Richard Smith

Staff Notes: Pats, Fins, Bolts, Hawks, 49ers

The Alabama Crimson Tide are searching for an offensive coordinator in the wake of Steve Sarkisian‘s departure and will likely interview Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll for the role, reports Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Daboll previously served under Alabama head coach Nick Saban at Michigan State, as Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com notes, and worked as an NFL offensive coordinator in Cleveland, Miami and Kansas City from 2009-12.

More coaching news from around the league:

  • Former defensive end Andre Carter is joining the Dolphins’ staff as an assistant D-line coach, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN. Carter, 37, played in the league from 2001-13 and piled up 80.5 sacks.
  • The Chargers have hired ex-Atlanta defensive coordinator Richard Smith to coach their linebackers, per a team announcement. Smith, who was atop ATL’s defense the past two years, became a coaching free agent when the team fired him last week. The 61-year-old has been working with pro linebackers since 1988, when he was with the now-defunct Houston Oilers, and has since coached LBs in Denver, San Francisco, Detroit and Carolina.
  • Sherman Smith is out as the Seahawks’ running backs coach, a position he had held since 2009, according to Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. The Seahawks are promoting assistant RBs/assistant special teams coach Chad Morton to Sherman’s former spot (Twitter links).
  • The 49ers have landed ex-Buccaneers tight ends coach Jon Embree as an assistant head coach/TEs coach, writes Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle. His son, Taylor Embree, is coming aboard as a quality control coach. The younger Embree spent last season as a defensive assistant in Kansas City.
  • Elsewhere on the 49ers’ staff, the team has interviewed Falcons assistant special teams coach Eric Sutulovich to become its special teams coordinator, per Marvez (Twitter link). Caplan reported last week that the Niners were likely to meet with Sutulovich.
  • The Redskins have hired Cannon Matthews as a defensive quality control coach, relays JP Finlay of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Matthews served as the assistant defensive backs coach last year with the Browns, who parted with him in January.

Staff Notes: Chargers, 49ers, Falcons, Colts

Former Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith is interviewing for the Chargers‘ linebackers coach position, according to Jack Wang of the Orange County Register. Smith was fired by Atlanta on Wednesday after leading a defense that finished just 27th in DVOA, but linebackers are his specialty, as he’s coached the position at four other NFL stops. Smith’s interview could mean Los Angeles expects Robert Saleh, the team’s other candidate for ‘backers coach, to land the 49ers DC gig.

Here’s more from the 2017 hiring cycle:

  • New 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has lured yet another former Falcons staffer to San Francisco, as ex-Atlanta assistant Mike LaFleur will be the 49ers’ next wide receivers coach, tweets Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. LaFleur, who spent the previous two seasons with the Falcons after working in Cleveland during the 2014 campaign, is the brother of Matt LaFleur, who recently left Atlanta to become the Rams’ offensive coordinator. The 49ers also announced they’ve hired Nick Kray (administrative assistant to the head coach), T.C. McCartney (offensive assistant), and Ray Wright (strength and conditioning).
  • Although Chris Ballard left Kansas City to become the Colts‘ new general manager, Chiefs GM John Dorsey doesn’t expect Ballard to poach any KC staffers “right now,” tweets Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Typically, an executive will try to bring at least a few low-level front office employees along to a new job, but it sounds like Ballard will be starting from scratch, and rolling with the incumbent Indianapolis staff for the time being.
  • The Falcons promoted Marquand Manuel to defensive coordinator earlier today, but that wasn’t the only change the club made to its defensive staff. As expected, Bryant Young has been named as Atlanta’s defensive line coach, replacing the fired Bryan Cox, while defensive assistant Doug Mallory has been promoted to secondary coach, taking over for Manuel, the club announced today.
  • Broncos assistant defensive backs backs coach Samson Brown had been set to join ex-Denver coordinator Wade Phillips on the Rams‘ coaching staff, but he’s experienced a last-minute change of heart and will be staying in Denver, per Marvez (Twitter link). It’s unclear how Brown’s decision will affect longtime NFL coach Johnnie Lynn, who was reportedly hired to replace Brown with the Broncos.
  • The Buccaneers have made a series of changes to their coaching staff and personnel department, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, who reports the Bucs have promoted Zack Grossi to offensive quality control coach, hired Anthony Perkins to replace Grossi as the club’s assistant to the head coach, and hired former NFL tight end Alex Smith as a pro scout. Tampa Bay has also hired Skyler Fulton as an offensive assistant, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com.
  • Vikings offensive assistant Drew Petzing could be a candidate for the club’s vacant wide receivers coach role, reports Andrew Kramer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). Longtime Minnesota WRs coach George Stewart defected for the Chargers earlier this offseason.

Falcons Fire DC Richard Smith

The Falcons have fired defensive coordinator Richard Smith and defensive line coach Bryan Cox, according to Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Smith could eventually be re-assigned within the organization, sources tell Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.Richard Smith (Vertical)

[RELATED: Falcons Hire OC Steve Sarkasian]

Atlanta may look to fill the DC vacancy with an internal hire, per McClure, who identifies secondary coach Marquand Manuel as a “strong” contender for the job. Manuel, 37, doesn’t boast any play-calling experience, but did interview for the Jaguars’ coordinator gig last offseason. Other internal candidates to become the Falcons’ next coordinator could include pass game coordinator Jerome Henderson, linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich, and receivers coach Raheem Morris, adds McClure. Henderson is on the 49ers’ radar, as well, as new head coach Kyle Shanahan reportedly wants to hire co-defensive coordinators.

Smith, meanwhile, has coached NFL defenses since the late-1980s, and has coordinated units in Miami and Houston in addition to Atlanta. Since joining the Falcons in 2015, Smith never led a defense that finished among the top half of the league in DVOA, with the team’s best finish coming in 2015 (22nd). This past season, Atlanta ranked just 27th in defensive DVOA, although the club improved as the season progressed. As McClure hinted at, Smith may stay with the Falcons, but is currently exploring his options, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Cox is also on the outs after Atlanta’s defensive line ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of sacks, but finished just 24th and 25th in adjusted sack rate and adjusted line yards, respectively. Although he deserves credit for helping second-year end Vic Beasley flourish (and lead the NFL with 15.5 sacks), Cox’s unit was subpar overall. Cox, who’s coached in the NFL since 2006 following a long playing a career, is now a coaching free agent.

Given that Shanahan has left Atlanta, the Falcons will begin the 2017 campaign with new coordinators on each side of the ball. Steve Sarkasian has already been hired to replace Shanahan on offense, but the club also lost a respected offensive mind in quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, who was hired as the Rams’ new OC.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coach Updates: Henderson, Falcons, Browns

Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson is interviewing for a position on the Falcons‘ coaching staff, but not for the defensive coordinator job — Richard Smith is staying in that role, Atlanta confirmed today (via Twitter).

Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, who first reported that Henderson was interviewing for the DC role in Atlanta, tweets that his Cowboys contacts believed that was the case. Henderson has suggested he wouldn’t leave Dallas for a job that wasn’t a promotion, so there’s some confusion about what exactly his role with the Falcons would be.

According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, the Falcons may view Henderson as a potential defensive pass-game coordinator, a position currently held by Raheem Morris. Morris also has an assistant head coach title, which could give Atlanta the flexibility to bring Henderson aboard and move Morris to another role without technically demoting him.

As we wait to see whether Henderson decides to leave Dallas for the Falcons, here are some other coaching updates from around the NFL:

  • Former Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn, who recently interviewed with the Titans, is being hired by the Browns as their defensive line coach, reports Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
  • Marvez passes along another Browns-related coaching update, tweeting that the Packers have hired tight ends coach Brian Angelichio away from Cleveland for the same position on Green Bay’s staff.
  • The Giants are expected to hire Packers assistant offensive line coach Mike Solari as their new offensive line coach, a source tells Newsday’s Tom Rock. We learned on Thursday that Solari was a “strong candidate” to join Ben McAdoo‘s staff.
  • The 49ers are looking at Titans offensive line coach Bob Bostad for the same job in San Francisco, tweets Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. As we heard on Wednesday, the Niners are also considering Pat Flaherty for that position.
  • The Saints have hired former Giants defensive backs coach and Rams defensive coordinator Peter Guinta as a senior defensive assistant, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Guinta has been out of the NFL since being let go by the Giants last January.

Falcons To Hire Raheem Morris, Richard Smith

FEBRUARY 2, 4:26pm: According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter links), Smith will indeed have the defensive coordinator title in Atlanta. The Falcons also plan to hire a secondary coach separate of Morris and a linebackers coach separate of Smith, with the intention of building a big staff like Pete Carroll‘s in Seattle.

JANUARY 26, 1:18pm: While the team has yet to formally announce anything yet, Morris and Smith have both accepted positions with the Falcons, per reports from Mike Jones of the Washington Post (via Twitter) and Mike Klis of the Denver Post. Klis says Smith will have a “senior defensive position” in Atlanta, so it’s still not entirely clear whether he’ll have the DC title.

9:48am: The only team in the NFL without a head coach officially in place is expected to formally install Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in that role a week from now, and is already moving toward putting together its staff. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), the Falcons intend to hire Washington secondary coach Raheem Morris and Broncos linebackers coach Richard Smith.

While multiple reports over the weekend indicated that Morris was expected to land with the Falcons, the team’s interest in Smith is new information, and is corroborated by Albert Breer of the NFL Network (all Twitter links). According to Breer, Smith will likely handle the run defense in Atlanta, while Morris will be in charge of the pass defense. Breer adds that Morris’ title is expected to be assistant head coach, which should mean that Smith will be named the club’s defensive coordinator.

With Quinn still focused on preparing Seattle’s defense for this Sunday’s game against the Patriots, neither Morris’ deal nor Smith’s has been finalized yet, but it appears they’ll both join a staff that’s expected to be a “big one in numbers,” per Breer, who notes that Quinn also figures to bring a Seahawks assistant or two with him to Atlanta. We heard on Friday that Seattle defensive backs coach Kris Richard was a good bet to land a defensive coordinator job with either the Falcons or Seahawks, so perhaps with Morris and Smith expected to lead Atlanta’s unit, Seattle will promote Richard to replace Quinn.

Until the Falcons officially name Quinn their new head coach, there will be several moving parts in play here, so we likely won’t get any resolution until next week. Still, it appears that the staff in Atlanta is starting to come together.