With so much going on around the NFL right now and the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, here are the latest news and rumors around the league from PFN National NFL Insider Aaron Wilson. Make sure to continue to check back here as we update you with the most recent NFL news and rumors on February 16, 2022.
NFL News and Rumors: Dolphins finalize deal with Darrell Bevell
The Miami Dolphins have officially finalized a deal with Jacksonville Jaguars interim coach and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell as their passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
A former Detroit Lions interim coach, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator, and four-year starting quarterback at Wisconsin, Bevell has had multiple players follow him to another team. That list includes Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson with the Minnesota Vikings, Sidney Rice, and Percy Harvin with the Seattle Seahawks.
Bevell was a strong advocate of drafting Russell Wilson after working him out at his pro day. Seattle won Super Bowl XLVII with Bevell operating as offensive coordinator.
Seattle’s offense ranked in the top 10 in scoring in each of Bevell’s four years as offensive coordinator. Additionally, they were among the top four teams in rushing offense annually. Among the Pro Bowl selections Bevell coached: Hall of Fame guard Steve Hutchinson, Matt Birk, former NFL MVP Adrian Peterson, Favre, Doug Baldwin, Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, Kenny Golladay, and Frank Ragnow.
Bevell’s time in Jacksonville
Bevell, who has a good reputation in NFL circles as a high-character individual, built a strong relationship with Jaguars rookie quarterback and former top overall pick Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars had a rough season, beset by off-field drama involving former coach Urban Meyer, including viral videos of him with a younger woman at a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio.
The team was impacted by Meyer’s disagreements with the coaches regarding offensive philosophy and his tendency to blame others and not work the long hours he demanded from his staff, according to sources. Furthermore, injuries to key players like Travis Etienne, the benching controversy involving starting running back James Robinson, and an inexperienced roster didn’t help matters. Bevell went 1-3 as interim coach after the Jaguars fired Meyer, with the team finishing 3-14 overall.
Giants hire Bryan Cox
Bryan Cox is back in the NFL. The New York Giants hired the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker as their assistant defensive line coach. He’ll work with defensive line coach Andre Patterson under defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.
Cox, 53, was the Atlanta Falcons defensive line coach from 2014 to 2016 and has been out of the NFL since then. Additionally, Cox has been the defensive line coach for the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cox also spent time as the Miami Dolphins’ pass rush coach.
He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection with the Dolphins. He also played for the Chicago Bears, Jets, New England Patriots, and New Orleans Saints.
In addition to Cox’s hiring, the Giants also hired Kevin Wilkins as a defensive assistant. Wilkins worked last season in the same position for the Baltimore Ravens.
NFL News and Rumors: Saints interview Jay Gruden for OC job
The New Orleans Saints interviewed former Washington Football Team coach Jay Gruden for their offensive coordinator vacancy, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly.
Gruden didn’t coach last season after spending the 2020 campaign with the Jacksonville Jaguars as offensive coordinator under Doug Marrone, who was fired. He previously interviewed for the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator job that went to Ben McAdoo.
The Saints have also interviewed Indianapolis Colts running backs coach Scottie Montgomery and Dallas Cowboys receivers coach Robert Prince, per a source. The Saints could also retain current offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.
NFL News and Rumors: Texans hire Joe Danna as safeties coach
The Houston Texans have hired Joe Danna as their safeties coach.
Danna is a former New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Atlanta Falcons defensive backs coach. He was initially hired by the Jaguars as an assistant secondary coach before being named safeties coach and then nickels coach last season. He was with the Jaguars from 2017 to 2021 and has extensive experience in the AFC South.
“Very good guy, good coach,” an NFL assistant coach said. “He’s awesome.”
Danna’s first NFL coaching position was with the Falcons in 2008 as a defensive assistant. He was hired by the Dolphins as assistant secondary coach in 2010 and then returned to the Falcons as secondary coach in 2012. Danna joined the Jets in 2015 prior to joining the Jaguars. He’s also coached at Georgia Southern and James Madison.
Danna, a Midland, Texas native, was a wide receiver and punt returner at Central Michigan and later a graduate assistant for the Chippewas and the University of Georgia. He caught 43 career passes for 567 yards and 2 touchdowns and averaged 6.7 yards per punt return for his career. He completed 1 pass for 50 yards as a senior in 1998.
Joe Burrow sprained MCL, won’t need surgery
Cincinnati Bengals star quarterback Joe Burrow sprained his medial collateral ligament in the Super Bowl and will not require surgery, coach Zac Taylor announced in a press conference Wednesday.
The strong-armed former top overall pick and LSU standout led the Bengals to a Super Bowl, which they lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Burrow’s outlook is positive, but he needs rest and rehabilitation to strengthen the knee injury he aggravated during the Super Bowl.
“Joe had the sprained MCL and that’s really a re-aggravation of something he did back in December, but he’s a tough guy,” Taylor said. “He played through it. Rest is going to be the best thing for him, so that part is encouraging. He’s going to get some much-needed rest here these next couple weeks and we expect him to come back fully healthy.”
The former Heisman Trophy winner passed for 4,611 yards, 34 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions last season while completing 70.4% of his throws for a 108.3 passer rating.
Vikings make it official, hire Kevin O’Connell as head coach
The Minnesota Vikings made it official, hiring Kevin O’Connell as their new head coach.
The former Super Bowl-winning Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator replaces Mike Zimmer.
“We are ecstatic to add Kevin as our head coach,” Vikings owner and team president Mark Wilf said in a statement. “He is a strong leader, an innovative coach, and an excellent communicator. Kevin played the game at all levels, which gives him a unique connection to players, and he is highly respected throughout the league. Vikings fans should be excited for the future of this team under Kevin’s direction.
“Kevin is an impressive and respected leader who has been a part of some explosive offensive schemes,” Vikings owner and chairman Zygi Wilf said. “He has a tremendous football IQ and is passionate about preparing, developing, and communicating with his players. Beyond the Xs and Os, everyone we spoke with throughout this search process spoke highly of Kevin’s ability to motivate players, coaches, and staff.
“As I spent time with Kevin during the interview process, it became immediately clear he will be a great partner in building this football team for long-term success,” Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said. “He understands what is critical to leading a team that wins at the highest level, and he has an ability to simplify the complex, which will help us in problem-solving in all football areas. He is a genuinely positive person who will help create a high-energy internal environment.”
The Rams averaged 372.1 of total offense last season. Matthew Stafford passed for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns while Cooper Kupp, the NFL Offensive Player of the Year, caught 145 passes for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Bill Shuey, Jaguars finalize deal
The Jacksonville Jaguars have officially hired former Chicago Bears outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey for the same position on new coach Doug Pederson’s staff, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly.
Shuey also interviewed with the Baltimore Ravens, per an NFL source.
Shuey, 47, has coached for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Widener Pride, and the West Chester Golden Rams. He played collegiately at Slippery Rock. He also played minor league football with the Pittsburgh Colts and Lehigh Valley Panthers. The Bethlehem, Pa., native was a 130-pound high school wrestler who overcame a lack of size to play football.
Shuey initially worked for the Eagles as a marketing intern before becoming a training camp coordinator assistant. He was promoted to quality control and offensive assistant working under offensive coordinator Brad Childress.
Shuey later became a linebackers coach for the Eagles and made one Super Bowl trip.
With the Bears under former coach Matt Nagy, Shuey was promoted from quality control coach to assistant linebackers to outside linebackers coach, working with six-time Pro Bowl selection Khalil Mack.
Broncos add Tyrone Wheatley to staff
The Denver Broncos have finalized a deal with Morgan State head coach Tyrone Wheatley as their new running backs coach, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly. Wheatley has been the head coach at Morgan State since February 6, 2019, and has a 5-18 record.
A former running backs coach with Eastern Michigan, Syracuse, Michigan, the Buffalo Bills, and Jacksonville Jaguars, Wheatley finished his NFL career with over 6,500 all-purpose yards.
Wheatley, 50, is a retired former NFL running back who played collegiately at Michigan, where he was an All-Big Ten selection. The former New York Giants’ first-round NFL Draft pick led the team in rushing yards twice before being traded to the Miami Dolphins. Wheatley also played for the Raiders in his 10-year career
Bengals sign Zac Taylor to contract extension
Cincinnati Bengals owner and team president Mike Brown didn’t waste any time following through on his intention to secure head coach Zac Taylor.
Taylor was signed to a contract extension through the 2026 season Wednesday morning, days after the Bengals’ Super Bowl loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The Bengals went 10-7 as Taylor heads into his fourth season as their coach next year.
“Zac has come into the league and worked to develop the foundations for a winning program that can be successful over time,” Brown said in a statement. “The fruits of Zac’s efforts were seen this year, and Zac is well-regarded by our players and coaches.
“I know the effort and passion Zac brings to the building and to our team, and I am pleased by his approach. And I think the city of Cincinnati sees him the way the players and I do. He’s brought excitement to the town and deserves credit and recognition for that.”
The Bengals already signed multiple coaches to contract extensions, maintaining continuity with the staff. Those coaches include wide receivers coach Troy Walters, tight ends coach James Casey, defensive line coach Marion Hobby, and head strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly. Linebackers coach Al Golden had an extension offer but left to sign a three-year contract with Notre Dame as their new defensive coordinator.
Following this breakthrough season, the Bengals will maintain a talented staff that includes offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons.
“We expected to be here,” Taylor said before the Super Bowl. “We know we had a great team. We’ve been playing some really good teams all year long. Win or lose we’ve learned a lot from those games. We’ve always felt like we should have won the games as you walk off the field. Certainly, we’ve been battle-tested these last couple weeks. Our guys know we belong on this field on Super Bowl Sunday, and I expect to see our guys’ best.”
Turning things around
Taylor was 6-25-1 after two seasons, including a 4-11-1 record in 2020. This season cemented his future.
“Personally, if I coached at any other organization in football, I probably wouldn’t be here right now in the third year,” Taylor said. “That’s the truth.”
Prior to the AFC Championship Game, Taylor referenced a 2-14 season in his first year and the struggles to block Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald in a 2019 loss.
“I wrote up on my board, ‘Remember when,’” Taylor said. “And there’s going to be a day where we reflect back on this moment. When we’re struggling to get a yard on a game plan call sheet, and we’re going to say, ‘Remember when we couldn’t even figure out a way to get a yard on the LA Rams?’ Trust me, I look at that every day.”
How Sean McVay impacted Taylor’s career
Taylor’s background with Rams head coach Sean McVay has been a plus for his career.
“The joke is always if you had a cup of coffee with Sean McVay, then you’re going to be a head coach in the NFL,” Taylor said. “There’s a ton of truth to that. If you spend time around the guy, he gives you a ton of confidence in yourself. He’s shown a lot of us young guys you can do it your own way. It doesn’t have to be the way it has always been done for the last 20 years around the league. There can be a different way of doing things.”
Taylor, 38, had his team in the Super Bowl and has stayed the course.
“I believed every step of the way here we were going to get to this point.”