Tyrone McKenzie

Coaching Notes: Titans, Lions, Browns, Panthers

The Titans have fired linebackers coach Tyrone McKenzie, according to veteran reporter Paul Kuharsky (via Twitter). The 2009 third-rounder will be moving on to a role on the Lions staff (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com).

Following an underwhelming playing career, McKenzie joined the Rams as an assistant special teams coach during the 2017 season. He joined the Tennessee coaching staff prior to the 2018 campaign, and he’s been in the role for the past two seasons.

The 45-year-old has plenty of familiarity with Lions head coach Matt Patricia, as Patricia served as the Patriots linebackers coach during McKenzie’s stint as a player in New England. He’ll presumably take on a role with the linebackers in Detroit.

Let’s check out some more coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • The Browns are hiring Jeff Howard as their passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach, reports NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). Howard, who spent the previous seven seasons with the Vikings organization, has worked with head coach Kevin Stefanski. He’ll be joining a defensive coaching staff that’s expected to be helmed by 49ers defensive backs coach Joe Woods, who’s expected to be named defensive coordinator.
  • After spending the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Baylor, Phil Snow recently joined the Panthers in the same position. The veteran coach spoke with media members yesterday, and he discussed the role that new Panthers head coach (and former Baylor head coach) Matt Rhule played in his hiring. “Well, I’ve known Coach Rhule since 2001, and our roles have completely changed,” Snow said (via the team’s website). “He was my graduate assistant when I was a defensive coordinator at UCLA, and now I’m working for him. We’ve got great respect for each other, he’s really a good football man, really a good head football coach. Players like him, he gets to know them, but we’ve just had a great relationship. When he took the Carolina job, he asked me if I’d come as a coordinator and I said yes, so here we are.”
  • We learned yesterday that veteran Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia had decided to retire.

Coaching Notes: Lions, Vikings, Colts, Titans

Dean Pees “retired” as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator earlier this year before joining the Titans in the same role on Monday, but Tennessee wasn’t the only club that expressed interest in the veteran coach over the past several weeks. The Lions, who are expected to formally hire Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia following the Super Bowl, also discussed a job offer with Pees, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Pees and Patricia have a working relationship, as they coached together in New England from 2004-09, so the connection makes sense. Detroit, which is expected to revamps its entire defensive staff once Patricia officially comes on board, is reportedly interested in hiring Boston College defensive line Paul Pasqualoni as its new defensive coordinator.

  • The Vikings are unlikely to announce their new offensive coordinator until after the Super Bowl, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Former Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell, Vikings quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski, Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell, and Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan are the known candidates to have interviewed to replace Pat Shurmur, who recently became the Giants’ head coach. Ben McAdoo has also been linked to Minnesota’s search but hasn’t been interviewed, while the Vikings also reportedly had interest in Mike McCoy before he signed on with the Cardinals.
  • Although the Colts don’t officially have a head coach, they do have a new offensive line coach, as the club has agreed to terms with Dave DeGuglielmo to lead their front five, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. DeGuglielmo coached the Patriots’ offensive line (with mixed results) from 2014-15, so he has a familiarity with presumptive Indy head coach Josh McDaniels. Last season, DeGuglielmo was hired as a Dolphins assistant after OL coach Chris Foerster was fired after an inappropriate video was published. DeGuglielmo also has experience with the Jets, Giants, and Chargers.
  • In addition to poaching offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, the Titans have also hired assistant special teams coach Tyrone McKenzie away from the Rams, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). McKenzie, 32, will coach inside linebackers for Tennessee. Like new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, McKenzie is a former Patriots linebacker, although the two never overlapped in New England, as Vrabel was traded prior to 2009, the season McKenzie joined the club. McKenzie, also a former Buccaneer and Viking, has only one season of coaching experience.

Titans Notes: Moore, McKenzie, Coombs

New Titans head coach Mike Vrabel swung and missed on each of his first two tries at hiring a coordinator, as Ohio State’s Ryan Day opted to stay in the collegiate ranks rather than become Tennessee’s offensive play-caller, while former Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher chose the Giants over the Titans. Vrabel still needs to fill out a staff, however, and he’s been busy making potential additions today.

Here’s the latest from Tennessee:

  • Former Raiders wide receivers coach Rob Moore interviewed for the same position with the Titans, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Moore, who got his start in NFL coaching with the Bills in 2013, had been with Oakland since 2015 but wasn’t retained by new head coach Jon Gruden. 2016 was a banner year for Moore, as both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree topped 1,000 yards, but both wideouts took a large step backwards in 2017.
  • Rams assistant special teams coach Tyrone McKenzie interviewed for an unidentified role on the Titans’ staff, per Pelissero. Like Vrabel, McKenzie is a former Patriots linebacker, although the two never overlapped in New England, as Vrabel was traded prior to 2009, the season McKenzie joined the club. McKenzie, also a former Buccaneer and Viking, has only one season of coaching experience.
  • Vrabel is dipping into his Ohio State ties — he played in Columbus before coaching there from 2011-13 — as he formulates his Titans coaching staff, and OSU defensive backs/special teams coach Kerry Coombs will be joining Tennessee, tweets Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports. There’s no word yet as to what Coombs’ role will be, but given that he’s never coached in the NFL before, he’s likely to keep leading the Titans’ secondary. Coombs began his collegiate coaching career with Cincinnati in 2006, and joined Ohio State in 2011.
  • Texans defensive assistant Shane Bowen is another candidate to join Vrabel with the Titans, reports Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com. Bowen not only worked under Vrabel in Houston during the past two seasons, but also spent the 2012 campaign coaching alongside the new Tennessee head coach at Ohio State. A Georgia Tech alum, Bowen coached linebackers at Kennesaw State University from 2013-15.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Cowboys, Redskins, Rams

General manager John Lynch confirmed Sunday that the 49ers have met with Buccaneers restricted free agent defensive end Jacquies Smith, though they haven’t offered him a contract (via Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area). The Niners did have Smith take a physical during his visit, as the 27-year-old missed nearly all of last season with a torn ACL. “We wanted to get him checked out medically, and we’ll see,” said Lynch. If the 49ers do sign Smith to an offer sheet and the Bucs don’t match it, Tampa Bay won’t receive compensation because it only gave the former undrafted free agent an original-round tender.

More from the NFC:

  • The Cowboys have seen notable defenders in Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Terrell McClain and Jack Crawford leave in free agency this year, but CEO Stephen Jones doesn’t expect those to be crippling departures. “Even though we lost some numbers on defense, some of them we were ready to move on from,” Jones told David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter links). Jones also noted that this year’s draft “is inordinately strong on the defensive side of the ball.” Based on Jones’ comments, the Cowboys figure to target a defender with their top pick, No. 28 overall.
  • It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Redskins extended 25-year-old right tackle Morgan Moses prior to training camp, writes Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Moses, who’s set to enter a contract year in 2017, is fresh off his second straight 16-start season. The three-year veteran also ranked a terrific 17th among Pro Football Focus’ 78 qualified offensive tackles in 2016. Left tackle Trent Williams finished first, giving the Redskins an elite bookend duo with him and Moses.
  • The Rams have hired Tyrone McKenzie as a special teams assistant to work under John Fassel, per Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. The 31-year-old McKenzie isn’t far removed from his career as an NFL linebacker, which ran from 2009-13 with the the New England, Tampa Bay and Minnesota organizations. He’s familiar with the Rams, having assisted with their outside linebackers and special teams players last summer, Gonzalez notes.