Insider: NFL Notebook
As teams get prepared for free agency and the draft, there is some urgency to get their affairs in order as far as filling out coaching staffs. We will update the coaching searches all around the NFL.
Jags Hire Mularkey
After interviewing Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, the Jaguars decided to land on former Bills head coach and Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. He’s not the “splash” type of hire that many pundits were calling for but he has a relationship with Jaguars general manager Gene Smith.
The good: Mularkey has head coaching experience so he likely won’t be overwhelmed with the media and management duties of the position. He has experience with developing Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan into a very good player and he is willing to work with Jaguars signal caller Blaine Gabbert.
The bad: Mularkey hasn’t had much success as a head coach and some say he quit on the Buffalo Bills. Later he had problems with Dolphins head coach Nick Saban. There are rumors swirling that the Falcons may have parted ways with Mularkey if he wasn’t able to find a head coaching job elsewhere.
Mularkey’s biggest task as Jaguars head coach will be to figure out quickly whether Blaine Gabbert can be a legitimate starting quarterback. If he can he must develop him, if not he must move on quickly. The clock is running on both Mularkey and general manager Gene Smith.
Raiders Fire Jackson
Just one day after hiring new general manager Reggie McKenzie the Oakland Raiders decided to part ways with head coach Hue Jackson. Jackson finished 8-8 in his only season as Raiders head coach and lost the season finale to San Diego, 38-26 with the AFC West title on the line.
“There comes a time when change is necessary,” McKenzie said Tuesday. “For the Raiders the time is now. The Raiders organization, with respect and deference for all its tradition and history, is about to embark on a new era.”
Hue Jackson’s post-game press conference after the San Diego loss rubbed a lot of people in the organization the wrong way and part of his dismissal likely was due to his insistence on trading for quarterback Carson Palmer. The Raiders gave up their 2012 first-round pick as well as their 2013 second-round pick for the veteran signal caller. Palmer completed 60.7 percent of his throws for 2,753 yards with 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions while leading Oakland to a 4-5 record in his nine starts.
According to the NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora, the leading candidate for the Raiders head coaching job is former Packers linebackers coach Winston Moss with Darren Perry as defensive coordinator.
Colts Hire New GM
The Indianapolis Colts surprised many last week when they dumped general manager Bill Polian, along with his son Chris. Polian’s replacement will be Eagles Director of Player Personnel Ryan Grigson.
Grigson has done an excellent job in the draft, finding offensive playmakers such as LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson.
Grigson’s first order of business will be to decide upon the future of head coach Jim Caldwell, whose job was spared temporarily “for further evaluation.” Unless Grigson has a coach already in mind it is likely that Caldwell will be spared as it’s getting a little late in the game to begin your search. Expect an announcement on Caldwell very soon, one way or the other.
Although Colts owner Jim Irsay said earlier in the week that it will be his decision whether or not to retain quarterback Peyton Manning it’s likely that the decision has already been made. It’s difficult to imagine Ryan Grigson hopping aboard as general manager without having such knowledge of who his quarterback is going to be.
Other Openings, Closings
Kansas City- The Chiefs have decided to remove the interim label off head coach Romeo Crennel. After interviewing former Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, Kansas City decided to stick with the guy they know.
Crennel is far from a “splash” hire, but he has the respect of the locker room and the team played hard for him at the end of the season. Crennel’s 24-40 record as head coach of the Cleveland Browns is far from impressive, but nobody had legitimate success prior to his arrival in Cleveland or since.
Tampa Bay- At this moment it appears as if former Browns, Chiefs, Redskins and Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer is the leader for the Buccaneers head coaching job.
Again, the hiring of Schottenheimer wouldn’t likely get the fanbase all that excited but he is a “fixer” of sorts. Marty has been able to turn around under-performing teams despite his well-documented lack of postseason success.
Schottenheimer would add character and structure to a team that was lacking both in 2011. What he won’t add is his son Brian, former offensive coordinator of the Jets who will not be paired with his father.
Miami- The Dolphins are still awaiting word on whether or not former Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher will accept their head coaching position. Fisher is said to be choosing between St. Louis and Miami and nobody is sure at this point which way he is leaning.
Other candidates that have been interviewed are new Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin.
St. Louis- The Rams are the ying to the Dolphins yang as both franchises await the decision of Jeff Fisher. Other candidates for the Rams job are Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
New York- The Jets have mutually parted ways with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer who has been under fire all season long for the Jets offensive disappointment. New York is expected to hire former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano to fill the coordinator position.
The younger Schottenheimer has been the scapegoat for all of the Jets disappointments throughout much of their fanbase. Amazingly, head coach Rex Ryan has received mostly a free pass.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie