Keenan McCardell

Keenan McCardell On Buccaneers’ OC Radar

Keenan McCardell continues to generate interest on the offensive coordinator market, marking the first time the former Pro Bowl wide receiver has done so.

Following his Patriots OC interview, McCardell is set for a Buccaneers interview, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The Pats went with their long-rumored favorite — Bill O’Brienfor their play-calling role, but the New England meeting was believed to be McCardell’s first for an OC post. The experienced wideouts coach will now make a trip for a second such interview.

Although McCardell has been coaching since 2010, he is best known for his playing career. That 17-season run included a memorable stay with the Bucs, who signed him in 2002. Teaming with Keyshawn Johnson on Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl-winning squad, McCardell proved a valuable addition. He caught two touchdowns in Super Bowl XXXVII and led the Bucs, who abruptly moved on from Johnson during the 2003 season, with 1,174 receiving yards the following year.

McCardell, 52, has been the Vikings’ wide receivers coach for the past two seasons, being kept on staff despite the franchise’s 2022 regime change. Given the play of Justin Jefferson and the development of K.J. Osborn, it is unsurprising the young playmakers’ position coach is being looked at for a possible title bump.

The Bucs now have McCardell, Jaguars passing-game coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and Broncos quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak — who worked with McCardell on the 2021 Vikings’ staff — as candidates to replace Byron Leftwich.

Patriots Interview Bill O’Brien For OC Job, To Meet With Keenan McCardell

Rumored to be the favorite for the Patriots’ offensive coordinator gig, Bill O’Brien has now met with the team. The Alabama OC interviewed with the Patriots on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

O’Brien emerged as a contender for this job before the Pats’ season ended, and a report earlier this week indicated he is the favorite. The former Texans HC coming back to New England would continue a trend, as Bill Belichick rehired the likes of Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia and Joe Judge following their initial dismissals as HCs.

Like McDaniels at the time of his New England return, O’Brien has experience running the Pats’ offense. While McDaniels was in Denver and St. Louis, O’Brien took over as Belichick’s top offensive assistant. He finished his New England tenure with the official title of offensive coordinator, something Belichick did not give Patricia this year — despite the ex-Lions HC being the Pats’ primary play-caller. After Belichick placing a career-long defensive coach in this role predictably backfired, the Pats are operating intently with their OC search this time around.

This search is different from the most recent such pursuits. Belichick promoted McDaniels to OC in 2006 and elevated O’Brien from the position coach level to OC in 2011. Thus far, the Pats have reached out to a few outside staffers. The team conducting an official search mandates an interview with at least one external minority candidate. Thus far, the Patriots have three on their radar.

Keenan McCardell, the Vikings’ receivers coach for the past two seasons, is expected to interview for the job today, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports tweets. The team sent out an interview request to the former Belichick Browns wideout Thursday. The Pats are planning to meet with Cardinals receivers coach Shawn Jefferson on Friday and have interviewed Oregon assistant Adrian Klemm. All three also have a history with Belichick — either in New England or Cleveland. The other candidate here, Pats tight ends coach Nick Caley, has been with the team for eight years. Caley has also interviewed with the Jets this week.

With the O’Brien interview done, this process looks like it will wrap soon. He has a few factors working in his favor. Even though O’Brien, 53, was not in place as Alabama’s OC during Mac Jones‘ career, the current Pats quarterback helped the coach learn the Alabama offense following his hire. Patriots ownership is also fond of O’Brien, who is a Massachusetts native. The Texans employed O’Brien as HC from 2014-20, firing him early in the 2020 season after his short GM stint did not go well. As a coach, however, O’Brien is 52-48 with four playoff appearances on his resume.

Pats To Interview Nick Caley, Adrian Klemm For OC Role, Request Keenan McCardell Meeting

3:22pm: A fourth candidate is now in the picture. Adrian Klemm, a former Steelers O-line coach who spent the 2022 season at Oregon, will interview for the Pats’ OC job, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. Klemm has spent most of his career in the college ranks, having served as an O-line coach for SMU, UCLA and now Oregon, but was on Mike Tomlin‘s staff for three seasons.

The 45-year-old assistant has history with the Patriots, having been Belichick’s first draft choice (No. 46 overall) as New England’s HC back in 2000. A backup offensive lineman, Klemm played five of his six NFL seasons with the Pats.

10:02am: Nick Caley‘s docket now includes a second offensive coordinator interview. After he met with the Jets about their vacant play-calling role, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (via Twitter) the Patriots’ tight ends coach is interviewing for the New England gig.

Caley, who will meet with the Pats regarding a promotion Wednesday, has been with the team since 2015. In addition to their interest in promoting Caley, the Patriots also requested permission to interview Vikings wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Although Bill O’Brien is believed to be in the lead for the role, the Pats’ Caley interview will be their first for this position. After the team went through with one of the most surprising plans in modern offensive coordinator history this past season by having Matt Patricia serve as the primary play-caller, Bill Belichick is on board with making changes.

The Patriots moved Caley into their tight ends coach role back in 2017 but increased his role following Josh McDaniels‘ departure. While Caley served as a key assistant during a disappointing Pats season, the 39-year-old assistant has previously come up as a potential play-caller for the team. The Patriots have made a concerted effort to ensure Jerod Mayo does not depart. With the Jets now in the mix to poach Caley, will the Pats make a similar move to ensure he stays?

While McCardell is best known for his 17-year career as a wide receiver, he has been an assistant coach since 2010. Most of that work has come in the NFL. McCardell, 53, has served as a wide receivers coach in Washington, Jacksonville and Minnesota. Being the Jags’ wideouts coach from 2017-20, McCardell moved to the Vikings after the organization hired Urban Meyer last year. Despite the Vikings changing regimes this past offseason, Kevin O’Connell retained McCardell. The former Pro Bowler being Justin Jefferson‘s position coach will look pretty good on a resume, though ex-fifth-rounder K.J. Osborn posting 655- and 650-yard seasons over the past two years — after not catching a pass as a rookie in 2020 — also reflects well on McCardell.

McCardell also has a history with Belichick dating back to the latter’s Browns days. The Browns added McCardell in Belichick’s second season (1992) and rostered him for most of the next four seasons. McCardell used the 1995 season — Belichick’s Cleveland finale — as a springboard to a prominent Jaguars run.

Bill O’Brien “Primary Target” For Patriots OC Job

The Patriots are looking to revamp their offensive coaching staff, and it sounds like a familiar face is a favorite for the gig. Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston writes that Bill O’Brien is the “primary target” for New England’s offensive coordinator job.

[RELATED: Patriots Will Start OC Interviews Next Week]

Curran notes that there are “other candidates with merit,” but there’s “unanimity on all sides” that O’Brien is the best person for the position. The main thing going for O’Brien is his relationship with the Patriots organization, especially when you consider Bill Belichick‘s penchant for bringing back former assistants. O’Brien spent five years with the Patriots, culminating in him becoming the team’s offensive coordinator. Following head coaching stints with Penn State and the Texans, O’Brien spent the past two years as the offensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban, a close confidant of Belichick.

Speaking of Alabama, O’Brien also has an advantage over the field thanks to his relationship with Mac Jones. While the QB prepared for the 2021 NFL Draft, he also helped O’Brien learn the Alabama offense following the coach’s hiring. O’Brien could look to add elements of Alabama’s quick-strike offense to the Patriots offense. While the familiar scheme would obviously benefit Jones, the offensive philosophy would also take better advantage of Jones’ game-management skills (vs. his average QB skills).

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Mike Reiss looks at a handful of additional potenital candidates for the offensive coordinator position. After O’Brien, Reiss lists former Jets head coach Adam Gase as a candidate considering his mutual respect with Belichick and his experience with Saban. Reiss also lists Vikings receivers coach Keenan McCardell, former Jets/Cardinals associate head coach/receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, Cowboys QBs coach Doug Nussmeier, and current Patriots tight ends coach Nick Caley as potential targets for the job.

In a surprising press release last week, the Patriots revealed that they would begin interviewing offensive coordinator candidates. This follows a 2022 campaign where Belichick opted to go without an OC to replace Josh McDaniels and chose former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and former special teams coordinator Joe Judge to lead the way. The results were ugly, as the inconsistent Patriots offense struggled for much of the year.

Coaching Notes: Pack, Rathman, McCardell

The Packers are making a change on special teams. They are firing ST coordinator Shawn Mennenga, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). A longtime college coach, Mennenga had previously served as Browns assistant ST coach before joining Matt LaFleur‘s staff in 2019. The Packers are expected to promote assistant ST coach Maurice Drayton to replace Mennenga, Pelissero tweets. At least one other team was interested in Drayton for such a role, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Drayton was in contention for this job two years ago.

Here is the latest out of Green Bay and from around the league:

  • Mike Pettine may not be locked in as Packers defensive coordinator next season. The veteran DC opted not to sign an extension last year, and Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes his contract is up. The Packers invested heavily in their pass rush and used three first-round picks on defenders from 2018-19 but dropped from 15th in defensive DVOA in 2019 to 17th this past season. Pettine is a holdover from Mike McCarthy‘s staff, having arrived in 2018.
  • Colts running backs coach Tom Rathman announced his retirement Thursday. The Colts hired Rathman in 2017, after his eight-year tenure as 49ers running backs coach ended. Rathman attempted to retire in 2019 and ’20, but the Colts successfully lobbied him to stay on, per The Athletic’s Stephen Holder (on Twitter). A decorated fullback who won two Super Bowls with the 49ers, Rathman coached running backs from 1997-2020. Sixteen of those years came in San Francisco.
  • Staying with the Colts, they are hiring former Jaguars QBs coach Scott Milanovich to replace Marcus Brady in that position, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star tweets. Milanovich was Jacksonville’s QBs coach from 2017-19. Otherwise, he has spent his career in the CFL, having coached the Toronto Argonauts and, in 2020, the Edmonton Eskimos. The Colts promoted Brady to OC last week.
  • Longtime NFL wideout Keenan McCardell will resurface in Minnesota. The Vikings are hiring McCardell as receivers coach, per Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union (on Twitter). A longtime Jaguars pass catcher who broke into the coaching ranks in 2010, McCardell served as Jacksonville’s receivers coach from 2017-20 under Doug Marrone.
  • Ex-Colts DC Ted Monachino will be the Falcons‘ outside linebackers coach under Arthur Smith next season. Monachino, Indy’s DC from 2016-17, spent the past two years with the Bears. The Falcons also hired Jon Hoke to coach defensive backs. The older brother of Maryland HC Brady Hoke, Jon was the Terrapins’ defensive coordinator from 2019-20 but has coached NFL DBs for several seasons.

Coaching Notes: 49ers, Colts, Jags, Redskins

49ers CEO Jed York has been significantly younger than his two previous head coaches, Chip Kelly and Jim Harbaugh. As a result, 49ers radio host Tim Ryan believes the executive will have an easier time clicking with new coach Kyle Shanahan, who is only 37-years-old.

“I think the chips fell in favor of Jed and ownership this time,” Ryan (via Eric Branch of SFGate.com). “I think they ended up getting the right guy. I think (Shanahan is) perfect for Jed York, their ability to grow this franchise together. I think (he’s) someone that he actually feels comfortable with sitting in a room and discussing a variety of topics. I can’t imagine being an owner and if you look at Harbaugh — and excluding Jim Tomsula. And I played four years with Harbaugh (with the Bears) so I’m entitled to say what I’m going to say. And then with coach Chip Kelly and kind of how his – I don’t want to say his ego – but just kind of how he conducts himself.

“It’s, I can’t imagine being an owner and being afraid to ask a question. Not afraid, but ‘Man, should I ask this question to this guy?’ Because those guys walk around like you ask them anything it’s ‘I’m going to shut you down.’ I think ultimately for Jed and the ability to communicate with his head coach, and this is his guy moving forward. You look at their ages, you look at their similarities. I’m sure they crossed paths somewhere as kids when Mike (Shanahan) was here (with the 49ers) as the offensive coordinator and Kyle was a kid and Jed was a kid. But I think, ultimately, it’s going to end up being the best hire from a relationship standpoint.”

Let’s take a look at some more coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • Colts owner Jim Irsay has reportedly been looking for ways to upgrade his head coach and general manager, and Stephen Holder of IndyStar.com believes that this could lead to some issues next season. In fact, one current Colts players believes coach Chuck Pagano is already fighting for his job. “I think it’ll be really tough for Chuck,” said the anonymous player. “Our owner wants a championship, and if he doesn’t get it, then it’s going to be a failure. And that’s tough.”
  • The Jaguars announced that they’ve named Keenan McCardell their new wide receivers coach. The former wideout played six seasons in Jacksonville, with his best season coming in 2000 (94 receptions, 1,207 yards, five touchdowns). The two-time Pro Bowler previously served as receivers coach for the Redskins and Maryland.
  • Former NFL signal-caller Kevin O’Connell is expected to be named the Redskins‘ new quarterbacks coach, reports Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports (via Twitter). O’Connell previously served as the quarterbacks coach for the Browns and as an offensive assistant for the 49ers, and Feldman notes that former quarterback was up for several college offensive coordinator gigs.

Staff Notes: Bills, Saints, Jags, Broncos, Jets

The Bills’ hiring of offensive coordinator Rick Dennison on Thursday is “very good news” for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said Friday on NFL Network (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). While it previously appeared Taylor was on the outs in Buffalo, which faces a March 11 deadline to retain him for a guaranteed $30.75MM, it would “make no sense” for the team to change QBs after landing Dennison, per Rapoport. Dennison worked as Taylor’s position coach with the Ravens in 2014 and then served as the O-coordinator in Denver, which made a push to sign Taylor in free agency before he headed to the Bills in March 2015. With Dennison now in Buffalo, Rapoport expects the Bills to continue with Taylor, though he notes that they could first restructure his contract.

More coaching-related updates:

  • Ex-49ers head coach Jim Tomsula interviewed for the Saints’ open defensive line coach job earlier this week, multiple sources told Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. Tomsula was only at the helm in San Francisco for one year, a five-win 2015, but he was a successful D-line coach with the franchise from 2007-14.
  • Former Jaguars great Keenan McCardell will interview to become their wide receivers coach, according to Hays Carlyon of 1010XL. McCardell most recently coached the Redskins’ receivers from 2014-15, but he’s best known for his illustrious career as an NFL wideout from 1992-2007. Most of McCardell’s success came in Jacksonville, where he hauled in 499 passes and 30 touchdowns between 1996-2001. All told, McCardell combined for 883 catches and 63 scores with five teams.
  • The Broncos are set to name Geep Chryst their tight ends coach, reports Marvez (Twitter link). Chryst is familiar with Denver’s offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, as the two were together in Carolina from 2006-08. His highest-profile work came as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator in 2015 (under the aforementioned Tomsula).
  • The Jets have hired Robert Nunn as their defensive line coach, tweets Marvez. Nunn previously held the same position in Cleveland, which fired him Tuesday.
  • The Bills have tabbed Andrew Dees as their assistant offensive line coach, writes Zac Jackson of Pro Football Talk. Dees also handled that role with the Bills in 2012 before serving on the Chargers’ staff from 2013-15. In his second stint in Buffalo, he’ll work under newly hired O-line coach Juan Castillo.
  • Dees is replacing Tony Sparano Jr., whom the Jaguars have hired as their assistant O-line coach, relays Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link).