Tennessee Titans Rumors & News

Giants Hire James Bettcher As DC

The Giants have hired James Bettcher as their new defensive coordinator, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The former Cardinals DC also had an offer on the table from the Titans, but he turned them down. James Bettcher (vertical)

Bettcher was with the Cardinals since 2013 and spent the last three as DC. He was up for the Cardinals’ head coaching vacancy this offseason and even had the endorsement of Bruce Arians, but the gig ultimately went to Steve Wilks. Predictably, he had interest from multiple teams as a DC and he garnered two offers on the same day.

The Giants’ high-priced defense underperformed in 2017, finishing second to last in yards allowed and in the bottom third of DVOA. The Cardinals, meanwhile, allowed the sixth fewest yards in the league to opposing teams and had the fourth-best in DVOA in the NFL.

Bettcher’s arrival means that Steve Spagnuolo, the previous defensive coordinator and the Giants’ interim head coach for the final four games of the season, is out. At one point in time, it was thought that new head coach Pat Shurmur might keep Spags on board, but he’s opting to start fresh.

It’s not clear where the Titans and Mike Vrabel will go from here, but Packers cornerbacks coach Darren Perry has been mentioned as candidate for the DC vacancy.


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Latest On Titans' Staff

Although at least one report indicated new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel would overhaul the majority of Tennessee’s coaching staff, that’s not necessarily the case, says Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com (all Twitter links). Tight ends coach Arthur Smith, assistant special teams coach Craig Aukerman, and assistant wide receivers coach Luke Steckel will join previously-reported defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend in interviewing with Vrabel during the Senior Bowl. Among the coaches who will part ways with the Titans include offensive line coach and NFL Hall of Famer Russ Grimm (who is retiring), quarterbacks coach Jason Michael, running backs coach Sylvester Croom, defensive assistant Brandon Blaney, and assistant defensive backs coach Steve Jackson.

Titans Interested In Darren Perry For DC?

The Titans and new head coach Mike Vrabel have interest in hiring Packers cornerbacks coach Darren Perry, according to Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com (Twitter link). While it’s unclear exactly what title Perry would potentially hold, Tennessee may want him to serve as defensive coordinator, per Kuharsky.

[RELATED: Titans To Interview James Bettcher For DC]

Perry, 49, was one of three internal candidates to interview for the vacant Green Bay defensive coordinator job earlier this offseason, but was passed over in favor of former Browns head coach Mike Pettine. He’s since interviewed for an assistant position with the Texans, but reports have indicated Perry could choose to stay with the Packers. Perry, who enjoyed a nine-year playing career, joined the coaching ranks in 2002 and has spent time in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Oakland.

If hired, Perry would replace former Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, whom Tennessee parted ways with on Sunday. Under LeBeau’s leadership in 2017, the Titans ranked 13th in yards, 17th in scoring, and 21st defensive DVOA,

Titans Fire OC Terry Robiskie

In a move that should come as no surprise, the Titans have parted ways with offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie, according to Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com (Twitter link).Terry Robiskie (Vertical)

New Titans head coach Mike Vrabel is currently formulating a staff, and there was never any expectation that Robiskie would be retained for the 2018 campaign. Indeed, Tennessee has already been linked to potential OC candidates — including Ohio State’s Ryan Day (who will not accept the position) and ex-Lions quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan — so Robiskie’s dismissal was a mere formality.

Under Robiskie, the 2017 Titans offense ranked 13th in yards, 17th in points, and 18th in DVOA. But the club’s play-calling and handling of mobile quarterback Marcus Mariota was often questioned, as Robiskie & Co. seemingly failed to put the former No. 2 overall pick in the best situations. Tennessee finished just 28th in situation neutral offensive pace, a notably slow speed given Mariota’s collegiate success in Chip Kelly’s quick-game offense.

Tennessee has also fired special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman and linebackers coach Lou Spanos, per Kuharsky, and in fact plans to part ways with nearly every one of former head coach Mike Mularkey‘s assistants, reports Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The only coach who might stick around is defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend, who played with Vrabel in Pittsburgh. Vrabel will interview Townsend for the role at the Senior Bowl, per Wolfe.

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Titans, Giants To Meet With James Bettcher

Former Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher is scheduled to meet with the Titans and Giants on Tuesday for their vacant DC jobs, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Bettcher is a top candidate for both positions, Rapoport adds. James Bettcher (vertical)

Bettcher was up for the Cardinals’ head coaching vacancy this year, but that job wound up going to ex-Panthers DC Steve Wilks. Wilks is bringing in old friend Al Holcomb to lead the defense, meaning that Bettcher is available. Although he did not get to run the show in Arizona, Bettcher is a hot DC candidate.

The Giants and Titans both have new head coaches this offseason in Pat Shurmur and Mike Vrabel at the helm, respectively. The Giants’ next DC figures to have a great deal of authority given Shurmur’s focus on offense. However, the job might not be quite the same in Tennessee. Vrabel previously served as the Texans’ DC and he intimated in his introductory press conference that he will be calling the plays. It’s not clear if that will suit someone like Bettcher who has spent the last three years as Arizona’s defensive play caller and was close to becoming their HC.

Former Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio is viewed as frontrunner for the Giants’ DC gig, though it’s possible that incumbent Steve Spagnuolo could keep his job. Bettcher now becomes the third known candidate for the Giants’ opening and the first for the Titans job.

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More On The Latest Coaching Hires

The Giants officially hired former Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to be the team’s next head coach earlier today, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com offered his breakdown of why Shurmur was selected out of the field of six candidates.

Raanan notes that while the Giants did consider coaches with without head coaching experience, general manager Dave Gettleman made it a point that he wanted someone who has held the position before and could bring coordinator experience to the team, which is two criteria Shurmur clearly checks off. He also notes that Gettleman mentioned in his own statement about the hire that the job seemed like it was “not too big” for Shumur, which speaks to Gettleman’s want to bring in somebody that has been lead positions in football for a long while.

Raanan also passes along a ringing endorsement from Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, who’s Shurmur coached for the past two seasons.

“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for,” said Rudolph. “He’s a guy I had the pleasure of working with in the tight end room before he took over as offensive coordinator halfway through the year, and then working with him day in and day out this year, the way he’s led the offense and took us — even though we faced the adversity [of] losing another starting quarterback, another starting running back — he carried us all the way to a top-10 offense.

It’s not a surprise that Shurmur got the job considering the reports that have been coming out over the past week and with the original criteria that the Giants front office was looking for, it appears that they have hired the type of guy they wanted for the job when they began their search for their next head coach.

Here’s a few more notes from today’s coaching news:

  • Mike Vrabel is well known for his days as a Patriots linebacker, but he now enters the biggest challenge of his post-playing days as the new head coach of the Titans. In today’s introductory press conference, Vrabel touched on many things he intends to do now that he is the leader of a team and coaching staff, reports Terry McCormick of Titans Insider. The first-time head coach stated that he doesn’t “want to put a timetable on it because I want the right guys”. This comes in accordance with the reported front runner for the team’s offensive coordinator position, Ryan Daywill not be hired. Speaking of offense, Vrabel noted that even with the team wanting to properly develop Marcus Mariota, he intends to have a strong ground game to compliment him, but not to the team’s detriment. “I think that we’re going to run the football,” said the head coach. “We’re going to run it from the quarterback being under center, we’re going to run it from the quarterback being in gun,” Vrabel said. “We’re going to give Marcus (Mariota) some easy access throws, whether that be RPOs or run reliefs. We’re not going to run it into eight or nine guys, we’re not going to be silly. I believe in screens, I believe in play action, things that he does well.” Overall, Vrabel wants to establish a “Titans Way” brand of football that the team can point to year in and year out. “I think to get a ‘Way,’ you have to win. You have to be able to win championships before people start giving you ‘Ways’ to do things. That will be our ultimate goal, but I talked about how our players are going to be prepared,” Vrabel said. “They’re going to play fast and aggressive, and that’s what I believe in. Until we can win a championship doing that, then there’s not going to be this ‘Titans Way.’ That will be talked about in the building, but people from outside the building, they won’t believe in us, they won’t have faith in us until you win.”
  • The Cardinals head coaching search ended in the hiring of former Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks being named to the position this afternoon. Wilks has a difficult job in succeeding Bruce Arians, but Kent Somers of AZCentral believes that he will bring a “stead, firm hand” to the Cardinals organization. Somers notes that former players have lauded him for him for his ability to tell it straight and stay mentally tough in difficult situations. Veteran safety Eric Weddle, told Somers that, “The way we worked, the accountability. He stood tall among the big personalities. He didn’t bow down.” The search lasted Arizona’s front office three weeks, the longest of any team in the NFL. While Wilks doesn’t bring a high level of coordinator or head coach experience, he has made a mark on many of the players that he’s coached along the way, including retired cornerback Antoine Cason“I think he is a hell of a coach,” Cason said. “He was the type of guy you just knew was going to be a head coach.” 

Coaching Notes: Cardinals, Lions, Packers

New Cardinals hire Steve Wilks will be bringing in some of new faces to the coaching staff. One of the biggest changes will be at defensive coordinator as he appears to be poised to bring his former Panthers colleague Al Holcomb to lead the defense. This means that former defensive coordinator James Bettcher will be on the way out, according to Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com (Twitter link).

Jurecki does make sure to note that Bettcher will “land on his feet” with another organization that he’s actively looking for other opportunities around the league. These next few weeks will be a quick change for Bettcher, who was in the final group to be considered for the Cardinals vacant head coaching job.

Here’s more coaching stories to follow:

  • While Wilks will be making multiple changes to the Cardinals coaching staff, that doesn’t mean that there’s going to be a complete overhaul. The new first-time head coach is likely to keep some members from Bruce Arians‘ staff on board for next season, per Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). While many new coaches like to make their imprint on the organization through bringing in new coaches onto the team, there’s also something to be said for trying to keep some of the same voices that players have been hearing from throughout the past few years.
  • The Lions will be letting go of their quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan, sources tell Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). As I noted before, it’s not unusual for new head coaches to turnover their staff, but Breer adds that this move is a little surprising because Callahan is well-regarded around the league and will have a number of teams looking to bring him in for 2018. It’s been rumored that he could be a potential candidate for the Titans vacant offensive coordinator gig.
  • Meanwhile, the Seahawks have made a decision on who their next quarterbacks coach will be. The team has officially promoted Dave Canales from wide receivers coach to working with Seattle’s signal callers next year, a source tells Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). Canales has been on Pete Carroll‘s staff since 2010 and was previously promoted to the WR coach position back in 2015. Although, this move doesn’t necessarily signal that the Seahawks will move on from former QB coach Carl Smith. Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times hears that Smith could be shifted to a different role (Twitter link).
  • The Packers have added a new coach from the college ranks. Mike McCarthy has hired Ryan Downward from Bowling Green to help work on the team’s defensive staff. Downward worked as Bowling Green’s safeties coach for the past two seasons and previously worked for new Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine back when he coached in Cleveland.

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Titans Will Not Hire Ryan Day As OC

Mike Vrabel was just hired as the Titans next head coach, but it looks like he’s going to take some more time to hire his next offensive coordinator. Ohio State’s Ryan Day appeared to be the frontrunner in the Titans search, but he will not leave the Buckeyes for the opportunity to work in the NFL, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Mike Vrabel

Being that Vrabel is a defensive-minded coach, this hire appears to be critical in determining Marcus Mariota‘s future success. Day was originally thought to be a good choice because of his familiarity with Mariota’s college offense being that he did work with Chip Kelly in his final season in Philadelphia. He also was the quarterback coach in San Francisco in 2016 before accepting a job with Ohio State.

With Day staying put, Vrabel could just reset his search with some many potential hires available in the open market. There were rumors yesterday that he had interest in Lions QB coach Brian Callahan for the role. But with other more experienced coaches like Ben McAdoo, Darrell Bevell and Mike McCoy still free agents there is no shortage of candidates to be considered.


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Looking Back On All 7 Coaching Searches

The Cardinals formally announced the hiring of Steve Wilks on Monday afternoon, meaning that all seven of the NFL’s head coaching vacancies are effectively filled. Using PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker, here’s a rundown of every candidate who was in the running for the Cardinals, Bears, Lions, Colts, Giants, Raiders, and Titans:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

New York Giants

Oakland Raiders

  • Jon Gruden, ESPN commentator: Hired
  • Bobby Johnson, tight ends coach (Raiders): Interviewed
  • Tee Martin, offensive coordinator (USC): Interviewed

Tennessee Titans

Titans Officially Hire Mike Vrabel

It’s officially official now. In a Monday press conference, the Titans introduced new head coach Mike Vrabel to the local media. Mike Vrabel (vertical)

Vrabel is now the 19th head coach in franchise history and the fourth since 2011. He signed a five-year deal with the team, a significantly longer commitment than the organization gave to predecessor Mike Mularkey.

Vrabel met with team general manager Jon Robinson and instantly hit it off, according to Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk.

“You could see their connection right away from the history they have with one another – seeing the game in a similar way and talking the same language. Mike has a commanding presence and a deep knowledge for how he will attack this head coaching opportunity,” Strunk said in a statement issued over the weekend.

Vrabel, 42, served one season as Houston’s defensive coordinator after beginning his NFL coaching career as a linebackers coach with the Texans for three seasons. The 14-year NFL veteran won three Super Bowls as a player, spending the majority of his career in New England. He earned one Pro Bowl and one First Team All-Pro selection (2007).

Despite being highly thought of around the league, Vrabel’s first season as defensive coordinator did not jump off the page. Houston’s defense finished last in points allowed, middle of the pack in yards, and in the bottom ten in sacks.

At the outset of the search, Robinson made it clear he wanted a “leader of men.” Some believed that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was that guy, but Vrabel wowed Robinson in their meeting on Wednesday and the team never met with McDaniels. The team also interviewed Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, and Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

Micah Powell contributed to this post.


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