Tony Elliott

Six OC Candidates Emerge For Dolphins

The Dolphins are moving quickly on their third offensive coordinator search in three years. They have identified six candidates to succeed Chan Gailey, and some will be interviewing for the position.

Steelers quarterbacks coach Matt Canada interviewed for the post Thursday, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The team has also identified Chargers QBs coach Pep Hamilton and 49ers run-game coordinator Mike McDaniel as OC options, according to ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe, who adds Dolphin position coaches Eric Studesville and George Godsey will be considered as well (Twitter link).

Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott also emerged on Miami’s radar, but veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson reports (via Twitter) the college assistant has opted against making a move to the pros at this time. The Titans also reached out to Elliott about their OC job, which Arthur Smith may well vacate soon given his interview frequency thus far, but Dabo Swinney‘s top offensive assistant will stay put in South Carolina.

Of this group, only Hamilton and Godsey have been NFL OCs previously. Hamilton spent three years in that role, serving as Colts OC from 2013-15. Godsey became the Dolphins’ quarterbacks coach during the season, Wolfe tweets. He served as Bill O’Brien‘s OC in Houston from 2015-16 but has been a position coach since. Hamilton is coming off a notable year, with Justin Herbert developing from a player expected to sit behind Tyrod Taylor for a while into an Offensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner.

McDaniel has worked with Kyle Shanahan with multiple teams; the 49ers assistant also popped up on the radar during the Browns’ most recent HC search. Studesville has been with the Dolphins in each of Brian Flores‘ two seasons at the helm. He served as Broncos interim HC in 2010 and was retained by multiple Denver HCs to stay on as running backs coach, a title he currently holds in Miami.

Canada spent more than two decades as a college coach before making the move to the Steelers last year. From 2003-18, Canada served as offensive coordinator at eight colleges — including LSU, Wisconsin and Maryland.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Coaches, GMs, Schedule, OTAs

After the NFL expanded the Rooney Rule this offseason, it has a “ready list” of minority candidates for head coaching jobs, offensive and defensive coordinator positions and GM candidates, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Beyond some of the big names — Eric Bieniemy, Marvin Lewis, Todd Bowles, Leslie Frazier among them — coaches like Clemson OC Tony Elliott, Penn State HC James Franklin and Michigan State HC Mel Tucker appear on the HC portion of the list. On the GM side, some first-time candidates include Bills pro scouting director Malik Boyd, Raiders pro scouting director Dwayne Joseph, Ravens exec Vincent Newsome and Chargers player personnel director JoJo Wooden. Former Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson — now the franchise’s pro scouting director — also appears on the GM portion of the list. The Rooney Rule now mandates teams interview two minority HC candidates and expanded the rule to include coordinator positions. Franchises must also open their senior-level executive jobs to minority and female candidates.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Normal NFL offseasons feature several weeks’ worth of OTAs preceding a June minicamp, but the NFLPA would like a schedule that looks closer to this year’s virtual offseason. Union executive director DeMaurice Smith said “there is absolutely no reason” for the NFL to return to full-scale OTAs, per Sports Business Daily’s Ben Fischer (subscription required). Having seen no decline in performance after this atypical offseason, union president J.C. Tretter agrees with Smith. This would be a stretch for coaching staffs, which have steadily seen their time with players cut back. The past two CBA agreements have significantly limited offseason and padded training camp workouts, and 2020’s COVID-19-altered offseason created steeper acclimation challenges for young players.
  • The NFL has agreed to a formula for its 17th regular-season game, making it increasingly likely this season will be the last one of the 16-game era. In what will be the first shift to the league’s scheduling setup since 2002, the 17-game schedule will feature a fifth interconference game. The schedule will pit an AFC division winner against an NFC division winner, and on down the line within each division, but the extra interconference game will not feature two teams who played the previous year, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. In the event the NFL moves to the 17-game season in 2021, the Chiefs and Buccaneers could not play again next season; the earliest such a regular-season rematch would occur would be 2022.
  • Roger Goodell may well be on board with shortening the preseason slate from four games to two. The commissioner “seemed in favor” of halving the preseason schedule at last week’s owners meetings, according to ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham, but some high-profile owners are not. Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, John Mara and Art Rooney II dismissed the idea of going from three preseason games — the new number as of the 2020 CBA — to two, according to ESPN. No vote occurred on the matter, though Goodell discussing the idea publicly points to it remaining an issue going forward.

Panthers Pursued Clemson OC Tony Elliott For HC Job

It was not hard to see the candidate atop the Panthers’ list to succeed Ron Rivera. The team gave Matt Rhule a seven-year, $62MM deal to lead a rebuild.

But the Panthers identified another college coach they wanted to meet with during their hiring process this offseason. Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott landed on Carolina’s radar, with Tom Pelissero of NFL.com noting the Panthers wanted to interview the longtime Dabo Swinney assistant for their HC position.

Elliott declined the interview, but this marks the former Clemson wide receiver’s first major connection to an NFL jump. The Panthers did extensive research on the 40-year-old assistant, per Pelissero, and that intel may be relevant at some point down the road. Joe Brady has impressed in his first season as Carolina’s OC and may well land an interview with a team in 2021, even though he is 31 and has only been a coordinator for half a season. Carolina’s staff is filled with recent college coaches, with Rhule naming Brady and longtime lieutenant Phil Snow as offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively, this year.

Elliott has been with Clemson since the 2011 season, rising from the Tigers’ running backs coach to a co-offensive coordinator post during Deshaun Watson‘s ascent to the team’s solo OC this season. Considering Clemson’s status as one of college football’s powers — a relatively new status for the ACC program — Elliott is bound to receive more interest from NFL teams to move up to a pro coordinator or HC post.