Jonathan Cooley

NFC South Coaching Updates: Marrone, Cooley, Peelle

New Boston College head coach Bill O’Brien is set to take yet another NFL coach onto his new staff. According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, former Saints offensive line coach and former NFL head coach Doug Marrone is set to join O’Brien’s staff.

Marrone joins former Patriots tight ends coach Will Lawing at Boston College. Lawing left New England’s NFL team for his first offensive coordinator opportunity at the collegiate level. Both Lawing and Marrone worked under O’Brien at Alabama in 2021.

Bringing his experience as a head coach at Syracuse and for the Bills and Jaguars, Marrone will serve in the role of senior analyst for football strategy/research.

Here are a few other coaching updates from around the NFC South:

  • The Panthers have granted a promotion to secondary and cornerbacks coach Jonathan Cooley. After one year with the team, Cooley was part of a defensive staff under coordinator Ejiro Evero that was completely retained under new head coach Dave Canales. In his second season with the team, Carolina has made Cooley their defensive passing game coordinator, per Joe Person of The Athletic.
  • This week, the Buccaneers announced the hire of Justin Peelle as their new tight ends coach. Formerly the tight ends coach of the Falcons, Peelle was not retained after the firing of Arthur Smith and will cross the division to join Liam Coen‘s offensive staff in Tampa Bay. Peelle, a former NFL tight end himself, has had plenty of success during his coaching career, mentoring players like Zach Ertz in Philadelphia and Kyle Pitts in Atlanta. In Tampa Bay, he’ll inherit a position group that features Cade Otton.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, QBs, Maye, Panthers

Tom Brady‘s retirement shoved the Buccaneersvoid-years bill to 2023, and the $35.1MM cap hit will complicate the team’s plans to replace the all-time great. Tampa Bay is more than $55MM over the cap, as of Wednesday, and has upper-crust cornerback Jamel Dean on track for free agency. While the rest of the NFC South is being connected to quarterbacks, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets the Bucs should not be considered players for top-tier QB free agents. This would include Jimmy Garoppolo and almost definitely Derek Carr, and while Stroud adds the team will look at the market, the Bucs’ price range could be considered in the midlevel area.

Former second-rounder Kyle Trask, whom Jeremy Fowler of notes Bucs players are high on as a player who can compete for the starting job (after two years in development), is the only quarterback left on the roster. The team holds the No. 19 overall pick. Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • The Saints have been the team most closely connected to Carr. They will need to complete their usual batch of winter restructures to be in position to pay him, though there are not as many avenues available to the crafty organization compared to recent years. But the Saints started their path to cap compliance Wednesday. They restructured Marcus Maye‘s deal, Field Yates of tweets. By moving $6.07MM of Maye’s salary into a signing bonus, the team created $4.85MM in cap space. Baby steps. The Saints are still more than $50MM over the cap.
  • Another Matt Rhule-era hire is no longer with the Panthers. The team parted ways with VP of player personnel Pat Stewart, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Stewart, who worked with Rhule at both Western Carolina and Temple, joined the Panthers in 2020.
  • New Panthers HC Frank Reich will bring in ex-Rams assistant Jonathan Cooley, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets. Cooley is set to join the Panthers as their defensive backs coach. He and new Carolina DC Ejiro Evero worked together in Los Angeles, with the Rams promoting Cooley after Evero left for Denver last year. The Rams, despite blocking Cooley from interviewing with the Vikings in 2022, fired him just after this past season ended.
  • Another Rams staffer fired along with Cooley in January will catch on in the NFC South. The Saints are hiring Kevin Carberry to be their assistant offensive line coach, Yates adds (on Twitter). Carberry served as the Rams’ offensive line coach during their Super Bowl LVI-winning 2021 season and last year. He will replace Zach Strief, who is now the Broncos’ O-line coach.
  • When Ryan Jensen went down during a July practice, he tore his MCL and PCL fully but only partially tore his ACL. This allowed for the veteran Buccaneers center to avoid surgery, Dan Pompei of Athletic notes (subscription required). Jensen also suffered meniscus damage, per Pompei, who adds retirement was a consideration for the injured blocker. Jensen took out a $5MM insurance policy in the event of a career-ending injury. A stem cell treatment in Antigua, however, made a difference in Jensen’s recovery. The 31-year-old blocker managed to make it back to practice late in the season and played in Tampa Bay’s wild-card loss to Dallas. Two years remain on Jensen’s three-year, $39MM contract.
  • Eddy Pineiro came to Charlotte as a Zane Gonzalez replacement, but the ex-Bears kicker fared well. Pineiro made 33 of 35 field goals, including a 15-for-16 mark from beyond 40 yards, and Person views him as the most likely Panthers kicker in 2023. Gonzalez suffered a preseason quad injury, leading to a full-season IR stay. The Rhule signee is under contract through 2023, while Pineiro is a free agent. But the latter has ties to special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, whom Person adds Reich is retaining. Tabor coached Pineiro in Chicago as well.

Rams Part Ways With ST Coordinator Joe DeCamillis, OL Coach Kevin Carberry, Others

Sean McVay‘s return for a seventh season was believed to trigger staff changes, and the Rams are moving in that direction Wednesday. The team dismissed five assistants, including special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, Field Yates of tweets.

The Rams also parted ways with offensive line coach Kevin Carberry, defensive backs coach Jonathan Cooley and assistants Skyler Jones and assistant Lance Schulters, Yates adds. With offensive coordinator Liam Coen having left recently, the Rams now have extensive work to do on finalizing their 2023 staff. McVay informed the staffers of the decisions shortly after recommitting to the team late last week, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets. The team also will not bring back linebackers coach Thad Bogardus, Rodrigue adds (via Twitter), noting Bogardus’ contract was up.

All but one of these coaches, Jones being the exception, was on Los Angeles’ staff during the team’s Super Bowl LVI-winning season. Following the Rams’ 5-12 2022 campaign — the worst record by a defending Super Bowl champion and by far the worst mark under McVay — the team will reassemble its staff. An NFL special teams coach since the late 1980s, DeCamillis joined the Rams in 2021. Carberry and Schulters came aboard then as well, with Cooley having been on staff since 2020. DeCamillis, who has been an ST coach role for the past 35 seasons, collected a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos in 2015.

This marked Carberry’s first run as an NFL team’s top O-line coach. He had worked as an assistant O-line coach in Washington, serving under then-Washington OC McVay during the first of those seasons (2016). Pro Football Focus rated L.A.’s O-line 25th. Then again, the Rams dealt with rampant health trouble up front. Following third-round rookie Logan Bruss‘ ACL tear, the Rams struggled to keep almost all of their O-linemen healthy. That obviously affected the team’s offense, which ranked 32nd in yardage — miles below any other McVay-coached Rams season.

Bogardus had been with the Rams throughout McVay’s tenure, working with both the D-line and linebackers under McVay. Cooley became the Rams’ replacement for Ejiro Evero last year, moving from the quality control level into a gig as the team’s top DBs coach. Evero did not hold the Rams’ DBs coach title until his fifth and final year with the team. McVay had previously blocked Cooley from an interview to join Kevin O’Connell‘s Vikings staff last year, and Rodrigue notes a dismissal now caught some among the team by surprise (Twitter link). Formerly a long-tenured NFL safety, Schulters worked as a Rams fellow in 2021 but became a defensive assistant this season. Jones was the team’s assistant defensive line coach, coming aboard in 2022 after a stay as Norfolk State’s D-line coach.

Prior to McVay informing Rams brass he would return, the team indicated it would not block its position coaches from interviewing for jobs elsewhere. The Rams will now have to replace two of their three coordinators — potentially all three if DC Raheem Morris lands a head coaching job — this offseason. The team had already lost running backs coach Ra’Sheed Samples, who took a job at Arizona State.

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: Nielsen, Vikings, Giants

The Saints promoted from within to fill their head coach position and halted their offensive coordinator search to keep Pete Carmichael in that role. Their other top staff job may involve a similar process. Defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen is a candidate to take over as defensive coordinator, Jeremy Fowler of notes. Nielsen, 42, has been with the Saints for the past five seasons, each as the team’s D-line coach. Nielsen has DC experience, but it came at the mid-major (Northern Illinois) and Division I-FCS (Central Connecticut State) levels. The Saints also have a former NFL defensive coordinator on staff, in secondary coach Kris Richard. The former Seahawks DC should receive a look as well. He met with both the Ravens and Steelers about their DC vacancies last month. The Saints have met with multiple outside candidates, Michael Wilhoite and Aubrey Pleasant, for the position as well. Wilhoite began his coaching career in New Orleans, working as a lower-level assistant from 2019-20.

Here is the latest from the NFC’s coaching ranks:

  • New Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell is interested in more Rams assistants. Minnesota requested permission to interview Los Angeles assistant DBs coach Jonathan Cooley, per Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic (on Twitter). The Vikes are eyeing Cooley for their secondary coach/passing-game coordinator position. After gigs at multiple MAC schools from 2018-19, Cooley joined the Rams in 2020. The Rams are already lost their top secondary coach, Ejiro Evero, to the Broncos. They are also expected to lose tight ends coach Wes Phillips and offensive assistant Chris O’Hara to the Vikings, who are interviewing Rams running backs coach Thomas Brown for their OC job.
  • The Vikings are poaching another assistant from the Broncos, being poised to hire Justin Rascati as their assistant offensive line coach, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Rascati served as an offensive quality control coach in Denver last season. O’Connell is already bringing ex-Broncos staffers Ed Donatell and Curtis Modkins to Minnesota.
  • Bryan Cox is back on an NFL staff. The Giants are hiring the former NFL linebacker, per Aaron Wilson of Cox will be the Giants’ assistant D-line coach under Don Martindale. This will be Cox’s first NFL gig since the Falcons fired him following Super Bowl LI five years ago.
  • The 49ers are promoting offensive quality control coach Brian Fleury to their tight ends coach spot, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes. Fleury, who will replace new Dolphins tight ends coach Jon Embree in this role, has been with the 49ers for three seasons.

Coaching Notes: Shurmur, Jets, Rams

Michigan State continues to look for a replacement for Mark Dantonio, and Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that the school was eyeing veteran coach Pat Shurmur.

Fortunately for Denver, the 54-year-old is staying put. Klis notes that Shurmur is “all in” on the Broncos organization, and he’ll continue as the team’s offensive coordinator. It wasn’t even a month ago that Shurmur replaced Rich Scangarello in the role.

Shurmur is best known for his stint as the Giants head coach, but he actually got started in the coaching ranks at Michigan State. He started off as a graduate assistant before coaching tight ends, offensive lineman, and special teams. In total, Shurmur was with the school between 1988 and 1997.

Let’s check out some more coaching notes from around the league…

  • The Jets announced this evening (on Twitter) that they’ve added Leigh Torrence as an assistant defensive backs coach. Brian Costello of the New York Post observes that Torrence played for Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams when the two were in New Orleans (Twitter link). The 38-year-old spent the past two seasons as a defensive assistant with the Saints.
  • Jonathan Cooley is joining the Rams coaching staff as a defensive assistant/quality control coach, reports Bruce Feldman of The Athletic (on Twitter). The former Akron cornerbacks coach was selected by the NFL for the 2019 Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship.
  • We learned earlier tonight that the Jaguars were adding former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo as their new quarterbacks coach.