Mel Tucker

Extra Points: Coaches, GMs, Schedule, OTAs

After the NFL expanded the Rooney Rule this offseason, it has a “ready list” of minority candidates for head coaching jobs, offensive and defensive coordinator positions and GM candidates, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Beyond some of the big names — Eric Bieniemy, Marvin Lewis, Todd Bowles, Leslie Frazier among them — coaches like Clemson OC Tony Elliott, Penn State HC James Franklin and Michigan State HC Mel Tucker appear on the HC portion of the list. On the GM side, some first-time candidates include Bills pro scouting director Malik Boyd, Raiders pro scouting director Dwayne Joseph, Ravens exec Vincent Newsome and Chargers player personnel director JoJo Wooden. Former Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson — now the franchise’s pro scouting director — also appears on the GM portion of the list. The Rooney Rule now mandates teams interview two minority HC candidates and expanded the rule to include coordinator positions. Franchises must also open their senior-level executive jobs to minority and female candidates.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Normal NFL offseasons feature several weeks’ worth of OTAs preceding a June minicamp, but the NFLPA would like a schedule that looks closer to this year’s virtual offseason. Union executive director DeMaurice Smith said “there is absolutely no reason” for the NFL to return to full-scale OTAs, per Sports Business Daily’s Ben Fischer (subscription required). Having seen no decline in performance after this atypical offseason, union president J.C. Tretter agrees with Smith. This would be a stretch for coaching staffs, which have steadily seen their time with players cut back. The past two CBA agreements have significantly limited offseason and padded training camp workouts, and 2020’s COVID-19-altered offseason created steeper acclimation challenges for young players.
  • The NFL has agreed to a formula for its 17th regular-season game, making it increasingly likely this season will be the last one of the 16-game era. In what will be the first shift to the league’s scheduling setup since 2002, the 17-game schedule will feature a fifth interconference game. The schedule will pit an AFC division winner against an NFC division winner, and on down the line within each division, but the extra interconference game will not feature two teams who played the previous year, Albert Breer of notes. In the event the NFL moves to the 17-game season in 2021, the Chiefs and Buccaneers could not play again next season; the earliest such a regular-season rematch would occur would be 2022.
  • Roger Goodell may well be on board with shortening the preseason slate from four games to two. The commissioner “seemed in favor” of halving the preseason schedule at last week’s owners meetings, according to’s Seth Wickersham, but some high-profile owners are not. Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, John Mara and Art Rooney II dismissed the idea of going from three preseason games — the new number as of the 2020 CBA — to two, according to ESPN. No vote occurred on the matter, though Goodell discussing the idea publicly points to it remaining an issue going forward.

North Notes: Bears, Tucker, Gordon

Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril experienced the lowest of the lows with the Lions, which makes being at the top that much sweeter. “It’s been amazing, man. It’s been amazing,” Avril said, according to Kyle Meinke of “I’ve been blessed to see both ends of the spectrum, you know. From not winning any games to getting to the top the last two years. I appreciate it a lot, just for the simple fact of what I’ve gone through. I probably appreciate it a little more than some of the younger guys.” A look at the North divisions..

  • The University of Alabama hired former Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to serve as its defensive backs coach, a source told Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter). Tucker was let go earlier this offseason in favor of Vic Fangio, who will serve as the new defensive coordinator under new head coach John Fox.
  • It’s rather unlikely that the Bears can find a suitable successor to Jay Cutler in the draft, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. No one has stepped forward and said that Cutler will be Chicago’s quarterback in 2015, but his contract and the scarity of outside options available likely means that he’ll be their QB for the immediate future. An informal survey of five scouts at the Senior Bowl indicated that Oregon State’s Sean Mannion was the best QB in attendance, but no one exactly raved about him.
  • The Browns should cut Josh Gordon, Jeff Schudel of The Morning Journal writes. If GM Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine really want to change the atmosphere in Cleveland, they have to sacrifice the star wide receiver in order to let the rest of the players know they are running a professional operation. If Gordon is found to be in violation of the league’s substance abuse program, his contract would carry over to 2016 as though 2015 did not exist. Still, Schudel feels that the Browns wouldn’t garner respect from anyone on the roster if they let Gordon remain with the team.

Coach Updates: Chudzinski, Ravens, Raiders

We rounded up one set of coaching updates and rumors this morning, but several more have trickled in since then, so we’re due for another recap. Here’s the latest:

  • The Colts are blocking offensive assistant Rob Chudzinski from interviewing for any teams’ offensive coordinator jobs, reports Ian Rapoport of (via Twitter). The Bears, 49ers, and Rams are among the teams that have been linked to Chudzinski and will have to look elsewhere.
  • A day after being officially replaced as the Jets’ offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg has found a new job, according to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who announced today that Mornhinweg had joined his staff in Baltimore as the team’s quarterbacks coach (Twitter link). Mornhinweg replaces Rick Dennison, who left the Ravens to become Denver’s offensive coordinator.
  • During Harbaugh’s conversation with reporters, the Ravens head coach added that he was very impressed with Adam Gase‘s interview for the club’s offensive coordinator job, but that he viewed Marc Trestman as a better fit (Twitter link via Clifton Brown of
  • Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) provides an update on the Raiders‘ defensive coordinator hunt, writing that Jack Del Rio has been talking to Mike Smith about the position for about a week, Eric Mangini is interviewing today, and Mel Tucker is also on the team’s radar.
  • The 49ers are interested in former Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, who says San Francisco would likely want Sparano as a tight ends coach.
  • Rumors about Dick LeBeau closing in on a deal to become the Cardinals‘ linebackers coach are a surprise to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who tweets that as of a couple days ago, LeBeau was only interested in becoming a defensive coordinator, not a position coach.

Bears Fire Mel Tucker

The Bears announced that several coaches will not be returning for the 2015 season, including defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, as Michael C. Wright of tweets. Tucker was not expected to remain with the team but he was under contract prior to tonight’s announcement. Of course, the Bears hired Vic Fangio to fill Tucker’s previous role earlier today.

Back in December, Ian Rapoport of reported that the Bears planned to fire Tucker. It took some time for that to come to fruition, but Tucker has been shown the door just like head coach Marc Trestman was before him. Tucker, for his part, drew interest from LSU for their defensive coordinator opening earlier this month. Since then, however, the vacancy has been filled by Kevin Steele.

In addition to Tucker, the Bears will bid farewell to tight end coach Andy Bischoff, linebackers coach Reggie Herring, and assistant special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes.

Coach Updates: Spags, Quinn, LeBeau, Tucker

The Giants will interview Ravens assistant (and former employee) Steve Spagnuolo for their defensive coordinator position this week, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Facebook link). Spagnuolo, 55, was New York’s DC from 2007-08. Per Schefter, the club also spoke with its own defensive backs coach, David Merritt, about the job. Here’s more news on the coaching front…

  • After parting ways with John Fox earlier today, the Broncos want to interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, tweets Schefter. Quinn is viewed as the favorite for the Jets head coaching position, and has also been linked to the vacancies in Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco.
  • We heard earlier today that the Jets wanted to bring in Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for a second interview, and now Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets that the meeting will take place on Wednesday, the same day Bowles will speak with the Falcons for a second time. The Atlanta interview will happen first, per Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link).
  • Cowboys offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Bill Callahan is a popular man, according to Ian Rapoport of (via Twitter). He’s drawing interest elsewhere, which could lead to a promotion of Scott Linehan. Bills head coach Rex Ryan is among those with interest, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).
  • LSU has been in contact with Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker about their opening at the same position, according to Ross Dellenger and Scott Rabalais of The Advocate. Tucker, who was rumored to be on the hot seat in Chicago, remains under contract with the team.
  • While ex-Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has discussed joining the Cardinals coaching staff (Twitter link via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), it will not be as DC, tweets Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910, who adds that LeBeau could be brought aboard in something of an advising capacity.
  • Meanwhile, the Steelers have not met with any outside candidates to replace LeBeau, meaning it’s increasingly likely that linebackers coach Keith Butler will be promoted to DC, writes Scott Brown of Butler has been in his current role since 2003.
  • The Giants met with Washington secondary coach Raheem Morris on Friday about their open DC position, but will go in another direction, according to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC4 (Twitter link). Per Russini, Morris will now interview for Washington’s defensive coordinator job.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Suh, David, Accorsi, Draft

Lions star Ndamukong Suh has a chance of winning the appeal of his suspension, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes. If Suh can win the appeal, he’ll be in action for Sunday’s playoff game against the Cowboys. While we wait to see how that plays out, let’s take a look at more news from around the NFL..

  • Discussing linebacker Lavonte David, Buccaneers GM Jason Licht said the team would “like to lock him up now,” tweets Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune, adding that negotiations on a new deal are underway. The 2012 second-round pick becomes extension-eligible this offseason for the first time.
  • The Bears announced today that they’ve hired former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi as a consultant as the team searches for a new GM and head coach, tweets Ian Rapoport of Meanwhile, team president and CEO Ted Phillips confirmed today that besides offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, whose contract was terminated, all of the other Bears assistants are still with the team (Twitter link). That includes defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
  • Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown and Arkansas defensive tackle Darius Philon may be playing their final college games tonight, according to Tony Pauline of (Twitter link), who says both players are leaning toward entering the 2015 draft. The two players’ teams square off in the Texas Bowl.
  • Former star NFL wideout Cris Carter indicated today (via Twitter) that his son, CFL receiver Duron Carter, will visit the Colts on January 5 and the Vikings on January 9.
  • According to Adam Caplan of (all Twitter links), Carter isn’t the only notable CFL player drawing significant NFL attention. Caplan reports that Hamilton Tiger-Cats cornerback Delvin Breaux has 18 teams interested in bringing him in for a visit and/or a workout, including the Eagles, Patriots, Texans, Jaguars, Dolphins, Cardinals, Steelers, Lions, 49ers, and Broncos.
  • Utah offensive lineman Jeremiah Poutasi announced that he will enter the 2015 draft, as Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports tweets. Poutasi projects as a mid-round prospect.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Rapoport On Bears’ Future

Ian Rapoport of examined the respective futures of some of the key figures within the Bears organization this morning, and the most notable item he passed along (via Twitter) is that, barring significant improvement, the team plans to fire defensive coordinator Mel Tucker after the 2014 season.

As for head coach Marc Trestman, whose job is in serious jeopardy, Rapoport tweets that he is not convinced Trestman will be replaced. This is in line with reports that PFR’s Ben Levine passed along yesterday, and there is something to be said for having some sort of consistency at the head coaching position and for giving a coach the chance to work through adversity early in his tenure with a club.

The elephant in the room, of course, is quarterback Jay Cutler, whom the team considered benching during its matchup with Tampa Bay several weeks ago (per a tweet from Rapoport). Rapoport adds (via Twitter) that the Bears have serious buyer’s remorse over Cutler’s contract, and that there is doubt within the front office that the team can consistently win with Cutler under center. Rapoport also tweets that the team could save $12.5MM against the salary cap if they could somehow trade Cutler in the offseason, and Jason Fitzergald of adds (via Twitter) that a trade would save the club $30MM of guaranteed salary over the next several years . Needless to say, it would be difficult to find a team willing to trade for Cutler at this point, but such a move would give the team and (possibly) Trestman the chance to start anew with a little financial flexibility to boot.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Houston, Packers, Vikings

Following one of the worst defensive seasons in team history, the Bears’ scheme under defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will “undergo significant alterations in 2014,” says ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. “There are some significant changes in terms of techniques that we’re going to play; how we’re going to fit the run, some of our alignments,” Tucker said. “We’ll have some alternative fronts that we’ll play. I’m not sure how much of a difference you’ll see during the OTAs and things like that because we’re going to work to lay the foundation on our base principles and techniques, which will allow us to do pretty much anything we want down the road.” Wright also mentions that the team plans to cross train all of the defensive linemen in an effort to achieve better flexibility and versatility.

In other NFC North notes. . .

  • Lions veteran cornerback Chris Houston had toe surgery earlier this week, and the team is uncertain if he’ll be ready for the start of training camp, writes Dave Birkett in the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Packers drafted four defensive rookies. Of the group, first-round safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and third-round defensive lineman Khyri Thornton are expected to contribute as rookies. “There’s a reasonable chance Clinton-Dix will be plugged in as a starter on Day 1 of training camp,” says Tyler Dunne in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Thornton, while raw, was taken in the third round for a reason. Green Bay envisions him adding rotational juice to the defensive line.”
  • Because of an NFL rule, Vikings rookies Anthony Barr, Scott Crichton and David Yankey can’t join the team full-time until next month, writes Master Tesfatsion of the Minnesota Star-Tribune. The players’ schools — UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford, respectively — are on quarters instead of semesters, and the players are required to return to school until the term ends in June.
  • Meanwhile, the Vikings envision third-round pick Jerick McKinnon, an option quarterback at Georgia Southern, as the type of complimentary, all-purpose back that has thrived in so many of offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s units, writes ESPN’s Ben Goessling.