Tim Kelly

AFC Notes: Steelers, Brown, Jets, Texans

We first heard earlier this week that Steelers receiver Antonio Brown had been involved in some sort of domestic dispute last month. Shortly after details came out, and Brown was accused of having shoved his daughter’s mother to the ground, with the NFL announcing they would investigate. Brown denied any wrongdoing, and today his attorney pushed back even further. Brown’s lawyer forcefully denied Brown did anything wrong, accusing the mother of being in the wrong in the situation regarding Brown’s daughter, and said Brown did not get violent in any way, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN (Twitter link).

The lawyer also elaborated that Brown is now filing for custody of his daughter in court. It’s yet another dramatic chapter in the saga surrounding the Steelers, and while the situation is still very murky as of right now, we’ll almost certainly have more details soon.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Speaking of organizational drama, the Jets have found themselves in a mini controversy of their own. It was reported a few days ago that there was already some tension between new head coach Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, as the team objected to Williams bringing his son Blake Williams onboard as a coach. While the team eventually relented and added the younger Williams as a defensive assistant, the drama doesn’t end there. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com has a great breakdown of the situation unfolding, as Gase hired his own father-in-law Joe Vitt as an assistant coach as well. Vitt and Williams have a longstanding beef, as both were members of the Saints’ coaching staff during the infamous bountygate scandal. According to Cimini, Vitt testified against Williams during the league’s hearings on the scandal, and accused him of lying. They’ll now be serving on the same staff together again, and it’ll be very interesting to see if the bad blood has been put to rest.
  • Last week, the Texans promoted Tim Kelly to offensive coordinator. Head coach Bill O’Brien has called plays in the past, but O’Brien left the door open for Kelly to call plays during a recent radio interview, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). “There’s no doubt in my mind that Tim Kelly is ready to call plays”, O’Brien said, before adding that it would be “a collaborative effort.” Kelly was previously the team’s tight ends coach.
  • In case you missed it, suspended Patriots and Raiders receivers Josh Gordon and Martavis Bryant may apply for re-instatement in the next couple of months.

Texans To Promote Tim Kelly To OC

After going two seasons without an offensive coordinator, the Texans look ready to take a more traditional route in 2019.

They are planning to promote tight ends coach Tim Kelly to work as the offensive coordinator next season, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM reports (on Twitter). Will Lawing is expected to take Kelly’s place coaching Houston’s tight ends.

The Texans parted ways with former OC George Godsey after the 2016 season, and Kelly then rose from offensive quality control coach to tight ends instructor. He had spent the first three years of Bill O’Brien‘s Texans tenure in that lower-level role. Prior to that, Kelly worked as a graduate assistant on O’Brien’s Penn State staff.

This points to the Texans viewing Kelly as a rising coaching talent. Godsey, who served in this role for two seasons, has been the only OC during O’Brien’s tenure. Houston’s head coach did not hire an OC during his 2014 debut campaign. It is not known if Kelly or O’Brien will call plays in 2019, but given the promotion, it is certain Kelly’s input will greatly expand.

This will be Kelly’s first coordinator role in nine years. Prior to his time with O’Brien, he, interestingly, served as defensive coordinator at Division II Minnesota State-Moorhead in 2010.

Houston’s staff lost a key member this week, with quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan taking a job as the Lions’ QBs coach. Ryan interviewed for the Browns’ OC job last year but took a lateral move during this hiring period. He would have been the natural choice for this promotion in Houston, but the Texans may have been grooming Kelly.

The Texans’ No. 11-ranked scoring offense represents the highest ranking during the O’Brien era (though, Houston only deployed the No. 21 DVOA offense). This would make sense given Deshaun Watson‘s 16 starts compared to the franchise’s previous difficulties landing a starting quarterback. O’Brien and Kelly will attempt to improve on that. The Texans have not yet hired another quarterbacks coach.

Lawing worked as an offensive assistant, helping with the team’s offensive linemen, the past two years. Lawing also made the move to the NFL after serving as a GA under O’Brien at Penn State.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Ravens, Griffin, Texans, Saints

It’s been a long road for Robert Griffin III. After he was released by the Redskins, Griffin wound up in Cleveland as the Browns’ starting quarterback in 2016. He was immediately injured and ended up playing only a few games, and was released after the year. After that he spent the entire 2017 season out of football, and it looked like his career might be coming to an end. But then Griffin inked a deal with the Ravens out of nowhere this past spring, and made the team. While he’s been the third stringer behind Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson and inactive most of the season, Griffin is just happy to be back in the league, and he described his journey in a recent sit down with Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

“It’s been special because I was not guaranteed a roster spot at the beginning of the year. I had a non-guaranteed contract, a minimal signing bonus and I had to earn it every step of the way”, Griffin said. Griffin was projected to be cut by most analysts because John Harbaugh has very rarely kept three quarterbacks on the active roster, but he had an impressive preseason and earned a spot. Zrebiec writes the Ravens first became interested in the former Heisman Trophy winner in the summer of 2017, but Griffin thought the timing wasn’t right. Griffin also reflected on his experience losing his job in Washington to Kirk Cousins while he was out with an injury, and how it relates to what Flacco is going through right now. The whole conversation is definitely worth a read.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Texans have been very impressive this year, but they still have a bunch of holes on the roster as they look to build around Deshaun Watson. The team could use help on the offensive line and in the secondary, and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle “strongly believe[s]” that the team will “get an offensive tackle and a cornerback in the first two rounds” of next year’s draft. McClain is as plugged in as any beat writer in the game, so he certainly has a feel for what the organization is thinking. The Texans have an extra second round pick thanks to the Duane Brown trade, so they’ll have plenty of ammo to acquire top talent.
  • The Texans have been without an offensive coordinator for a while, but that could change soon. Head coach Bill O’brien has been acting as his own offensive coordinator since he fired George Godsey, and McClain thinks their tight ends coach Tim Kelly will be their next offensive coordinator, saying that he’s “highly thought of” within the building.
  • The Saints will be without starting left tackle Terron Armstead for at least another week, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com (Twitter link). Armstead has now missed the last month of the season with a pectoral injury. Drew Brees‘ pass protection has fallen off without Armstead, and Brees has struggled a bit with the additional pressure in recent weeks.