Tony Sparano Jr.

Coaching Notes: Steelers, Cowboys, Giants

The Steelers made a key staff change last week, promoting Matt Canada to replace offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. But the team will not part ways with DC Keith Butler. The longtime Pittsburgh coordinator agreed to terms on a one-year extension Wednesday, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter). Butler has overseen Pittsburgh’s defense since the franchise split with Dick LeBeau in 2015, and while Butler’s units as a whole have not measured up to his predecessor’s Super Bowl-winning crews, the Steelers have led the NFL in sacks in each of the past four seasons and have ranked in the top three in DVOA in each of the past two.

Here is the latest out on the Pittsburgh staff and other coaching groups around the league:

  • Although the Steelers are coming off another home playoff defeat, Mike Tomlin does not appear to have moved toward a hot seat. Steelers ownership is not believed to have any desire to move away from Tomlin, per The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette (subscription required). Tomlin had the Steelers at 11-0 this season and managed to have last year’s largely Ben Roethlisberger-less team at 8-8, leading to Coach of the Year consideration in both cases. However, the Steelers lost five of their final six games this year and have lost home playoff games three times since 2014. Tomlin is signed through the 2021 season.
  • The Giants became the second team in two years to call on Dave DeGuglielmo as a late replacement as an offensive line coach, but the arrangement looks to have been temporary. Like the Dolphins last year, the Giants will not look to retain DeGuglielmo for a second season. They are searching for a new O-line coach, Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets. DeGuglielmo came to New York on an interim basis to replace Marc Colombo, whom Joe Judge fired this season.
  • The Panthers will turn to a legacy name to help out their offensive line. Carolina intends to hire Tony Sparano Jr. as assistant O-line coach, according to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The son of the late Tony Sparano, Sparano Jr. worked as the Jaguars’ assistant O-line coach for the past four seasons. Despite being 34, the second-generation coach has worked in the NFL since 2011.
  • Jim Harbaugh will poach one of his brother’s assistants. Ravens linebackers coach Mike MacDonald will become Michigan’s co-defensive coordinator, with Yahoo.com’s Pete Thamel reporting former Cowboys defensive backs coach Maurice Linguist will move to Ann Arbor, Mich., to share in that responsibility (Twitter link). Macdonald, 33, was with the Ravens for seven seasons — the past three as linebackers coach. Linguist has spent much of his career in the college ranks but was on Nolan’s staff in Dallas this season.
  • Another of Quinn’s Cowboys staffers became known Wednesday. The Cowboys hired Aden Durde as defensive line coach. Durde will follow Quinn from Atlanta, where he was most recently the Falcons’ outside linebackers coach. Durde, who spent time with the Cowboys as part of the Minority Fellowship Program from 2014-15, will join Joe Whitt Jr. in following Quinn from Atlanta to Dallas.
  • Arthur Smith‘s first¬†Falcons¬†staff will not include offensive line coach Chris Morgan, according to SI.com’s Albert Breer (on Twitter). Morgan worked with the Falcons for six years, initially serving under OC Kyle Shanahan. Given that offensive scheme’s presence in a few NFL cities, Morgan profiles as an interesting coaching free agent.

Staff Notes: Bills, Saints, Jags, Broncos, Jets

The Bills’ hiring of offensive coordinator Rick Dennison on Thursday is “very good news” for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said Friday on NFL Network (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). While it previously appeared Taylor was on the outs in Buffalo, which faces a March 11 deadline to retain him for a guaranteed $30.75MM, it would “make no sense” for the team to change QBs after landing Dennison, per Rapoport. Dennison worked as Taylor’s position coach with the Ravens in 2014 and then served as the O-coordinator in Denver, which made a push to sign Taylor in free agency before he headed to the Bills in March 2015. With Dennison now in Buffalo, Rapoport expects the Bills to continue with Taylor, though he notes that they could first restructure his contract.

More coaching-related updates:

  • Ex-49ers head coach Jim Tomsula interviewed for the Saints’ open defensive line coach job earlier this week, multiple sources told Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. Tomsula was only at the helm in San Francisco for one year, a five-win 2015, but he was a successful D-line coach with the franchise from 2007-14.
  • Former Jaguars great Keenan McCardell will interview to become their wide receivers coach, according to Hays Carlyon of 1010XL. McCardell most recently coached the Redskins’ receivers from 2014-15, but he’s best known for his illustrious career as an NFL wideout from 1992-2007. Most of McCardell’s success came in Jacksonville, where he hauled in 499 passes and 30 touchdowns between 1996-2001. All told, McCardell combined for 883 catches and 63 scores with five teams.
  • The Broncos are set to name Geep Chryst their tight ends coach, reports Marvez (Twitter link). Chryst is familiar with Denver’s offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, as the two were together in Carolina from 2006-08. His highest-profile work came as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator in 2015 (under the aforementioned Tomsula).
  • The Jets have hired Robert Nunn as their defensive line coach, tweets Marvez. Nunn previously held the same position in Cleveland, which fired him Tuesday.
  • The Bills have tabbed Andrew Dees as their assistant offensive line coach, writes Zac Jackson of Pro Football Talk. Dees also handled that role with the Bills in 2012 before serving on the Chargers’ staff from 2013-15. In his second stint in Buffalo, he’ll work under newly hired O-line coach Juan Castillo.
  • Dees is replacing Tony Sparano Jr., whom the Jaguars have hired as their assistant O-line coach, relays Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link).