Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn watches warm up during training camp at the Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility in Allen Park on Sunday, July 23, 2023.

NFL coaching roundup: Assistants emerge as candidates for top job

Names of assistant coaches who could make the rounds in interviews for NFL head coach openings began to emerge Monday, with three playoff-bound assistants topping the list.

The Washington Commanders, who fired coach Ron Rivera on Monday, reportedly requested permission from the Detroit Lions to interview offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. Reports also said they asked for the OK to talk to Raheem Morris, the DC of the Los Angeles Rams.

All three work for teams in the NFL playoffs, meaning they can interview virtually after this weekend’s wild-card round, but the interviews need to be conducted before the divisional round on Jan. 21.

The Lions and Rams will meet Sunday in Detroit.

Johnson has been credited as the architect of an offense that led the Lions to a 12-5 record and their first division title in 30 years.

Glenn was named the best defensive coordinator in the NFL in a survey released last week by the NFL Players Association.

Morris has head coaching experience and a 21-38 record with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009-11) and Atlanta Falcons (2020).

In other news of assistant coaches:

–Three assistant coaches are leaving the New York Giants, head coach Brian Daboll said.

Offensive line coach Bobby Johnson and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey were dismissed, and Daboll said running backs coach Jeff Nixon has been hired as offensive coordinator at Syracuse.

“I respect both of those guys (Johnson and McGaughey) and their commitment to the team. But we wanted to make a change,” Daboll said.

Daboll said he expects coordinators Wink Martindale (defense) and Mike Kafka (offense) to return.

–Indianapolis Colts head coach Shane Steichen said in his season wrap-up news conference that he does not anticipate any significant changes to his coaching staff.

That applies to defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, whom he was asked about specifically.

“I believe in continuity,” Steichen said. “I’ve got a ton of confidence in Gus.”

The Colts’ defensive line tallied 51 sacks this season, the most since the franchise relocated to Indianapolis in 1984.

–Field Level Media

Nov 10, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles coach Leon Lett motions from the sidelines against the Minnesota Vikings at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys part ways with 6 assistant coaches

The Dallas Cowboys parted ways with six assistant coaches on Thursday, including former NFL head coach Joe Philbin and Leon Lett, who earned two Pro Bowl nods in 10 seasons as a Cowboys defensive lineman.

In all, the Cowboys announced that Philbin (offensive line coach), Lett (assistant defensive line), Rob Davis (assistant head coach), George Edwards (senior defensive assistant), Skip Peete (running backs) and Kyle Valero (quality control analytics) would not be coming back.

The coaches were on expiring contracts.

“These were difficult decisions to make because of the great respect I have for each of them as a coach and person of character, combined with the experiences we’ve all gone through together,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said in a statement.

McCarthy was scheduled to hold a press conference later Thursday to discuss the departures.

The Cowboys also could lose defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and/or offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, both of whom have interviewed for head coaching jobs.

The Cowboys finished second in the NFC East with a 12-5 mark and defeated Tampa Bay in the wild-card round before losing last weekend to San Francisco in the divisional round of the playoffs. It’s the second consecutive 12-5 season for the Cowboys under McCarthy.

McCarthy is 30-20 in his first three seasons in Dallas and 2023 will be Year 4 of his five-year deal.

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay celebrates a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Undecided Rams coach Sean McVay permits staff to interview

Rams head coach Sean McVay informed his staff they were free to interview with other teams, an unprecedented move for an NFL coach under contract for the 2023 season.

While NFL teams can block lateral moves — jobs with the same or similar title and responsibilities with another team — the Rams are making a major concession.

ESPN reported McVay told coaches in a meeting his own future was not clear, and he wouldn’t block interview requests from other teams.

McVay shared his reluctance to commit to the Rams for 2023 in his season-ending press conference on Monday.

“Take the next couple of days, really be able to reflect and a lot of conversations that will dictate and determine the decision that’s best for me and my family,” McVay said Monday of when he would know his plans for next year.

Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has multiple interviews lined up to become a head coach again, including the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos.

McVay’s coaching tree is vast, especially when considering his age. He became the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl last February at age 36 — beating former assistant Zac Taylor and the Cincinnati Bengals for the Lombardi Trophy. Days later, McVay lost offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who was hired by the Minnesota Vikings.

Other former McVay assistants include Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley and University of Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch.

McVay was hired as head coach of the Rams in 2017 as a 30-year-old offensive wunderkind with NFL bloodlines. McVay said he considered not coaching in 2022 and reportedly was offered as much as $100 million over five years to join the Amazon Prime NFL broadcast team.

That, along with getting married and the death of his grandfather — John McVay — have all worn down the Rams’ coach, according to reports.

Los Angeles went 5-12 in 2022, a season marred by injuries to quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

–Field Level Media

May 14, 2021; Ashburn, Virginia, USA; Washington Football Team running back Jaret Patterson (35) receives instruction from running backs coach Randy Jordan during rookie minicamp at Inova Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Seven Washington assistant coaches out with COVID-19

Seven assistant coaches for the Washington Football Team will miss Tuesday night’s game against the host Philadelphia Eagles because of COVID-19 protocols.

Wide receivers coach Drew Terrell and running backs coach Randy Jordan will be replaced by senior offensive assistant Jim Hostler and assistant running backs coach Jennifer King, respectively.

Defensive line coach Sam Mills, defensive backs coach Chris Harris, assistant defensive backs/nickel coach Brent Vieselmeyer, defensive quality control coach Vincent Rivera and defensive coaching intern Christian Garcia also will miss Tuesday’s game.

Mills will be replaced by assistant defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina, while Harris will be replaced by assistant defensive backs coach Richard Rodgers.

The NFL rescheduled this NFC East showdown from Sunday in the wake of Washington placing more than 20 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week.

Washington and Philadelphia enter the game with 6-7 records and are in must-win situations to remain in the playoff hunt. Washington is just outside the playoff picture at No. 8 while the Eagles are 10th.

–Field Level Media

Nov 17, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Saints’ COVID-19 coaches outbreak up to eight

Two more New Orleans Saints coaches are slated to miss Sunday’s game against the Charlotte Panthers due to COVID-19 protocols, raising the total to eight expected to miss the contest in Charlotte, N.C.

Assistant head coach/defensive line Ryan Nielsen and pass rush specialist Brian Young will not be with the team in Charlotte, the team announced Saturday.

The team announced Friday that seven coaches would miss the game. However, one of those seven, offensive line coach Brendan Nugent, has now been cleared to be with the team on Sunday.

The team said Friday that offensive analyst Jim Chaney, offensive assistant Declan Doyle, assistant special teams coach Phil Galiano, senior offensive assistant/receivers coach Curtis Johnson, run game coordinator/tight ends coach Dan Roushar and running backs coach Joel Thomas are expected to miss the contest.

The team said the coaching responsibilities will be divided among the remaining staff.

Saints coach Sean Payton said earlier this week that the entire coaching staff is vaccinated.

–Field Level Media

Nov 3, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; MHelmet is seen before a game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Five Miami coaches out due to COVID-19 protocols

Five Miami coaches were not available for Sunday’s game at Arizona due to COVID-19 protocols.

The Dolphins identified assistants Gerald Alexander (defensive backs), Robby Brown (quarterbacks), Austin Clark (outside linebackers), Marion Hobby (defensive line) and Kolby Smith (quality control) as those who wouldn’t be present for the game against the Cardinals.

The team announced Friday that an assistant coach had tested positive for the virus and was quarantined immediately.

It wasn’t clear whether any, or how many, of the coaches named on Sunday had tested positive or whether they were in the protocol due to close contact with an infected person.

–Field Level Media