Scott Turner

Coaching Notes: Giants, O’Connell, Browns

Since former Mississippi State coworker Joe Judge landed the Giants‘ HC job, Freddie Kitchens has been linked to a staff position. A report circulated Tuesday indicating Judge will hire Kitchens for an unspecified role (Twitter link via AL.com), but ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan tweets nothing is finalized between the Giants and the former Browns coach. The Giants have hired a quarterbacks coach, Jerry Schuplinski, but certainly could add the longtime offensive assistant in another capacity.

Here is the latest from the coaching carousel:

  • Before deciding to reunite with Scott Turner, Ron Rivera interviewed 2019 Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell for the job, J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington notes. Rivera was interested in former Giants HC Pat Shurmur for OC, but he declined the interview and opted for the Broncos’ play-calling job. O’Connell landed on his feet as well, becoming the Rams’ offensive coordinator.
  • While the Kitchens hire is not yet certain, veteran secondary coach Jerome Henderson will be joining Judge’s Giants staff, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets. Most recently the Falcons’ DBs coach/defensive passing-game coordinator, the 50-year-old Henderson has also coached the Jets’, Browns’ and Cowboys’ secondaries dating back to 2008. Henderson was a 1991 first-round pick who played eight NFL seasons.
  • The Giants will also add Jody Wright to their staff, according to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman (Twitter link). Wright worked with Judge at Mississippi State in the 2000s and was most recently an offensive assistant with the Browns under Kitchens in 2019. Wright also spent time at Alabama during the 2010s and was an assistant head coach at UAB prior to relocating to Cleveland.
  • On the subject of the Browns, they are not retaining several Kitchens staffers. Most notably, Kevin Stefanski will not bring back quarterbacks coach Ryan Lindley, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Lindley, tight ends coach John Lilly, assistant defensive line coach John Parella and quality control staffers Deuce Schwartz, Tyler Tettleton and Alonso Escalante will not be back. Lindley, 30, served as Browns running backs coach after Kitchens was promoted to OC midway through the 2018 season, and the former quarterback held Cleveland’s QBs coach job this past season.
  • The Cardinals hired another recent Browns staffer, bringing in offensive assistant Jim Dray, Yates adds. A former Cardinals seventh-round pick in 2010 as a tight end, Dray played eight seasons — mostly in Arizona and Cleveland — and wound up with the Browns in 2019 as an offensive quality control coach.
  • Recently notified he was out in Cleveland, James Campen may have an opportunity with Carolina. The Panthers are interested in the former Browns offensive line coach, David Newton of ESPN.com tweets. Campen was Mike McCarthy‘s offensive line coach from 2007-18 and spent 15 years as a Green Bay assistant prior to his Cleveland move last year. The Browns hired Bill Callahan to replace him on Monday.

Redskins Hire Scott Turner As OC

The Redskins’ Scott Turner interview produced a job offer. The second-generation coach will become Washington’s new offensive coordinator, the team announced. Washington also announced that Nate Kaczor would return as the team’s special teams coordinator.

The son of former Redskins head coach Norv Turner, Scott worked under Ron Rivera with the Panthers from 2018-19. Scott Turner will succeed Kevin O’Connell in this role. O’Connell was initially a candidate to remain with this new Redskins regime and even drew consideration for the HC job Rivera eventually secured. But the one-year coordinator now appears headed elsewhere.

Scott Turner served as Rivera’s quarterbacks coach in Carolina, up until Rivera’s dismissal. After Rivera was ousted, Turner was elevated to OC and he impressed with his play-calling acumen. The 37-year-old assistant will now be tasked with developing Dwayne Haskins.

While Turner worked with young Panthers signal-callers this season in Kyle Allen and Will Grier, the Redskins having selected Haskins in the first round makes this a much higher-profile assignment for the young assistant. Turner previously served as Carolina’s offensive quality control coach from 2011-12, so this will be his third job working with Rivera.

Cam Newton played well under the guidance of the Turners to start the 2018 season. The dual-threat quarterback had the Panthers at 6-2 and was completing passes at a higher rate. However, Newton’s midseason shoulder injury altered the franchise’s quarterback situation. Newton being done for the 2019 season after Week 2 thrust Allen into action. After the UDFA showed initial promise under the Turners, keeping the Panthers afloat in the NFC playoff race, he faltered down the stretch as the Panthers lost their final eight games.

Despite featuring All-Pro Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers ranked 28th in offensive DVOA (31st in passing offense). Washington possessed one of the few lesser-regarded attacks by comparison, ranking 30th in this metric.

In other Redskins news, Joe Person of The Athletic reports that former Panthers DL coach Sam Mills III will be joining Rivera’s Washington staff (Twitter link).

Tom Pelissero of NFL.com first reported that Turner would be hired (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Eyeing Scott Turner For OC Job

The Redskins are zeroing in on Scott Turner as their offensive coordinator, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Turner served under Ron Rivera in Carolina and they could be on track for a reunion. 

Turner served as Rivera’s quarterbacks coach in Carolina, up until Rivera’s dismissal. After Rivera was ousted, Turner was elevated to OC and he impressed with his play calling. The 37-year-old would be a logical choice for the Redskins, who seem likely to part ways with Kevin O’Connell.

O’Connell has received permission to speak with other teams about potential OC vacancies, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Redskins’ offense struggled in 2019, but O’Connell has long been viewed as a rising star in coaching circles. O’Connell was reportedly considered for the Redskins HC job before Rivera was hired and Rivera (at least, at one point) was open to keeping him on board.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins To Interview Scott Turner

Panthers offensive coordinator Scott Turner will interview with the Redskins for their OC vacancy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Incumbent Kevin O’Connell remains the frontrunner for the job, but Rapoport hears that Turner could wind up as the team’s quarterbacks coach if he doesn’t land the OC post. 

The Redskins wasted little time in hiring new head coach Ron Rivera and, in turn, Rivera started building out his staff immediately. On New Year’s Day, Rivera tapped Jack Del Rio as his new defensive coordinator.

Rivera is already familiar with Turner’s skillset – Turner served as Rivera’s QB coach in Carolina, up until Rivera’s dismissal. After Rivera was ousted, Turner was bumped up to OC as his father, Norv Turner, was transitioned to a different role.

The Turner family, of course, also has history with the Redskins. Norv served as the Redskins’ head coach from 1994-2000.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Owner Discusses Coaching Change, Front Office, Future

Panthers owner David Tepper was forced to make a difficult decision today, firing long-term coach Ron Rivera. Since Tepper took over ownership of the organization in 2018, he’s had Rivera on the sideline. Now, the team will turn a page and start hunting for their next head coach.

Secondary coach Perry Fewell will serve as the Panthers head coach on an interim basis. The shakeup also will see offensive coordinator Norv Turner transition to special assistant to the head coach as quarterbacks coach Scott Turner moves to offensive coordinator. When it comes to the front office, GM Marty Hurney will keep his job, but Tepper revealed that he’ll be searching for an assistant general manager and/or a vice president of football operations.

Tepper sat down with Bill Voth of Panthers.com (Twitter link) this afternoon to discuss the coaching change, the owner’s outlook for the organization, and the team’s future shuffling of the front office. We’ve snagged all of the notable soundbites below:

On why he decided to fire Ron Rivera:

“[It was] a very hard move. Ron Rivera, besides being a good coach, is one of the finest men I’ve ever met in my life.

“Look, I came here two years ago. I wanted to show patience on the football side to see how it was going. On the business side, we made vast and sweeping changes. I didn’t want to make those vast and sweeping changes on the football side. I wanted to take time and patience to see how it could go.

“I just thought it was time, given the way things have gone the last two seasons, to put my stamp on the organization on the football side, as we’ve done on the business side of the organization. As much respect as I have for Ron, I think a change was appropriate to build things the way I want things to be built.”

On why the move was made now instead of after the season:

“There are competitive reasons why I wanted to make sure we were out there looking at all personnel possible for the future. I didn’t want to be having inquiries where Ron didn’t know what I was doing.

“I didn’t want to be doing things not upfront; thats not who I am. So I’d rather be straight-up and honest, and if I’m going to make a change, I’m going to make a change. And not to get a competitive disadvantage over other teams; if I need to talk to people, i want to talk to them, and I want to do it in a straight-forward, honest way.”

On why Fewell was chosen as the interim head coach:

“I have different coaches on the staff and I’m looking at the future now. And the future is: who may I have as potential candidates for different roles. Perry is a person who can command a room, can be a general, and I think that he is the right person to have that interim role… and to be auditioning for that role in the future.

“As far as the other choice we’ll probably make is to make Scott Turner a play-call offensive coordinator. In that respect, same thing: I want to see what Scott can do. Again, in an audition sort of way, see how he does it. He has some new ideas, and we’ll see how they get implemented.”

On the decision to move Norv Turner from offensive coordinator to special assistant to the head coach:

“Norv Turner is obviously still a tremendously knowledgable coach who I respect a lot. Norv has been around and is very knowledgable. Scott is potentially a future offensive coordinator of some sort. Why not see what he has to offer here.”

On what he’ll be looking for in a new head coach:

“What I want, just for the organization in general, is a mesh of old and new. Old football discipline. Modern processes, modern analytics, statistics, and the rest of that. But I respect old discipline, too. Listen, I was with a team in Pittsburgh that was the epitome of old-school discipline, so I want to see that brought in, I want to see that mesh. And what I want to have more than anything…I want to put the best people in the best positions to be successful. And I want those coaches to put our players on the field in the best positions to be successful, period.

“This whole process – they don’t build Rome in a day. People think if I make a magic change today, it’s going to make the organization better tomorrow… it is not. This is going to be a process.”

On how an assistant GM can help the front office:

“Marty Hurney is one of the best recognizers of college talent in the nation. I don’t want to lose that. And he’s also not a bad manager. There’s also new processes that I want to bring in. I think the modern football organization needs a couple people there [in the front office].”

On what today’s move means for the future of the organization:

“As far as a process is concerned, it’s the first step in a process. I’m making sure we have a standard of excellence on all sides of this business.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Hire OC Norv Turner

The Panthers have hired longtime NFL coach Norv Turner their next offensive coordinator. The news was first reported by David Newton of ESPN.com.

Turner was in Carolina on Wednesday to formally interview for the position and it didn’t take long for the two sides to hammer out an agreement. On Friday, the team made it official.

Norv Turner (vertical)

Turner’s hiring should come as no surprise, especially given that he was the first — and only — candidate mentioned following the firing of Mike Shula on Tuesday. Reports indicated the Panthers preferred to hire a veteran coach, and Turner certainly fits that bill. He’s served as a coordinator for six clubs and been a head coach for three more teams. Turner, 65, was most recently the offensive play-caller for the Vikings before abruptly resigning midway through the 2016 campaign.

In addition to his wealth of experience, Turner is also close with Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. Turner hired Rivera as an assistant coach and later defensive coordinator when both worked for the Chargers, and Turner also recommended Rivera for the Carolina job when it became open in 2011.

With the Panthers, Turner will take over a unit that boasts pieces such as quarterback Cam Newton, running back Christian McCaffrey, wide receiver Devin Funchess, and tight end Greg Olsen. Despite those options, Carolina’s offense struggled in 2017, ranking 12th in scoring, 17th in DVOA, and 19th in yards.

Meanwhile, Scott Turner will join his father in heading to Carolina, as he’ll become the Panthers’ new quarterbacks coach. The younger Turner most recently served as QBs coach at the University of Michigan, and has worked with the Panthers, Browns, and Vikings at the NFL level.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bengals, Smith, Ravens, Vikes

With Cincinnati’s offensive line facing offseason uncertainty, a reunion with former Bengal/current Viking right tackle Andre Smith could make sense for both parties, as Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer opines (Twitter links). Smith, whom the Bengals made the sixth overall pick in 2009, played seven seasons in the Queen City before inking a one-year deal with Minnesota last year. If he did rejoin Cincinnati, Smith would slot back in at right tackle, where 2015 first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi recently struggled. One problem with such a scenario, per Dehner, would be forcing 2015 second-round pick Jake Fisher — who played well at right tackle last year — to guard, a position he hasn’t played much of in the NFL.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Although Kyle Juszczyk would view a return to the Ravens as “phenomenal,” the veteran fullback would consider other any offers that might be proposed this spring, he tells SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). The 25-year-old Juszczyk led all NFL fullbacks in both offensive snaps (465) and receptions (37) in 2016, although the lack of fullback usage in the league figures to drive down his market. In terms of positional spending, the Chiefs’ Anthony Sherman currently leads all fullbacks with a $2.1MM annual salary. Juszczyk, a former fourth-round pick out of Harvard, will join a free agent fullback class that includes Patrick DiMarco (Falcons), Marcel Reece (Seahawks), and Jerome Felton (Bills).
  • Former Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner has joined the University of Michigan as an offensive analyst, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Turner’s father, Norv, resigned as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator midway through last season, and while Scott was retained to finish out the campaign, he was fired by the Vikings last month. Although Turner had coached in the NFL since 2011, he didn’t have many options around the league if he wanted to continue leading quarterback rooms — the only QB coaching job still available is in Kansas City, per Dan Hatman of The Scouting Academy (Twitter link).
  • Cornerback Bene Benwikere‘s one-year deal with the Bengals is worth $690K, the minimum for a player with three years experience, according to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Still only 25 years old, Benwikere took visits with four other clubs (including the Jets) before signing with Cincinnati. He’ll compete for a spot in the Bengals’ secondary that includes Adam Jones, Darqueze Dennard, William Jackson III, Josh Shaw, and pending free agent Dre Kirkpatrick.

Vikings Fire QB Coach Scott Turner

A day after the Vikings announced that they’d be retaining offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, it appears that another member of the offensive coaching staff is on his way out. Alex Marvez of The Sporting News reports (via Twitter) that the organization has fired quarterbacks coach Scott Turner.

Scott TurnerTurner, the son of long-time coach (and former Vikings offensive coordinator) Norv Turner, had a successful season in 2016 considering the circumstances. He certainly played a role in Sam Bradford‘s bounce-back season, as the former first-overall pick finished the campaign with 3,877 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. Of course, Turner was only dealing with Bradford because starter Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season with a torn ACL. The former first-rounder’s success could also be attributed to Turner, as Bridgewater connected on nearly 65-percent of his passes during his two seasons as a starter.

Turner joined the Vikings organization in 2014. Prior to his tenure in Minnesota, the 34-year-old served as the Browns wide receivers coach and the Panthers offensive quality control coordinator.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Mailbags: Hawthorne, Collins, Bridgewater

Here are some notes from some of the most recent NFC mailbags coming out of New Orleans and Minneapolis.

  • The Raiders pried Curtis Lofton, the Saints‘ best second-level player in recent seasons, away from New Orleans. As a result, the Saints are planning to use veteran David Hawthorne in his place in the middle and as the defensive signal-caller, ESPN’s Mike Triplett said in the second part of his Saints mailbag. Entering his age-30 season, Hawthorne started weakside backer in the Saints’ 4-3 last year and while he’s a mid-tier performer at best at this point in his career, Hawthorne is incredibly versatile. He’s played four different positions the past four seasons, lining up as the Seahawks’ starting middle linebacker in 2011, before backing up on the strong side in New Orleans in ’12, then moving to an inside spot in a 3-4 look a year later before moving back outside last season.
  • While expecting Hawthorne to start regardless of who the Saints draft, Triplett notes the team hasn’t used a first- or second-round pick on a linebacker since Sean Payton arrived in 2006. While they’ve acquired Jonathan Vilma, Lofton and most recently Dannell Ellerbe and Anthony Spencer through trades or free agency, Triplett lists inside backer as possibly the Saints’ No. 1 need. He doesn’t expect the Saints to use their No. 13 pick on such a player but sees that as a key option at Nos. 31 or 44, possibly both, with Shaq Thompson (Washington), Eric Kendricks (UCLA) and Stephone Anthony (Clemson) among the options in that case.
  • Landon Collins may be too much of a run-stopping safety to mesh well in the Vikings‘ defense, writes ESPN’s Ben Goessling in his mailbag. Since upper-echelon safety Harrison Smith ventures around the formation with blitzing tendencies, Goessling notes the Vikings probably need a player who can cover ground deep.
  • Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner recently traveled to Montana to observe ways to incorporate more quick passes into the Vikings’ offense. A Division II coach for many years, Bob Stitt‘s now at Montana, and Turner was intrigued by the way his offenses can find myriad methods of putting the ball in receivers’ hands via screen passes. With Teddy Bridgewater already having success in the screen game with Jarius Wright and, at times Cordarrelle Patterson, he now has speedster Mike Wallace, which would make acquiring additional intel in this area relevant, Goessling said.