Steve Spagnuolo

Extra Points: Redskins, Agholor, Spagnuolo

The Redskins and Ron Rivera are making a historic hire. Washington is hiring Jennifer King as an offensive assistant, a source told Adam Schefter and David Newton of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The news of the potential hire was first reported by Rhiannon Walker of The Athletic (Twitter link). King will now be the first full-time African American female assistant coach. As Schefter points out there’s some familiarity here, as Rivera had hired King as a summer intern when he was with the Panthers. It furthers a trend we’ve seen developing the past couple of years, as women continue to make more inroads into the coaching ranks. Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has been a champion of female coaches, and he hired two women to full-time coaching positions on his staff before last season. King also coached with the Arizona Hotshots of the short-lived AAF.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Eagles fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh after the season ended, and it looks like they could be headed for a lot of turnover on that side of the ball. Receiver Nelson Agholor is “unlikely to return” next year, writes Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. A first-round pick back in 2015, Agholor just finished the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, and is slated for unrestricted free agency. He missed the last month-plus of the 2019 campaign, but was pretty much always a full-time starter for Philly when healthy. He struggled with inconsistency and drops, but also had plenty of good moments with the Eagles. He scored eight touchdowns in 2017, and had at least 736 yards in each of his last two full seasons. Despite the sometimes maddening inconsistency, the 26-year-old USC product should draw plenty of interest on the open market.
  • Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo just won another Super Bowl, and he earned a ton of praise for his work with Kansas City’s defense. The unit made major strides from last season after he took over, and it sounds like he hopes to parlay the success into another shot at a head coaching gig. “Oh, certainly,” Spagnuolo told Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio when asked if he’d be interested in being a head coach again, via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “Listen, that desire and passion never changes. But I will say this . . . I’m a blessed man to have the job I have. If it’s not in God’s plans, I’m OK with that. But I’ve always kept preparing myself that way. It would be great if it happened, and if not, again, I’m very fortunate to be where I am.” The thought would’ve seemed like a huge reach a year ago, but Spags bounced back in a big way. He first rose to prominence as the Giants’ defensive coordinator, and his success in New York led to him becoming head coach of the Rams. He was fired after going 10-38 in three years as St. Louis’ head coach. He also served as New York’s interim coach for four games in 2017 after Ben McAdoo was fired.

Chiefs To Hire Steve Spagnuolo

The Chiefs will hire Steve Spagnuolo as their new defensive coordinator, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). It’s a reunion for Spagnuolo and Andy Reid – Spags started his NFL coaching career in Philadelphia under Reid years ago and now joins him in Kansas City. 

Bob Sutton was fired this week after the Chiefs’ heartbreaking exit in the AFC Championship GameSoon after, the loud and lovable Rex Ryan was connected to the job, but former Giants and Rams coach won out over the ex-Jets coach, who may or may not have been a real contender anyway.

Spagnuolo didn’t coach in 2018, but he is highly respected around the NFL for his work as the Giants’ DC. The 59-year-old also comes with head coaching experience, as he led the Rams from 2009-11. We didn’t hear his name much in this cycle, but he was connected to the Broncos’ DC job at one point.

Sutton’s Chiefs D struggled in 2018 while the offense ascended to new heights. Clearly, there’s real potential for the Chiefs with quality pieces like Eric Berry, Justin Houston, and Dee Ford (if he’s re-signed) and Spagnuolo gets to re-enter the league with a plum job.

As the Giants’ DC, Spagnuolo’s defenses finished in the top 10 in 2007, 2008, and 2016. If the Chiefs can get anywhere close to those results, they’ll be very happy with their new hire.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Eyeing Steve Spagnuolo For DC

Former Giants defensive coordinator and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo has emerged as the favorite to replace Bob Sutton as the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator, sources tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Spagnuolo and Andy Reid worked together in Philadelphia and share the same agent, so this would be a pretty natural pairing in Kansas City. 

Sutton was fired this week after the Chiefs’ heartbreaking exit in the AFC Championship Game. Soon after, the loud and lovable Rex Ryan was connected to the job, but it sounds like the former Giants coach has a leg up over the ex-Jets coach.

Spagnuolo didn’t coach in 2018, but he is highly respected around the NFL for his work as the Giants’ DC. The 59-year-old also comes with head coaching experience, as he led the Rams from 2009-11. We haven’t heard his name much in this cycle, but he was connected to the Broncos’ DC job at one point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Interview Steve Wilks, Interested In Steve Spagnuolo

The Browns are interviewing former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks for their open defensive coordinator position on Friday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Cleveland also has interest in former Giants DC Steve Spagnuolo and could meet with him in the near future, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Cleveland is searching for a new defensive play-caller after new head coach Freddie Kitchens dismissed Gregg Williams earlier this week. Given that he’s handling the offense, Kitchens would likely give his new DC great autonomy. As a former head coach, Wilks would be ready for that responsibility, and despite his lack of success in the desert, his 2017 Panthers defense played extremely well, ranking seventh in DVOA.

Wilks is unlikely to reunite with Carolina, tweets Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. There’d been some thought that Wilks would head back to the Panthers after his sole season with Arizona, but that won’t be happening. Carolina is retaining DC Eric Washington, while head coach Ron Rivera will call the team’s defensive plays.

Spagnuolo, meanwhile, didn’t coach in 2018, but is highly respected around the NFL for his work as the Giants’ DC. The 59-year-old also comes with head coaching experience, as he led the Rams from 2009-11.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Spagnuolo, Cowboys

The Giants don’t have a ton of cap room to work with this offseason, but former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo seems to think that there’s enough defensive talent in-house to turn things around.

We hit the injury bug,” Spagnuolo told Alex Marvez and Bill Polian on SiriusXM. “The most compelling thing to me was having to play five (middle) linebackers throughout the season…That’s no different than having to put five different quarterbacks in there. That’s the guy that kind of runs the show.”

Coach Spags was hoping to be a part of that turnaround and was disappointed to learn that he would not be a part of Pat Shumur‘s staff in New York. For his part, the defensive guru says he is intent on returning to coaching in the NFL.

I’ve got a lot of football left in me,” Spagnuolo said. “I’m gonna coach again. I want to. I’m passionate about the game. I enjoy dealing with the players, teaching, mentoring — that’s what I think coaching is all about. “Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to sit back for a year. That may happen, it may not. There’s a slight chance of maybe working in 2018 still. But, if not, I’ll use this time wisely.”

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Center/guard Joe Looney didn’t start a game last season, but he’s among the free agents that the Cowboys need to retain, David Moore of The Dallas Morning News writes. On two occasions last season, Looney did a solid job of filling in for guard Ron Leary and he also showed his value as a part of the team’s jumbo package – the formation in which Dallas replaces a tight end with an extra lineman. Retaining Looney shouldn’t cost much as his previous two-year deal paid him a total of $1.675MM.
  • Paul Perkins was not the answer for the Giants at running back and they’ll need to invest in the position this offseason. Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com looked at some possible options for the G-Men, including unrestricted free agents Dion Lewis, Carlos Hyde, Frank Gore, Jerick McKinnon, and Isaiah Crowell. Dunleavy notes that McKinnon would be a natural fit for the Giants thanks to his history with Shurmur, though he’s not necessarily built to be workhorse at RB. If the Giants want to go bargain bin shopping, names like LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Eddie Lacy, and Damien Williams might work for their limited budget. Last year’s rushing leader, Orleans Darkwa, is scheduled to reach free agency next month, and it’s not clear whether Shurmur sees him as a fit for his offense.
  • The Eagles need to re-sign defensive tackle Beau Allen, Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com writes. Allen’s 20 tackles and one sack aren’t eye-popping numbers, but he was a key member of the D-Line and earned a respectable 74.5 overall score from Pro Football Focus. If Allen walks, there is no clear option to replace him, but the Eagles will have to plan carefully as they are roughly $9MM over the salary cap.
  • On Wednesday, Redskins safety Su’a Cravens was granted reinstatement by the NFL.

Coaching Rumors: Spagnuolo, Fins, Cowboys

While Giants interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo interviewed for the position, there is an upside for him in current Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur likely accepting the team’s offer to be their next head coach. With Shurmur on board, the veteran defensive coordinator is a more likely option to stay in the role he began the 2017 season in, opines Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com.

Back in 2008, Spagnuolo hired Shurmur as his offensive coordinator when he got the Rams head coaching job. The two also have history in the Andy Reid‘s coaching tree back when the now Chiefs head coach hired both coaches out of the college ranks.

Spagnuolo does have a track record of defensive success, and while this past season was more trying, the Giants unit was one of the best in football just two years ago. Based on the coaches’ history with one another, it appears that Spagnuolo has a good shot to retain his job. But if Shurmur does decide to go in a different direction, Dunleavy throws at names like Ohio State linebackers coach Bill Davis, Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Chiefs linebackers coach Gary Gibbs that could make sense for the post.

Here’s more coaching news from around the league:

  • The Dolphins have let go of their secondary coach Lou Anarumo, per Barry Jackson the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Anarumo had been with the team since 2012. This is just one of a few changes Miami has made in regards to their coaching staff this offseason.
  • The Cowboys and Bengals have switched offensive line coaches this offseason. After Cincy hired former Dallas offensive line coach Frank Pollack to the same role, we learned today that the Cowboys have hired the guy who held that post for the Bengals in Paul Alexander, reports Alex Marvez of SiriusXM (Twitter link).
  • In other offensive line coach news, the Seahawks have brought in Mike Solari to replace Tom Cable as the primary guy handling the offensive front, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network (Twitter link). Solari has a history in Seattle, he served as the team’s offensive line coach from 2008-09. The team also recently hired Ken Norton Jr. to replace Kris Richard as defensive coordinator earlier today.
  • Andy Reid is adding a new face to the Chiefs coaching staff for 2018. The team has hired Jay Valai as a defense quality control coach, reports Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star (Twitter link). Perez adds that Valai will also assist the either the Chief’s defensive back of linebacker group in addition to his primary duties.

Coaching Notes: Spagnuolo, Bettcher, McDaniels

The coaching carousel is in full swing. Here are six stories regarding coaching staffs across the NFL:

  • The Giants have interviewed their interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo for the full-time job, the team announced today. Spagnuolo is considered a longshot to land the position given that new general manager Dave Gettlemen would probably like to bring in his own guy. But, the former Rams head coach still had his shot to impress the Giants executives today. New York has six more candidates they’re planning on interviewing in the days to come. Check out who by using our 2018 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.
  • The Cardinals also used most of the day to interview an internal head coach candidate, defensive coordinator James Bettcher, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Bettcher had the first chance to make his case as the team has another seven coaches they would like to talk to about their vacant head coach position.
  • The Colts will speak with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels tonight about their head coach vacancy, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). McDaniels is getting head coaching interest from many different teams because of his offensive knowledge. Indianapolis could be looking for a more offensive-minded coach to pair with quarterback Andrew Luck. Although they have requested interviews with coaches on both sides of the ball, including: Matt Nagy (Chiefs), Kris Richard (Seahawks), Mike Vrabel (Texans) and Steve Wilks (Panthers).
  • La Canfora does also note that the bad weather in the Boston area could affect potential interviews regarding McDaniels and fellow Patriots coach Matt Patricia. The team has to be back home to prepare for their divisional round opponent, which could push back a few potential interviews for both New England coordinators.
  • The Packers have a offensive coordinator vacancy after reassigning Edgar Bennett to another position earlier today. Three names who the team could show interest in to replace Bennett are former Green Bay coaches Ben McAdoo and Joe Philbin, along with current offensive line coach James Campen, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • The Broncos have hired Sean Kugler to be the team’s offensive line coach for 2018, reports Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). While Kugler is a new face to the coaching staff, the team did decide to keep both of their coordinators and fire three other coaches on Monday.

Giants To Interview Steve Spagnuolo On Wednesday

The Giants will initiate their head coaching interview process by meeting with interim head coach/defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo on Wednesday, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). Steve Spagnuolo

Spagnuolo, 58, began his second stint as New York’s defensive play-caller in 2015, and subsequently took over as the club’s interim head coach after Ben McAdoo was fired earlier this season. In four games as head coach, Spagnuolo posted a record of 1-3. Nearly everything went wrong for the Giants in 2017, and Spagnuolo’s defense wasn’t immune to dysfunction, as the unit dealt with off-field issues en route to a No. 24 rating in defensive DVOA.

If new general manager Dave Gettleman does opt to retain Spagnuolo, he’ll be keeping someone with head coaching experience. Spagnuolo, who’s been an NFL coach since 1999, was the Rams’ head coach from 2009-11, but never finished with more than seven wins and posted a 10-38 overall record.

Meanwhile, the Giants put in a request to interview Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur for their head coaching vacancy, and that request has evidently been approved. Shurmur will interview with Big Blue on Saturday, tweets Garafolo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching News: Packers, Cowboys, Giants

Earlier in the day, the Packers fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers. They continued to clean house on the defensive side of the ball later in the day, letting go of inside linebackers coach Scott McCurley and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reports.

McCurley joined the Packers in 2006 as an intern but quickly moved his way up the ladder. For the last four years, he served as assistant linebackers coach and helped oversee the transition to young linebackers like Blake Martinez. An NFL coach since 1995, Trgovac had been with the Packers since 2009 following an extended stay as the defensive coordinator in Carolina.

Here is more from around the league on the coaching front:

  • The Broncos fired outside linebackers coach Fred Pagac on Monday, reports NBC 9 in Denver’s Mike Klis (Twitter link). Klis cites the lack of a pass rush following the departure of DeMarcus Ware as grounds for the dismissal. Shane Ray provided just one sack on the opposite side of Von Miller. The team also let go of defensive backs coach Johnnie Lynn.
  • New Giants general manager Dave Gettleman told the team’s assistant coaches they are free to look for other jobs without the Giants blocking the search, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (Twitter link). Among the names expected to draw interest from other teams includes interim head coach and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
  • Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson is expected to be let go, sources tell the Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). Marvez notes that more changes to the team’s offensive coaching staff are expected to come, one of which could be wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, who is reported to not being returning to Dallas by NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). Dooley denied the report, saying he has yet to meet with head coach Jason Garrett, Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams writes. The coaches have been with the team since 2007 and 2013, respectively.
  • After firing head coach Jim Caldwell, the Lions continued to overhaul its coaching staff by letting go of assistant head coach and offensive line coach Ron Prince, the team announced. Prince had been with the team since 2014.

Jim Schwartz On Giants’ HC Radar?

Having moved rather quickly to replace Jerry Reese with former Reese lieutenant Dave Gettleman, the Giants now are focused on filling their HC vacancy.

Ernie Accorsi will not “officially” be part of this search for their next head coach, John Mara said (via James Kratch of NJ.com, on Twitter). Accorsi won’t sit in on interviews, but the ex-Big Blue GM will be a resource in the process, per Mara. The Gettleman hire occurring — after myriad reports of the former Panthers GM being the favorite — leads some around the league to believe they have a coaching candidate ready to pair with Gettleman, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk hears.

Florio writes Eagles DC Jim Schwartz is the name that’s been most connected with this vacancy and floated an interesting reason for this buzz. Accorsi is believed to lean heavily on Bill Belichick‘s advice and Florio’s heard the Patriots HC has suggested Accorsi recommend Schwartz’s hire to Gettleman.

This would make for an interesting route, and Florio adds some in the league regard this recommendation as a way for Belichick to keep Josh McDaniels in the fold for another season. However, McDaniels has been connected to an HC avenues alongside New England VP of player personnel Nick Caserio as GM. A previous GM candidate, Caserio looks to be out of the picture for the Giants after Gettleman’s hire.

Mara said he would prefer an experienced head coach to take over, per Kratch (Twitter link). This would match up with Schwartz, who has extensive experience as a defensive coordinator and served as the Lions’ HC for five years. Schwartz has also had supporters within the Giants organization for years, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes, adding some sources believe Gettleman is high on the HC candidate as well.

Steve Spagnuolo will interview, but Mara is unsure OC Mike Sullivan will. Mara opened Gettleman’s presser today by saying he sought an exec with GM experience, so it would stand to reason the traditional organization wants a more seasoned HC. Mara’s Ben McAdoo hire — after only two years of coordinator experience — did not work out, so he’s planning to take a different route this time.

The Giants could interview Schwartz next week since the Eagles have booked a bye. The Ringer’s Mike Lombardi tweets the Giants wanted their GM search to conclude before the season ended in order to be ready to “act quickly” on a coaching search by the time interviews could be scheduled.

There’s certainly some unique reasoning associated with it, but Schwartz — who runs a 4-3 defense like the Giants do and has long been regarded as an upper-echelon DC — looks to be firmly on New York’s radar.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.