Mike McCoy

AFC Coaching Notes: Bieniemy, Raiders, Broncos, Jaguars, Bills, Ravens

Another coaching cycle has come and gone without Eric Bieniemy getting a head coaching job, but that doesn’t mean the Chiefs offensive coordinator will automatically return to Kansas City. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter), Bieniemy‘s contract is expiring.

While the accomplished offensive coordinator could (and probably will) ink a new contract with the Chiefs, Pelissero warns that he would be a “hot free-agent OC target elsewhere.” You could make an argument that Bieniemy could improve his chances for a HC gig if he succeeds out of Andy Reid’s and Patrick Mahomes‘ shadows. Of course, if Bieniemy struggles without his elite offense, that would surely compromise any lingering chances he has of securing that elusive promotion.

Following a five-year stint as the Chiefs RBs coach, he earned a promotion to OC in 2018. Considering the Chiefs’ success, Bieniemy was a popular name in the coaching circuit in both 2019 and 2020. However, the 52-year-old didn’t generate as much interest during this year’s coaching cycle, as he was connected to only a pair of jobs (Saints, Broncos).

More coaching notes out of the AFC…

  • Broncos special teams coordinator Tom McMahon will join the Raiders in the same role, reports Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (via Twitter). The 52-year-old has been a ST coordinator in the NFL since he was hired by the Rams in 2009, and he worked alongside Josh McDaniels during his final season with the organization. McMahon has since served as the ST coordinator for the Chiefs, Colts, and Broncos.
  • The Broncos natural replacement for McMahon, special teams assistant Chris Gould, was let go by the organization, reports Klis (on Twitter). The older brother of kicker Robbie Gould, Chris Gould had spent seven years with the Broncos organization. The 36-year-old had a brief career in the AFL before transitioning to coaching.
  • More Broncos coaching notes: Broncos DL coach Bill Kollar is moving to a consultant-type role (via Klis on Twitter), while WR coach Zach Azzanni and offensive assistant Justin Rascati are sticking around (via Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post on Twitter). Azzanni actually had a second interview with the Falcons today, but Nathaniel Hackett “stepped up” to retain his WR coach (via Klis on Twitter).
  • The Jaguars are hiring Mike McCoy as their QB coach, reports Pelissero (via Twitter). The former Chargers head coach was the Broncos OC in 2017 and Cardinals OC in 2018, but he’s been out of the NFL since that time.
  • The Bills announced that they have hired Aaron Kromer as their new offensive line coach. This is Kromer’s second stint as the Bills OL coach, having served in the role in 2015 and 2016. The veteran coach was with the Rams between 2017 and 2020, but he wasn’t retained for 2021. Previously, Kromer was the Saints’ interim head coach in 2012 and the Bears offensive coordinator from 2013 to 2014.
  • Zach Orr is joining the Ravens as their new linebackers coach, tweets Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Orr played for Baltimore for three years, including a 2016 campaign where he earned a second-team All-Pro nod. He also got his first coaching gig with the Ravens. After serving as a defensive analyst from 2017 to 2020, Orr joined the Jaguars to be their outside linebackers coach in 2021.

Lions To Hire Mark Brunell As QBs Coach

4:40pm: A reality in which the top quarterback in Jaguars history mentors the passer the franchise hopes will surpass him in that regard will not come to pass. Brunell’s interview with the Lions is expected to him signing on as their QBs coach, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Rather than coaching Lawrence, Jacksonville’s presumptive first-round pick, Brunell may well be in line to work with a first-round passer in Detroit. The Lions, who hold the No. 7 overall pick, are expected to move on from Matthew Stafford soon.

4:29pm: Former Pro Bowl quarterback Mark Brunell is back on the NFL radar, this time as a coach. Despite Brunell having worked in the media industry in recent years, he is on multiple teams’ radars as a prospective quarterbacks coach.

Both the Jaguars and Lions are interested in Brunell for that job, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter links). Brunell is interviewing for Detroit’s QBs coach position Thursday, Rapoport notes.

New Jaguars coach Urban Meyer is interested in Brunell, former Chargers HC Mike McCoy and former Buccaneers and Giants OC Mike Sullivan for the job, per Wilson. Jacksonville’s next QBs coach will work under OC Darrell Bevell and will hold one of the NFL’s higher-profile position coach gigs, with Trevor Lawrence likely ticketed for Jacksonville.

Sullivan was most recently Denver’s QBs coach in 2018, but the veteran assistant began his NFL career in Jacksonville in 2002. The Steelers, however, have discussed their QBs coach position with Sullivan recently, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets.

While McCoy was the Broncos’ play-caller during Peyton Manning‘s first season in Denver (2012) and led the Chargers to the playoffs in 2013, he has experienced a rocky path in recent years. The Chargers ended his four-year stay as head coach after the 2016 season, and both the Broncos and Cardinals fired him as OC in-season in 2017 and ’18, respectively.

Brunell, 50, is the top quarterback in Jaguars history. He led the team to four straight playoff berths in his first four years as the team’s full-time starter, 1996-99, and twice guided the Jags to AFC championship games. Brunell was an NFL starter until 2006, his third season with Washington, and played in the league until age 41 before retiring in 2012. Brunell finished his career with the Jets, his multiyear stay overlapping with Anthony Lynn‘s time as Gang Green’s running backs coach. The Lions hired Lynn as their new offensive coordinator this week.

Panthers To Interview Mike McCoy, Ben McAdoo

After hiring a 30-year-old offensive coordinator from the college ranks, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule appears to be seeking experience for his offensive staff.

The Panthers interviewed former Giants HC Ben McAdoo and will meet with ex-Chargers HC Mike McCoy on Thursday, Joseph Person of The Athletic reports (on Twitter). These two have a combined six seasons’ worth of experience leading staffs.

Neither McAdoo nor McCoy coached this season. The Giants fired McAdoo late in the 2017 season, and the Cardinals canned McCoy midway through the ’18 slate. The Chargers, Broncos and Cards each fired McCoy from 2016-18. McAdoo, a former Packers quarterbacks coach, has not coached since his three-plus-year Giants tenure ended after the Eli Manning benching debacle in December 2017.

Should McCoy land a job with the Panthers, it would mark a reunion. He got his start as a coach in Carolina in 2000, working under George Seifert and staying aboard through most of the John Fox era. McCoy ended his Panthers tenure as quarterbacks coach, working in that capacity from 2004-08. This latest interview may well be for the same position.

Rhule brought in LSU wide receivers coach Joe Brady to be his offensive coordinator. While the wunderkind assistant played a key role in the national champions’ offensive explosion this past season, his highest NFL rank was as an offensive assistant with the Saints. Rhule has said he wants to bring in a mix of college and NFL assistants, and given the route he took with Brady, it would make sense to supplement him with experience.

Jaguars To Interview Mike McCoy For OC Job

Former Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy will interview for the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator job on Tuesday, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). McCoy’s candidacy in Jacksonville is a bit surprising considering how poorly his 2018 run in Arizona turned out. 

McCoy hooked on with Arizona in January of 2018, marking his third different offense in three years. McCoy ran the Chargers’ offense from 2013-16 as head coach and began the 2017 season as the Broncos’ OC before getting fired midway through the season. In October, after the Broncos walloped the Cards and held them to just 10 points in the process, McCoy was shown the door.

Clearly, McCoy’s reputation has taken a beating. Once considered one of the NFL’s brightest offensive minds, McCoy has not been on the coaching radar since his October dismissal. Still, the Jaguars are at least open to the idea of giving McCoy another shot at an OC position. If hired, McCoy will endeavor to restore his good name and actually make it through a complete season.

As shown in PFR’s Offensive Coordinator Tracker, the Jags have also interviewed former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and ex-Vikings OC John DeFilippo.

Cardinals Fire OC Mike McCoy

After a disastrous 45-10 loss to the Broncos on Thursday night, the Cardinals fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. To replace him, the Cardinals promoted quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich

McCoy’s job security has been a topic of discussion for weeks. Through seven games, the Cardinals have averaged just 13.1 points per game, which ranks 31st in the NFL. They’re also dead last in total yards per game, third-down conversion percentage, time of possession, and rushing yards. Something had to give, and the embarrassing loss to Denver was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It’s an ironic end to McCoy’s tenure in Arizona since the Broncos fired McCoy in the midst of the 2017 season. Denver started off strong with a 3-1 start last year, but the team lost patience after a six-game losing streak knocked them out of playoff contention. This year, the Cardinals had enough after a 1-5 start and an embarrassing primetime loss in which Josh Rosen lobbed his third, fourth, and fifth interceptions of the year.

Leftwich, the Jaguars’ longtime quarterback, was brought in by former coach Bruce Arians as a coaching intern in 2016. Last year, he was hired as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Leftwich doesn’t have previous OC experience, but he did call plays in a couple of 2017 exhibition games.

I’m a pretty confident guy, but I had never done it, and I had never practiced it,” Leftwich said of his OC audition. “That’s the tough part. Knowing B.A., B.A. ain’t going to give you two weeks in practice to prepare. He gave me a 10-play period to call them. The first time I ever called plays was in the game. I wish I would have done a few things here and there better, but that’s the exciting part of growing in this business. That helped my growth.”

Leftwich will make his OC debut on Sunday, Oct. 28 against the 49ers. After that, the Cardinals have a Week 9 bye.

Extra Points: Fitzgerald, Talib, Titans, Jets

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald has yet to make his intentions for the 2018 season public knowledge, but signs are point toward the future Hall of Famer returning for his 15th NFL campaign.

New offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said he has talked with Fitzgerald and that the receiver is “excited,” reports ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss. Fitzgerald reportedly told the new offensive coordinator is verbiage was similar to previous coaches Bruce Arians and Ken Whisenhunt.

Kurt Warner also said that he gets the sense that Fitzgerald is leaning toward returning, the Hall of Fame quarterback said on 98.7 Arizona Sports radio“Last couple of times I’ve talked, I really feel like he wants to come back and play this season and he’s more committed to it. But that was before all the changes that took place.But I get the feeling that he is going to come back.”

Fitzgerald hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down in recent years. After moving to the slot in 2015, the perennial Pro Bowl selection has cleared 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each season and has cemented his status as one of the game’s all-time greats.

Though he is leaning toward returning, his status is sure to be decided by what the Cardinals do to fill the vacancy at quarterback left by the retirement of Carson Palmer. With plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, the team making a run at Redskins signal-caller Kirk Cousins for a quick fix would make plenty of sense.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Speaking of Cousins, the soon-to-be free agent is expected to receive plenty of interest from the Jets. On Monday, former head coach Mike Shanahan praised Cousins as a special player, the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta writes. This portends to the Jets, as new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates was groomed under Shanahan in Denver. Shanahan said: “I think Kirk Cousins could be successful in any offense that he ran. Those quarterbacks are hard to find.”
  • The Broncos, according to reports, have recently placed cornerback Aqib Talib on the trade block. ABC 7 in Denver’s Troy Renck looked at a few possible destinations for the veteran cornerback, listing the 49ers, Rams and Cowboys. Talib is signed through the 2019 campaign.
  • Bills center Eric Wood put his retirement on hold and remains on the Bills roster due to the team’s salary cap restrictions, ESPN’s Mike Rodak reports (Twitter link). When he is eventually moved to the retired list, Wood will receive $4.8 MM in injury guaranteed salary for 2018, while keeping the $4.3M in signing bonus paid, tweets NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
  • The Titans have hired Raiders wide receivers coach Rob Moore for the same position, ESPN’s Adam Caplan tweets. He also notes the team interviewed former Raiders running backs coach Bernie Parmalee last week.
  • The Panthers will hire Travelle Wharton as an assistant offensive line coach, ESPN’s David Newton hears. Wharton previously spent two stints with the Panthers as an offensive lineman.

Cardinals To Hire Mike McCoy As OC

Mike McCoy will be running another Western-division team’s offense in 2018. The Cardinals are set to hire him as their next OC, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The sides are working out a deal, per Rapoport. This will mark the third offense McCoy has overseen in the past three seasons. He ran the Chargers’ attack from 2013-16 as head coach and began last season as Broncos OC. McCoy’s second stay in Denver did not go as well, with the team firing him midway through the season.

Steve Wilks now has both of his coordinators on board days after taking the team’s HC reins. The top three coaches on the Cardinals’ staff have deep Panthers ties, although Wilks and McCoy’s Carolina tenures did not intersect. McCoy spent the first nine seasons of his NFL coaching career with the Panthers, from 2000-08, but Wilks didn’t arrive on staff until 2012. They’ll work together now, though, in beginning the post-Carson Palmer era.

The Broncos fired McCoy during their eight-game losing streak last season, but the 45-year-old coach experienced success in prior coaching positions.

His offense brought an uptick in Philip Rivers‘ career trajectory and helped Peyton Manning establish himself in Denver the year prior. McCoy’s most innovative coaching work may have come a year earlier, though, when he scrapped Denver’s offense midway through the season in order to install a Tim Tebow-friendly setup — one that ended up helping the team to an unlikely run to the divisional playoffs.

McCoy beat out Darrell Bevell for the Cards’ post, one that may or may not involve Larry Fitzgerald. The future Hall of Fame wideout has not committed to play a 15th season yet. The Cardinals do stand to return All-Pro David Johnson, and he’ll be vital to a team that does not have a surefire answer at quarterback post-Palmer.

Cardinals Interview Mike McCoy

The Cardinals interviewed Mike McCoy for their vacant offensive coordinator job, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). McCoy is now the second known candidate to interview for the position, following former Seahawks OC Darrell BevellMike McCoy (vertical)

After losing his job as the Chargers’ head coach, McCoy returned to his old gig as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator. Unfortunately, that reunion did not go as planned. After a 3-7 start and little output from the running game, the Broncos axed McCoy.

This offseason, McCoy has put himself in conversation for the Vikings and Cardinals OC vacancies. The Bills also briefly considered him before settling on Brian Daboll.

New Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks has already tapped former Panthers linebackers coach Al Holcomb as his DC. He’ll officially interview on Wednesday and an announcement should follow soon after.

Cardinals Hire Steve Wilks As Head Coach

The Cardinals have officially hired Steve Wilks as their new head coach. The news was first reported by Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Per the team’s announcement, it’s a four-year deal with a club option for year five.Steve Wilks (vertical)

Wilks has reportedly made a “very strong impression” on Cardinals ownership during the search process. Last week, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, Eagles quarterbacks John DeFilippo, and incumbent defensive coordinator James Bettcher were all said to be in the mix, but Wilks came out on top.

This is not really a rebuild, this is a retool,” Wilks told the team website. “We have the culture of winning here. We just have to be able to sustain it. It’s all about trying to get to the next level and the consistency you need to get to the next level. I believe building a culture based on three things: Trust, commitment and accountability.

Wilks just finished his first year as a defensive coordinator with the Panthers, but has eleven previous seasons of experience as an NFL assistant. Both the Giants and Titans considered Wilks for their head coaching vacancies this year before choosing to hire Pat Shurmur and Mike Vrabel, respectively. Despite his relative lack of coordinator experience, it’s clear that Wilks is highly respected around the NFL.

DeFilippo missed out on the head coaching job in Arizona, but he could potentially become the team’s new offensive coordinator. Previous reports have indicated that Wilks would like to have the Eagles QBs coach as his OC, but Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) notes that the team also plans to talk to other candidates including Mike McCoy and Darrell Bevell.

Meanwhile, Wilks could already have a defensive coordinator in mind. Panthers linebackers coach Al Holcomb is a candidate to follow Wilks from Carolina to Arizona, according to Garafolo (on Twitter).

Wilks will have some serious tools to work with, including edge rusher Chandler Jones, linebacker Haason Reddick, cornerback Patrick Peterson, and safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker. The return of David Johnson will bolster the team on the other side of the ball, but the Cardinals will have to address their quarterback situation in the wake of Carson Palmer‘s retirement. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is also thinking about calling it a career and he has indicated that the team’s head coaching hire will weigh heavily in his decision. With that in mind, a call to Fitzgerald might be one of the top items on Wilks’ to-do list.

Cardinals Rumors: Munchak, Wilks, Caldwell

The Cardinals are the only NFL team looking for a new head coach that either hasn’t already made a hire or does not have a clear-cut front-runner for the position. Indeed, many coaches around the league have “trepidation” about the Arizona gig, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Among the factors concerning potential contenders are the Cardinals’ lack of a solution at quarterback and the increasingly difficult path to contention in the NFC West. Additionally, Arizona prefers to keep the majority of its defensive staff in place, meaning a new head coach might not get the opportunity to hire his own coaches, as La Canfora writes in a separate piece. The immediate outlook for the Cardinals isn’t very positive, meaning ownership could make “sweeping changes” again in just a few years.

Here’s more on the Cardinals:

  • Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak withdrew from Arizona’s coaching hunt last week, but La Canfora reports (via Twitter) that Munchak would have been the favorite for the club’s head coaching position had he not pulled out. Munchak cited family concerns when explaining why he decided to remain in Pittsburgh, but there was at least some thought the Steelers could promote the NFL Hall of Famer to offensive coordinator after ex-OC Todd Haley‘s contract expired. Instead, Pittsburgh tabbed incumbent quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner for the role, meaning Munchak will return for a fifth season as the team’s OL coach. Munchak, 57, has previous head coaching experience, as he posted a 22-26 record with the Titans from 2011-13.
  • Among the candidates who are still in contention for the Arizona job, Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has reportedly made a “very strong impression” on Cardinals ownership during the search process, tweets La Canfora. Wilks, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, and Eagles quarterbacks John DeFilippo all have or will receive second interviews. Incumbent DC James Bettcher, meanwhile, won’t require a second meeting given his familiarity with Arizona’s decision-makers.
  • While the Cardinals’ search is still ongoing, candidates have already started to formulate hypothetical coaching staffs. Flores for instance, would likely install former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator were he to land the Arizona gig, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bettcher, meanwhile, is eyeing former Broncos play-caller Mike McCoy for OC and ex-Colts head coach Chuck Pagano for DC, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
  • We touched on Haley earlier, and the former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator says he would have interest in taking over OC duties for the Cardinals, per Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM (Twitter link). Haley, of course, has worked in Arizona before as the club’s offensive coordinator from 2007-08. Also a potential candidate for vacant OC jobs in both New York and Cleveland, Haley will likely need to wait until the Cardinals settle on their next head coach before taking any serious looks at a reunion in the desert.