Tom Clements

Cardinals To Hire Clements; Won’t Add OC?

The Cardinals interviewed Tom Clements for their offensive coordinator post but will be bringing him aboard with a different title.

Arizona will add Clements as its quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). At this point, the Cardinals are not expected to fill the position of offensive coordinator, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Kliff Kingsbury is essentially going to serve in that role, with the 65-year-old Clements now set to play a key part in assisting the first-time NFL coach. The plan will be for Kingsbury to call plays but Clements to assist him in game plans and other facets, per the Arizona Republic’s Bob McManaman. Clements’ primary role will be developing Josh Rosen.

Should the Cardinals go without an OC, it will mark an interesting conclusion to a lengthy process. The franchise interviewed four coaches — Clements, Jim Bob Cooter, Hue Jackson and John DeFilippo — for the role and sought meetings with other coaches that did not end up taking place. The Cards were initially connected to an all-college group, with Texas State HC Jake Spavital mentioned as a candidate. The team also wanted to interview 49ers assistant Mike McDaniel and former Falcons OC Steve Sarkisian. Neither came to pass, and the search moved on to names like Cooter, Clements, DeFilippo and Jackson this week.

Clements, 65, has coached at the NFL level since 1997. He served as an OC or assistant head coach with the Packers and Bills, the latter from 2004-05 and the former from 2012-16. Clements has not coached in the league since his 11-season Packers tenure ended. Prior to ascending to Green Bay’s OC role, Clements coached Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers as QBs coach for six seasons.

This will be the sixth franchise with which Clements has been employed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Interview Tom Clements For OC

The Cardinals interviewed longtime NFL assistant Tom Clements for their OC job on Tuesday, sources tell Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Cardinals have cast a fairly wide net in their search already, but Clements could conceivably get the nod over the rest of the pack. 

Clements’ only experience as an offensive coordinator came in 2004-2005 with the Bills. However, he has coached a handful of Pro Bowl QBs, including Packers star Aaron Rodgers, so he could present himself as a strong choice to guide youngster Josh Rosen in Arizona. Even if Clements doesn’t get the OC gig, he’ll be in strong consideration for another job on the staff, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears.

The Cardinals also have former Lions OC Jim Bob Cooter and former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo in the mix. John DeFilippo interviewed for the job, but he has since been snatched up by the Jaguars. Kliff Kingsbury may also be eyeing Texas State head coach Jake Spavital for the position, but it’s not clear if he’ll get a formal interview or whether the Cardinals would be comfortable with an inexperienced 30-something OC.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Notes: Thompson, Montgomery, Lacy

The idea of Packers general manager Ted Thompson taking a lesser role has come up, but it doesn’t appear it’s going to happen this offseason. Thompson is “not going anywhere,” head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters, including Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin, on Thursday (Twitter link). The 64-year-old Thompson, who McCarthy acknowledged is “not the youngest cat anymore,” has been the GM in Green Bay since 2005. The team has made nine playoff trips, including eight in a row, and won a Super Bowl during Thompson’s 12-year run.

More from Green Bay, whose season ended with a 44-21 NFC title game loss in Atlanta last Sunday:

  • Tom Clements, who had been a member of the Packers’ coaching staff since 2006, was on an expiring contract this season and “is going to move on to some other interests,” according to McCarthy (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). “That will be the one change to our staff,” commented McCarthy. Clements last worked as an associate head coach and had previously been Green Bay’s offensive coordinator, but McCarthy took play-calling duties from him in December 2015.
  • After a stunningly effective 2016 as a running back, Ty Montgomery will remain at the position going forward, McCarthy revealed (Twitter link via Wilde). “He’s a running back. He wants to change his number, and that’s the way we’re going,” McCarthy said of Montgomery, a former wide receiver who currently wears No. 88. Montgomery broke out in earnest as a rusher with a nine-carry, 60-yard showing against the Bears in Week 6, and the 24-year-old ultimately totaled 457 yards and three touchdowns on 77 attempts (a healthy 5.9 YPC).
  • Eddie Lacy‘s injury issues were a key reason why the Pack turned to Montgomery out of the backfield in the first place. Lacy, who only played in five games this season before ankle surgery forced him to injured reserve in late October, is scheduled to become a free agent in March. That means the four-year veteran could be done in Green Bay, but McCarthy hopes not. “I’d love to see him back,” said McCarthy, who added that the team won’t decide whether to re-sign Lacy until he “clears the medical threshold” (via Demovsky).

Packers Notes: Lacy, Matthews, McCarthy

In his end-of-season press conference, Mike McCarthy gave Eddie Lacy an ultimatum of sorts after the third-year running back endured his worst season.

Eddie Lacy, he’s got a lot of work to do. His offseason last year was not good enough, and he never recovered from it,” McCarthy told media, including ESPN.com’s Jason Wilde. “He cannot play at the weight he was at this year.”

Lacy’s yardage total decreased considerably from two upper-echelon campaigns in 2013-14, with the former second-round pick rushing for 758 yards (4.1 per carry) on 187 totes — 59 fewer than last season and 97 fewer than his offensive rookie of the year slate.

2015 also brought three games where Lacy came off the bench, once as a result of missing curfew in Detroit and being outright demoted in favor of James Starks earlier.

Here are some more takeaways from the Packers coach’s presser.

  • Green Bay will look to move Clay Matthews back to outside linebacker after spending more than a season inside, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com reports. Matthews spent the entire season on the inside of the Packers’ 3-4 look after moving there due to thinning talent at the position in 2014. “My goal with Clay is to play outside linebacker,” McCarthy said. “The matchup part of it was really always my goal. There’s things he does at that position that he’ll continue to do. He’s an outside linebacker and we need to get back to him playing there and just playing inside when needed.” Matthews’ sack total plummeted to 6.5 after the former All-Pro accrued 10+ sacks in four separate seasons as an outside backer. Playing 16 games, Matthews graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 39th-best inside linebacker, which was still a Packers-best but well below his usual strata. Outside backers Mike Neal and Nick Perry are free agents.
  • McCarthy also won’t be delegating play-calling responsibilities like he did for most of this season, the 10th-year coach announced, via Wilde. He also plans to retain assistant head coach Tom Clements, who was given play-calling autonomy this year before McCarthy reclaimed it. “That was a big change. Different kind of change. The structure was different offensively,” McCarthy said. “What I was trying to accomplish, being balanced, that part was accomplished with special teams and defense. Offensively, the structure was part of the failure on offense.”
  • Jeff Janis did not see the field for most of the season due to early-season struggles, necessitating a meeting with McCarthy, via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The former Division II wide receiver caught seven passes for 145 yards against the Cardinals after hauling in just two all season. “Look for them to take a big jump second year. Jeff and Jared Abbrederis need to earn their opportunities to get on the field,” McCarthy said.

Extra Points: Nkemdiche, Henry, McCarthy, Kelly

Consensus top-10 pick Robert Nkemdiche remains in stable condition after a fall from a hotel room window in Atlanta, David Ching of ESPN.com reports.

Reports varied over the nature of the Ole Miss junior defensive lineman’s fall, with this tweet indicating the Atlanta police said Nkemdiche fell from a fourth-floor window. But according to Ching’s report, police indicated this was a one-story fall of approximately 15 feet.

Per Ching, Nkemdiche appeared to have broken the window, climbed over another wall before falling to the ground. A small amount of “suspected marijuana” was present inside the room.

Matt Miller of Bleacher Report projects Nkemdiche to go fourth in the 2016 draft, and Mel Kiper Jr. lists the former No. 1 overall recruit as his No. 5 prospect.

Here are some additional news items on draft prospects and other news from around the league.

  • Character issues are affecting Nkemdiche’s perception among NFL decision-makers, Miller reports (video link). Miller, however, cautions that demoting character risks can be costly, considering Justin Houston and Tyrann Mathieu‘s rapid rises.
  • Alabama running back Derrick Henry won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player, but that doesn’t automatically mean he will be a high draft pick, writes Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. He spoke with former scout Dan Hatman, who has Henry rated between his 100th and 150th best prospect, citing his reliance on blocking, poor change of direction, and a heavy college workload as reasons to be wary of overrating the top college running back.
  • Mike McCarthy notified associate head coach Tom Clements on Monday he’d be reassuming control of calling the Packers‘ plays, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports. The 10th-year Packers coach was following the advice of others in the organization urging him to do so, but McCarthy demurred initially because of fear it would make Clements and offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett look bad, Demovsky notes. Entering Sunday’s game, the Packers ranked 22nd in offense and 26th in third-down conversions. They rushed for 230 yards against the Cowboys. Clements last called plays for the Drew Bledsoe-era Bills in the mid-2000s. “The personal part of it was brutal,” McCarthy told media regarding Clements’ demotion. “Professionally, I felt like I had to do it. I was worried about making sure I was going to do my job good.”
  • Chip Kelly denied calling LeSean McCoy this week, an alleged phone call that resulted in the former Eagles running back hanging up on his ex-coach. “When people want to make up false stories about me calling people up during the week and them hanging up on me – people (are) trying to get Twitter hits or things like that and make themselves significant,” Kelly told media. The Philadelphia Inquirer stands by the story, the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane writes. Kelly attempted to call McCoy after news of the trade with the Bills in March, however.
  • Gus Bradley‘s job should be safe after the Jaguars‘ 51-16 thrashing of the Colts, O’Halloran writes. O’Halloran believes Bradley was on thin ice prior to this performance, but notching his fifth victory and first over the Colts puts the former Seahawks DC on firm ground in O’Halloran’s mind.
  • A 2011 loss in Jacksonville prompted Jim Irsay to fire Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell, and Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star wonders if the Colts‘ owner’s reached his decision to fire Chuck Pagano after allowing the 5-8 Jaguars to put up 51 points. In his contract’s final year, Pagano seems a pretty safe bet for a Black Monday headline.
  • Next week’s must-win for the Colts could feature career backup Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback, Kevin Bowen of Colts.com writes. With Andrew Luck throwing but not yet practicing and Matt Hasselbeck exiting Sunday’s rout early, next week’s Colts-Texans game could double as Whitehurst’s second-biggest career start, after the infamous Week 17 2010 game that clinched the 7-9 Seahawks’ playoff berth. The 33-year-old Whitehurst has made nine career starts, including five last season with the Titans.

Rob Dire contributed to this report. 

NFC Notes: Packers, Saints, Eagles

A look around the NFC. . .

  • Although the Packers’ offense is slumping, head coach Mike McCarthy said after Sunday’s 18-16 loss to Detroit that he won’t take play-calling duties away from coordinator Tom Clements. “I like the way our staff works, and I like the way they work with our players,” McCarthy stated, per ESPN’s Jason Wilde. McCarthy called Green Bay’s offensive plays from 2006-14 before deciding to give the role to Clements this year.
  • The 4-6 Saints are entering their bye week, and Larry Holder of NOLA.com writes that it’s the perfect time for head coach Sean Payton to fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and give Ryan’s job to defensive assistant Dennis Allen. Payton brought in Allen after Ryan’s defense finished 31st in the league last season. Led by Ryan, the Saints have allowed 130 points over the last three weeks – including 47 in an embarrassing defeat in Washington on Sunday. Afterward, Payton said that “we’re not going to discuss any of those types of changes, certainly not right now.”
  • While Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford hasn’t been particularly good this year, Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer submits that Sunday’s output by backup Mark Sanchez was a prime example of why nobody should call for Sanchez to take over the starting job. After an injured Bradford left the Eagles’ game against Miami with Philadelphia leading 16-13, Sanchez came in and failed to help the team to victory – even throwing a costly interception – in a 20-19 defeat. The season’s on the brink for the 4-5 Eagles, and Sielski doesn’t expect their playoff chances to stay alive for long if Bradford misses time and Sanchez has to be the No. 1 signal caller.
  • Jeff McLane of the Inquirer believes that Eagles head coach and football czar Chip Kelly‘s decision to trade for Bradford in the offseason was a worthy gamble. However, Kelly could be done in by his failure to surround Bradford with a sturdier offensive line and better receivers, McLane opines.

Packers Announce Coaching Changes

12:05pm: McCarthy confirmed at his press conference that Clements will call the offensive plays for the Packers in 2015, tweets Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

11:58am: The Packers have confirmed a handful of previously reported coaching changes, announcing today in a press release that the team has made changes on both sides of the ball, and named a pair of new special teams assistants as well. The new titles on Mike McCarthy‘s staff are as follows:

  • Tom Clements: Associate head coach/offense
  • Edgar Bennett: Offensive coordinator
  • Alex Van Pelt: Quarterbacks and wide receivers coach
  • Mike Solari: Assistant offensive line coach
  • Jerry Montgomery: Defensive front assistant
  • Ron Zook: Special teams coordinator
  • Jason Simmons: Assistant special teams coach

While the press release doesn’t mention anything about the Packers’ offensive play calls, McCarthy is expected to hand over the reins on play-calling to Clements as part of his promotion. Clements had previously been Green Bay’s offensive coordinator, while McCarthy called the plays, and now it appears that Bennett will be the OC while Clements calls plays.

McCarthy will speak to local reporters at the top of the hour to confirm the changes.

Packers To Make OC Change

7:20pm: The Packers have decided to shake up their offensive staff, elevating Clements to associate head coach and moving Bennett to replace him at offensive coordinator, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports.

The most notable change from this reshuffling: Clements will accept the play-calling reins from McCarthy. These increased roles could make it easier for Packers assistants to receive head-coaching interviews, Rapoport tweeted  Sunday after McCarthy questioned why his top staffers were never the “hot candidates,” in a January Rapoport account.

A former running back in Green Bay, Bennett coached the receivers the past four years after presiding over the running backs in the previous six seasons. The Packers have continued to produce top-flight receiving corps despite losses of key homegrown cogs Donald Driver (retirement), Greg Jennings (signed with the Vikings in 2013) and James Jones (UFA-Vikings in 2014).

Homegrown talents Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb combined for 25 receiving scores this season, and both landed on Pro Bowl rosters.

4:36 pm: The Packers 2014 season was a successful one by most standards, as the club won 12 games and finished first in the NFC North. A devastating loss to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game looms over Green Bay, however, and the team is now reportedly considering changes to its coaching staff. Sources tell Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com that head coach Mike McCarthy is “looking at different possibilities” with regards to altering his staff’s responsibilities, with once such scenario entailing him relinquishing play-calling duties.

Radio station 104.5 The Fan in Green Bay reported (Twitter link) that offensive coordinator Tom Clements is set to be promoted to associate head coach and will be handed the job of calling plays, while current receivers coach Edgar Bennett would shift to OC. Demovsky couldn’t confirm that exact structural change, and added that nothing has been finalized yet. Still, sources tell the ESPN scribe that McCarthy has privately noted the difficulty of managing the day-to-day operations of the team while also tending to play-calling, so the staff changes shouldn’t come as a surprise.

McCarthy, the Packers’ HC since 2006, has called the offensive plays for the duration of his reign in Green Bay. The offensive unit has been consistently above-average, finishing no lower than 11th in DVOA since 2007, including two No. 1 finishes (2011 and 2014). Clements has been on the Packers’ coaching staff since 2006, as well, acting as the QB coach from ’06-’12, then taking over as OC in 2013 following the departure of Joe Philbin. He was the play-caller for the Bills from 2004-05.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

North Notes: Browns, Martz, Packers, Vikes

The Browns‘ search for an offensive coordinator appears to have been one of the league’s more expansive hunts so far, with nearly a dozen candidates linked to the position at some point, though many have since found other jobs. Still, perhaps no name among Cleveland’s candidates is more surprising than the one Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets today. According to Rapoport, former Rams head coach Mike Martz recently interviewed with the Browns for their OC job. A source tells Alex Marvez of Fox Sports (Twitter link) that Martz is indeed interested in returning to coaching after essentially being retired since leaving the Bears after the 2011 season.

Here’s more on the Browns and a few other teams from out of the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • It’s not clear if the Browns have requested permission to interview him at this point, but Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements is on the club’s radar, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. While a move to Cleveland’s offensive coordinator job would technically be a lateral move for Clements, he doesn’t currently call the plays in Green Bay, with head coach Mike McCarthy handling that role.
  • In the wake of the Packers’ loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, right tackle Bryan Bulaga wasn’t ready on Monday to speculate about whether or not he’ll be back in Green Bay next season, as Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. “Right now, I’m really not even thinking about it to be honest with you. That’s really the last thing on my mind,” Bulaga said. “It’s a ‘we’ll see what happens’ kind of deal. This just ended yesterday. It’s kind of hard to look at it right now.”
  • With 14 players, including Bulaga, eligible for free agency this offseason, the Packers almost certainly won’t be able to retain everyone, but the “dream scenario” is to re-sign as many of those potential FAs as they can, says Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap takes a look at some of the notable upcoming offseason decisions facing the Vikings, identifying Greg Jennings‘ deal as one worth restructuring, and Adrian Peterson and Chad Greenway as likely cap casualties.
  • In addition to working out Shawn Lemon, who signed a contract, and Delvin Breaux, whose tryout was previously reported, the Steelers also auditioned offensive linemen Brett Jones and Erle Ladson, punter Kasey Redfern, and kicker Jake Rogers, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.