Joel Thomas

Giants Coaching Notes: RBs Coach, ST Coordinator, Daboll, Kafka

The Giants have added two coaches to their staff. The team announced that they’ve hired Joel Thomas as their new running backs coach and Aaron Wellman as their executive director of player performance.

Following a long stint in college coaching, Thomas was named the Saints running backs coach in 2015. Since then, the Saints are tied for second in the NFL with 161 rushing touchdowns, with Alvin Kamara earning five Pro Bowl selections over that span. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Saints didn’t block the interview despite the lateral move, with the organization “not wanting to hold a coach back.”

Thomas is set to replace Jeff Nixon, who left his role with the Giants after one season to become Syracuse’s offensive coordinator.

Wellman was previously the Giants’ strength and conditioning coach on both Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur’s staffs. He’s spent the past four years as Indiana University’s senior assistant athletic director for football performance.

More Giants coaching notes:

  • Thomas McGaughey was fired after six seasons as the Giants special teams coordinator, and the organization has started to look for his replacement. According to Rapoport, the Giants interviewed Matt Harper last weekend for the coordinator job. Harper has been with the 49ers organization since 2021, serving as the team’s assistant special teams coordinator.
  • Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reports that Carlos Polk is also expected to be a candidate for the special teams job. The veteran coach spent the past two seasons as the Bears assistant special teams coach, and he previously held that same role with the Jaguars, Cowboys, Buccaneers, and Chargers.
  • There’s more fallout from the sudden Giants/Don Martindale divorce, with much of it focused on head coach Brian Daboll and his handling of the coaching staff. According to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, the coaching staff’s finger pointing got so bad that GM Joe Schoen ended up tuning in to the coach’s headsets during games. This decision may have stemmed from the opinion of some coaches that Daboll’s sideline behavior was “destructive,” with Leonard noting that the coach’s input “was never proactive, always reactionary.”
  • While the Daboll/Martindale argument grabbed headlines, Daboll also didn’t have the rosiest relationship with Mike Kafka. The offensive coordinator “received the brunt of Daboll’s fury” and was constantly second-guessed. This latter point was clear in Daboll’s handling of play-calling duties, as Kafka’s in-game responsibilities were constantly changing

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spun for several weeks, many teams made coordinator changes as well. Teams seeking new head coaches are conducting OC and DC searches, and a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

This is a big year for offensive coordinator hires, with nearly half the league making changes. Here are the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 3-1-23 (3:31pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals 

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Ben McAdoo)

  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach, (Rams): Hired
  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Kellen Moore)

  • Brian Angelichio, tight ends coach (Vikings): Interviewed 2/2
  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach (Rams): Interviewed
  • Jeff Nixon, running backs coach (Panthers): Interviewed
  • Brian Schottenheimer, offensive consultant (Cowboys): Hired

Denver Broncos (Out: Justin Outten)

Houston Texans (Out: Pep Hamilton)

Indianapolis Colts (Out: Parks Frazier)

  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Tee Martin, wide receivers coach (Ravens): Interview requested

Kansas City Chiefs (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Matt Nagy, quarterbacks coach (Chiefs): Hired

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Shane Steichen)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals (Out: Vance Joseph)

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Leslie Frazier)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Al Holcomb)

  • Ejiro Evero, former defensive coordinator (Broncos): Hired
  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): Interviewed
  • Marquand Manuel, safeties coach (Jets): Interviewed
  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator (Saints): Interviewed

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans 

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Renaldo Hill)

  • Derrick Ansley, defensive backs coach (Chargers): Promoted
  • Doug Belk, defensive coordinator (Houston): Interviewed
  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Interviewed

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Ryan Nielsen, Kris Richard)

  • Joe Woods, former defensive coordinator (Browns): Hired

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Jonathan Gannon)

San Francisco 49ers (Out: DeMeco Ryans)

  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): On radar
  • Chris Harris, defensive backs coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/31
  • Kris Kocurek, defensive line coach (49ers): On radar
  • Steve Wilks, former interim head coach (Panthers): Hired

Cardinals Request OC Interviews With Drew Petzing, Drew Terrell, Joel Thomas

With Jonathan Gannon in place as the new head coach in Arizona, changes are coming on the defensive side of the ball. As for their offense, several candidates will be considered before a hire is made.

The Cardinals put out three interview requests for the offensive coordinator position on Thursday. In a trio of tweets, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero report that Arizona is seeking a meeting with Browns quarterbacks coach Drew Petzing, Commanders wide receivers coach Drew Terrell and Saints running backs coach Joel Thomas.

As Rapoport notes, Petzing is a strong contender to land the position. The 35-year-old worked alongside Gannon during their shared time in Minnesota, and was named as a logical hire in the event Gannon was given the head coaching position in Arizona. Petzing has spent the past three years in Cleveland, coaching the team’s tight ends before taking charge of the QBs room in 2022.

Terrell, 31, spent four years in the college ranks before making the jump to the NFL. He worked with the Panthers for two years, then went to Washington in 2020. After one season as an assistant WRs coach, the Stanford alum was promoted to the full-time position and has held it for the past two years. Rapoport adds that Terrell is highly regarded around the league despite his relative lack of experience, so it comes as little surprise that he is receiving interest for a coordinator position.

Thomas held a number of hats at the NCAA level, but has consistently worked with running backs throughout his career. He worked as an OC at Idaho in 2004 and 2005, serving in a similar capacity at Washington in 2012. His only NFL posting has been in New Orleans, beginning in 2015. The 48-year-old has been a key positional coach helping drive the success the Saints have enjoyed with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in the backfield during his tenure, though, like the other two coaches, he has not received interview requests from any other team so far.

Much has been made about the importance regarding Gannon’s hire at OC, given his own background as a defensive staffer and his status as a rookie head coach. During his introductory press conference, he spoke about his commitment – regardless of whomever is tapped as offensive coordinator – to keeping the unit centered around Kyler Murray.

“I have a very specific vision of how I want to play on offense and the person that comes in here to run the offense is going to understand that everything that we do will be structured around the quarterback position to maximize his skill set,” Gannon said, via ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss“And we have an elite one.”

Gannon added that he expects to start the interview process to begin in the next few days, so a decision will likely not come long after as he works to build his staff.

Saints To Be Without 8 Assistants Due To COVID-19 Protocols

SATURDAY: The Saints will be down two more coaches due to virus protocols. Defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen and pass rush specialist Brian Young will not coach in Week 2 as well. However, the team announced Nugent will be able to be on the sidelines Sunday. The Saints are still down eight coaches, with two defensive assistants now joining offensive and special teams staffers set to skip the Charlotte trip.

FRIDAY: Following reports earlier this week of several Saints assistants testing positive for COVID-19, the team announced which coaches will miss their Week 2 game due to the NFL’s coronavirus protocols.

Run-game coordinator and tight ends coach Dan Roushar, offensive line coach Brendan Nugent, wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson, running backs coach Joel Thomas, assistant special teams coach Phil Galiano, offensive assistant Declan Doyle and offensive analyst Jim Chaney will not be with the team for its Week 2 game against Carolina.

This group of coaches is fully vaccinated, according to Sean Payton. New Orleans’ recent run of COVID-19 issues also included Michael Thomas, who tested positive earlier this week. Thomas was already on New Orleans’ reserve/PUP list and is out until Week 7. As a result of these positive tests, Saints players will be required to be tested daily — regardless of vaccination status — and wear masks at the team’s facility until the NFL permits the team to exit the heightened protocols,’s Kevin Patra notes.

The Saints’ virus issues do not quite match the Browns’ from late last season, when several staffers missed Week 17 and Kevin Stefanski missed the team’s wild-card game. And the Saints staffers’ vaccinations make this development a lesser concern than last season’s virus cases on coaching staffs. But it is certainly notable as the NFL begins its second season since the pandemic began.

NFC South Notes: Hardy, Saints, Bucs, Mariota

The upcoming jury trial for Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy will play a key role in his NFL future, writes the Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person.

Hardy’s trial for misdemeanor domestic violence charges starts Monday, a month before the former Pro Bowler is scheduled to become a free agent. A District Court judge found Hardy guilty in July of assaulting and threatening to kill his girlfriend last May. If he is found guilty again, Hardy is likely to face at least a six-game suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy, which would be a significant blow to his value.

The 26-year-old appealed for the upcoming jury trial and the outcome could decide whether he cashes in during free agency or meets a weak response from the market. Hardy played just one game in 2014 as a result of being placed on the commissioner’s exempt list in September. That amounted to a paid suspension for Hardy, who collected $13.1MM on the strength of 11- and 15-sack seasons the two prior years.

Despite his past success, the Panthers are not expected to retain the five-year veteran, according to Person. Domestic violence issues are especially sensitive in today’s NFL, given the controversies Hardy, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson caused in 2014, and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is cognizant of that. “I stand firmly against domestic violence, plain and simple,” said Richardson.

  • The Saints have hired a new running backs coach in Joel Thomas, tweets Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans. Thomas held the same position for the University of Arkansas since 2013.
  • With the hiring of Thomas, the Saints have two RBs coaches – the other being Dan Roushar. There is no official word on Roushar’s fate, though the Times-Picayune’s Katherine Terrell speculates that he could shift to tight ends coach, a position he held at Michigan State from 2011-12.’s Ian Rapoport tweeted in January that the Saints were parting ways with tight ends coach Terry Malone and wide receivers coach Henry Ellard. However, the team still hasn’t officially confirmed their respective statuses.
  • Former Buccaneers general manager and current ESPN analyst Mark Dominik believes Tampa Bay should use the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Dominik, who was with the Bucs from 2009-13, told ESPN Radio’s Scott Van Pelt and Ryan Rusillo on Thursday that he favors Mariota over Florida State QB Jameis Winston, according to the Tampa Tribune’s Roy Cummings. “He’s super smart, he’s competitive, he’s got a good release, he processes quickly, he gets the ball out of his hand fast,” Dominik said of Mariota. “He does all these other things that are fine. Whereas with Winston, you sit there and you say you like everything about the player. And you do. But there’s that what-if concern that’s laying over him, and that’s hard to manage because that’s something you can’t control and that’s something that you have to hope or find out if you can trust him.”