stints with five different teams, including practice squad tours. Since going undrafted in 2011, Johnson has signed deals with the Eagles, Steelers, Seahawks, Bears, and Ravens. However, with the rash of injuries in Dallas, Johnson could have an opportunity to hook on with the Cowboys as their No. 3 QB behind Showers and Week 1 starter Dak Prescott.

In four years at Texas A&M, Johnson completed 650 of his 1,109 total passes, totaling a 58.6% percentage. He threw 67 touchdowns against 27 interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Place Watson, Arrington On IR

The Ravens took a big step towards getting their roster down to 75 today. The Ravens announced that they have placed veteran tight end Ben Watson and cornerback Kyle Arrington on injured reserve. Meanwhile, the team has also waived eight other players and cut one.

Both Watson and Arrington suffered their season-ending injuries during preseason. In the Ravens’ preseason opener against the Panthers, Arrington suffered a concussion that he has yet to recover from. Watson, meanwhile, tore his Achilles on Saturday night against the Lions.

The Ravens cut linebacker Kavell Conner and he’ll immediately hit the free agent market as a vested veteran. Meanwhile, the following eight players have been waived:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/8/16

Here are today’s reserve/futures contract signings from around the league. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2016 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ 90-man rosters.

Baltimore Ravens

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

Bears Sign Jamil Merrell, Conor O’Neill

The Bears have signed former Rutgers defensive lineman Jamil Merrell who was in on a tryout during minicamp, tweets Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. The Bears will also sign Wisconsin linebacker Conor O’Neill to a contract, Biggs tweets. To make room for the duo, the Bears released defensive lineman Israel Idonije and quarterback Jerrod Johnson (link).

The release of Idonije, 33, is probably the most notable of all the moves. The 6’7″ defensive tackle has spent nine of his ten career seasons playing for the Bears, save for a one-year tour with the Lions last season. Idonije has 149 games of NFL experience to his credit, including 50 starts for Chicago. His best season came in 2010 when he lined up at left defensive end for the Bears and racked up eight sacks and 33 tackles.

Johnson, 25, was fighting for a spot on the depth chart to backup starter Jay Cutler. His odds got a little bit tougher, however, when the club signed Jimmy Clausen earlier this month.

Poll: Bears Backup Quarterback

When Josh McCown signed a two-year, $10MM deal with the Buccaneers in March, the position of Bears backup quarterback swung wide open. And when the team added San Jose State’s David Fales with a sixth-round pick two months later, the competition got that much juicier.

Three men are competing for the No. 2 spot on the QB depth chart: Jordan Palmer (brother of Carson), Jerrod Johnson and the aforementioned Fales. Palmer is the leader in the clubhouse, according to Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune, a spot he’s earned with experience. A sixth-round pick in 2007, 2014 will mark his eighth season of professional football.

Johnson spent 18 days on the practice squad in September, Wiederer notes, and has yet to throw a pass in the NFL after entering the league in 2011 as an undrafted free agent from Texas A&M.

Whoever wins the spot has big shoes to fill — McCown shined bright last season filling in for an injured Jay Cutler, leading the league in fewest interceptions per throw and winning three of five starts. The biggest reason for his success, per quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, was the relationship he shared with Cutler.

“Josh was a great example of a guy where, although he knew he was going to be backing up Jay, he truly approached every day like he was going to be getting all the reps,” Cavanaugh said. “He worked very hard. And not only that, he was selfless enough to know that although I’m competing, I want to be able to help Jay too.

“Those guys had a unique relationship that Jay really counted on. Josh was his sounding board a lot. Sometimes when coaches speak to you, it’s coach-speak. You want to hear one of your buddies say, ‘Hey, they’re right.’ Or, ‘Let’s talk it through and then we’ll approach them about it.’ So there’s a role to be played there.”