It has been two weeks since Black Monday and the NFL news and rumors have been flying regarding head coach, general manager, and coordinator roles. With just one GM position filled and all the head coaching vacancies still open, here are the latest news and rumors from around the NFL.
NFL News and Rumors: Head coach carousel firing up
Which head coach candidates are making noise around league circles? Here are the latest news and rumors I’m hearing around the NFL after talking to sources close to these situations.
Jaguars’ second round of interviews taking shape
Although no clear front-runner has emerged in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ exhaustive search for a new coach since firing Urban Meyer, a shorter list is beginning to take shape.
According to multiple league sources, owner Shad Khan, his son and executive vice president of football administration Tony Khan, and general manager Trent Baalke — a controversial presence for some job candidates — are narrowing down their list of candidates for an anticipated second round of interviews.
The Jaguars are expected to start inviting multiple candidates for second interviews to be conducted in person. Among them are Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Jacksonville interim coach Darrell Bevell, and former Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell.
Further candidates for Jacksonville’s opening
According to sources, Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is expected to be a finalist for the Denver Broncos job. He also made a good impression on the Jaguars’ search committee. Additionally, Jacksonville interviewed former Philadelphia Eagles HC Doug Pederson.
Baalke advocated for former Texans coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, currently the Alabama offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, but O’Brien won’t receive a second interview. Baalke has also pushed for Eberflus, who met with the Jaguars in Indianapolis after an extremely brief initial virtual interview that included technical difficulties with the Zoom setup, per sources.
Regardless of which coach the Khan family ultimately signs off on, league circles characterize Baalke’s job security and power heading into the offseason as “extremely shaky.” Moreover, several sources predict the new head coach will lead the way on key offseason decisions, with Baalke exiting the building after the draft.
Sources: Dan Quinn remains atop the Broncos’ list
Denver Broncos general manager George Paton and his search committee have been racking up frequent flyer miles. They took a private jet to interview 10 head coaching candidates around the country.
As the Broncos contemplate this pivotal decision, multiple sources predict that Paton is likely to advocate for the most proven commodity and consensus favorite for the job: Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the former Atlanta Falcons head coach.
Quinn is highly regarded around the NFL for his leadership, people skills, and defensive acumen. He remains the expected leader to become the replacement for Vic Fangio.
Should Quinn get the job, he’s expected to try and bring Cowboys secondary coach Al Harris as part of the coaching staff. Jaguars interim coach Bevell, a former Seattle Seahawks colleague, is another candidate for a potential Quinn staff.
Nathaniel Hackett to get a second interview in Denver
Packers offensive coordinator Hackett, who doesn’t call the plays in Green Bay and has a strong relationship with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, is also expected to get a second interview with the Broncos, sources confirmed.
For a quarterback-needy roster, Hackett’s potential presence in Denver could help them make a convincing recruiting pitch to Rodgers. The star QB is still contemplating his plans after the 49ers defeated the Packers in a Divisional Round playoff game primarily due to special-teams gaffes.
Vikings impressed with Todd Bowles
Buccaneers defensive coordinator Bowles is firmly “in the mix” for the Vikings’ head coaching job, according to league sources.
“It’s very real,” a source said of Bowles’ candidacy with Minnesota.
Expectations are that the Vikings hire a general manager before figuring out their direction on a new head coach. Bowles was a finalist for the job in 2014 when they hired Mike Zimmer. Minnesota fired Zimmer after eight seasons and a 72-56-1 record. The Vikings had a losing record for the past two seasons, with their 8-9 performance in 2021 being the last straw.
Besides Bowles, the Vikings have also interviewed Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, and Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
Jonathan Gannon makes a big impression
Brandon Staley 2.0.
That is how many around the league describe Philadelphia DC Gannon for his cerebral approach to the game that mirrors his childhood friend and fellow Cleveland native, Staley, the Los Angeles Chargers head coach.
Gannon “knocked it out of the park” during his interviews with the Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, and Denver Broncos. He made a strong impression with his preparation, knowledge of personnel and schemes, and “having the answer” rapid-fire like an honor roll student who practically knows the questions before they’re even asked.
“Gannon crushed it,” an NFL executive said. “Very smart guy. He’s impressive.”
Gannon possesses a scouting background and has been coaching since his days as a student at Louisville. A catastrophic hip injury ended his football career, but he got into the profession learning from Bobby Petrino.
Vikings Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith has told several teammates that he learned more from Gannon than any other coach he has played for.
The Texans’ coaching staff may not look too different in 2022
The Texans are weighing their options after interviewing former Dolphins HC and Patriots LBs coach Brian Flores, retired NFL QB Josh McCown, Chargers OC Joe Lombardi, and former Pro Bowl WR Hines Ward. Whomever the Texans eventually hire after firing coach David Culley — following a 4-13 record in his first season as a head coach at any level — they’re widely expected to retain multiple assistant coaches.
Among those regarded as likely to be back in Houston in 2022: veteran DC Lovie Smith, special teams coordinator Frank Ross (a former Patriots scout who worked under general manager and fellow John Carroll University alum Nick Caserio), and former Packers and Chargers offensive line coach James Campen (who signed a three-year contract last year).
Texans passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton did a nice job developing rookie QB Davis Mills and the team highly respects him.
While Mills went 2-9 in 11 starts as the replacement for veteran Tyrod Taylor, the third-round rookie from Stanford had his moments. He completed 66.8% of his throws for a franchise rookie record 2,664 yards, passing 2002 No. 1 overall pick David Carr. Mills also threw 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a respectable 88.8 passer rating.
NFL News and Rumors: Ravens look to fill their defensive coordinator position
Baltimore may be looking outside of the building for the defensive coordinator opening, and one OC candidate turned down an interview with Carolina. Here are the latest news and rumors from around the NFL regarding coordinator positions.
Ravens to consider external defensive coordinator candidates
The Baltimore Ravens are looking for a new defensive coordinator after parting ways with Wink Martindale. The Ravens’ injury-riddled defense faded at the end of the season.
Rather than sign a one-year contract extension to run through 2023, league sources said Martindale and the Ravens could not agree on terms, leading to his departure. The divorce is regarded as fairly amicable, and Martindale is expected to draw plenty of interest as a free-agent coach who’s still under contract through the 2022 season.
Keep an eye on the New York Giants — PFN Insider Tony Pauline reports that if Brian Daboll were to get the Giants head coach position, there’s a very, very good chance they bring Wink Martindale in as DC.
Traditionally, the Ravens like to promote from within. There are two top internal candidates that Baltimore is expected to talk with, the first of which is defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach Chris Hewitt, who played for head coach John Harbaugh at the University of Cincinnati.
The other candidate is run game coordinator and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, a former Houston Texans DC and retired defensive end who was a 2002 second-round pick by the Ravens.
Which outside candidates are the Ravens eyeing for the DC job?
After missing the playoffs, the Ravens are also looking at external candidates. They have already requested an interview with Dallas Cowboys defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach Joe Whitt, according to a source.
Another coach expected to draw consideration is Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen, a former Ravens DC.
University of Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, a former Ravens linebackers coach who worked for Harbaugh for seven seasons, is another potential candidate. In 2021, Macdonald, 34, excelled in directing Michigan’s defense — headlined by Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo — for Jim Harbaugh, John’s younger brother.
Macdonald interviewed for the Ravens’ defensive coordinator job in 2018. Many consider him an up-and-coming coach who has proven he’s capable of working at the NFL and elite collegiate levels.
Pep Hamilton declines Panthers interview; Ben McAdoo hired as OC
Texans passing game coordinator and QBs coach Hamilton declined an offer to interview for the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator job, according to a league source.
Carolina filled the role with former New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo, replacing Joe Brady.
There’s a sense around the league that this could be a “one-and-done” situation in Carolina if coach Matt Rhule doesn’t engineer a dramatic turnaround in his third season next year.
The former Baylor and Temple HC has gone 10-22 through two seasons. After signing Rhule to a seven-year, $62 million contract, Panthers owner David Tepper’s patience is growing thin.
NFL News and Rumors: One general manager candidate catches the eye of two franchises
Kansas City Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles is in heavy demand, with the Bears and Vikings longing for his services. Here’s the latest news and rumors around the NFL regarding Poles.
Ryan Poles on shortlist for Bears, Vikings
According to league sources, Poles is a finalist for the Bears’ general manager vacancy in a wide-ranging search directed by retired GM Bill Polian in collaboration with chairman George McCaskey. Poles has a second interview with Chicago this week and is also a finalist for the Vikings’ general manager opening.
Monday, the Bears have interviews with Steelers vice president and top negotiator Omar Khan and Indianapolis Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown.
The other finalist for Minnesota’s job is Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. He will interview in Minneapolis on Tuesday, with Poles meeting with the franchise on Wednesday.
A decision for both franchises is looming
Several league sources predicted that a decision for both jobs could happen as soon as Wednesday or Thursday this week.
A former Bears offensive lineman from Boston College, Poles, 36, joined the Chiefs’ personnel department in 2008 and has made a steady rise with several promotions to his current job title.
Adofo-Mensah, 40, played basketball at Princeton, earned a master’s degree from Stanford, and worked on Wall Street before joining the 49ers. Browns GM Andrew Berry hired him two years ago. Like Poles, NFL circles consider Adofo-Mensah as a fast riser with a bright future.