Troy Walters

Coaching Notes: Kitchens, 49ers, Bucs

Freddie Kitchens will see his role expand in New York. The Giants are promoting the former Browns HC from tight ends coach to senior offensive assistant, according to ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan (on Twitter). Earlier this month, we heard the Giants may be eyeing more responsibility for Kitchens. Derek Dooley, who received interest from other teams, will take over as the Giants’ tight ends coach, Raanan adds. Previously the Mizzou offensive coordinator, Dooley joined Joe Judge‘s staff last year. The Giants used Kitchens as their interim play-caller while Jason Garrett battled COVID-19 last season and will lean on him more in 2021.

Here is the latest from the coaching circuit:

  • To replace Antwaan Randle El on their coaching staff, the Buccaneers will also turn to a recently retired quarterback. Thad Lewis will rise from intern to offensive assistant on Bruce Arians‘ staff, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Randle El left to become the Lions’ wide receivers coach. Lewis bounced around the NFL for nearly eight years; he was most recently with the Ravens in 2017.
  • A day after hiring Jay Valai as cornerbacks coach, the Eagles will lose him. Alabama will instead hire Valai, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg (on Twitter). Announced as one of the Eagles’ hires earlier this week, Valai will join former Texans HC Bill O’Brien at Alabama. Valai will replace Karl Scott as the Crimson Tide’s cornerbacks coach. Scott joined the Vikings’ staff this week.
  • Hired recently after a one-year stint as Lions DC, Cory Undlin will serve as the 49ers‘ secondary coach and defensive passing-game specialist. Fellow former DC James Bettcher will be a senior defensive assistant and the team’s run-game overseer on that side of the ball. The 49ers are promoting Darryl Tapp to assistant defensive line coach and hiring former wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and Klay Kubiak as quality control assistants. Klay is one of Gary Kubiak‘s sons. Even after Gary’s retirement, there are still three Kubiaks in the NFL — Klay and brothers Klint (the new Vikings OC) and Klein (a Cowboys scout). Hankerson also has a history with Kyle Shanahan, having played with Washington from 2011-13.
  • The Bengals hired Justin Hill as running backs coach. Hill will come to Cincinnati from the college ranks, having spent the past six seasons as Tulsa’s running backs coach. This will be his first NFL job. The Bengals are also promoting former NFL wideout Troy Walters to receivers coach. Walters served as Cincy’s assistant wideouts coach last season, working under Bob Bicknell.
  • Robert Saleh made an interesting hire recently. The new Jets HC added Steve Scarnecchia as his chief of staff, per Brian Costello of the New York Daily News. The son of longtime Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Steve spent the past six years as the Falcons’ assistant to the head coach. Steve Scarnecchia was part of both the Patriots’ Spygate scandal, working in the team’s video department from 2001-04, and was the Broncos staffer whose filming of a 49ers walkthrough in 2010 led to Josh McDaniels‘ firing in Denver. The younger Scarnecchia will accompany new Jets DC Jeff Ulbrich in moving from Atlanta to New York.

AFC North Notes: Garrett, Bengals, Ravens

Myles Garrett crossed a key item off his rather important offseason to-do list, meeting with Roger Goodell about a potential reinstatement. That was only a step, however. The now-polarizing Browns defensive end must now wait on the NFL to determine if he’s met reinstatement requirements, per Mark Maske of the Washington Post (on Twitter). No timetable exists on this front, but Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer expects a reinstatement soon. The expectation remains for Garrett to return to action in 2020, his fourth season, but it is not certain if he will be able to participate in all of Cleveland’s offseason program.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • The Browns having hired Kevin Stefanski as head coach and added Alex Van Pelt as OC may prompt them to leave one key staff position vacant. Stefanski and Van Pelt’s experience coaching quarterbacks might move the Browns to forgo the hiring of a quarterbacks coach, Cabot writes. Stefanski and Van Pelt have 17 combined seasons coaching NFL quarterbacks. The Browns’ hire of 2019 Broncos QBs coach T.C. McCartney as an offensive assistant may further convince Stefanski the team is covered on quarterback coaches.
  • The NFL’s other Ohio team did some hiring recently, adding two coaches to Zac Taylor‘s staff. Former NFL wide receiver Troy Walters is now the Bengals‘ wideouts coach, the team announced. The team also brought in another coach with 21st-century NFL experience, hiring Colt Anderson as its assistant special teams coach. Walters played eight seasons, from 2000-07. His most notable work came for some high-powered Colts teams in the mid-aughts. Walters, who has yet to coach in the NFL, spent 2018-19 as Nebraska’s offensive coordinator. Taylor is ex-Cornhuskers quarterback and coach. Anderson spent time with the Eagles, Colts and Bills from 2010-17. This will be his first NFL coaching gig.
  • Expected to place the franchise tag on A.J. Green, the Bengals will likely accelerate negotiations with the star wideout between the tag window, per Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic (subscription required). Teams can apply tags to players from Feb. 25-March 10. Green has voiced opposition to being tagged in advance of his age-32 season and pointed to a likely holdout, though he has stopped short of saying he would not play on the $18.5MM tag. Green’s recent injury history and the Bengals’ likely reluctance to offer a highly guaranteed contract leads Dehner to predict the seven-time Pro Bowler will play 2020 on the tag.
  • Chuck Clark‘s extension agreement makes Tony Jefferson‘s Ravens departure a matter of when, not if, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Lost for the season in early October, Jefferson missed the bulk of Baltimore’s 12-game win streak. The Ravens releasing the three-year safety starter would save them $7MM in 2020, the final year of Jefferson’s contract. Clark will then expected to reprise his role alongside Earl Thomas next season.