Rod Marinelli

Coaching Rumors: Cowboys, Falcons, Jets

Former Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus will reportedly become the Colts’ next defensive coordinator under presumptive head coach Josh McDaniels, but Dallas was willing to promote Eberflus to DC in order to retain him, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. The Cowboys would have named current defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli assistant head coach, paving the way for Ebeflus to become the club’s new defensive play-caller. But Eberflus “did not want to step on the toes” of Marinelli, per Archer, and therefore decided to head to Indianapolis.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Falcons are interviewing former UCLA offensive coordinator/interim head coach Jedd Fisch and longtime NFL coach Greg Knapp for their quarterback coach position, per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) and Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). Fisch, 41, has served in both the collegiate and pro ranks over the past 20 years. In the NFL, Fisch was the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator from 2013-14, and has also worked for the Texans, Ravens, Broncos, and Seahawks, mostly as a quarterbacks or wide receivers coach. Knapp, meanwhile, has coordinated offenses for the 49ers, Falcons, Raiders (two stints), and Seahawks, but was most recently the Broncos’ QBs coach from 2013-16.
  • Now that he’s been passed over for a promotion to Packers defensive coordinator, cornerbacks coach Darren Perry is interviewing to become the Texans‘ secondary coach, according to Marvez (Twitter link). Perry, who’s worked in Green Bay since 2009, would replace John Butler, who was fired by Houston earlier this month. One of three internal candidates to replace former Packers DC Dom Capers, Perry could now leave Green Bay given that Mike Pettine is leading the club’s defense. However, Perry isn’t a lock to defect from the Packers, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, while Texans assistant defensive backs coach Anthony Midget is also in the running for Houston’s secondary coach job, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
  • The Buccaneers have exercised their 2018 club options for each of their assistant coaches, reports Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). That should come as no surprise, given that Tampa Bay made the relatively surprising decision to retain head coach Dirk Koetter. However, there could be several “tweaks” to the Buccaneers’ coaching staff, per Stroud, although it’s unclear what those changes might entail. Koetter is signed through the 2020 campaign, while general manager Jason Licht recently had his 2018 option picked up.
  • Assistant defensive backs coach Daylon McCutcheon will not return to the Jets in 2018, sources tell Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. McCutcheon, who worked in New York for the past two seasons, will leave the club in order to move closer to his family on the West Coast, per Mehta.

Cowboys Want To Keep Linehan, Marinelli

There will be some coaching changes in Dallas, but it sounds like the main coaches will be staying in place. In a radio interview on Wednesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that the team wants to retain offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli for 2018 (link via Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News). Scott Linehan

Starting this week, the team will evaluate the futures of assistants such as running backs coach Gary Brown, wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, and linebackers coach Matt Eberflus, who are on expiring deals. Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and secondary coach Joe Baker have already been fired, according to Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link).

Both Marinelli and Linehand signed extensions with the team last March. The length of Marinelli’s contract is unknown, but we do know that Linehan is under contract through 2019.

Meanwhile, Jones says that he has given no consideration to replacing Jason Garrett as head coach.

It’s not even a thought for me,” Jones said. “I do like the fact that we’ve invested, if you will. We’ve got several years of Jason evolving in this profession in the NFL. There’s no question the familiarity with teams that we’re playing, especially in our division, is a big plus. You pay a big price when you make a change at the head coach. You pay some price when you make a change at any position coach situation. On the other hand, freshness we’re talking about, new ideas, nothing set in stone, that’s a plus too. But I think that Jason’s in a good spot. We’re in a good spot with Jason. He certainly has the mentality of doing things differently, again not just to be doing them differently, but basically recognizing that we’ve got some things we do need to do differently. We’ll make that happen through our assistant coaches.”

While several jobs are up in the air, there is one confirmed vacancy on the Cowboys’ staff following the retirement of tight ends coach Steve Loney.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rapoport’s Latest: Mularkey, Arians, Rodgers

It’s a busy day in the NFL, as some teams fight for the playoffs while others prepare for the offseason and their next head coach. Let’s take a look at some of the latest reports from NFL.com scribe Ian Rapoport on the eve of Black Monday:

  • Despite the fact that the Titans could clinch a playoff spot today, Rapoport says that head coach Mike Mularkey is in trouble, and if Tennessee loses to Jacksonville this afternoon, Mularkey could be fired. Indeed, he could be canned even if the Titans make the playoffs but lose in the wildcard round. Apparently, ownership is frustrated with the development of Marcus Mariota, and if the Titans dismiss Mularkey, they could go hard after Patriots OC Josh McDaniels.
  • Rapoport tweets that the Cardinals have not given up hope of enticing head coach Bruce Arians to return, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Arians is likely to step away from coaching after Arizona’s season finale today.
  • The Packers recently extended Davante Adams, and Rapoport tweets that the team will make an extension for Aaron Rodgers its top priority this offseason.
  • There are expected to be two head coaching openings in the NFC North, with the Bears and Lions preparing to look for their next sideline general this offseason. Rapoport names Patriots DC Matt Patricia as a top choice for Detroit, while the Bears could look hard at a QB guru for young signal-caller Mitch Trubisky. Rapoport tweets that the SaintsPete Carmichael, the longest-tenured OC in the league, could get a look for the Chicago job.
  • Both Cowboys coordinators (DC Rod Marinelli and OC Scott Linehan) are on the hot seat and will be thoroughly evaluated, per Rapoport (video link).

Cowboys Extend Scott Linehan, Rod Marinelli

The Cowboys have extended the contracts of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, a source tells Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram. Dallas has also signed special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia to an extension, reports Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Linehan, specifically, had two years added to his deal, meaning he is now signed through the 2019 campaign.Scott Linehan

[RELATED: Cowboys Extend Jason Witten]

Linehan, 53, has been with the Cowboys since 2014, and assumed the title of offensive coordinator in 2015. Despite seeing starting quarterback Tony Romo go down in the preseason, Linehan led an offense that finished third in DVOA in 2016, getting contributions from rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott (and a league-best offensive line) en route to a postseason berth. Linehan, who has also called plays for Minnesota, Miami, and Detroit, was the Rams’ head coach from 2005-08.

Marinelli, too, has been a head coach before, as he lead the Lions from 2006-08 (and was infamously in charge of Detroit’s 0-16 roster). The 67-year-old has posted much better results as a defensive coordinator, and that’s the role he’s held in Dallas since 2014. The Cowboys finished 17th in defensive DVOA last season, but Marinelli will have his work cut out for him in 2017 after the club lost Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Barry Church, and J.J. Wilcox to free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Cowboys, Jets, Marshall

The Cowboys are working on contract extensions for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News reports. Both men are under contract through the 2017 season, having signed three-year deals in January 2015. Linehan has served as the Cowboys’ OC since 2014, while Marinelli worked as the team’s D-line coach in 2013 before being promoted to DC in 2014.

Team owner Jerry Jones said he is not ready to announce any extensions just yet, but that all talks thus far have been positive.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • We learned several days ago that the Cowboys are proceeding as if LB Jaylon Smith will play in 2017, although there has been no significant change in the nerve damage that caused Smith’s draft stock to plummet last year and that forced him to miss the entire 2016 campaign. As Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes, Dallas not only expects Smith to play this year, the team expects him to be a full participant in offseason workouts. Jones, as per usual, is especially bullish on Smith’s chances of being an impact player this year.
  • The Jets have clearly entered into full-on rebuilding mode, and as Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com writes, the club is willing to deal its No. 6 overall selection to acquire more picks. Per Bergman, if the Jets do not want to use their top pick on a quarterback or offensive lineman, they will be comfortable trading down to the mid-to-late first round and collecting mid-round selections in the process.
  • The Eagles‘ desire for wide receiver and cornerback help has been well-documented, but Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes the team would also be well-served in pursuing a pass-rushing defensive end in the early rounds of the draft, especially since this year’s draft class is well-stocked with quality pass rushers. After all, the Eagles are expected to trade or release Connor Barwin, which would leave the team with two 29-year-olds (Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham) rushing the edge and little proven depth behind them.
  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com names the Giants, Patriots, and Ravens as three potential landing spots for the recently-released Brandon Marshall (Twitter link). We learned about the mutual interest between New England and Marshall yesterday.
  • The Dolphins plan to lean more heavily on 2015 second-rounder Jordan Phillips next season, and they hope Phillips will seize a starting role opposite Ndamukong Suh, as James Walker of ESPN.com writes.

 

Cowboys Looking To Extend Coordinators

On the heels of a 13-3 finish in 2016, the Cowboys are discussing contract extensions with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive chief Rod Marinelli, reports Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Linehan and Marinelli previously inked three-year extensions with the team after the 2014 campaign.

Scott Linehan

The 53-year-old Linehan is fresh off his third season in Dallas and second as its offensive coordinator, and his side of the ball posted tremendous production without Tony Romo in 2016. Led by two rookies – QB Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott – the Cowboys ranked fifth in the NFL in both scoring and yards, and they placed an even better third in DVOA. Linehan figured to draw head coaching interest as a result, but that didn’t come to fruition. Linehan once served as a head coach in St. Louis, though the Rams posted an ugly 11-25 record under him in two-plus seasons from 2006-08.

Marinelli has also been a head coach, in Detroit, but he won’t get another shot when considering his age (67) and the unsightly 10-38 mark (including an 0-16 season) the Lions logged with him from 2006-08. The longtime assistant has found a home in Dallas, however, as he has been on the team’s staff since 2013 and is coming off his third year as its coordinator. Despite receiving either little or no contributions from high-profile defenders Rolando McClain and Randy Gregory in 2016, Marinelli’s group finished fifth in the league in scoring, 14th in yards and 17th in DVOA.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Megatron, Bears, Packers

Ron Rivera‘s path to the Panthers emerged when he and Lovie Smith ended a contentious relationship in three seasons working together in Chicago. The former Bears coach didn’t renew the former Bears defensive coordinator’s contract after the duo helped the Bears to Super Bowl XLI during the 2006 season, largely due to philosophical and personal differences, Austin Murphy of SI.com reports.

Smith preferred then-Buccaneers assistant head coach Rod Marinelli for the job upon being hired as Bears coach in 2004, but, per Murphy, Rivera was mandated by then-Chicago GM Jerry Angelo.

The former Bears player under blitz-happy Buddy Ryan, Rivera wanted a blitz-heavy scheme, whereas Smith was a Tampa-2 proponent. Murphy also asserts Rivera’s eight interviews for head-coaching positions while employed as Bears DC were potentially seen as disloyal by Smith.

When Rivera became the Chargers’ linebackers coach in 2007 after Smith denied him a fourth season running the Bears’ defense, he and Smith were on bad terms, a Bears source told Murphy. The 54-year-old Rivera served three years as San Diego’s DC before accepting Carolina’s top coaching job.

Here are some more items from the NFC North on the eve of Super Bowl 50.

  • The Bears should let Matt Forte walk while re-signing Alshon Jeffery and Zach Miller, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap notes in his analysis of the Bears’ cap situation. Also advising the Bears to orchestrate an extension with Kyle Long after they pick up the tackle’s fifth-year option, Fitzgerald recommends the Bears cut Martellus Bennett and gauge Lamarr Houston‘s trade value. Bennett would save Chicago $5.2MM, and Houston, entering his seventh season, will net the Bears $4MM in cap savings if released. Brought in to play in a 4-3 scheme, Houston graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 62-ranked edge defender as an outside linebacker in Vic Fangio‘s 3-4.
  • Calvin Johnson‘s impromptu retirement could be a negotiating ploy a la Adrian Peterson‘s trade request last year, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. The Lions will need to know Johnson’s official intentions on his future by March 9, when his $16MM base salary and $24MM cap number are configured into Detroit’s 2016 salary cap. Florio speculates Johnson could have threatened to retire to force the Lions to appreciate his presence rather than insist he renegotiate that massive cap figure. Peterson ended up receiving additional guaranteed money, instead of the Vikings potentially attempting at reducing his salary, Florio offers.
  • Randall Cobb‘s punctured lung sustained against the Cardinals could have been an effect of him being mic’d up by NFL Films, the slot receiver and the Packers medical staff theorize (via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). “I punctured a lung. I didn’t break a rib and I didn’t fracture a rib. It’s really abnormal for that to happen,” Cobb told radio host Bill Michaels in San Francisco. “But I was mic’d up for the game. I landed flush on my back. The battery pack was on my shoulder pads and I landed flush on my back and we think that possibly could be it but there’s no way of proving it.” Cobb, who left the divisional playoff game after injuring himself on a spectacular catch that ended up being nullified by penalty, will enter the season season of the four-year deal he signed last March.
  • Casey Hayward hired the same agent, David Mulugheta, used by fellow Packers DBs Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Quinten Rollins, Rand Getlin of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). Hayward is one of Green Bay’s top free agents.

NFL Mailbags: Jets, Cowboys, Eagles

It’s Saturday morning, and that means ESPN.com’s NFL writers are opening their mailbags and answering questions from readers. Let’s take a look at some of the notable answers, including a cameo by Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com

  • Rich Cimini believes the Jets should explore the trade market for Sheldon Richardson, if only to “gauge the market.” The defensive tackle is expected to be hit with a lengthy punishment for a personal-conduct violation, and he’s also set to become a free agent following the 2017 season (assuming the Jets pick up his fifth-year option).
  • Meanwhile, Cimini expects Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Leonard Williams to all be back with the Jets next season. However, he could envision the team parting ways with nose tackle Damon Harrison.
  • The Cowboys may want to start rethinking their strategy of signing veterans for their backup quarterback role, writes Todd Archer. Matt Cassell and Brandon Weeden have combined to go 0-7 this season, and the writer is confident a first-year player could still succeed (or at least gain some invaluable experience) by playing behind Dallas’ intimidating offensive line.
  • While the Cowboys coaches should be held accountable for the lost season, Archer believes a good portion of the staff will return, including Jason Garrett, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
  • Zangaro anticipates the Eagles pursuing a young quarterback this offseason who better meshes with coach Chip Kelly‘s offensive system. Still, the writer believes it’s worth having at least one of Mark Sanchez or Sam Bradford on the roster, regardless of the changes.

NFC Rumors: Forte, Jeffery, Hardy, Avril

Matt Forte‘s free agency bid’s played a role in the Bears running back’s recovery timetable, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old dual-threat back suffered a sprained MCL two weeks ago and, similar to a pitcher in the last days of his contract with a non-playoff-bound team, Forte won’t rush back.

That’s [a factor], if not the most important factor — the future,” Forte told reporters, via Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune. “Because if you go out there for one game and then ruin the rest of your season and maybe your career, then that’s a big factor. There’s a lot of football left to be played. So you don’t want to chance it for one game.”

Forte’s in the fourth and final year of a $30.4MM pact, his second with the Bears, and as of now looks to be the top option in the 2016 running back class, along with Chris Ivory.

Florio does speculate Forte would be more inclined to return to the field sooner if the Bears decided to offer him a third contract.

Here’s some more news coming out of the NFC locales.

  • If the Bears were observing a healthy contract year from Alshon Jeffery, the decision to re-sign the fourth-year wideout to a lucrative, long-term extension wouldn’t be difficult, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes. Jeffery’s been on and off the injury report this season, missing four games, and this week’s served as a microcosm, with the ex-second-rounder dominating Monday night only to miss practice time this week with his third leg-muscle injury this season. Campbell offers that the Bears could place some escalators in Jeffery’s possible extension revolving around playing time. “You have to bet on the player that he’s going to get healthy,” former GM Mark Domenik said. “When you start to bet that your guy is going to be hurt, if you think that, then you probably shouldn’t sign him. Move on and do it with a clear conscience.”
  • The release of the domestic violence photos in association with the Greg Hardy case a day after the Cowboys defensive end saw this incident expunged from his record illustrates how the NFL likely wanted that information out there, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. The Mecklenburg (N.C.) County District Attorney’s office and the Charlotte Police Department informed the Globe they did not release the photos, and the NFL, due to its independent investigation, was the only other entity with access to the photos and transcript, Volin writes.
  • Rumors connected Rod Marinelli to a potential return to Tampa Bay prior to signing a three-year extension with the Cowboys in January, according to Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. Marinelli has connections to both the Bucs, who employed him as their defensive line coach from 1996-2005, and Lovie Smith, whom Marinelli worked for from 2009-12 with the Bears.
  • Prior to his father’s death, Cliff Avril told him he would only play in the NFL for 10 years due to health reasons, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. The 29-year-old Seahawks defensive end’s in his eighth season. “And I plan on it,” he says. “Unless something crazy happens and they’re offering me some ridiculous amount of money.” Avril said. “Then he’d probably tell me to keep playing.”

NFC Notes: Ihenacho, Washington, Brinkley

Washington safety Duke Ihenacho has been watching NBA free agency going crazy, and took to Twitter to express his opinions about minimum contracts for NFL players. Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post captured his tweets, where Ihenacho writes that NFL players have the highest risk of injury and brain trauma, and that the NFL is the richest league, and therefore the minimum salary for players should be $1MM.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC:

  • Washington D.C. wants their NFL franchise to return to the District, but they are unlikely to get support from the Obama administration as long as the team still bears a racial epitaph for their name and logo, writes Jonathan O’Connell of the Washington Post. The National Park Service owns the land beneath Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, and they are unlikely to accommodate the construction of a new stadium, according to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
  • Former Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley decided to sign a two-year deal with the Cowboys this offseason, and the top reason for choosing Dallas is the opportunity to play for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, writes Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News“I played in Minnesota for five years and I remember when he was in Chicago, just thinking about those defenses and the guys with the takeaways, a lot of takeaways,” Brinkley said. “You think about Charles Tillman, you think about Brian Urlacher, you think about Lance Briggs, you think about Tim Jennings, all those guys.”
  • Even though Deone Bucannon was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2014, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) doesn’t see the Washington State product having a great career at safety. The draft expert feels that Bucannon should stay at linebacker, where he played the bulk of last season. In 16 games, the Washington State product racked up 86 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and three pass deflections.
  • Former Buccaneers linebacker Brandon Magee has been swinging the bat for the Boston Red Sox Class A affiliate, but he told Pro Football Talk that if an NFL team called him, he would give up baseball to try out, reports Mike Florio. Magee was released from the Buccaneers in March, and had also spent time with the Browns.
  • The Bears hired John Fox in the hope that he could quickly turn the organization around, writes Tom Pelissero of USA Today. The turnaround starts with the attitude of every player on the roster, and the veterans are already buying in. “You go out and get John Fox and Vic Fangio and Adam Gase — you’re sending a message to every player in that locker room that we’re not messing around,” said Jared Allen“We want to win. We want to win now. We certainly have the talent to win. So, get your heads right and let’s go play ball.”