Marc Trestman

Panthers Reworking Staff

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has had some difficulties making the same immediate impact in Carolina that gained him notoriety in Waco. In two years at the helm, Rhule hasn’t succeeded in improving his team’s win total from the season before he was hired. In an attempt to make some needed improvements, the Panthers announced that they were letting go of offensive line coach Pat Meyer, defensive line coach Frank Okam, and special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn.

The team struggled on both sides of the line this year and it looks like any attempts to improve will be made by new position coaches, while the special teams unit saw four different kickers and three punters throughout the year, including the preseason.

Meyer has been with Rhule since the move to Carolina. He’s been coaching in the NFL for 8 years with stops at the Chargers, Bills, and Bears. Meyer entered the NFL with Marc Trestman, moving with the coach from the CFL to Chicago.

Okam joined Rhule at Baylor and followed the notably loyal coach to the Panthers. Rhule had brought much of his staff from Temple with him to Baylor, so it was safe to assume some of the Baylor staff would end up in Carolina, as well. Despite coaching up young draft picks like Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Bravvion Roy and seeing career numbers from Brian Burns, Efe Obada, and Marquis Haynes, it seems Rhule is wanting a bit more from this position group.

Chase Blackburn was a longtime linebacker for the Giants before spending his final two years playing in Carolina. After about a year of retirement from playing, Blackburn became a special teams intern in Ron Rivera‘s staff. When Rhule came in to replace Rivera, Blackburn was one of two holdovers from the staff along with Jake Peetz, who is now the offensive coordinator at LSU.

It’s yet to be seen who will replace them, but Rhule continues to show hints of what made him successful at the college level by attempting to make the necessary changes to succeed. With young talent on both sides of the ball, Rhule may yet turn this team around.

Marc Trestman Returns To CFL

Former Bears head coach Marc Trestman is returning to the Canadian Football League to become the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts, according to Gary Lawless of TSN. Trestman was previously the head coach of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes from 2008-12.Marc Trestman (Vertical)

[RELATED: Bears Unlikely To Franchise Tag Alshon Jeffery]

Trestman, 61, was hired as Chicago’s head coach prior to the 2013 season, and led the Bears to an 8-8 season and, perhaps more impressively, a No. 6 rating in offensive DVOA. The bottom fell out during the following campaign, however, as Chicago stumbled to 5-11 record. Trestman and general manager Phil Emery were both fired after that 2014 season.

A longtime offensive coach in both the collegiate and pro ranks, Trestman quickly found a new job, as he was hired as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator prior to the 2015 campaign. Baltimore’s offense struggled under Trestman’s watch, though, and he was let go following Week 5 and replaced by Marty Mornhinweg.

AFC Notes: Fins, Ravens, Patriots, Jets

Defensive end Mario Williams needs to “play better” and “play harder,” Dolphins D-coordinator Vance Joseph told reporters, including Chris Perkins of the Sun-Sentinel, on Thursday. After the AFC East rival Bills released Williams in March, the Dolphins quickly signed the 2006 No. 1 overall pick to a two-year, $17MM deal. Williams, 31, has underwhelmed on the stat sheet in Miami, where he has picked up just seven tackles in a sack in five games. While Pro Football Focus grades Williams’ overall performance a decent 44th among 99 qualifying DEs, his production is way down since last season. Over his past 20 games, Williams has recorded a meager 26 tackles and six sacks.

Elsewhere around the AFC…

  • Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta endorsed the Monday firing of offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, saying Wednesday, “Marc Trestman is a great guy, a great coach. It was difficult to see him go, but I think it was something that this offense needed” (via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun). Although injuries limited Pitta to just seven of 48 regular-season games from 2013-15, he bounced back this year under Trestman to catch 28 passes on 37 targets. As a whole, though, the Ravens’ offense ranks 18th in yardage, 22nd in scoring and 27th in DVOA. The unit will try to better its production under Marty Mornhinweg, whom Ravens players “have a lot of faith in,” Pitta added.
  • The Patriots might have to consider a long-term deal for contract-year tight end Martellus Bennett, observes Ryan Hannable of WEEI. The offseason trade pickup from Chicago has racked up 21 receptions with four touchdowns and a whopping 15.0 yards per catch over his first five games in New England. His production has helped make up for a slow start from Rob Gronkowski, who was either out or limited for the first four games of the season. Gronkowski broke out against the Browns last Sunday in a 33-13 win for New England, which appears to have the best tight end duo in the league with him and Bennett. “I’ve felt at home here since Day 1. It’s a place I feel like I belong,” Bennett said. The soon-to-be 30-year-old is currently on track to net a raise over his $5MM salary.
  • Jets receiver Eric Decker will undergo surgery on his injured right shoulder within the next two weeks, he announced Thursday, adding that he’ll need six to eight months to return to full strength (per Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday). “Getting surgery was really going to be the only answer,” said Decker, whom the Jets placed on injured reserve Wednesday because of a torn rotator cuff. Decker caught nine passes for a whopping 194 yards and two touchdowns in three games this season.

Breer’s Latest: Kaep, Tannehill, Ravens, Bills

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is set to return to the 49ers’ starting lineup this week, but his NFL future was in doubt as recently as last year. At least two teams that looked into Kaepernick as a potential trade acquisition had questions about whether he wanted to continue playing, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB. Kaepernick ended up staying in San Francisco, of course, and will now take over head coach Chip Kelly‘s offense. If Kaepernick fails under Kelly, the league might not regard the 28-year-old as a viable option anymore, writes Breer, who notes that his career hangs in the balance. “This offense gives him the best chance, no doubt,” one 49ers source said of the mobile Kaepernick, who could become a free agent at season’s end.

More from Breer:

  • After last season, when it looked as if the 49ers would trade Kaepernick, the relationship between him and general manager Trent Baalke “couldn’t have been worse,” a source told Breer. Kaepernick has never trusted Baalke and views himself as a Jim Harbaugh draft pick, relays Breer. Baalke and Kaepernick went months without speaking to one another amid trade rumors last offseason and then met during the summer to clear the air. It doesn’t seem their meeting was productive, however, as sources close to Kaepernick see his relationship with Baalke as “irreparable,” per Breer.
  • Considering all the problems on their roster, the Dolphins aren’t sure if they can properly evaluate fifth-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill this season, Breer suggests. As a result, Breer doesn’t expect the Dolphins to move on from Tannehill during the offseason. Releasing the 2012 first-round pick before March would save Miami all but $3.5MM of his $17.98MM salary for 2017. The 28-year-old is under team control through 2020 on the six-year, $96MM extension he signed in May 2015.
  • Marc Trestman‘s pass-first philosophy helped bring an end to his tenure as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator, according to Breer. Baltimore fell from eighth in rushing under previous O-coordinator Gary Kubiak in 2014 to 26th last season with Trestman. Those ground woes have continued early this year for the Ravens, who rank 28th in rushing, though Terrance West has averaged an outstanding 5.0 yards per carry on 65 attempts. West picked up 95 yards in the Ravens’ 16-10 loss to the Redskins last Sunday, but he only amassed 11 carries in Trestman’s final game at the helm. “The players lost faith in [Trestman] last year, and he never got it back,” a Baltimore source said.
  • Trestman wasn’t the first offensive coordinator to lose his job this year. That description belongs to Greg Roman, whom the Bills ousted after Week 2. Buffalo has won three straight since replacing Roman with Anthony Lynn, though the Bills’ defense has played a larger role in the turnaround than their offense. Still, one Bills veteran explained to Breer the key difference in the offense since Lynn took the reins, saying, “We’re running the same plays that we did under G-Ro. It’s just that with Roman, we had a huge playbook and we could run absolutely anything from week-to-week. Anthony’s all about matchups… He played [in the NFL], so he knows matchups are huge.”

Ravens Owner Pushed To Fire Marc Trestman?

Marc Trestman is out in Baltimore and it may not have been John Harbaugh‘s doing. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti had a strong hand in firing the offensive coordinator, sources tell Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Furthermore, sources say that Trestman’s relationship with Joe Flacco became strained this year and that was likely a factor in the ouster of Trestman. Flacco had a similar rift with former Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in 2012. Marc Trestman (vertical)

When asked about Bisciotti’s role in Trestman’s dismissal this week, Harbaugh denied that the decision was made solely upstairs. However, as Cole notes, Bisciotti has been with the team at practice a lot more than usual in recent days.

With Trestman gone, former quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhinweg has gotten bumped up to offensive coordinator.

Ravens Fire OC Marc Trestman

The Ravens are firing offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, league sources tell Adam Schefter of (on Twitter). Baltimore is replacing him with Marty Mornhinweg. The team has since confirmed the move via press release.Marc Trestman (vertical)

Trestman’s firing comes one day after the Ravens suffered a 16-10 loss at home against the Redskins. After the game, quarterback Joe Flacco described the offense as “embarrassing” and said that the struggles so far this year have been “frustrating.” Apparently, team brass agreed and Trestman has been sacked five games into the season.

Trestman previously served as the Bears’ head coach from 2013 through 2014. After the Bears finished 8-8 in Trestman’s first year, they took a step back in 2014 with a 5-win season. Trestman was canned after the season, but the Ravens quickly scooped him up as their offensive coordinator.

Last year, the Ravens finished 14th in the NFL in total yards but placed in the bottom third of the league in points scored. Through five games this year, they’re roughly in the same position and the Ravens have opted to make a change. Mornhinweg, who previously served as Baltimore’s quarterbacks coach, will now get bumped up to OC. Mornhinweg has served as an offensive coordinator for three different teams (Jets, Eagles, and 49ers) in his career and is best known for his time as the head coach of the Lions, although that is a period he’d probably like to forget.

The Ravens will put a strong emphasis on maintaining balance on offense and sticking with the run game while reinforcing the downfield passing game, Jason La Canfora of tweets. The Ravens can be expected to lean on Terrance West and they could also get Kenneth Dixon more involved as they look to spark their run game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Pats, Hilton, Rice, Manziel

Earlier this week, the NFL reinstated Patriots employee Jim McNally from suspension for his role in the DeflateGate scandal. McNally may not be totally out of the woods yet, though, as new allegations against him have come to light. Former official Mark Baltz, the league’s head linesman from 1989-2013, told that he was always suspicious of McNally, according to John Breech of

“[McNally] was always worried about the footballs. Always,” Baltz stated. “It was very odd. I reported him to the league, but never got any reaction from them. I don’t think they thought it was a big deal at the time. But [McNally] did things that 31 other locker room attendants don’t do.”

Baltz said he reported McNally to the league six to eight years ago.

“All I know is, when he got [the footballs], he would run. He would take off,” Baltz added. “Whether he was going somewhere and letting air out, I’m definitely suspicious, but I don’t know for sure.”

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Colts No. 1 receiver T.Y. Hilton caught seven passes for 88 yards before suffering a knee injury that caused him to leave the team’s 27-14 loss to Buffalo last Sunday. Afterward, there was fear that he’d be out for a solid chunk of time. However, Hilton and head coach Chuck Pagano think he could be ready to go in time for Monday’s game against the Jets.  “A game-time decision depending on how I feel,” Hilton said Thursday, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Pagano said he has “a lot” of optimism that Hilton will play this week.
  • With LeSean McCoy‘s hamstring injury continuing to be an issue, the Bills suddenly look thin at running back. However, don’t expect them to sign free agent Ray Rice, according to Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News (Twitter link). Instead, look for rookie Karlos Williams‘ workload to increase. Williams rushed for a team-high 55 yards and a touchdown on just six carries in the Bills’ win over Indianapolis.
  • There aren’t many believers left when it comes to Johnny Manziel, but Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is one of them. “Johnny has tremendous physical attributes — tremendous physical attributes,” DeFilippo said, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “We just have to keep grooming him and keep teaching him situational football and when to take chances and when not to.”
  • The Ravens got just 190 total yards from their offense in their 19-13 opening week loss to Denver. New offensive coordinator Marc Trestman took the blame, per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Trestman said his offense has to find ways to get the ball downfield. That should be easier this week against a thin Oakland secondary.

AFC Notes: Bills QBs, Mario, Titans, Ravens

Most expect the Bills’ starting quarterback in 2015 to be either Matt Cassel or EJ Manuel, but don’t discount Tyrod Taylor, writes Conor Orr of Taylor, who backed up Joe Flacco in Baltimore from 2011-14 and signed with the Bills as a free agent earlier this offseason, has a fan in head coach Rex Ryan. Although Taylor has thrown just 35 passes in his pro career, Ryan recruited the 25-year-old to Buffalo and views his dual-threat abilities as a plus in coordinator Greg Roman’s run-first offense, notes Orr.

Bills general manager Doug Whaley said earlier this week that all three QBs are going to get a real chance to win the No. 1 job prior to the season.

“The way they’re structuring practices everyone is getting a run with the ones,” Whaley stated. “So it’s a fair shake. In this system that we’re trying to figure out who is going to be the number one it’s all about competition. That’s why everybody involved is excited about it.”

Here’s more on the Bills and a couple of their fellow AFC teams:

  • Star pass rusher Mario Williams is entering his fourth year with the Bills and will work under his fourth different defensive coordinator. Williams isn’t concerned about the latest change, however, despite the success the defense experienced last season led by departed coordinator Jim Schwartz. The Bills will go from a 4-3 base to a 3-4 base under Schwartz’s replacement, Dennis Thurman, but they used a similar scheme two years ago with ex-coordinator Mike Pettine. Williams thinks that gives him and his fellow defenders a leg up. “Understanding the defense, I love it,” Williams told the Buffalo News. “It gives everybody ample opportunities to just do different things and just be able to bring different looks, different angles, and attacks, stuff like that. So I’m ecstatic.”
  • The pecking order at wide receiver will be something to watch during Titans training camp, writes Paul Kuharsky of Kuharsky expects Kendall Wright, second-round pick Dorial Green-Beckham, and Harry Douglas to comprise Tennessee’s top three wideouts. Things get murkier thereafter, though, with Justin Hunter, Hakeem Nicks, and seventh-rounder Tre McBride jockeying for position.
  • The Ravens’ offense was a success last year under Gary Kubiak, finishing 12th in yardage, eighth in points, and ninth in Football Outsiders’ efficiency rankings. With Kubiak having left to be Denver’s head coach, Jamison Hensley of believes the offense will change in 2015 to fit new coordinator Marc Trestman’s identity as a play caller – which should mean more screen passes – but will still tailor to the the players’ strengths.

NFC North Notes: Packers, Tillman, Peterson

Ron Wolf‘s biggest transaction during his tenure as Packers general manager was his acquisition of Brett Favre. Wolf sent a first-round pick to the Falcons to acquire the young quarterback, but that move may have never happened had former Jets GM Dick Steinberg had his way.’s Rich Cimini spoke to Wolf following his nomination for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 76-year-old reflected on his first employment with the Jets, when he was a member of the front office. The organization fell in love with Favre, and when the Southern Mississippi quarterback fell to the second round, the team made a deal with the Cardinals to move up two spots.

“Dick thought he had a deal with Arizona,” Wolf said. “Fortunately for me and unfortunately for the Jets, when he called Arizona to finish the deal, they backed out because a player they wanted was still there.”

Of course, the rest is history. The Falcons selected Favre as the 33rd pick in the draft (the Jets selected Louisville quarterback Browning Nagle with the next pick), and the young player was traded to Green Bay a season later.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from the NFC North…

  • The Packers announced the firing of special teams coach Shawn Slocum yesterday, and Jason Wilde of says that the move wasn’t a surprise. Had the team overcome their two key special teams mistakes (the fake fake field goal and the botched onside kick) and made it to the Super Bowl, Wilde surmises that Slocum would have kept his job. However, the loss cemented the coach’s fate.
  • Bears cornerback Charles Tillman made an appearance on ESPN Radio’s “SVP & Russillo” on Thursday, and the impending free agent told the hosts that he’d like to stay in Chicago. “Oh yeah, most definitely,” Tillman said (via’s Michael C. Wright). “I would love to be back in Chicago. But that’s not up to me. That’s up to the new GM. His name is Ryan Pace. So that’s up to him and coach [John] Fox.”
  • Bears tight end Martellus Bennett believes his former coach, Marc Trestman, is better suited to be an offensive coordinator. “Trestman, I think the issue that he had probably was managing us all, all the different personalities,” Bennett said (via Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun). “There’s a lot of big personalities. And I think, for a first-time head coach in the NFL, dealing with all the personalities that you have, I think that’s hard when you got guys like me, you know, [Brandon] Marshall, Lance Briggs on defense, Tillman.”
  • Count Greg Jennings among those in the Vikings locker room who hope running back Adrian Peterson will stick around in 2015. The wideout discussed the subject on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via Ben Goessling of “I don’t know if he’ll be back. I can’t answer that question. But what I do know is that if he does come back, he’d be accepted with open arms. As an organization from the Wilfs on down, we all want him back. So, I mean, it’s a touchy subject and he’s been the franchise player – face of that team – for eight years. So it will be a loss, a huge loss, if we can’t get him back, and that’s the nature of this business.”

Coaching Notes: Johnson, Falcons, Kubiak, Harbaugh

Following a career that featured stops with the Giants and Jets, former NFL linebacker Pepper Johnson is returning to New York. The 50-year-old will be joining Todd Bowles staff as the Jets‘ defensive line coach, the team announced.

Johnson was on the Patriots coaching staff for 14 seasons, which included stints as the team’s linebacker and defensive line coach. He spent last season as the Bills defensive line coach.

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

  • Mike Jones of The Washington Post tweets that the Falcons have interest in coach Raheem Morris, and NFL Network’s Albert Breer reports (via Twitter) that Washington has granted Atlanta permission to interview their defensive backs coach.
  • Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak told Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun that he “had a blast” as the Ravens offensive coordinator. The 53-year-old is also fond of his replacement in Baltimore, former Bears head coach Marc Trestman. “I think Marc will be a really good fit for Joe [Flacco]. Marc has a good personality. Joe is a mild-mannered guy, but he’s a fiery competitor on the field. I think he and Marc will do very well together.”
  • Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press had some interesting notes on Jim Harbaugh‘s contract with Michigan. If the coach were to leave his contract early, he’d owe the school a prorated portion of his $2MM signing bonus. The contract also calls for flexibility should the total amount eventually fall below market value.