Rob Leonard

AFC Coaching Notes: Colts, Bills, Jaguars, Ravens

Since Frank Reich was able to land defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to replace Bears’ head coach Matt Eberflus, Bradley has begun the process of putting his staff together. Today Bradley added longtime defensive backs coach Ron Milus to coach his secondary, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. Milus first started coaching defensive backs at his alma mater, the University of Washington, about eight years after playing cornerback there. He held the college position for seven years before getting an NFL coaching opportunity in 2000. Since then, Milus hasn’t spent a season out of work with stints in Denver, Arizona, New York (Giants), St. Louis, Carolina, San Diego, and Las Vegas. His longest stint was with the Chargers, spending eight years in southern California and transitioning with the team to Los Angeles. It was in Los Angeles that Milus was retained when Bradley joined the Chargers’ staff. He followed Bradley to Las Vegas and will join him once more in Indianapolis.

Here are a few other coaching notes from around the AFC starting with another bit from the Hoosier State:

  • In addition to Milus, Mike Chappell of Fox59 reports that Indianapolis is also in the process of hiring linebackers coach Richard Smith, who worked with Bradley and Milus in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Smith has coached in the NFL since he debuted for the Houston Oilers in 1988 coaching special teams and tight ends. He found his niche as a linebackers coach in 1997 for the 49ers and has had three short stints as a defensive coordinator in Miami, Houston, and Atlanta.
  • ESPN’s Yates also tweeted out a report that the Bills have added former QB Kyle Shurmur on staff in a defensive quality control position. After four years at Vanderbilt, Shurmur signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chiefs, spending time on their practice squad as well as on the Bengals’ and Washington’s practice squads. He was released by Washington a little over a month ago and that appears to mark the end of his playing career. He seems to be following in the footsteps of his father, Pat Shurmur, and joining the coaching track.
  • A castaway from the Matt Nagy Bears’ staff, outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey will not be without work for long as Curtis Crabtree of NBC Sports reports that Shuey is joining Doug Pederson‘s staff in Jacksonville in the same role. Shuey and Pederson had two separate tenures together in Philadelphia.
  • Pederson also made a crucial move of retaining running backs coach Bernie Parmalee. Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network tells us that keeping Parmalee was a priority for Pederson, especially due to his strong relationship with star running back James Robinson.
  • Baltimore has hired Rob Leonard as outside linebackers coach, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley (Twitter). Leonard will replace Drew Wilkins who left to join Brian Daboll‘s staff in New York. Leonard spent the past three seasons in the same position with the Dolphins. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic adds that former Michigan analyst Ryan Osborn will follow Mike Macdonald to the Ravens for a quality control position. Osborn is credited with having a role in the development of Wolverines’ EDGE players like Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo.

Staff Notes: Fins, Falcons, Pats, Redskins

Brian FloresDolphins staff continues to fill out. The Miami-bound Patriots assistant plans to hire Jaguars defensive line coach Marion Hobby and Giants outside linebackers coach Rob Leonard, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Hobby’s past two NFL seasons in Jacksonville came after a decade at the college level, with the 52-year-old assistant’s previous coaching work coming at the college level. He was Clemson’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach for six seasons, coaching Vic Beasley, Shaq Lawson and Andre Branch in that time. Hobby was also the Saints’ defensive ends coach during Sean Payton‘s first two seasons. Leonard spent the past six seasons with the Giants, working with three head coaches. This was his lone coaching post at the NFL or college level. He worked with new Miami DC Patrick Graham for two of those years.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Dante Scarnecchia retired from the NFL after the 2013 season, but when the Patriots‘ 2015 campaign ended with the Broncos hitting Tom Brady more than 20 times, New England lured its longtime offensive line coach back to the sideline. Scarnecchia has now been back for three seasons and intends to make that at least four, with ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss noting he plans to coach in 2019. Aided by the 70-year-old assistant’s guidance, the Patriots’ offensive front nullified the Chiefs’ formidable pass rush for most of the AFC championship game.
  • The Redskins may be looking for a new defensive line coach. Jim Tomsula‘s contract has expired, Bruce Allen said (via NBC Sports Washington’s J.P. Finlay, on Twitter). The former 49ers head coach landed in Washington in 2017. It’s possible the sides could work out another contract, with Tomsula having aided the development of Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis (combined 15 sacks).
  • Washington, though, is expected bring back offensive line coach Bill Callahan next season, Allen said. He is under contract for 2019. Bill’s son, Brian Callahan, recently landed the Bengals’ OC gig, and the Bengals were interested in pairing up the father-son tandem. Bill Callahan has coached Washington’s offensive linemen since 2015, the last two years overseeing a position group ransacked by injuries.
  • After two seasons on Dan Quinn‘s Falcons staff, Charlie Jackson will move to the college ranks to become a head coach. Jackson will take over at Division II Kentucky State, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. Jackson served as Atlanta’s defensive backs coach but had previously coached with the Broncos and Packers and worked as a Seahawks scout. He was not fired when the Falcons made sweeping staff changes, but the team now has a staff vacancy.

Coaching Rumors: Jets, Cowboys, Giants

Josh McDaniels‘ decision to break his agreement to become the Colts’ next head coach could hypothetically push the NFL to change its hiring rules, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Currently, teams aren’t allowed to formally hire coaches who are still employed by playoff clubs, but that hadn’t been an impediment given that no presumptive head coach had backed out of a reported deal. Had McDaniels been able to be officially offered the Indianapolis job several weeks ago, the Colts may have been aware of his wariness at the time. The NFL discussed a possible hiring rule change in 2017, but tabled the discussion, per Florio.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Jets announced that Jeremy Bates, who was recently promoted to offensive coordinator, will also retain his role as the club’s quarterbacks coach. While Bates will have two jobs, he’ll be able to rely on the expertise of assistant quarterbacks coach Mick Lombardi and longtime NFL offensive coordinator — and new New York offensive line coach/run game coordinator — Rick Dennison. Bates & Co. will likely be working with at least one new signal-caller in 2018, although the Jets are open to re-signing veteran passer Josh McCown.
  • Former Patriots assistant Ray “Bubba” Ventrone will be hired as the Colts‘ new special teams coordinator, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Ventrone, who played for four NFL teams, had been a New England staffer since 2015, but this will be his first run as a coordinator. Indianapolis is also expected to hire ex-Lions defensive backs coach Alan Williams for the same role, per Marvez, while Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link) former Buccaneers assistant Dave Borgonzi will become the Colts’ next linebackers coach.
  • The Cowboys have finalized their 2017 coaching staff by hiring Doug Colman as their assistant special teams coach, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Colman spent the past four seasons in the same role for the cross-state Texans. He’s expected to be the last major hire on Jason Garrett‘s staff after Dallas promoted Keith O’Quinn to ST coordinator and hired Doug Nussmeier as tight ends coach.
  • Florida Atlantic University defensive coordinator Chris Kiffin is joining the NFL ranks, as he’s agreed to become the 49ers‘ pass rush specialist, according to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated. Kiffin comes from a long line of NFL coaches, as he’s the brother of Lane Kiffin and the son of Monte Kiffin. In San Francisco, he’ll work with young defenders Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, and DeForest Buckner.
  • The Giants have announced new head coach Pat Shurmur‘s staff, and the new list of assistants contains several holdovers. Rob Leonard (assistant linebackers), Ryan Roeder (offensive assistant) and Bobby Blick (defensive assistant) will all stick around.

East Notes: Romo, Cowboys, Redskins, Jets

The Redskins could attempt to acquire Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in a trade also involving the 49ers, but it’s not going to happen on Jerry Jones watch, tweets Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Of course, it’ll be interesting to see if that will be Jones’ stance if the Redskins make the only trade offer for Romo, who’s a prime release candidate.

More from the East Coast:

  • The Jets might move on from wide receiver Eric Decker, though they won’t make a decision on his future until he has recovered from hip and shoulder surgeries, general manager Mike Maccagnan announced Friday (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com). “Our goal is to get him healthy and then kind of evaluate how he comes off the injuries,” said Maccagnan, who believes Decker will be ready to return by Week 1 of next season. The soon-to-be 30-year-old appeared in only three games last season, and cutting him would save the Jets $5.75MM against $3MM in dead money for 2017.
  • The Jets cut their other top wideout, Brandon Marshall, on Thursday, but not before offering him an extension. That offer came “about a month ago,” a source told Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Marshall wasn’t up for continuing on a rebuilding team, though, so he turned down the extension and requested his release.
  • Maccagnan would like to acquire more draft picks to go with the seven he already has, which could mean moving down in any round (via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News). “If somebody wants to move up and we have a pick in that round, call us up. Any pick,” said Maccagnan, implying that the team would trade the sixth overall section. At the same time, Maccagnan wouldn’t mind keeping the pick. “Whether we stay at No. 6 and pick a player, we’d be perfectly happy doing that,” he declared. “Whether we decide to move back and get more picks and more opportunities, we’d be perfectly happy doing that.”
  • Despite some other chatter this week, Hill tweets that Cowboys offensive tackle Doug Free is not retiring. Head coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday he has not heard any word of the 33-year-old Free walking away.
  • The Giants have promoted Rob Leonard to assistant defensive line coach, per the Associated Press. Leonard will take over for Jeff Zgonina, who joined the 49ers’ staff. Big Blue has also hired Bobby Blick to fill Leonard’s previous job, defensive assistant.

Zach Links contributed to this post.