Ron Rivera

Redskins Rearrange Front Office

Ron Rivera continues to make changes in Washington. In addition to the Redskins parting ways with football operations vice president Eric Schaffer, they will reassign another key front office executive.

Previously working as the Redskins’ senior VP of player personnel, Doug Williams will move out of a personnel role but stay with the team. Williams will now work as the Redskins’ senior vice president of player development, reporting to Rivera.

The former Super Bowl MVP played a key role in shaping recent Redskins rosters, doing so under Bruce Allen as the franchise separated from GM Scot McCloughan. But Rivera and a to-be-determined GM (who will likely be hired after the draft) will now be atop the team’s decision-making structure. Former Panthers exec Rob Rogers will be in that picture as well.

Rogers will join the Redskins as their senior VP of football administration. Rogers handled negotiations for the Panthers and managed the cap; he was with the franchise for all 25 years of its existence. Also heading up the Panthers’ analytics department, Rogers marks an interesting addition to the Redskins given his lengthy tenure in Charlotte.

Washington’s plan did not initially include parting ways with Schaffer, whom Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports was being tabbed to remain a key front office presence (Twitter link). However, that was contingent on Rivera being comfortable working with the 17-year Redskins exec. Schaffer will likely be with another team soon.

The Redskins are also promoting Malcolm Blacken to senior director of player development, where he’ll work with Williams, per ESPN.com’s John Keim (on Twitter). Blacken served as the Redskins’ director of player development for six years; Rivera will keep him in a familiar capacity.

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Latest On Redskins Staff, Washington Interested In Pat Shurmur For OC

Ron Rivera became the first head coach hired this cycle when the Redskins brought him in, and he isn’t wasting anytime assembling his staff. Notably, Rivera is raiding his old Panthers coaching staff and bringing a bunch of guys with him.

Panthers offensive line coach John Matsko, receivers coach Jim Hostler, and trainer Ryan Vermillion are all joining Rivera in Washington, according to a Twitter thread from Joseph Person of The Athletic. Person adds that defensive line coach Sam Mills III will also interview for a spot on Rivera’s staff. Obviously, the new head coach is interested in getting the gang back together again. We had heard initially that he was likely to keep offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who did good work with Dwayne Haskins down the stretch, but that might not necessarily be the case.

We heard yesterday that Panthers offensive coordinator Scott Turner would get an interview in Washington, and there’s apparently another high profile contender. Recently fired Giants coach Pat Shurmur is getting consideration for the job, Grant Paulsen of The Athletic is told (Twitter link). John Keim of ESPN.com later tweeted confirmation that the Redskins are interested in Shurmur. That would certainly be interesting, especially with Shurmur potentially staying in the NFC East, though Keim says no interview is imminent and it’s unclear if there will be an interview at all.

Shurmur has never panned out as a head coach, but he’s been highly regarded as an offensive coordinator. Right before getting hired by the Giants, he received a ton of praise for his work with Case Keenum in Minnesota. Matsko had been with Rivera since he started in Carolina in 2011, so it’s not surprising he got brought along.

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Giants GM Dave Gettleman On Not Wanting To Fire Pat Shurmur, Coaching Search

Giants GM Dave Gettleman has caught a lot of flak from both the media and fans, but he is surviving for at least one more year. The team fired head coach Pat Shurmur after the season, but announced they’d be retaining Gettleman for 2020. With his job safe for the time being Gettleman made a couple of appearances on ESPN Radio and WFAN in New York and made some interesting comments, via Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post.

Perhaps most notably, Gettleman admitted that he didn’t want to fire Shurmur, the first coach he hired, and that the order came directly from ownership. “Came from above,” he said of the decision. There were reports that co-owner Steve Tisch was pushing for Shurmur’s firing, and his view ultimately won out with controlling owner John Mara. Many questioned the decision to bring back Eli Manning for 2019 and pay his hefty salary if they were going to bench him after only two games, but Gettleman insisted ownership played no role in making that call.

Gettleman was previously the GM in Carolina, where he worked with recently hired Redskins coach Ron Rivera. Gettleman revealed that New York would’ve been interested in a reunion, but they didn’t have the chance because they waited until after the season to fire Shurmur, whereas Washington had a head start. “Before we could turn around,” Gettleman said, “the [Redskins] deal was done.”

The front office head also revealed that it was Shurmur who originally identified and brought quarterback Daniel Jones to his attention. Gettleman then fell in love with the signal-caller from Duke, and ended up taking him sixth overall. Gettleman said on both radio programs that he would be willing to give up some of his power on personnel decisions to a new head coach depending on the candidate. With ownership calling the shots, he might not have a choice.

New York has been busy, already scheduling a slate of interviews, which you can keep track of via our head coaching search tracker. Below are a list of names we’ve heard about as of right now:

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Redskins Rumors: Snyder, Rivera, Kerrigan

Although since-fired team president Bruce Allen took most of the heat for the Redskins’ personnel decisions during the 2010s, Dan Snyder has continued to play a role in the franchise’s football operations. Allen was also believed to be on the side of drafting Dwayne Haskins, but John Keim and Jason Reid of ESPN.com write Snyder appeared to lead that charge — even though the owner once criticized for his big-ticket moves has contributed less input on that front in recent years. Some in Washington’s building placed a third-round grade on Haskins, per Keim and Reid. Haskins was viewed as a first-round pick for most of the pre-draft process. While Ron Rivera is expected to have more control over Redskins personnel matters than Jay Gruden, sources informed the ESPN duo they still expect Snyder to be involved.

Here is the latest out of Washington:

  • New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio confirmed the Redskins will shift back to a 4-3 base defense, Les Carpenter of the Washington Post notes. Both Rivera and Del Rio have used 4-3 bases for most of their respective careers, so this should come as no surprise. However, Snyder is believed to have made this a point of emphasis, per Keim and Reid. The Redskins have not deployed a 4-3 base defense in 11 seasons, though with teams’ increased nickel usage, transitions in front-seven schemes are not as significant as they once were. This will make Washington’s starting lineup interesting, however, with the team having three talented interior defenders — Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and 2019 sack leader Matt Ioannidis — up front.
  • Ryan Kerrigan just completed a down year, registering a career-low 5.5 sacks and missing the first two games of his career. The productive Redskins edge defender is going into a contract year, but Keim tweets Kerrigan and previous Redskins management had engaged in extension talks in 2019. Kerrigan, 31, would like to stay with Washington on a third contract.
  • Rather than retirement, Alex Smith will continue his efforts to return to the field. The Redskins quarterback has missed the past 22 games because of a gruesome leg injury that required numerous surgeries. “I still have dreams of getting back to where I was and getting back out there,” Smith said, via NBC Sports Washington’s Ethan Cadeaux. “This has been a crazy ride with a lot of unforeseen turns, but without a doubt, that’s still my goal.” Smith, 35, is set to count $21.4MM against Washington’s cap this season. No cap savings can come of a Smith release until 2021.

Redskins Hire Ron Rivera As HC

The Redskins didn’t let him get away. Washington will hire former Panthers HC Ron Rivera as its next head coach and will give him a five-year contract, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). The hire will be announced tomorrow.

Washington fired former head coach Jay Gruden in October, which allowed owner Dan Snyder to get a jump on the hiring process. That may have been crucial, because when Rivera was let go by Carolina earlier this month, he immediately became one of the most qualified coaching candidates on the market, and he would have had other suitors, like the division-rival Cowboys and Giants. But Snyder, who perhaps realized that his silver tuna acquisition of Mike Tomlin was never going to happen, acted quickly to bring Rivera to Washington and keep him there.

Rivera, who played linebacker for the Bears from 1984-92 and who was a part of Chicago’s Super Bowl XX victory, became the team’s quality control coach in 1997. He paid his dues and moved up the coaching ranks, ultimately becoming the Bears’ defensive coordinator in 2004. But it was his stint as the Chargers’ defensive coordinator from 2008-10 that solidified him as one of the best defensive minds in the game, and he parlayed that status into a head coaching gig with the Panthers in 2011.

The Panthers never captured the Lombardi Trophy with Rivera, but he did get them to Super Bowl 50 at the end of the 2015 season, and he earned Coach of the Year honors that year. Including playoffs, Carolina went 79-67-1 with Rivera at the helm.

Although Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins may never be Cam Newton, Rivera obviously feels comfortable enough with the Ohio State product to accept the Washington job. Indeed, many believed it would be difficult for the Redskins to attract a top HC candidate, so it’s a good sign for Washington fans that Rivera apparently believes in the direction the team is heading. And now that Bruce Allen is out of the building and Rivera is in, perhaps the team can bring in a top exec as well (though Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that the team may not complete its front office changes until after the draft).

As far as Rivera’s staff is concerned, there has been speculation linking his former defensive coordinator in Carolina, Steve Wilks, to the same job in Washington. Though Wilks is currently under contract with the Browns — and therefore in limbo — John Keim of ESPN.com says he will not be coming to Washington (Twitter link). Indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Rivera is targeting former Jaguars and Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio as his defensive coordinator, which could make for a very strong staff in the nation’s capital. Schefter says Del Rio is the leading candidate for the job.

Joe Person of The Athletic says (via Twitter) that Eric Washington and Sam Mills III could be other names to watch for the DC job, and La Canfora says Rivera is likely to retain offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.

The hire has been well-received, and given the way Snyder handled the Rivera hire and the Allen dismissal, perhaps Redskins fans can feel a bit of optimism heading into the new year.

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Coaching Notes: Giants, Rhule, Redskins, Dolphins

We heard rumblings that Baylor head coach Matt Rhule will be the Giants’ top choice to replace Pat Shurmur, who was canned as head coach earlier today. Yahoo’s Charles Robinson tweets that the organization is “motivated and borderline excited” to hear of Rhule’s various requests, and “they’ll be ears” if the coach asks to revamp any areas of the organization. This was a topic of contention last year when Rhule interviewed with the Jets.

Meanwhile, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo clarifies (on Twitter) that while Rhule would have the “leeway to make big decisions throughout the building,” the coach doesn’t necessarily want full personnel control.

Speaking of, Executive Vice President (and co-owner) Steve Tisch said he plans to take on a bigger role with the organization in 2020.

“I am involved. I would like to be more involved. I will become more involved,” he said (via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan on Twitter).

Let’s check out some more coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • Those waiting for Ron Rivera‘s impending hiring by the Redskins will have to wait a bit longer. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport said negotiations between the organization and their presumed next coach good drag into Tuesday (Twitter link). However, the two sides are still expected to come to agreement on a deal.
  • The Dolphins let go of offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea earlier today, but the organization doesn’t doubt his ability to coach receivers. Sources told Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network (Twitter link) that the 47-year-old is viewed as a great wide receivers coach, but “people inside the building didn’t view him as a good coordinator.” The longtime assistant spent 10 years with the Patriots as the club’s WRs coach and joined former New England DC Brian Flores in South Beach when Flores became the ‘Fins head coach this year.
  • O’Shea wasn’t the only member of the Dolphins who won’t be back next season. Veteran offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo told NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo that he and the organization have decided to part ways (Twitter link). Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets that the Dolphins have also let go of safeties coach Tony Oden.

Redskins Fire Bruce Allen, Expected To Hire Ron Rivera

The Redskins have fired team president Bruce Allen, the team announced in a statement. Although some recent reports indicated that Allen would remain in the organization in some capacity, perhaps as part of the club’s stadium detail, that is not the case. The Redskins have completely cut ties with him.

Washington is also expected to hire Ron Rivera as its next head coach, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). Rivera is meeting with the team today, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, today’s “interview” is expected to be more of a coronation than anything else. Owner Dan Snyder has acted quickly to get the coach he wants before any other interested clubs could get a crack at him, and it looks like he has his man.

Rivera was fired by the Panthers earlier this month, but his strong track record in Carolina immediately catapulted him to the top of the list of head coaching candidates in this year’s cycle. He amassed a 76-63-1 regular season record, a 3-4 playoff record, and, most notably, a Super Bowl appearance. The Panthers did not win it all under Rivera’s watch, but he is highly-regarded and commands respect.

The same cannot be said for Allen. The Redskins went 62-97-1 during his 10-year tenure and qualified for the playoffs just twice in that time. He also became a divisive figure for Washington fans, most of whom are likely glad to see him out of the organization.

With Allen gone, senior VP Eric Schaffer will see his role increase, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets. One of the purposes of today’s meeting between Rivera and the team is to ensure that Rivera — who is also expected to have significant say in personnel matters — is comfortable with Schaffer.

Snyder’s statement regarding Allen’s dismissal reads, in part, as follows:

“Like our passionate fan base, I recognize we have not lived up to the high standards set by great Redskins teams, coaches and players who have come before us. As we reevaluate our team leadership, culture and process of winning football games, I am excited for the opportunities that lie ahead to renew our singular focus and purpose of bringing championship football back to Washington D.C.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ron Rivera To Meet With Redskins Monday

The Ron Rivera to the Redskins buzz continues to heat up. Rivera will meet with Washington brass about their head coaching vacancy Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The Redskins want Rivera, and they hope to complete a deal with him on Monday, “before any other teams become involved,” a source told Mark Maske of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Maske later tweeted that there’s a “growing belief” that a deal will get done Monday, barring any last-minute complications. 

We heard yesterday that the Redskins were interested in the former Panthers coach, and the interest is apparently mutual. Washington started the year off with Jay Gruden as coach, but fired him early on. They’ve been linked to a number of high profile coaches since then, including Urban Meyer and Marvin Lewis. There was a recent report that Rivera was telling people close to him that a deal could come together quickly, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s Washington’s new head coach by the end of tomorrow.

Rivera had been in Carolina for the past nine seasons before being canned with a handful of games to go. Nearly immediately after his firing, reports emerged that he wouldn’t be out of a job too long. It’s going to be an offseason of change for Washington, as front office head Bruce Allen also appears to be on his way out.

The Redskins have been a dumpster fire the past couple of years, but there are some bright spots. Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins made major strides down the stretch, and rookie receiver Terry McLaurin looks like a star in the making. We should know more about Rivera’s future very soon.

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HC/GM Rumors: Gase, Lynn, Panthers, Shurmur

Black Monday is tomorrow, so let’s take a look at the latest coaching and GM rumors from around the league:

  • This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given that neither man was really believed to be on the hot seat, but Jets HC Adam Gase and Chargers HC Anthony Lynn will both be back in 2020, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (h/t NFL Update on Twitter).
  • We learned yesterday that the Panthers would seek to interview Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, which David Newton of ESPN.com confirmed today. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report believes Rhule would leave Baylor if the right opportunity presented itself, despite signing a lengthy extension with the school back in September (Twitter link).
  • Despite speculation that the Panthers could look to move on from GM Marty Hurney, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic says owner Dave Tepper remains intent on keeping Hurney, and Hurney wants to stay (Twitter link). Tepper does want to bring in an assistant GM, and Joe Person of The Athletic offers a list of potential candidates. The problem, as NFL insider Adam Caplan observes, is that Carolina could be blocked from interviewing candidates under contract with other teams unless the Panthers’ gig comes with decision-making responsibilities (Twitter link).
  • We heard earlier today that the Browns are doing their due diligence on HC candidates, which isn’t a good sign for Freddie Kitchens. As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets, the team wanted to see modest progress from Kitchens this year, which is why a loss to the Bengals on Sunday afternoon could seal his fate. But for all his faults, Kitchens remains well-liked in the building, so he’s not a goner just yet. We also heard today that Browns GM John Dorsey may be on the hot seat.
  • Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reiterates yesterday’s report that Ron Rivera is high on the Redskins‘ wish list, and that Rivera could have a new job as soon as tomorrow (video link). However, other clubs also want a crack at Rivera. One of those clubs, the Cowboys, will almost certainly move on from Jason Garrett if they are eliminated from playoff contention today, and Rapoport names Rhule, Lincoln Riley, and Rivera as names to watch for Dallas’ expected vacancy.
  • In the same report, RapSheet says Giants ownership is split on head coach Pat Shurmur, with Steve Tisch wanting to move on and John Mara not quite convinced. A win over the Eagles today could save Shurmur’s job.
  • Dan Graziano of ESPN.com confirms (via Twitter) that former Texans GM Rick Smith is definitely a name to watch if the Redskins move on from Bruce Allen, which they are expected to do. Graziano says it’s still unclear as to whether Smith wants to return to a front office, contrary to a report from last month, but if he is, Redskins owner Dan Snyder will be interested. Mark Maske of the Washington Post hears that Smith, who lost his wife to cancer 11 months ago, is not quite ready to return to football (Twitter link).

Head Coach Search Updates: Rivera, McCarthy, Panthers, Candidates

Former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera will not be unemployed for long. An earlier report noted that Washington had “strong interest” and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that sources close to Rivera expect an agreement to form quickly and could even come together in the next couple days. Aside from Washington, Rapoport notes that some teams that are considering firing their head coach (like the Giants) have Rivera circled as a top target if they do create an opening.

Rivera served as the head coach in Carolina from 2011-2019 and led the team to a 73-63-1 regular season record and a 3-4 postseason record. A linebacker in his playing days with the historic 1980s Bears defenses, Rivera has always been a defensive-minded coach. Prior to his time with the Panthers, he had served as a linebackers coach with the Eagles and Chargers and as the defensive coordinator for the Bears and Chargers.

Here’s some more notes from the NFL coaching carousel:

  • As the Panthers look to replace Rivera, former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has emerged as a one of the leading candidates to take over in Carolina. According to Rapoport, McCarthy has already interviewed with the Panthers twice and did very well. Given the strong reputation of Rivera, a candidate like McCarthy, with a long resume (that includes a Super Bowl title) may be more desirable to franchise brass. With that said, Rapoport noted that Carolina plans to interview some younger coaches as well including Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, and Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy among others.
  • While some teams have already begun their head coaching searches, the hiring search process will heat up as soon as teams complete the regular season. For an in-depth primer on the wide variety of coaches that could be in line to become head coaches this season, take a look at Rapoport and Tom Pelissero’s detailed list of coaches to know, which includes short descriptions on the most prominent names. The list breaks candidates into categories from former NFL head coaches to first-timers and even examines some college coaches.