Jan 31, 2021; Honolulu, Hawaii, USA; Team Kai head coach Rex Ryan reacts on the field during the first half against Team Aina at the Hula Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Rex Ryan interviews for Cowboys’ DC job

Rex Ryan has joined the list of former NFL head coaches to interview for the defensive coordinator position with the Dallas Cowboys, CBS Sports reported Wednesday.

Currently an ESPN analyst, Ryan had a 61-66 record as head coach of the New York Jets (2009-14) and Buffalo Bills (2015-16).

Former Washington Commanders and Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer reportedly also are among the candidates for the position, as is Dallas defensive line coach Aden Durde.

Ryan, 61, was the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens (2005-08) before being hired by the Jets.

Dan Quinn, the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator the past three seasons, replaced Rivera as the head coach in Washington.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2023; London United Kingdom, Buffalo Bills defensive line coach Eric Washington reacts in the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars during an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bears to hire Eric Washington as defensive coordinator

The Chicago Bears are hiring Eric Washington to be their defensive coordinator, NFL Network reported Saturday.

Washington, 54, will assume the position previously that was overseen by head coach Matt Eberflus, who handled the coordinator responsibilities after Alan Williams resigned for personal reasons in September. Eberflus was the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts from 2018-21 before becoming the head coach of the Bears.

Washington has spent the past four seasons serving as the defensive line coach of the Bills. He also was an assistant head coach for Buffalo in 2023.

It’s a return to Chicago for Washington, who previously spent three seasons (2008-10) with the Bears. He was a defensive assistant the first two seasons before becoming defensive line coach. He then spent his first seven seasons with the Carolina Panthers (2011-17) as their defensive line coach before shifting to defensive coordinator for the next two campaigns (2018-19).

The Bears allowed an NFL-best 86.4 rushing yards per game this season. However, they also permitted 237.8 passing yards per game (ranked 25th in the league) and 22.3 points per game (ranked 20th).

–Field Level Media

Jun 14, 2023; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen answers questions for the media during minicamp at IBM Performance Field.  Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Jags hiring Ryan Nielsen as defensive coordinator

The Jacksonville Jaguars are hiring Ryan Nielsen as their new defensive coordinator, ESPN reported Monday.

Nielsen, 44, held the same position for the Atlanta Falcons in 2023, overseeing a unit that improved from 27th to 11th in total defense and from 23rd to 18th in scoring defense from the 2022 campaign. The Falcons also doubled their sack total from 21 to 42.

Nielsen became available when the Falcons fired head coach Arthur Smith after a third straight 7-10 season.

He replaces Mike Caldwell in Jacksonville. Jaguars coach Doug Pederson fired Caldwell and much of his defensive staff on Jan. 8, one day after a 28-20 Week 18 loss at Tennessee knocked the Jags out of the playoff picture.

Before Atlanta, Nielsen spent six seasons (2017-22) with the New Orleans Saints. He was the assistant head coach there in 2021 and the co-defensive coordinator in 2022.

Jacksonville (9-8) finished 17th in scoring defense and 22nd in total defense in 2023, including 26th against the pass.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Columbia, Missouri, USA; A general view of a LSU Tigers helmet against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

LSU reportedly makes new DC Blake Baker highest-paid assistant

LSU named Blake Baker, defensive coordinator at Missouri, to the same position.

While LSU announced his hiring on Friday, no financial terms were released. ESPN reported Baker will receive a three-year deal worth $2.5 million per year, which will make him the highest-paid assistant coach in college football.

Baker helped Missouri to an 11-win season and a 14-3 defeat of Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29. It was the first time the Buckeyes didn’t score a touchdown in a game since the 2016 season.

Baker spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Missouri. Among his career jobs, he was the defensive coordinator at Lousiana Tech (2015-18) and Miami (Fla.) in 2019-20, as well as the linebackers coach at LSU in 2021, before heading to Missouri.

“Blake brings a wealth of experience and success as a defensive coordinator throughout his career, including the last two years in the SEC at Missouri,” LSU head coach Brian Kelly said. “His ability to develop and motivate his players while putting together highly successful defenses sets him apart in his field. I am excited to welcome Blake and his family back to Baton Rouge.”

On Wednesday, Kelly announced LSU was parting ways with coordinator Matt House and three of his assistants — cornerbacks coach Robert Steeples, safeties coach Kerry Cooks and defensive line coach Jimmy Lindsey — following a 10-3 season.

Baker, 41, is a Houston native but his Louisiana roots run deep. He played linebacker at Tulane from 2000-04.

Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz posted a message of appreciation for Baker on social media late Friday.

“Thank you, Blake for all you did for @MizzouFootball,” Drinkwitz wrote. “Your help in all we’ve accomplished cannot be DENIED! I enjoyed every minute of our journey together — but it’s time for you to go on a new path.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 26, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams on the sidelines during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Bears DC Alan Williams out Sunday for personal reasons

Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams will miss Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay for personal reasons.

Head coach Matt Eberflus said Friday that he will fill in for Williams when the Bears (0-1) meet the Buccaneers (1-0).

There is no timetable for a return for Williams, 53, who is in his second season leading the Chicago defense.

Williams began his NFL coaching career as an assistant with the Buccaneers in 2001. He has also worked for the Indianapolis Colts (2002-11, 2018-21), Minnesota Vikings (2012-13) and Detroit Lions (2014-17).

Eberflus was the defensive coordinator for the Colts from 2018-21 before becoming the head coach of the Bears.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Buffalo Bills coach Leslie Frazier prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Bills need a DC with Leslie Frazier planning year off

Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier plans to take the 2023 season off, creating a vacancy at the position in Buffalo.

Frazier turns 64 in April and has been actively involved in a coaching capacity since 1988. He also played in the NFL from 1981-85.

“Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has decided to take a year off from coaching,” the Bills said Tuesday, noting Frazier plans to return to the team in 2024.

Frazier became defensive coordinator of the Bills in 2017, rejoining head coach Sean McDermott, who was on the same coaching staff with the Philadelphia Eagles in the early 2000s.

The Bills are third in the NFL since Frazier was hired, allowing 20 points per game, and Buffalo ranks first in yards allowed per game (315), passing yards per game (202), and passing touchdowns allowed (107).

McDermott could take on more responsibility with the defense during Frazier’s absence.

–Field Level Media

Jun 1, 2021; Costa Mesa, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers secondary coach Derrick Ansley during organized team activities  at Hoag Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers promote Derrick Ansley to DC

The Los Angeles Chargers promoted Derrick Ansley to defensive coordinator, one of a handful of coaching changes announced Monday.

Ansley, 41, spent the past two seasons in Los Angeles coaching the secondary, and the Chargers ranked fourth in the AFC in passing defense in that span.

Before joining the Chargers, Ansley was defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at the University of Tennessee. He also coached defensive backs at Alabama from 2016-17, and the Crimson Tide ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense and scoring defense in both seasons.

The Chargers also interviewed outside the organization before hiring Ansley. New England Patriots defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington and University of Houston defensive coordinator Doug Belk were among the coaches to interview.

The team also announced the addition of Jeff Howard (linebackers), Robert Muschamp (defensive quality control) and Doug Nussmeier (quarterbacks) to the coaching staff. Tom Donatell was promoted to passing game coordinator/secondary coach.

Most recently, Howard was the passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach for the Cleveland Browns. Muschamp spent the past two seasons with national champion Georgia in a defensive quality control capacity. And Nussmeier, who played five seasons in the NFL, has 22 years of coaching experience, most recently spending three seasons as quarterbacks coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Donatell was the Chargers’ assistant secondary coach the past two seasons.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley talks to players Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, before a game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Report: Colts retain Gus Bradley as DC

Gus Bradley is returning to the Indianapolis Colts as defensive coordinator under new head coach Shane Steichen, ESPN reported Monday.

The move to retain Bradley had been expected.

Bradley, 56, is entering his second season as the defensive coordinator in Indianapolis. He held the same role with the Seattle Seahawks (2009-12) before spending four seasons as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also has served as the DC for the Los Angeles Chargers (2017-20) and Las Vegas Raiders (2021).

In 2022, the Colts’ defense was 15th in the NFL in total yardage, giving up 334.0 yards per game. Indianapolis gave up an average of 25.1 points per game, however, tied for third worst in the league.

The Colts finished last season at 4-12-1 under Frank Reich and interim coach Jeff Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Jonathan Gannon is introduced as the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals during a news conference at the Cardinals training facility in Tempe on Feb. 16, 2023.

Nfl New Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Jonathan Gannon

Report: Bears’ Dave Borgonzi to interview for Arizona DC post

The Arizona Cardinals will interview Chicago Bears linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi for their defensive coordinator vacancy, multiple outlets reported Friday.

Borgonzi worked for three seasons in Indianapolis with new Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon from 2018-20.

He is scheduled to interview virtually with Arizona on Saturday, per the reports.

Gannon, formerly the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, said Thursday that he has not decided if he will call the defensive plays for the Cardinals.

Borgonzi made the move along with Matt Eberflus from Indianapolis to Chicago in 2022 when the latter became head coach of the Bears.

Borgonzi coached linebackers for four seasons (2018-21) with the Colts after working in defensive quality control with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014-17).

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches from the sideline during the second quarter of the game against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Vikings hiring Brian Flores as DC

The Minnesota Vikings will hire former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores as their new defensive coordinator, ESPN and the NFL Network reported Monday.

Flores, 41, spent the 2022 season as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach after Miami fired him following a three-year stint as the team’s head coach.

Flores, who is Black, has a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams, claiming racial discrimination in hiring practices. He alleges that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him a $100,000 bonus for each game Flores lost during the 2019 season in an attempt to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft.

Flores also named the New York Giants and Denver Broncos in the suit, saying the teams used him to “check their boxes” of interviewing minority candidates for the Rooney Rule before hiring white head coaches. He alleged that former Broncos general manager John Elway and colleagues arrived an hour late for an interview with him and appeared disheveled from a night of drinking, which Elway roundly denied.

Flores interviewed for the Arizona Cardinals’ head-coaching vacancy during the recent hiring cycle and also reportedly interviewed for defensive coordinator jobs in Cleveland and Denver.

The Vikings fired Ed Donatell after their early exit from the playoffs. Minnesota won the NFC North at 13-4 and earned the No. 3 postseason seed but lost 31-24 to the Giants in the wild-card round.

The Vikings ranked 31st in total defense (388.7 yards per game) and tied for 28th in scoring defense (25.1 ppg) in the 2022 regular season.

This will be Flores’ first time serving as a coordinator. He was a position coach on defense as well as a special-teams coach during a long run on the New England Patriots’ staff (2008-18).

–Field Level Media