Todd Downing

Titans Add Todd Downing To Coaching Staff

The Titans have added a former offensive coordinator to their staff. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the team has hired Todd Downing as their new tight ends coach.

Downing, 38, had a brief stint as the Raiders offensive coordinator back in 2017. While his experience is limited, he’ll still be able to provide Arthur Smith with some guidance. Smith was promoted to the Titans’ offensive coordinator role earlier this week after having spent the past eight seasons with the organization (including the past three as the tight ends coach).

Downing was fired by the Raiders organization following the 2017 campaign, and he was subsequently hired as the Vikings tight ends coach. The coach played a significant role in Kyle Rudolph‘s productive campaign (64 receptions, 634 yards, four touchdowns), and he also helped play a role in David Morgan and Tyler Conklin‘s emergence. While the duo didn’t do much in the passing game, they rated out as above-average blocking tight ends in 2018 (per Pro Football Focus).

The coach will be joining a talented tight ends corps in Tennessee. Delanie Walker missed the majority of the 2018 season with an ankle injury, but he had compiled at least 800 receiving yards in each of the previous four seasons. The team is also rostering former third-rounder Jonnu Smith, who finished this past season with 20 receptions for 258 yards and three touchdowns.

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NFC North Rumors: Bears, Vikings, Packers

The Bears have agreed to hire former Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino as a defensive assistant, according to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times. Monachino served as Indy’s DC from 2016-17 when Chuck Pagano — who’s since been hired as Chicago’s defensive play-caller — was head coach, so the connection makes sense. A former linebackers and defensive line coach in Baltimore and Jacksonville, respectively, Monachino spent the 2018 season as a defensive analyst at the University of Missouri. He’d recently agreed to become the defensive coordinator at Kansas State, but he’ll back out of that commitment to join Pagano and the Bears. While there’s no official word as to what title Monachino will hold in Chicago, he’s likely coming aboard as linebackers coach.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • Tight ends coach Todd Downing is not expected to return to the Vikings in 2019, reports Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Downing still has a year remaining on his contract and was offered two new roles on offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski‘s staff, but it sounds like Downing turned down both opportunities. He’s now looking for other jobs elsewhere, and while there is a small chance he could eventually come back to Minnesota, a reunion is not considered likely, per Cronin. Downing, 38, was a rising star as recently as 2017, when the Raiders pushed out Bill Musgrave in order to make Downing offensive coordinator.
  • The Packers are expected to interview former Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack for the same role, per Jim Owczarski of PackersNews.com. Pollack was let go by Cincinnati despite excellent 2018 results, as new Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is reportedly eyeing Bill Callahan for his club’s OL coach gig. Green Bay, meanwhile, is on the hunt for a new offensive line coach after James Campen departed for Cleveland. 49ers assistant OL coach Adam Stenavich is already on the Packers’ radar, as San Francisco granted Green Bay interview permission on Wednesday.
  • Defensive assistant Scott McCurley won’t be retained as part of new Packers head coach Matt LaFleur‘s staff, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. McCurley was Green Bay’s assistant linebackers coach from 2014-17, but moved into a generic defensive assistant role prior to last season. Per Demovsky, McCurely should be a popular name around the league given his experience under multiple defensive coordinators in Green Bay.
  • Luke Getsy — who served as the Packers‘ wide receivers coach from 2016-17 — is a candidate to return to that position in Green Bay, tweets Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gestsy, 34, spent the 2018 season as the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State. The Packers sound as though they are simply waiting on an answer from Getsy, per Silverstein, who notes Getsy’s addition would give quarterback Aaron Rodgers a coach with whom he’s familiar.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Panthers, Jones, Tate, Boston

Following the tragic and unexpected death of offensive line coach Tony Sparano this week, the Vikings have made some adjustments to their coaching staff. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune reports (via Twitter) that the team will names Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko co-coaches for the offensive line.

Barone, who’s been working in the NFL since 2004, was the Vikings tight ends coach last season. With the reorganization of the coaching staff, senior offensive assistant (and former Raiders offensive coordinator) Todd Downing will take on the tight ends gig. Meanwhile, Janocko had previously served as the team’s assistant offensive line coach.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (via Twitter) that the team had also pursued former Vikings head coach Mike Tice for the offensive line job. We heard back in February that the 59-year-old was eyeing retirement.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Panthers right tackle Daryl Williams appeared to suffer a serious knee injury during practice today, writes Bryan Strickland of the team’s website. The 25-year-old reportedly went down following a “non-contact injury,” and he was later carted off the field. “He’s being evaluated,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “They’ll send him up to Charlotte where he can be closely looked at, and we’ll go from there. I’m not sure. I just know they’re going to take him up and evaluate him later today…Daryl is a solid young man, and he’s a big part of what we do. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.” If the 2017 second-team All-Pro ends up missing time, Rivera said 2017 second-round pick Taylor Moton will be given the chance to earn the starting gig.
  • Julio Jones saw several adjustments to his contract before reporting to Falcons training camp, writes Michael Davis Smith of ProFootballTalk.com. The star wideout will now earn a $4.4MM signing bonus thanks to his revised deal, while his 2018 and 2019 base salaries were reduced to $1.5MM and $2.9MM, respectively.
  • Lions wideout Golden Tate is entering the final season of his five-year, $31MM deal that was signed back in 2014. While the 29-year-old shouldn’t anticipate a similar payday as Brandin Cooks or Sammy Watkins, he’s still hoping the organization has some leftover money to keep him around. “I hope there’s some (money) left,” Tate told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press“Congratulations to all those guys who’ve gotten big deals. They definitely deserve it. I mean, all those players like Cooks and Sammy, they’re all hell of players. Who else? The guy who used to be in Chicago? Alshon (Jeffery). He got a payday, too. So congratulations to all those guys. I hope everyone who plays this game has an opportunity to earn a big payday. I’m happy for them.” Tate had another productive season in 2017, hauling in 92 receptions for 1,003 yards and five touchdowns.
  • We heard earlier this week that Tre Boston‘s deal with the Cardinals was worth $1.5MM (although this could be increased to $3MM). However, Pro Football Talk reports that the safety’s deal only contains $800K in guaranteed money. The deal also includes a number of incentives, including per-game bonuses, playing time bonuses, and Pro Bowl/statistical bonuses. The 26-year-old had a productive season for the Chargers last season, compiling 79 tackles, eight passes defended, and five interceptions in 16 games (15 starts).

Vikings To Hire Ex-Raiders OC Todd Downing

Todd Downing looks set for a homecoming venture. The recently dismissed Raiders offensive coordinator has landed a job with the Vikings, with Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reporting (on Twitter) he will serve as a senior offensive assistant and passing-game specialist.

Not only did the Vikings give Downing his first NFL opportunity, as an intern in 2001 when the future OC was just 21, but Downing is an Eden Prairie, Minn., native. The Vikings’ facility being located in Eden Prairie makes this a logical move for the 37-year-old assistant to rebound from a one-and-done stint as the Raiders’ OC.

Downing served as Oakland’s quarterbacks coach prior to ascending to OC in 2017, but the Raiders underwhelmed last season and turned back to Jon Gruden. Downing will join new OC John DeFilippo and QBs coach Kevin Stefanski as key staffers involved with Minnesota’s aerial attack. With each of these coaches under 40, and Mike Zimmer being a defensive-minded HC, the Vikings will have young voices in charge of their offense.

The Bears interviewed Downing in January for their QBs job but went in another direction. Downing’s work helping Derek Carr ascend to the position of MVP candidate in 2016 led to him becoming the Raiders’ OC. The Raiders proceeded to plummet from the No. 6 offense, their finish in 2016 under Bill Musgrave, to No. 17 during Downing’s year overseeing the unit.

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Bears Interviewing Todd Downing

Former Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing is interviewing to become the Bears’ next quarterbacks coach, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Adam Caplan of SiriusXM (Twitter link) reports that while Downing is indeed meeting about a position on Chicago’s offensive staff, the interview isn’t necessarily for the QBs coach vacancy.Todd Downing (vertical)

Downing, Oakland’s quarterbacks coach from 2015-16, lasted only a single season as the Raiders’ offensive play-caller before being fired along with head coach Jack Del Rio and the rest of the Oakland staff. During Downing’s short stint atop the offense, the Raiders slipped in yards (from sixth in 2016 to 17th in 2017), points (seventh to 23rd), and DVOA (eighth to 13th).

However, the 37-year-old Downing drew rave reviews for his work as quarterback Derek Carr‘s position coach during the latter’s second and third NFL campaigns. Carr undoubtedly posted the two best seasons of his four-year career with Downing as his tutor, a sign that Bears signal-caller Mitch Trubisky — the No. 2 overall selection in the 2017 draft — could thrive under Downing.

Downing isn’t the only candidate for Chicago’s quarterbacks coach vacancy, however, as Texans offensive assistant Pat O’Hara interviewed for the job today, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Mark Berman of FOX 26 first reported last week that Chicago could have interest in O’Hara, while Biggs added that an O’Hara addition wouldn’t necessarily mean that incumbent Bears QBs coach Dave Ragone moves on.

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Raiders Expected To Fire Todd Downing After 2017

The Raiders fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton earlier this week, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that offensive coordinator Todd Downing is coaching for his job. Per La Canfora, the Raiders are unlikely to bring Downing back for 2018, and while head coach Jack Del Rio — who received a lucrative extension prior to the season — is probably not going anywhere, it appears as if his staff will look quite different next year.

Todd Downing (vertical)

Downing was a hot offensive coordinator candidate last offseason and drew interest from multiple clubs. The Raiders ultimately decided to promote him after allowing former OC Bill Musgrave‘s contract to lapse, but their offense has taken a significant downturn with Downing at the helm.

Downing, 37, has had success as a quarterbacks coach in the past, serving in that capacity with the Lions from 2011-13, the Bills in 2014, and the Raiders from 2015-16. Under his tutelage, Derek Carr became one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but Carr has regressed this season and the offense is missing the big plays that it enjoyed under Musgrave. The offense ranks just 18th in offensive points scored, 21st in yards per game, 22nd in plays of 10 yards or more, 27th in rushing yards, and 21st in overall passing.La Canfora adds that Downing has not endeared himself to other coaches and front office members, which could help trigger his ouster.

If the team does look for a new OC in 2018, La Canfora names Mike McCoy as a potential candidate. Per La Canfora, McCoy has been approached by several teams who want him to work as a consultant for the duration of 2017, but he is unlikely to entertain any such advances. Instead, he will simply wait for the winter hiring period, when he will be one of the more coveted coordinators on the market.

Even if Del Rio does not hire McCoy, he is likely to seek someone with more experience in light of Downing’s disappointing first season.

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AFC West Notes: Broncos, Wolfe, Downing

The Broncos have lost some key auxiliary performers in recent weeks. Outside linebackers Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett could both be sidelined past Week 1, and defensive line rotation cog Billy Winn is out for the season after tearing an ACL. Denver’s offense received some bad news as well. Third-round pick Carlos Henderson will undergo thumb surgery that will shelve him for at least the remainder of the preseason and possibly into the regular season, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Henderson suffered the injury during the Broncos’ August opener against the Bears.

The Louisiana Tech standout was vying to become Denver’s No. 3 wide receiver but was struggling during camp. The Broncos were using Henderson at kick returner in Chicago. Henderson’s injury will create openings for incumbent pass-catchers Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler and Jordan Taylor in the coming weeks while potentially limiting the rookie’s assimilation.

Here’s the latest out of Denver and other AFC West cities.

  • It doesn’t look like Derek Wolfe will be undergoing surgery, but the sixth-year defensive end will likely be out for a few weeks. An ankle injury forced Wolfe to be carted off the practice field Saturday, but Wolfe informed ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson (Twitter link) he should be good to go for Week 1. That said, Denver’s left defensive end told Anderson his ankle is badly sprained and has a “slight tear.” Pending further examination, the Broncos do not believe this is a serious injury, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweets. Wolfe tweeted a picture of the afflicted ankle as well.
  • New Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing received the backing of mentor Mike Tice when it came time for Jack Del Rio to choose between Downing and previous OC Bill Musgrave. Tice helped bring Del Rio and Musgrave — who worked together for two years in Jacksonville — back together in 2015. But the Oakland offensive line coach agreed with Del Rio that losing Downing to a team that wanted him as OC wouldn’t be a smart move, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Tice oversaw Downing’s work when he was the Vikings’ head coach during the 2000s, eventually giving Downing his first coaching job in 2005. Musgrave’s contract was not renewed, and the longtime assistant is coaching the Broncos’ quarterbacks.
  • Tafur adds the close relationship between Downing and Derek Carr helped influence the decision and previously dictated the Sunday arrangements last season. Downing coached Carr on the sidelines while Musgrave operated from the booth. Carr said, via Tafur, he will have more freedom to improvise under Downing than he did in two seasons under Musgrave. However, this season will be the 37-year-old Downing’s first time calling plays at any level since he helped coach a Minneapolis-area ninth-grade team in 2002, Tafur adds.
  • Recently added offensive lineman Allen Barbre is competing with Max Garcia for the Broncos‘ starting left guard position, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post notes. Barbre has played both guard and tackle in his career but worked with the first unit in practice and could see time with the starters in Denver’s second preseason game, per Jhabvala. Garcia and Michael Schofield were the Broncos’ starters last season. Ronald Leary is the new right guard.
  • Ray’s target date for a return from wrist surgery is Week 3, when the Broncos make their first road trip of the season in a venture to Buffalo, Jhabvala reports. Former Saints edge defender Kasim Edebali and Vontarrius Dora are the top candidates to start opposite Von Miller come Week 1, should Barrett not make it back by then.
  • Chargers rookie Mike Williams is “running” and “doing well,” per Anthony Lynn, but remains without a firm timetable.

Staff Notes: Raiders, Bears, Bucs, Dolphins

New Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing had a year remaining on his deal, but the contract allowed the ex-quarterbacks coach to interview for other clubs’ offensive coordinator vacancies, according to Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune (Twitter link). Without naming any particular team, Downing confirmed previous reports that multiple clubs expressed interest in hiring him as OC. Instead, Oakland parted ways with former play-caller Bill Musgrave and installed Downing as coordinator.

Here’s more from the 201 hiring cycle:

  • The Bears have interviewed Bob Bicknell, Ronald Curry, and George McDonald as part of their effort to find a new wide receivers coach, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Bicknell has coached wideouts at the NFL level since 2012, spending time with Buffalo, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Curry, a former NFL wide receiver himself, has worked on the Raiders’ and 49ers’ staffs, while McDonald has spent the past several years in the coaching ranks.
  • Ex-Saints defensive assistant James Willis is a candidate for the Bears‘ assistant defensive line coach position and will interview this week, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. New Orleans relieved Willis of his duties last month after he’d spent two years with the club. Willis previously coached in the NCAA with Alabama, Auburn, and Texas Tech.
  • The Buccaneers announced that they’ve hired Danny Breyer as a defensive assistant. Breyer spent the 2016 campaign as an analytics staffer in Tampa Bay, worked for the Dolphins year prior, and coached in the college ranks before heading to the NFL.
  • The Dolphins have hired Josh Grizzard as an offensive quality control coach, tweets Caplan. Grizzard previously worked as an assistant quarterbacks and quality control coach at Duke, where he’d spent the past four years.

Coaching Rumors: Jets, Bills, Jaguars, Titans

Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville opted to stay in Denver rather than pursue the Jets‘ offensive coordinator vacancy, and New York’s hope to conduct a wide-ranging search for a new play-caller may have played a factor in Studesville declining to remain in contention, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, who adds that Studesville didn’t want to “lose a bird in the hand.” The Jets have “at least” three other candidates on their radar at the moment, per Cimini, and one name of interest could be Chiefs co-offensive coordinator Matt Nagy (though it’s not clear if the ESPN scribe is reporting or speculating). Kansas City would be able to block any interview request from New York, which could present a problem as Gang Green continues its hunt. The Jets also expressed interest in new Raiders OC Todd Downing before he was promoted from QBs coach, per Cimini.

Here’s more on the coaching front from around the NFL:

  • The Bills announced that they’ve hired Mike Waufle to serve as the club’s new defensive line coach. Under Waufle’s direction, the 2016 Rams defensive line ranked first against the run, according to Football Outsiders‘ adjusted line yards metric. Additionally, the Bills have released former DC Dennis Thurman and OL coach Aaron Kromer — both of whom were hired by ex-head coach Rex Ryan — from their respective contracts, per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter links).
  • Former Michigan running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley is joining the Jaguars staff, likely in the same capacity, tweets Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio. Jacksonville has already announced that several members of their offensive coaching staff — including play-caller Nathaniel Hackett — will remain in place under new head coach Doug Marrone, but the club has been silent of the fate of current RBs coach Kelly Skipper. Wheatley, who was under consideration for Western Michigan’s head coaching job, last coached in the NFL from 2013-14 with the Bills.
  • The Titans are not expected to hire any of the wide receivers coaches who have recently been fired around the league, according to Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. Tennessee, seeking to replace Bob Bratkowski, has already offered the WR job to Denver’s Tyke Tolbert, who declined the offer in order to remain with the Broncos.

Raiders To Promote Todd Downing To OC

Bill Musgrave is out in Oakland but the Raiders won’t be going out of house to look at candidates. Quarterbacks coach Todd Downing is being promoted to OC, Albert Breer of The MMQB tweetsTodd Downing (vertical)

[RELATED: Raiders Part Ways With OC Bill Musgrave]

Downing was a “hot” coach and had been contacted about “four or five jobs” around the league, a source tells Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Ultimately, the Raiders had to make a choice and they opted to bump up Dowling and let Musgrave’s contract lapse.

Downing, 36, first broke into the NFL coaching ranks as a low-level assistant with the Vikings in 2003. Since then, he steadily moved up the ladder with stops in St. Louis, Detroit, and Buffalo before landing in Oakland. Downing got some good football out of Matthew Stafford when he was the Lions’ QB coach and the league has taken notice of what Downing has been able to do recently with Derek Carr.

Given that the Raiders acted quickly to fill their offensive coordinator vacancy, only one club — the Jets — is currently looking for a new offensive play-caller on offense. Follow all the latest coordinator news by bookmarking PFR’s Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Tracker.

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