Shaun Sarrett

Coaching Rumors: Rizzi, Dennison, Browns

Darren Rizzi interviewed for the Dolphins coaching job that is likely to go to Brian Flores, but the special teams coordinator is a coveted commodity around the league. The Packers are set to interview him, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Miami wants to retain Rizzi, who has been with the team throughout the 2010s, but has given him permission to seek employment elsewhere. That may soon prompt an extensive interview circuit. Five teams are interested in bringing him aboard, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. The Vikings look to be one of those. Rizzi, 48, has only coached for one NFL franchise. His pre-Dolphins gigs were college jobs in the northeast, including a one-season stay (2008) as Rhode Island’s head coach.

As week three of many teams’ offseason begins, here is the latest from the coaching circuit:

  • Todd Monken‘s rise to Buccaneers play-caller earned him interest in teams’ OC jobs. He ended up landing with the Browns, but the other recent play-caller on this staff will call Cleveland’s plays next season. Freddie Kitchens will be the game-day director for the Browns’ offense next season, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). This won’t be too new for Monken, who spent the first two seasons as Bucs OC watching Dirk Koetter call plays.
  • The Vikings announced Klint Kubiak¬†(quarterbacks coach) and Brian Pariani (tight ends) are following Gary Kubiak to Minnesota, with the latter’s official title being assistant head coach/offensive advisor. Expected to be part of the Gary Kubiak gang getting back together up north, Rick Dennison was not included in this announcement. But Mike Klis of 9News notes the former Broncos and Bills OC is indeed believed to be part of the next Vikings staff (Twitter link). When Kubiak agreed to reprise his longtime role as Broncos OC, he wanted Dennison to oversee the team’s offensive line concepts, per Klis. The Broncos’ pursuit of Mike Munchak overruled this, and Dennison — the Jets’ O-line coach in 2018 — could be set to have a role in aiding the Vikings’ blockers next season.
  • Speaking of Munchak, the Broncos went beyond their usual offensive line coach budget to bring him over from Pittsburgh, Klis notes (on Twitter). Munchak, who has coached for just two franchises (the Oilers/Titans and Steelers), has family in the area.
  • The Steelers promoted Shaun Sarrett to replace Munchak as their O-line coach, the team announced. Sarrett had previously served as the team’s assistant offensive line coach. He has been with the Steelers for seven seasons, helping instruct their offensive linemen for most of that time.
  • After the Steelers let running backs coach James Saxon go, he will move to Arizona. The Cardinals are hiring Saxon to coach their running backs, Aditi Kinkabwala of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). He will replace Kirby Wilson and attempt to revive Arizona’s No. 32-ranked ground game. Saxon has 19 years’ experience coaching running backs in the NFL — the past five with the Steelers, where he oversaw Le’Veon Bell‘s rise and James Conner and Jaylen Samuels‘ quality replacement efforts — and should help rookie NFL coach Kliff Kingsbury.
  • Kris Kocurek will move from south Florida to the Bay Area, shifting from the Dolphins’ defensive line coach to the same role with the 49ers, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM tweets. Kocurek, 40, was the Lions’ D-line coach for nine seasons prior to moving to Miami.

Coaching Rumors: Colts, Steelers, Morton

John Morton and Jim Harbaugh worked together during the best stretch of 21st-century 49ers football, with Morton coaching San Francisco’s wide receivers from 2011-14. That duo could link up again in Ann Arbor. Michigan is interested in the one-and-done Jets OC to coach its wideouts, Bruce Feldman of SI.com reports. Former Florida head coach Jim McElwain is also in the running for this job, Feldman reports, noting the ex-Gators leader interviewed recently. Morton spent one year as an NFL OC but has experience on the college level, having overseen the 2009 and ’10 USC offenses. He coached the Trojans’ WRs in the two years prior. Morton spent the past seven seasons in the NFL. The Jets fired Morton last month.

Here’s the latest from the coaching ranks, now that every NFL team has a head coach again.

  • Frank Reich has been contacting coaches about joining his first Colts staff over the past few days, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, and former Lions defensive backs coach (and ex-Vikings DC) Alan Williams is a candidate to join Reich in Indianapolis. If hired, Williams would be returning to Indianapolis, along with Reich. Williams served as Colts DBs coach throughout the Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell tenures, which spanned 10 years from 2002-11. Reich was on Caldwell’s three Colts staffs. Matt Patricia did not retain any Lions defensive coaches upon taking the job in Detroit.
  • A defensive line coach for four NFL teams between 2004 and 2015, Karl Dunbar will join a fifth staff in that capacity. The Steelers hired Dunbar after he’d spent the past two seasons coaching at Alabama. He’ll head up the Pittsburgh D-line and rejoin forces with Mike Tomlin. Dunbar served under Tomlin for one season with the Vikings (2006) before the defensive assistant took the top coaching job in Pittsburgh. Dunbar, who coached in Minnesota for six years, also was an eighth-round Steelers pick in 1990. John Mitchell served as Pittsburgh’s defensive line coach from 1994-2017. The longtime Steelers assistant will remain on staff and retain his assistant head coach title next season.
  • The Steelers also promoted¬†Shaun Sarrett to assistant offensive line coach, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. Sarrett has worked with Steelers blockers since 2012.
  • Ricky Manning Jr. will not return for a third season with the Seahawks, Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk tweets. The former NFL cornerback had been the teams’ assistant defensive backs coach the past two seasons.