Jim O’Neil

Raiders Hire Ex-49ers DC Jim O’Neil

Jim O’Neil‘s next NFL coaching position will be in the Bay Area, just as his most recent one was. The Raiders are hiring the former 49ers defensive coordinator as a senior defensive assistant, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

O’Neil will work with Oakland’s linebackers and secondary, per Caplan. He was also in contention for a job with the Packers under Mike Pettine, whom O’Neil worked for as Browns DC from 2014-15.

He will now work under newly hired DC Paul Guenther. O’Neil’s most recent defensive work ended with the 2016 49ers ranking last in total defense. His final Browns unit ranked 27th.

Guenther and O’Neil will be in charge of a Raiders unit that struggled over the past three years. Its 2017 showing (23rd in total defense) bettered the 2016 playoff team’s ranking.


Packers Notes: Whitt, O’Neil, Graham, Staff

Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt was passed over as Green Bay searched for a new defensive coordinator, but he’ll stay on with the club and receive an elevated title of defensive passing game coordinator, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Whitt was one of three internal candidates — in addition to assistant head coach/linebackers Winston Moss and safeties coach Darren Perry — being considered for Packers DC, but former Browns head coach Mike Pettine was ultimately awarded the position. At present, there’s no word as to whether Moss or Perry will remain on staff.

Here’s the latest from Green Bay, with a focus on coaches and front office personnel:

  • Now that Pettine has been announced as the Packers’ new defensive coordinator, Green Bay will attempt to fill out a defensive staff. As Adam Caplan of SiriusXM hinted last night, the Packers will interview former 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil for their linebackers coach position, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. O’Neil, who spent the 2017 campaign out of the NFL, served as Petine’s defensive coordinator when both worked with the Browns from 2014-15. O’Neil’s interview could be a sign that the incumbent Moss is moving on.
  • Cignetti isn’t the only ex-Giants assistant whom the Packers could soon hire, as Green Bay will also meet with New York defensive line coach Patrick Graham this week, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Like O’Neil, Graham could be a candidate for the Packers’ linebackers coach job, reports Silverstein (Twitter link). The 38-year-old Graham spent the past two seasons teaching defensive lineman with Big Blue, but was previously a longtime Patriots staffer, working his way through the ranks to coach both lineman and linebackers in New England.
  • Green Bay’s front office has witnessed major upheaval over the past several weeks, as Brian Gutekunst replaced Ted Thompson as general manager while fellow executives Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith both took new positions with the Browns. More changes will likely be coming, however, and the Packers are expected to consider college scouting director Jon-Eric Sullivan and pro personnel director John Wojciechowski for promotions, tweets Silverstein. Both men could be contenders for an assistant general manager of director of player personnel role.

Packers To Hire Mike Pettine As DC

The Packers will hire former Browns head coach Mike Pettine as their next defensive coordinator, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Mike Pettine

Pettine interviewed to replace Dom Capers earlier today, and head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t let the ex-Jets/Bills defensive coordinator leave the building. A long-time Rex Ryan disciple who — like Capers — runs primarily a 3-4 scheme, Pettine will now head to Green Bay after not coaching in the NFL in 2017.

The Packers’ decision to hire Pettine could have effects for not only the rest of the Green Bay defensive staff, but the coordinator market as a while. As PFR’s 2018 Coordinator Tracker shows, the Packers had considered three internal candidates — Winston Moss, Darren Perry, and Joe Whitt — as DC options, and reports have indicated some or all of that trio could now leave Green Bay after being passed over for a promotion.

McCarthy & Co. had expressed interest in external candidates, as well, and were thought to have considered Bears DC Vic Fangio their top target. Fangio, who’s drawn interest from multiple clubs, now remains on the coaching market, as does Chargers DC Gus Bradley, another Green Bay candidate. Speculatively, Fangio’s reported price tag of $2MM+ could have played a factor in the Packers taking a pass.

Pettine, 51, was a star high school coach who rose the coordinator ranks to become head coach of the Browns in 2014. After posting a surprising 7-9 record in his debut campaign, Pettine’s Cleveland squad fell to 3-13 the following season, and Pettine wasn fired. He interviewed for the Redskins’ defensive play-calling job last January but lost out to Greg Manusky.

Now that he’s under contract, Pettine could act quickly to form the remainder of his staff, especially if Moss, Perry, or Whitt leave. Former Browns and 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil should be expected to land a role on Pettine’s new coaching unit, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com.

Extra Points: Dolphins, Cards, Jags, 49ers

The 7-4 Dolphins have won six straight and are on pace to make their first playoff trip since 2008, and the team’s players insist that rookie head coach Adam Gase has a lot to do with it. Many members of the team “love” playing for Gase, they told Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post. “He’s different. He’s … different,” backup quarterback Matt Moore said of Gase, 38, the youngest head coach in the NFL. “I think when he does talk to guys, both offensively and defensively, he’s got something working for him that resonates within guys.” Gase referred to the culture that existed in recent Dolphins regimes as “nonsense,” while longtime Miami defensive end Cameron Wake revealed that observing some past teammates’ commitment issues was “100 percent” difficult to digest. “He gives you the leash, gives you the rope,” stated left tackle Branden Albert. “If you mess it up, then he pulls it, and I think that’s how it should be. For the most part, guys have been good about not messing up.”

More from around the NFL:

  • Even though he relishes working under Bruce Arians, Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin‘s “end all” goal is to become a head coach, he informed Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. “I think B.A. has groomed me, kind of like he groomed Todd (Bowles),” said Goodwin. “Every year he’s given me more and more responsibilities. Obviously I get to see him work every day, how he handles the team, the administrative part of it. I think it’s helped me grow a lot.” Goodwin interviewed with the Buccaneers for their head coaching vacancy last winter, and the Cardinals’ status as an elite offensive team likely helped him earn consideration. Arizona has fallen off this year, though it remains to be seen if that will hurt Goodwin’s chances of landing a promotion during the upcoming offseason. Notably, Arians – not Goodwin – calls the Cardinals’ offensive plays.
  • Sunday’s matchup between Jacksonville and Denver might seem relatively uninteresting, but not to Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall. The Jaguars chose Marshall in the fifth round of the 2012 draft and ended up cutting him three different times before he joined the Broncos in September 2013. Marshall hasn’t forgotten about his inability to stick with the Jags. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” he told Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post. “The scouts, the executives, some coaches, some players, there’s a lot of people still back there from my time. That gives me a little extra push, a little extra umph. It puts a little extra sauce on this game.” Latching on with Denver has worked out wonderfully for Marshall, who signed a sizable extension with the Broncos over the summer on the heels of a strong couple of years – including a Super Bowl-winning campaign last season. He ranks as Pro Football Focus’ 16th-best linebacker out of 85 qualifiers this year.
  • Of the 49ers’ 17 players scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency in the offseason, the team should try to re-sign six – defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey, tight end Vance McDonald, linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong, wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, and quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Thaddeus Lewis – opines Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. Armstrong has a fan in defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil, who gives the 25-year-old “two thumbs up,” but the coach’s uncertain future could affect whether the defender returns, writes Barrows.

49ers Won’t Shake Up Defensive Staff

The 49ers’ defense is struggling and the upcoming bye week would be the optimal time to make a mid-season change. However, coach Chip Kelly told reporters that he is sticking with Jim O’Neil and the rest of the team’s defensive staff (via USA Today). Jim O'Neil (vertical)

On Sunday, the Niners fell 34-17 to the Buccaneers. Jacquizz Rodgers, who started the year as the Buccaneers’ No. 3 running back, ran for 154 yards, becoming the second straight back to gain at least 100 yards against the Niners in the first half. The Niners’ struggles aren’t limited to the defensive side of the ball, of course, but there has been speculation about O’Neil as the team sits at 1-6.

Last year, the 49ers ranked 29th in the NFL in yards allowed and placed 18th in the league in points allowed at 24.2 points per game under the watch of Eric Mangini. So far this year, they aren’t showing any improvement under their new DC.

49ers Hire Jim O’Neil As DC

New 49ers coach Chip Kelly has hired former Browns defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil to fill the same position in San Francisco, a source tells Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. O’Neil was chosen over 49ers outside linebackers coach Jason Tarver, who will stay on board with the same title. Jim O'Neil (vertical)

[RELATED: 49ers To Hire Chip Kelly]

Last year, the 49ers ranked 29th in the NFL in yards allowed and placed 18th in the league in points allowed at 24.2 points per game under the watch of Eric Mangini. Under O’Neil, the Browns were top ten in yards allowed and scoring under O’Neil in 2014, but they plummeted towards the cellar last season. Cleveland ranked 27th in yards allowed and 29th in points allowed in 2015 and new head coach Hue Jackson opted to let him go upon taking over this offseason.

In his three seasons as Eagles head coach, Kelly’s teams had defend more plays than any other squad in the NFL. The Eagles faced a league-high 1,148 plays last season and Kelly will need one heck of a defense if things unfold similarly for the 49ers this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday Roundup: Manning, 49ers, Norman

In a few hours, we will know which teams will be heading to San Francisco for Super Bowl 50. In the meantime, let’s dive into some news and notes from around the league:

  • Although the story has largely fallen out of mainstream coverage, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that the NFL is still reviewing the HGH allegations surrounding Broncos QB Peyton Manning and that the matter is not yet resolved.
  • Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that new 49ers head coach Chip Kelly has been very noncommittal in his comments regarding Colin Kaepernick, suggesting that Kelly is less excited about the prospect of having Kaepernick run his offense than one might think. It is especially strange that Kelly claimed he could not discuss how Kaepernick might fit into his offense because it was against NFL offseason rules, when in fact it is not against league rules to discuss a player who is under contract. Of course, Kelly’s comments could just be a reflection of his guarded, introverted personality, but the lack of enthusiasm is still somewhat surprising.
  • The 49ers are still looking for a new defensive coordinator, and per Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (via Twitter), the team is interested in former Browns DC Jim O’Neil. Former Browns head coach Mike Pettine has said he wants to take the 2016 season off.
  • Panthers CB Josh Norman, an impending free agent, is set to cash in on his terrific 2015 campaign, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (article via Conor Orr of NFL.com) observes, Norman will likely seek a contract in the Richard Sherman/Patrick Peterson neighborhood (both of whom recently signed deals with more than $40MM in guarantees). The Panthers could, of course, put the franchise tag on Norman–at a value of $13-14MM–but Carolina should have around $20MM in cap space and does not have many other high priority free agents to worry about.
  • Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that the Steelers must improve their secondary in the offseason, but the problem is that they have few internal options that they can reasonably rely upon. The team may be forced to open its checkbook, and Bouchette thinks it would be wise for the Steelers to re-sign Brandon Boykin. He also names Eric Weddle as an intriguing possibility.
  • According to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, one of the reasons the Jaguars handed a one-year extension to head coach Gus Bradley was to avoid a situation like the one Chuck Pagano recently faced in Indianapolis. Pagano’s expiring contract, of course, created a season-long distraction that Jacksonville hopes to avoid.
  • Jordan Raanan of NJ.com compared the Giants‘ roster to those of the four conference finalists, and in so doing, he discovered the biggest problem that the team faced in 2015 and may continue to face moving forward. Although the Giants do not have enough homegrown talent, and although they need to get more production from their first-round draft picks, the most significant concern the team faced relative to the league’s more successful franchises is that it did not get enough production from its highest-paid players. Big Blue got nothing, or next to nothing, from three of its highest-paid players–Victor Cruz, Will Beatty, and Jason Pierre-Paul–which will make for some interesting decisions in the offseason.

Coach Updates: Joseph, Texans, Browns, Bucs

Earlier today, we passed along a report suggesting that former interim head coach Dan Campbell is unlikely to remain with the Dolphins. Now, Alex Marvez of FOX Sports has another update on Miami’s coaching staff, walking back his weekend report which suggested it was a “done deal” that Bengals assistant Vance Joseph would be joining the Dolphins as their defensive coordinator.

According to Marvez (Twitter links), Joseph can’t sign with another team until next Tuesday unless he’s released from his contract by the Bengals — the Dolphins could request Cincinnati release Joseph from his deal early, but the Bengals wouldn’t be required to do so.

Meanwhile, it’s not an absolute lock that Joseph will join the Dolphins when he’s free to sign with a new team. Per Marvez (Twitter link), there’s still a chance that the Bengals’ defensive backs coach could become Hue Jackson‘s defensive coordinator if Jackson gets a head coaching job, so a bidding war for Joseph’s services could be looming.

As we wait to see where Joseph lands, let’s round up a few more coaching-related updates…

  • The Texans have fired three assistant coaches, including special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Wide receivers coach Stan Hixon and special teams assistant Anthony Pleasant were also let go.
  • Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and three other Browns assistants have been asked to remain with the team if the new head coach wants them, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. That means defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, and several other Cleveland coaches will be free to explore opportunities elsewhere.
  • According to Peter King of TheMMQB.com, “word on the coaching circuit” indicates Jon Gruden would have listened very earnestly if the Colts‘ head coaching job had become available. Gruden has been linked to the Eagles’ coaching vacancy, but it doesn’t appear the ESPN analyst is going anywhere.
  • After former NFL GM Mark Dominik (Twitter link) alluded to a coach in the postseason who would be a strong candidate for the Buccaneers‘ head coaching opening, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link) identified that coach as Cardinals OC Harold Goodwin. Goodwin interviewed with the Bucs on Friday, but won’t be able to speak to the club again for at least a week, with Arizona still alive in the playoffs.

AFC Links: Woodson, Titans, Pats, Skrine

Let’s check out some assorted notes from around the AFC…

  • Following his tenure with the Packers, veteran cornerback Charles Woodson inked a contract with the Raiders. Woodson admitted that his agent had reached out to the Lions during the 2012 offseason, but there was little interest from the franchise. “I was kind of throwing some lines out there to see where the interest was,” Woodson said (via ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein). “Most teams, coming out of Green Bay, everybody thought I was pretty much done. Washed up. Couldn’t run anymore. I heard all of the adjectives to describe me…They were one of those teams that probably thought that.”
  • Michael Oher was just one of many offseason additions that didn’t work out for the Titans in 2014, writes ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard lost his job to a rookie, running back Dexter McCluster made little impact offensively, defensive lineman Al Woods ultimately settled into a backup role and linebacker Shaun Phillips was cut in November.
  • In a series of tweets, Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap partially attributes the Patriots cap-conscious approach to the team’s inability to keep running back Curtis Martin. The franchise’s lack of cap flexibility during the 1998 offseason had a lasting impact on the organization, and the team vowed to never be in that kind of situation again.
  • Count Browns defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil among those who’d like to see defensive back Buster Skrine back with the team next season. “Buster is one of my favorite guys on the defense,” O’Neil previously said (via Kevin Jones of ClevelandBrowns.com). “He embodies ‘Play Like a Brown.’ I don’t ever want to let good players walk out the door.”

Coaching Notes: Cowboys, Browns, Eagles

There were a handful of coaching moves today. Here are the highlights from around the league…

  • The Cowboys will hire former Lions‘ offensive coordinator Scott Linehan as their passing game coordinator, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Linehan had been Detroit’s offensive coach since 2009, but was fired at the end of the December. Rapoport also mentions that Linehan will be hired to call plays on offense, the Cowboys’ third playcaller in three seasons.
  • The Browns have continued to poach the Bills coaching staff, announcing today that linebackers coach Jim O’Neil will be joining Mike Pettine in Cleveland as the team’s defensive coordinator. Pettine will also take Buffalo coaches Brian Fleury and Jeff Hafley along with him. The Bills defense set a franchise record in 2013 with 57 sacks.
  • The Eagles filled some roles on their coaching staff, signing Bill Musgrave as their quarterbacks coach and promoting Mike Dawson from defensive quality control coach to assistant defensive line coach, according to Zach Berman of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Additionally, 22-year-old Michael Clay, will take over Dawson’s former role. Clay played for Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly at Oregon for four seasons.