Mike Sullivan (QBs coach)

AFC North Coaching Updates: Sullivan, Ravens, Bengals

With the Patriots and Bill Belichick parting ways this offseason, the AFC North is now home to the NFL’s two longest-tenured head coaches, and though the Steelers haven’t had a change at head coach in 17 years, they were required to make some adjustments to the offensive coaching staff this offseason. We’ve reported on a number of staff changes on offense after the hiring of new coordinator Arthur Smith, but the team’s recent finalized staff announcement provided us with a few more updates.

We saw that Pittsburgh made the call to replace former quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan with Tom Arth two weeks ago, but we now see that Sullivan will be retained on staff in the role of senior offensive assistant. Additionally, Smith seems to have brought two coaches with him from Atlanta. Former Falcons specials teams assistant Matt Baker and Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellow Mateo Kambui, who worked with Atlanta’s offensive line, have both been brought on in the role of offensive assistant.

On defense and special teams, only two changes were noted. First, we already saw the departure of assistant defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander in the announcement that he would become the safeties coach in Las Vegas. Second, special teams quality control coach Matt Tomsho does not appear on the team’s new coaching roster and doesn’t seem to have been retained. Neither position was filled with a new staffer.

Here are a couple other staff updates coming out of the AFC North:

  • With former associate head coach and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver departing for the defensive coordinator job in Miami, the Ravens needed to find someone new to coach their talented defensive line. According to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, Baltimore has found their man in former Baylor defensive line coach Dennis Johnson. A former defensive tackle at LSU, Johnson has coached defensive lines at the college level for both his alma mater and the Bears in Waco. His best defensive lines were at LSU in 2018 and Baylor in 2021, coaching players like Siaki Ika and K’Lavon Chaisson.
  • The Bengals have brought in a collegiate staffer, as well, per Pete Thamel of ESPN, hiring former Oregon offensive analyst Jordan Salkin to their staff as an offensive assistant. Salkin’s experience at the college level was focused on the quarterbacks position, and he fills the role in Cincinnati left vacant with Fredi Knighten being promoted to assistant quarterbacks coach.

Latest On Steelers Coaching Staff

With Arthur Smith now in place as offensive coordinator, the Steelers continue to make changes to their offensive staff. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported earlier this week that wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson wouldn’t be back next season. The organization was quick to fill that vacancy, as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler later reported that the Steelers were hiring Jets assistant Zach Azzanni for the job.

[RELATED: Steelers Hire Arthur Smith As OC]

While Jackson previously worked alongside Smith when the two were in Tennessee, he couldn’t overcome the underwhelming performance from his WRs corps in 2023. Both George Pickens and Diontae Johnson drew criticism for their lackadaisical play, and since the Steelers aren’t completely revamping their offensive staff, it sounds like part of blame has been attributed to the veteran coach.

So, the team will turn to Azzanni to help revamp the receivers room. The 47-year-old coach has had multiple stops as a WRs coach, including stints with the Bears, Broncos, and Jets. During his five years in Denver, he was tasked with the development of Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy.

The Steelers have also added former Chargers assistant Tom Arth as their new QB coach, per Dulac. The team has since announced the move. There were reports from earlier this week that Mike Sullivan would be retaining his job as Steelers QBs coach. That didn’t end up coming to fruition, but it sounds like Sullivan is expected to stick around Pittsburgh in a different role. Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 in Houston reports that the team has also let go of assistant quarterbacks coach David Corley.

Arth was most recently the passing game specialist for Brandon Staley in Los Angeles, where he worked extensively with Justin Herbert for two years. Following a playing career that saw him briefly serve as Peyton Manning‘s backup in Indianapolis, Arth served as the head coach at John Carroll, Chattanooga, and Akron.

Sullivan took on the role of co-offensive coordinator (alongside RBs coach Eddie Faulkner) following the firing of Matt Canada back in November. A former offensive coordinator with the Buccaneers and Giants, Sullivan had served as Pittsburgh’s quarterbacks coach since the 2021 season, guiding the team through the transition from Ben Roethlisberger to Kenny Pickett.

Steelers To Retain Mike Sullivan

FEBRUARY 8: Pittsburgh will follow through with the plan to keep Sullivan, according to KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson. With a new OC in place, the Steelers considered shifting Sullivan away from his role as quarterbacks coach. But he will stay on in that capacity for a fourth season.

FEBRUARY 1: The Steelers have hired Arthur Smith as offensive coordinator, following through with Mike Tomlin‘s plan to look outside the organization to officially replace Matt Canada. Being just the second Steelers OC hire that did not involve an in-house promotion this century, Smith may still be tied to some of Canada’s assistants.

Closing the 2023 season as Pittsburgh’s play-caller, Mike Sullivan has interviewed for the Raiders and Saints’ offensive coordinator positions. Both remain open. Generally, coordinators have autonomy to recommend candidates to join them as they implement their systems. Smith, however, will be expected to retain Sullivan.

If Sullivan fails to land one of the open OC jobs, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac notes the Steelers expect to have him remain as quarterbacks coach. Sullivan is popular with the team’s QBs, and although it would make for a slightly unusual setup in which the team’s previous play-caller remains in place as a new one takes over, it appears that is the plan for now.

Smith will have input as to how the Steelers structure their offensive staff, Dulac adds, stopping short of indicating the new OC will have freedom to greenlight hires. Sullivan and Eddie Faulkner split OC duties following Canada’s ouster, with Faulkner receiving the title and Sullivan calling plays. This setup helped Tomlin once again avoid a sub-.500 season, with Mason Rudolph piloting the team to its third playoff berth in four years.

The Steelers hired Sullivan as QBs coach in 2021. After serving as Ben Roethlisberger‘s final position coach, Sullivan has mentored Kenny Pickett. Art Rooney II confirmed (via ESPN.com’s Brooke Pryor) the Steelers still believe in the 2022 first-round pick, with the owner’s recent comments coming after Tomlin indicated the Pitt product would enter the offseason as the starter. After managing just 13 touchdown passes in 25 games to start his career, Pickett’s time as the Steelers’ unquestioned QB1 is over. The Steelers are interested in re-signing Rudolph, but it would also not surprise to see them pursue a more established veteran in free agency to compete with Pickett.

Seeing as the Steelers are interested in retaining Canada-era assistants on offense, will be interesting to see how their 2024 staff looks. Sullivan, 57, served as the Buccaneers and Giants’ OC at points during the 2010s. Pickett’s early performance level is not a ringing Sullivan endorsement, but even as Smith prepares to install his system, the Steelers value their previous play-caller as a part of this developmental process.

Raiders, Saints To Interview Mike Sullivan For OC

12:59pm: Sullivan’s offseason itinerary now includes two OC interviews. The Saints will also meet with the veteran assistant, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The Raiders meeting will come first. The Saints now have eight OC candidates on their radar. Sullivan also has a short history with Derek Carr, which came from working with the then-Fresno State prospect before the 2014 draft, Garafolo notes. It is unclear if the Steelers will make any effort to retain Sullivan.

9:22am: The Raiders’ offensive coordinator search now includes a seventh candidate. After his two-month period calling the shots in Pittsburgh, Mike Sullivan is in the mix to become the play-caller in Las Vegas.

Sullivan is set to interview for the Raiders’ OC gig, per NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo. The veteran assistant has ties to Antonio Pierce dating back to the latter’s playing days in New York. The Giants employed Sullivan during multiple stints; the first encompassed Pierce’s run in the Big Apple. Tom Coughlin, who hired Sullivan twice in New York, remains in place consulting Pierce on potential hires.

When the Giants hired Coughlin in 2004, they brought Sullivan in as wide receivers coach. He stayed on for eight years, being moved up to QBs coach in 2010 and collecting a second Super Bowl ring a year later. Sullivan parlayed that 2011 success into the Buccaneers’ OC job under Greg Schiano. After two years there, he returned to coach under Coughlin during his final season on the sidelines. Sullivan also spent the 2016 and ’17 seasons as Ben McAdoo‘s Giants OC, but Pittsburgh effectively placed him in such a role after Matt Canada‘s firing.

The Steelers gave running backs coach Eddie Faulkner the interim OC title but installed Sullivan, 56, as their play-caller. Pittsburgh’s offense did improve under Sullivan, immediately snapping what had become an infamous run without a 400-yard showing. The Steelers crafted a fairly surprising stretch — though it probably should not have been, given Mike Tomlin‘s penchant for avoiding losing seasons — around third-string QB Mason Rudolph. The veteran steered the Steelers to three straight wins to close out the regular season and fared decently in Pittsburgh’s wild-card loss in Buffalo.

After making in-house promotions to fill his OC position since Todd Haley‘s exit, Tomlin pointed to an outside hire filling the Steelers’ play-calling post this offseason. Sullivan’s time as Pittsburgh’s QBs coach lasted three seasons.

Pierce was with the Giants from 2004-09. Sullivan marks the first assistant from his time with the Giants to land on the Raiders’ OC radar. With that in mind, here is how that search looks:

Steelers Notes: Tomlin, Sullivan, Pickett

The Steelers’ Mitchell Trubisky-quarterbacked losses to the Cardinals and Patriots are not likely to lead to a Mike Tomlin ouster. The patient organization is not expected to move the 17th-year HC to the hot seat, but some issues with Tomlin’s moves have come up within the building.

As of now, it does not look likely the Steelers will make another in-house promotion to fill the offensive coordinator role. Play-caller Mike Sullivan has next to no chance to follow in Randy Fichtner and Matt Canada‘s footsteps, according to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post.

Although the Steelers received an initial bump with Sullivan calling the shots, it was short-lived. They surpassed 400 total yards for the first time since Week 2 of the 2020 season, but the team has endured ugly home losses in the weeks since. A former Buccaneers and Giants OC, Sullivan is working as the Steelers’ play-caller while Eddie Faulkner — previously the team’s running backs coach — holds the interim OC title. Both Fichtner (who replaced Todd Haley in 2018) and Canada (who replaced Fichtner in 2021) were elevated from QBs coach to OC; Sullivan is unlikely to make the same move. Some of Tomlin’s hiring choices have drawn questions inside the organization, and La Canfora adds it is likely ownership will play a role as Tomlin searches for his next play-caller.

Slow starts and the inconsistent usage of promising former UDFA Jaylen Warren have also confounded some in the team’s building, per La Canfora, but Kenny Pickett‘s status is also worth monitoring. Last year’s No. 20 overall pick has not taken off in his second season, and while he has not had much time to work with Sullivan calling the plays, the Pitt product has underwhelmed based on his draft status. Questions within the organization remain concerning Pickett’s development, JLC adds.

Two years remain on Pickett’s rookie contract, and although the Steelers’ next OC will play the lead role in this development effort, the team has seen its efforts thus far stall. Pickett sits 25th in QBR, after ranking 20th in a low-octane rookie season that did include some promising late-game showings near its conclusion. Pickett has managed only 13 touchdown passes in 24 starts; he has posted just a 6.3-yard average per attempt over his career. It is not yet known if the Steelers want to take the route the 2020 Bears took with Trubisky, acquiring a veteran (Nick Foles) to compete with the scuffling starter. But concern about Pickett’s progress is probably warranted at this point.

Tomlin, 51, did not receive an extension this offseason, but if the Steelers are planning to retain him for 2024 — thus far, all signs point to the affirmative — they will likely hand out another contract before next season to avoid lame-duck status. Once again, the well-regarded HC’s .500-or-better streak is in jeopardy. Trubisky is set to make another start, and the wild-card contender (7-6) is sinking fast.

Even with the Steelers’ penchant for coach stability, Tomlin has generated scrutiny in recent years. The team has not won a playoff game since a touchdown-less triumph over the Chiefs in the 2016 divisional round, losing twice at home since. The Steelers’ status quo may face bigger-picture questions in 2024. How the franchise, which is still positioned in a wild-card spot despite the recent defeats, reassembles pieces may well become pivotal toward Tomlin’s long-term standing.

Latest On Steelers’ OC Situation

After Matt Canada spent Monday preparing for the Steelers’ Week 12 game against the Bengals, Mike Tomlin informed him Tuesday morning he would not finish out his third season as offensive coordinator. This marked historically rare territory for the Steelers, who had not fired a head coach or coordinator in-season in 82 years.

Steelers players had voiced frustrations about the offense for weeks behind the scenes, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini, and Najee Harris‘ public comments came days before Canada’s ouster (subscription required). While the team was united on keeping Canada during September and October, the run of poor performances on offense eventually led to the course change.

Regarding whose call this truly was, conflicting reports have come out. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac indicated Art Rooney II made this decision, while Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he was behind the call. The 17th-year coach taking responsibility is certainly on-brand, though The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly expresses doubt Tomlin truly decided to break with tradition and fire Canada. That said, Russini offers that it was indeed the veteran HC’s decision — after multiple discussions with Rooney — that produced the shakeup.

Calls for Canada’s firing came down last year and intensified this season. Tomlin gave Canada a third year, doing so after Kenny Pickett showed some promise late last season. The 2022 first-round pick has struggled this year and will enter Week 12 with just seven touchdown passes. The Steelers have been outgained in all 10 of their games, and they have not produced a 400-yard offensive game since Week 2 of the 2020 season.

Pickett’s close relationship with QBs coach and new play-caller Mike Sullivan did not affect this decision, Tomlin said. Sullivan worked as mostly a non-play-calling OC during his two-season Giants tenure. Though, he finished the 2017 campaign calling the shots for the Eli Manning-piloted offense, with Ben McAdoo being fired late in that season. Sullivan called plays for the Buccaneers from 2012-13. As the wheels began to come off for Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay ranked 13th and 30th offensively during Sullivan’s two seasons; the second came as the team transitioned to rookie Mike Glennon at QB.

The Steelers promoted their QBs coach to OC in 2021 (Canada) and 2018 (Randy Fichtner). Todd Haley was the team’s last outside hire for the position. Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner is the interim OC, though his lack of play-calling responsibilities do not point to long-term consideration here. Sullivan would seem the likelier candidate for the gig, based on his role and the team’s history. If the Steelers opt to go outside the organization, Kaboly adds Byron Leftwich has expressed interest in the job. The former Bucs OC made his interest known before Canada’s firing.

Leftwich would technically be an outside hire, but he has a past with the Steelers. He served as a Ben Roethlisberger reserve in 2008 and from 2010-12, joining longtime backup Charlie Batch in a deep QB room. Leftwich made one start for the Steelers, in 2012. The former QB spent four seasons as Tampa Bay’s OC. Despite Bruce Arians being an offense-oriented HC, he gave Leftwich the play-calling reins. This setup helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl in Tom Brady‘s first season and the ageless legend led the NFL in TD passes (43) and yards (5,316) in 2021. Brady and Todd Bowles expressed dissatisfaction with Leftwich last season, however, and the Bucs canned him in January.

Leftwich, 43, interviewed for the Ravens’ OC job this offseason but is not currently coaching. Although Rooney may or may not have insisted Tomlin fire Canada, Dulac adds the longtime HC will be the one who selects the next OC. Though, ownership will obviously need to approve Tomlin’s pick.

Steelers Fire OC Matt Canada

Matt Canada will not be given an opportunity to close out a third season as Steelers offensive coordinator. While Canada had long been expected to be fired after this season, Mike Tomlin instead informed the third-year OC of an in-season dismissal Tuesday morning.

The Steelers will pivot to a co-OC setup of sorts to replace Canada, 51. Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner will take over in the coordinator role, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, who adds quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan will move into the play-calling role. Tomlin is not believed to have made the final call here, with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac reporting owner Art Rooney II insisted this move be made. That being the case would add intrigue to a Steelers offensive situation that has been one of the NFL’s worst for years, though Tomlin (via The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly) has since said he made the call.

Sullivan has been an OC with the Giants and Buccaneers previously; he has been with the Steelers since 2021, Canada’s first OC season. Faulkner has been in place as Pittsburgh’s RBs coach since 2019. Faulkner, 46, will play a lead role in game planning, per NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo. But Sullivan, 56, will be the assistant given headset responsibilities.

The Steelers are 6-4, but their offense has struggled throughout Canada’s third season. Pittsburgh holds a minus-29 point differential, being in the historically strange position of holding an over-.500 record after having been outgained in each of its 10 games this season. Canada’s struggles predate this year as well. The Steelers have not produced a 400-yard offensive game since the 2020 season, Randy Fichtner‘s last as OC.

The team’s 249-yard outing in Cleveland represented its 58th straight game coming in below 400 yards. The Steelers’ most recent such outing came in Week 2 of the 2020 season. Kenny Pickett, who completed 15 passes for just 106 yards against the Browns’ menacing pass defense in Week 11, has not taken a step forward in his second season. The 2022 first-rounder’s status is secure for the time being, but the Pitt product may soon be on the clock as well.

Prior to the Browns matchup, Canada had been expected to be given a chance to foster Pickett improvement to close out the season. Tomlin kept Canada on as OC — to the chagrin of many — after Pickett put together a promising stretch to close out a statistically unimpressive rookie season. Instead, this will be the first Steelers OC in-season coordinator removal since Bill Cowher relieved Ray Sherman of play-calling duties during the 1998 slate. That was not technically a firing, since Sherman finished out the season in a lesser role. This will mark rare territory for the old-school franchise. But the Steelers have been a defense-dependent outfit for years, transitioning from the “Killer B’s” era to a period of low-octane offense that has encompassed most of the 2020s.

Tomlin initially hired Canada as quarterbacks coach in 2020, but the longtime HC did not renew Fichtner’s contract for the 2021 season, promoting the ex-Maryland leader ahead of Ben Roethlisberger‘s final season. This marked Canada’s first NFL coaching gig. Prior to joining the NFL ranks, Canada had been an OC at seven schools (Indiana, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, NC State, Pitt, LSU, Maryland) from 2007-18. Finishing his Maryland tenure as interim HC amid a scandal involving former HC D.J. Durkin, Canada surfaced with the Steelers despite not coaching during the 2019 season.

While it could certainly be fair to say Canada did not have an above-average quarterback during his tenure, Tomlin will aim to see if someone else can coax better Pickett play. Roethlisberger was a shell of his Hall of Fame version by the time Canada took over, and Mitch Trubisky did not inspire confidence to start last season. Pickett, however, has flatlined during this year’s opening stretch. Pickett ranks 28th in QBR and has managed only six touchdown passes in 10 games. He finished his rookie season with seven in 13 contests. The in-state product’s yards per attempt (6.1) and completion percentage (60.5) figures are down from 2022 as well.

As a team, the Steelers rank 29th with 14 touchdowns this season. They only put up 30 points twice during Canada’s OC tenure, and this edition ranks 31st with 170 passing yards per game. Although the team missed Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth for extended spans this season, Pickett’s slow development predated those injuries. The Steelers have also enjoyed quality health along their offensive line throughout Pickett’s tenure.

This still figures to be an uphill battle for Faulkner and Sullivan, with the 2024 offseason likely to serve as a pivotal Pickett point. But the team will attempt to salvage what could still be a playoff season. Tomlin famously has never had a losing season, and the historically high-floor operation will reassemble pieces to keep that streak going.

Sullivan’s OC opportunities came from 2012-13 (Tampa Bay) and from 2016-17 (New York). Sullivan previously ran the Bucs’ offense during Greg Schiano‘s HC tenure, which covered the end of Josh Freeman‘s run and a handful of starts from then-rookie Mike Glennon. After the Giants received the last of Odell Beckham Jr.‘s dominant seasons in 2016, they struggled amid injuries in 2017. While the team fired Ben McAdoo late in the ’17 campaign, Sullivan finished that season. He was out of football for two seasons following the 2018 slate, which he spent as the Broncos’ QBs coach.

Faulkner and Canada had worked together in the college ranks, with Faulkner following Canada from Northern Illinois to Wisconsin. Faulkner spent six seasons at NC State, being on staff at the ACC program before Canada. Faulkner handled a number of duties with the Wolfpack, but he was last a coordinator during a two-year stay (2009-10) at Ball State. Sullivan will bring 22 years’ worth of NFL assistant experience to his new role, while Faulkner joined Canada in having never coached in the pros until Tomlin offered him a job.

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.

Broncos Hire Ex-Giants OC Mike Sullivan

The Broncos have hired former Giants offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan as their new quarterbacks coach, reports Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). The club has also hired former Bears running backs coach Curtis Modkins to the same role in Denver, per Klis.Mike Sullivan (Vertical)

Sullivan is technically still under contract in New York, but given that Big Blue is overhauling its coaching staff, Giants assistants are free to explore other roles. Now hired in Denver, Sullivan would work under Bill Musgrave, who will return as the Broncos’ offensive play-caller after taking over for Mike McCoy at midseason.

Interim Broncos quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak is expected to shift to a new position with the team, and head coach Vance Joseph & Co. also reportedly considered former Bengals OC Ken Zampese as a staff addition. Sullivan, 50, sandwiched a stint as the Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator from 2012-13 between two tenures with the Giants.

Modkins, meanwhile, has served as an NFL coach since 2008 and enjoyed offensive coordinator titles with the Bills (2010-12) and 49ers (2016). He’ll replace former assistant head coach/running backs Eric Studesville, who was fired earlier this week, but he wasn’t the only candidate for the position. The Broncos also interviewed Raiders running backs coach Bernie Parmalee, per Klis (Twitter link).

One other Broncos staff housekeeping note: assistant to to the head coach Phil Rauscher is interviewing to become the Redskins’ assistant offensive line coach, tweets Klis.

Jim Schwartz On Giants’ HC Radar?

Having moved rather quickly to replace Jerry Reese with former Reese lieutenant Dave Gettleman, the Giants now are focused on filling their HC vacancy.

Ernie Accorsi will not “officially” be part of this search for their next head coach, John Mara said (via James Kratch of NJ.com, on Twitter). Accorsi won’t sit in on interviews, but the ex-Big Blue GM will be a resource in the process, per Mara. The Gettleman hire occurring — after myriad reports of the former Panthers GM being the favorite — leads some around the league to believe they have a coaching candidate ready to pair with Gettleman, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk hears.

Florio writes Eagles DC Jim Schwartz is the name that’s been most connected with this vacancy and floated an interesting reason for this buzz. Accorsi is believed to lean heavily on Bill Belichick‘s advice and Florio’s heard the Patriots HC has suggested Accorsi recommend Schwartz’s hire to Gettleman.

This would make for an interesting route, and Florio adds some in the league regard this recommendation as a way for Belichick to keep Josh McDaniels in the fold for another season. However, McDaniels has been connected to an HC avenues alongside New England VP of player personnel Nick Caserio as GM. A previous GM candidate, Caserio looks to be out of the picture for the Giants after Gettleman’s hire.

Mara said he would prefer an experienced head coach to take over, per Kratch (Twitter link). This would match up with Schwartz, who has extensive experience as a defensive coordinator and served as the Lions’ HC for five years. Schwartz has also had supporters within the Giants organization for years, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes, adding some sources believe Gettleman is high on the HC candidate as well.

Steve Spagnuolo will interview, but Mara is unsure OC Mike Sullivan will. Mara opened Gettleman’s presser today by saying he sought an exec with GM experience, so it would stand to reason the traditional organization wants a more seasoned HC. Mara’s Ben McAdoo hire — after only two years of coordinator experience — did not work out, so he’s planning to take a different route this time.

The Giants could interview Schwartz next week since the Eagles have booked a bye. The Ringer’s Mike Lombardi tweets the Giants wanted their GM search to conclude before the season ended in order to be ready to “act quickly” on a coaching search by the time interviews could be scheduled.

There’s certainly some unique reasoning associated with it, but Schwartz — who runs a 4-3 defense like the Giants do and has long been regarded as an upper-echelon DC — looks to be firmly on New York’s radar.