As we get deeper into the head coach search around the NFL, the news and rumors are picking up steam as each hour of the day goes by. The latest revolves around the Chicago Bears having a difference of opinions, JuJu Smith-Schuster’s future with the Steelers, where Kellen Moore fits into the Cowboys’ plans, and a wild card in the Broncos’ head coach search.
NFL News and Rumors | January 25, 2022
We’re all waiting for the dominos to fall with several general manager and head coach hires. While we wait for NFL coaching news, we’ve been working the phone, DMs, and email to bring you the latest news and rumors from around the NFL.
How the Chicago Bears are handling the next steps in their head coach search
The Chicago Bears’ dual search for a new head coach and a new general manager after firing Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace is heating up.
The Bears have reached the second interview stage and are being guided by former Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, and Buffalo Bills general manager Bill Polian as a consultant.
The Bears are making progress, tabbing Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and former Detroit Lions and Colts head coach Jim Caldwell as finalists. And there’s a late entry into the coaching search: New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, a former Raiders head coach.
It’s well-known in league circles that Polian is a strong advocate for Caldwell, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly. It’s less clear what chairman George Halas McCaskey or team president Ted Phillips wants.
One source characterized the situation this way: “All three have different opinions when it comes down to which coach they prefer. It’s going to be very interesting to see whose voice is the loudest and most persuasive.”
Another source opined that Quinn could ultimately field more than one offer, including, potentially, the Bears and Denver Broncos.
Source: JuJu Smith-Schuster interested in Chiefs again
Veteran wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster nearly joined the Kansas City Chiefs a year ago before opting to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Steelers instead of a one-year, $8 million offer from the Chiefs that included $3 million in incentives.
Now that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has retired, Smith-Schuster is interested in potentially joining the Chiefs again. It’s no secret in NFL circles with multiple league sources saying Smith-Schuster hopes to join the Chiefs as a free agent and has expressed that desire.
A year ago, Chiefs coach Andy Reid recruited Smith-Schuster and sent him photos of the Lombardi Trophy.
Smith-Schuster fought through a dislocated shoulder to appear in the Steelers’ playoff game against Kansas City after undergoing surgery. Still, the injury limited him to 15 catches for 129 yards and no scores in five starts last season. Yet, the former USC standout remains a productive receiver when healthy and could complement Tyreek Hill if he signs with the Chiefs.
Smith-Schuster is a reliable No. 2 wide receiver in an offense like Kansas City’s. He caught 97 passes for 831 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2020 and has 323 career receptions for 3,855 yards and 26 touchdowns.
What’s next for Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore?
As abruptly as the Dallas Cowboys’ season ended with a hurry-up offense botched by questionable play-calling and the last-second execution of quarterback Dak Prescott on a too-late spike, that rough ending hasn’t dimmed the future outlook for offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
Moore has interviewed for head coaching jobs with the Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, and Jacksonville Jaguars. However, Moore is not expected to land a new job in this hiring cycle, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
Moore presented well in interviews. But at least one hiring committee came away wondering if he has the commanding personality and leadership style to stand in front of an entire team and grab players’ attention. What this means for the Cowboys going forward is this: Moore will be back with the Cowboys in 2022.
That’s a good thing, especially for a team poised to lose defensive coordinator Quinn, who is fielding offers from more than one franchise, including the Broncos. There would be continuity on offense with Moore, Prescott, and running back Ezekiel Elliott leading an attack that finished first in points and yards per game last season.
Moore, 33, has a strong future. One more season could make him a more attractive head coaching candidate — especially coaching WR CeeDee Lamb and a pair of Pro Bowl offensive linemen.
“I think Moore is one of the better offensive coordinators that we’ve faced,” New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick once said. “It’s not just the players. It’s the scheme.”
Connections go way back for Broncos executive, Rams’ Kevin O’Connell
Long before Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell emerged as a candidate for Denver’s head coaching vacancy, he was trying to hold off a challenger in a college QB competition.
O’Connell had to battle to win the starting job at San Diego State against a 6-foot-6, 230-pound quarterback named Darren Mougey. Both were recruits of then-head coach Tom Craft.
O’Connell eventually earned the position and was later drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round. Mougey moved to wide receiver and later played for the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals after going undrafted.
Now, Mougey is Denver’s director of player personnel, and O’Connell is a candidate for the Broncos’ HC vacancy created when they fired coach Vic Fangio. Mougey is a member of a search committee led by general manager George Paton that’s evaluating O’Connell along with Quinn and Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
The Broncos’ offense, especially at quarterback, is the primary issue on a team otherwise capable of succeeding. O’Connell represents a branch in the growing Sean McVay tree. O’Connell doesn’t call the plays but manufactures the game plans in tandem with McVay.
The Broncos’ search committee interviewed him recently in Los Angeles. He’s not eligible to interview again until after the Rams’ NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers.