The Vikings experienced very few changes to their coaching staff, but that’s a rarity in the NFC. Here are the changes in the NFC coaching staffs.
Dallas Cowboys – Jason Garrett has been put on notice, although his staff remained intact after a disappointing 2012. But there were some significant changes. On offense, Gary Brown was hired as the running backs coach, a position he held the last five years with Cleveland, and the new wide receivers coach is Derek Dooley. Dooley and Garrett were both on the Miami staff together and most recently Dooley was the head coach at the University of Tennessee. The biggest changes came on the defensive side of the ball, where the Cowboys went (really) old school. Rob Ryan was sent packing and was replaced by Monte Kiffin, who was the guru of the Minnesota, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay defenses before moving on to USC to coach with his son, Lane. The Cowboys also added former Detroit head coach Rod Marinelli to coach the D-line. After being fired by the Lions, Marinelli spent last year with Chicago as its defensive coordinator, but was again sent packing when Lovie Smith’s staff was dismantled. It’s a playoffs-or-bust season for Garrett, but the Cowboys have brought in some experienced defensive coaches in hopes of bringing old-school success back to a team known for its old-school success.
New York Giants – No coaching changes.
Philadelphia Eagles – The Andy Reid era ended and with it came massive changes. It started with head coach Chip Kelly, an offensive innovator who was the head coach at the University of Oregon. Changes on the offense begin with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmer, who spent 10 years with the Eagles as tight ends and quarterbacks coach and the last two seasons as head coach in Cleveland. Kelly tapped the college ranks to get Bill Lazor as his QB coach after spending the last three years as offensive coordinator and QB coach at the University of Virginia and O-line coach Jeff Stoutland, who held the same position the last two years at the University of Alabama. Former Eagles RB Duce Staley was retained and promoted from quality control coach to running backs coach. Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell spent the last three years with the Bills coaching receivers and tight ends. On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Bill Davis brings 21 years of experience – most recently at Cleveland coaching linebackers. Assistant head coach/defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro came with Kelly after spending the last four years in the same position at Oregon. Outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern spent the last 12 years as linebackers coach at Boston College. Inside linebackers coach Rick Minter spent the last two seasons as defensive coordinator at Kentucky. Defensive backs coach John Lovett has 35 years of coaching experience, most recently as D-backs coach at Texas Tech. New special teams coordinator Dave Fipp spent the last two seasons with Miami, where the Dolphins had one of the most effective special teams units in the league. The Eagles are moving in a new direction for the first time in a decade and it will be interesting to see how the new staff works together, because they come from widely varied backgrounds but definitely will infuse enthusiasm in an Eagles team in transition.
Washington Redskins – The Redskins only made a couple of minor tweaks to the coaching staff. Offensive assistant Mike McDaniel was promoted to wide receivers coach and the only outside hire was Keith Burns as special teams coordinator. Burns spent the last six years in Denver as the special teams coach, the first two with Mike Shanahan when he was still the head coach. With success comes continuity in coaching.
Chicago Bears – Lovie Smith was one of the longest-tenured coaches in the NFL before he got fired at the end of the season despite winning 10 games. Marc Trestman comes in after a stint with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes and has assembled an interesting collection of assistants. Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer spent the last five years in New Orleans coaching the offensive line/running game. He will serve as both offensive coordinator and O-line coach. Quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh is in his second tour with the Bears, having served as offensive coordinator in 1998-99. He spent the last four years as QB coach with the Jets. Running backs coach Skip Peete has 15 years of NFL experience as a RB coach, the last six with Dallas. Trestman went to the college ranks to get wide receivers coach Mike Groh, who spent the last two seasons with the University of Alabama. Trestman brought tight ends coach Andy Bischoff with him from the CFL. On defense, Trestman brought in defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, who spent the last four years as the Jacksonville DC. LB coach Tim Tibesar spent 2012 at Purdue as its defensive coordinator after being Trestman’s linebackers coach in 2009-10 and defensive coordinator in 2011. In a final move, Trestman hired special teams guru Joe DeCamillis as the team’s special teams coordinator/assistant head coach. He has 25 years of experience, the last four with Dallas. The Bears had a longstanding coaching staff that started with Smith and, while there were changes over the years, remained largely the same from one year to the next. The Bears are going to have a ton of changes this year and it will be critical that everyone gets on the same page or there could be a repeat locker room implosion like last year when things fell apart.
Detroit Lions – Despite a collapse coming off a playoff run in 2011, Jim Schwartz didn’t make many changes to his staff. Most of the changes came on offense. Tim Lappano moved from TE coach to receivers coach and was replaced by Bobby Johnson, who spent last year as TE coach in Jacksonville. New running backs coach/run game coordinator Curtis Modkins spent the last three years as offensive coordinator in Buffalo and the team promoted Jeremiah Washburn offensive line coach after being an assistant there for four years. The defensive coaching staff remains the same, but one significant change came with the hiring of new special teams coach John Bonamego. He is a 26-year coaching veteran, most recently coaching special teams in Jacksonville. Schwartz shuffled the deck on offense and special teams, which is often a sign that he has one year to get the ship right or changes at his position are coming.
Green Bay Packers – No coaching changes.
Atlanta Falcons – No coaching changes.
Carolina Panthers – Volatile head coach Ron Rivera was on the bubble last year and, with General Manager Marty Hurney fired in the offseason, he is officially on notice to produce or follow Hurney out the door. Rivera made several staff changes, including the promotion of Mike Shula from QB coach to offensive coordinator and hiring QB coach Ken Dorsey – his first NFL coaching job. RB coach Jim Skipper returns after two years in Tennessee to the job he held from 2002-10 with the Panthers. Ricky Proehl was promoted from offensive consultant to wide receivers coach and Richard Rodgers was promoted to special teams coach after being the assistant the last two seasons. The only difference on the defensive side of the ball is linebackers coach Al Holcomb, who spent the last four years with the New York Giants. Rivera is on a short leash and, given the strength of the other teams in the NFC South, it could all blow up fast in Carolina if things don’t take an upward turn this season.
New Orleans Saints – The biggest change is that Sean Payton is back after a one-year suspension, but coming in a close second is the hiring of Rob Ryan, formerly of the Cowboys, as the new defensive coordinator. The only other significant change was the move of Bret Ingalls from running backs to the offensive line and the hiring of Dan Roushar, who spent the last six seasons at Michigan State – the final two as offensive coordinator – as running backs coach. The other coaching change came in the secondary, where they hired 23-year college veteran coach Wesley McGriff, who spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss. The Saints coaching staff will have a different look with Payton back, which might be one of the bigger coaching changes of 2013.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Before Greg Schiano arrived, the word was out he was a no-nonsense guy who could rub players and coaches the wrong way. One year into his tenure and significant changes have taken place already. On the offensive side, changes include QB coach John McNulty, who had spent the last four seasons as the wide receivers coach with the Cardinals, but coached under Schiano at Rutgers from 2004-08. Wide receivers coach John Garrett spent the last five seasons with Dallas as its TE coach and, for the last two, as passing game coordinator. On defense, Schiano brought in LB coach Robb Smith, who was defensive coordinator at Rutgers with Schiano. He also brought in cornerbacks coach Tony Oden, who comes over from Jacksonville in the same capacity. There weren’t a lot of changes, but it appears Schiano is surrounding himself with coaches he’s familiar with. Whether that’s a good move for the Bucs or not will be seen, perhaps sooner than later.
Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals did a complete makeover of the coaching staff – executing everyone in the Ken Whisenhunt regime. Bruce Arians takes over as head coach – a job he held in Indianapolis last year and led the Colts to the playoffs. One of his first hires was to bring in longtime Indy OC Tom Moore as assistant head coach in charge of offense. His role will be has yet to be determined, but Arians has faith in Moore and he could end up being given a lot of authority. On offense, he assembled an eclectic group, led by offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who was O-line coach under Arians with the Colts last year and will do the same with the Cardinals. Freddie Kitchens moves from TE coach to QB coach and was replaced at TE coach by Rick Christophel, who spent the last six years as head coach at Austin Peay. Former Cardinal Stump Mitchell comes back to the organization as RB coach 22 years later – after a long coaching career that included high school, college and the NFL. For the last three years, he was head coach at Southern University. WR coach Darryl Drake held the same position under Lovie Smith with the Bears the last nine years. Defensively, Arians hired Todd Bowles, who was defensive backs coach with the Jets, Browns, Cowboys and Dolphins before being appointed defensive coordinator of the Eagles at midseason of his first year in Philadelphia. Arians is giving D-line coach Brentson Buckner his first pro job. Buckner was a 12-year NFL veteran who was an intern coach with the Steelers the last three seasons during training camp. Linebackers coach Mike Caldwell is another former Cardinals player who takes over after coaching LBs the last two seasons in Philadelphia. Outside linebackers coach James Bettcher follows Arians from Indy over as a special assistant to the head coach. Prior to that, he was both linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at the University of New Hampshire. Small eastern colleges got more representation with D-backs coach Nick Rapone, who has 30 years of college coaching experience – the last seven as DC at the University of Delaware. CB coach Kevin Ross, who spent 2010-11 in the same position with Oakland, was a player at Temple when Arians was head coach. The final coaching change was at special teams coordinator, where Amos Jones comes over after six years in Pittsburgh – the final season as special teams coach. With so many changes, Arians has a tall order in front of him, but, given what he did with the Colts last year, he has earned the shot at being a head coach in the NFL and a lot of people in the league are hoping he succeeds.
St. Louis Rams – After his first season in St. Louis, there were only two changes to Jeff Fisher’s coaching staff. In 2012, Fisher didn’t have a defensive coordinator after the man he hired (Gregg Williams) was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. He rectified that by hiring Tim Walton, who spent the last four years as D-backs coach in Dallas, as his defensive coordinator. Fisher also hired Frank Bush as linebackers coach. Bush has been an NFL LB coach for the last 25 years, with his last stop at Tennessee, where he was retained after Fisher got fired and has now been reunited in St. Louis.
San Francisco 49ers – No coaching changes.
Seattle Seahawks – The only changes were on the defensive front, where defensive coordinator Gus Bradley got the head coaching job in Jacksonville and took defensive line coach Todd Wash with him. Dan Quinn returns to Seattle as the defensive coordinator after being retained when Pete Carroll took over and kept him as D-line coach. He spent the last two years at the University of Florida as defensive coordinator, but came back to Seattle when Bradley’s job opened up. Replacing Wash is Travis Jones, who was a D-line coach for the Saints the last five years. If Seattle has the kind of year so many expect, it could be hard to keep this group together because Bradley may not be the last of Carroll’s assistants to be offered a head coaching job.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.