Tagged in: NFL

Lions to hire ex-Chargers coach Anthony Lynn as offensive coordinator

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell knew he wanted to get some experience around him on his coaching staff, and on Saturday he did that, signing former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn as the team’s offensive coordinator, sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

The 52-year-old Lynn had been with the Chargers from 2017 to ’20 with a record of 33-31. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills for one season, in 2016.

He and Campbell have familiarity with each other, too. Lynn was the running backs coach in Dallas in 2005 when Campbell was a tight end with the team.

“What’s more important than anything to me as far as an offensive coordinator is someone that I believe has the vision of the offense kind of the way I do,” Campbell stated Thursday.

“Just in regard to, ‘Listen, I’m not going to get hung up on what you want to call the terminology. I’m not going to get hung up on the style of system that you want to put in.’

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“I’m more into, ‘Man, show me what are the nuts and bolts that you believe in.'”

One thing Campbell stressed in his introductory news conference is making sure his coordinators — the team officially informed Aaron Glenn as its defensive coordinator Saturday — can identify and exploit matchup mismatches.

In Buffalo in 2016, Lynn had the best rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 164.4 yards a game and 5.35 yards per carry with LeSean McCoy as his main back. Lynn has also shown a willingness to throw.

His Chargers team this past season was sixth in the league in passing yards per match (270.6) with a rookie quarterback, Justin Herbert, behind center the majority of the season and had the No. 6 passing offense in 2019 (276.6 yards per game).

Lynn will likely be working with a new quarterback in 2021, too, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Matthew Stafford has requested a trade from Detroit — the only place he has played in his career after being drafted No. 1 overall in 2009.

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New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell agrees to six-year contract

New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell received a six-year contract from the team, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

The Lions informed Campbell’s hiring on Wednesday but did not disclose terms. The team will introduce him with a news conference on Thursday.

“With more than 20 years of experience as both a coach and player in the National Football League, Dan knows the rigors of professional football and what it takes to be successful. He will help promote the culture we want to establish across our organization, while also bringing with him high energy, a respect for the game and an identity with which everyone can align themselves,” Lions principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement.

Campbell, the New Orleans Saints’ assistant head coach/tight ends coach, replaces Matt Patricia, who was released in November after less than three seasons with the Lions and a 13-29-1 record.

The Lions will now try to reset after concluding last in the NFC North the past three seasons. Campbell is expected to bring fellow Saints assistant coach Aaron Glenn with him as defensive coordinator. Glenn has a few other suitors, but Detroit is the favorite, the source told Fowler.

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The 44-year-old Campbell, who has never been a coordinator in the NFL, is viewed as a motivator and someone who can bring a team together, rather than an X’s-and-O’s guru. The Lions had been searching for people they considered unifiers as they identified qualities they deemed important to building a winner out of a franchise that has one playoff victory in the Super Bowl era and claimed its last division title in 1993.

Campbell doesn’t have much experience as a head coach — just 12 games as an interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins — but the Lions clearly saw enough to pair him with recently hired general manager Brad Holmes. Without experience calling plays on either side of the ball, whom Campbell brings in as coordinators will be paramount to his success.

During Holmes’ introductory news conference on Tuesday, the Lions stated all three of Holmes, Campbell and vice president of football administration Mike Disner will report to team president Rod Wood, creating a balanced structure. When asked whether Holmes or Campbell would have final say over the 53-man roster, Wood said it would be a collaborative process.

“Dan’s passion for this opportunity was evident throughout our interview process,” Wood said in a statement.

“When we began the search for a head coach, it was imperative that we find the right leader who values our commitment to building a winning culture based on organizational alignment and collaboration. The leadership Dan has exemplified throughout his football career has prepared him for this next step, and we are excited to support him as our new head coach.”

The Lions had conducted their searches for Holmes and Campbell simultaneously, often asking candidates whether they had people in mind for the other position they would want to work with. After Holmes was hired last week, Ford Hamp said Holmes spoke with some of their remaining candidates.

Campbell played 10 seasons in the NFL, including the final three years of his career for the Lions.

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New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas likely to have multiple surgeries on ankle

New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas is likely to have surgeries on the torn deltoid and other injured ligaments in his ankle that plagued him all campaign, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

The expectation is that Thomas would be recovered in time for summer OTAs under a normal offseason calendar, the source said.

Thomas first suffered the high ankle injury in the final minutes of Week 1 and missed a total of nine games in the regular season. But the source said he knew it was likely Drew Brees’ last season and didn’t want to miss out on trying to win a Super Bowl with him.

Thomas often wouldn’t practice all week, yet would still play in games, at much less than 100% and with pain medication, the source said. The coaches told him that, even as injured as he was, they were much better off with him than without him.

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Thomas went on injured reserve from Weeks 15-17 to try to get as healthy as he could for the playoffs. He returned with five catches for 73 yards and his first touchdown of the season in the wild-card playoff victory over the Chicago Bears.

However, he had zero catches on four targets in the divisional round playoff loss to Tampa Bay — including a near-touchdown in which his knee was ruled out of bounds.

Thomas also missed Weeks 2-8 after first suffering the injury, then being disciplined for one game for a practice altercation that included him punching teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and then suffering a hamstring injury during his recovery.

He concluded the regular season with 40 catches for 438 yards and zero touchdowns in seven games — just one season after setting the NFL record with 149 catches in 2019. He did, however, have two games with nine catches and more than 100 yards receiving during Taysom Hill’s four-game stint at QB while Brees was sidelined by injuries of his own.

Thomas’ 510 career receptions are the most by a player in the first five seasons of his NFL career.

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Los Angeles Chargers hire Rams’ Brandon Staley as coach

The Los Angeles Chargers have agreed to terms with Brandon Staley to become their next head coach, the team revealed Sunday night.

He will be formally introduced at a news conference on Thursday.

Staley served the past season as the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator, developing the top-ranked defense in the NFL behind star defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Staley’s unit propelled the Rams to a 10-6 season and a wild-card playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks before the team exited the postseason with a loss to the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. I

n his first year as an NFL coordinator, Staley’s defense ranked No. 1 in efficiency, yards permitted per game and points allowed per game. With the Chargers, Staley replaces coach Anthony Lynn, who was fired after four seasons and a 33-31 record.

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The Chargers are coming off a 7-9 season that resulted in a third-place finish in the AFC West.

However, Staley inherits a roster that includes several cornerstone players, including rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 touchdown passes in a single season. Staley also takes over a defensive unit that includes Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa and All-Pro safety Derwin James.

“It’s hard to put into words just how excited I am for the opportunity to be the Los Angeles Chargers’ Head Coach,” Staley said in a statement.

“While this is certainly a dream come true, it’s also a dream that’s just beginning. There’s a reason this was probably the most sought after job out there — from ownership, to the fans, to the city, to the men in that locker room — it’s the total package.”

The 38-year-old Staley has quickly risen through the NFL ranks since he first was hired as a position coach in 2017 with the Chicago Bears. He spent two seasons in Chicago under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio before he followed Fangio to the Denver Broncos, where he spent one season as outside linebackers coach before joining the Rams’ staff.

Staley is the third assistant under Rams coach Sean McVay to get an NFL head coaching job, joining Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur and Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor.

“I think any time that you have those situations arise, that’s one of the most gratifying things,” McVay said Sunday during his season-ending news conference.

“That’s also really a unique thing to see him come in and do such a great job, then immediately be a prime candidate for a lot of these openings and you realize how precious these opportunities are.”

Prior to coaching in the NFL, Staley coached for three seasons at John Carroll University, a Division III college in University Heights, Ohio, and also spent a season as defensive coordinator at James Madison University.

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Packers host Rams with NFC championship game berth at stake

No NFL team scored more points during the regular season than the Green Bay Packers. Nobody has played better defense than the Los Angeles Rams.

That sets up an intriguing showdown of strength vs. strength when MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (13-3) host All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the Rams (11-6) in an NFC divisional playoff match Saturday.

“This is what you love,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “These are the type of matchups and opportunities that as a competitor, you can’t wait for.”

Both of these units are at the top of their game.

The Packers have won six consecutive games and have been held below 22 points just once all campaign. Los Angeles got to this point by sacking Russell Wilson five times in a 30-20 triumph at Seattle last week.

“They went to Seattle, played a familiar opponent and played really, really well, and they’re coming in with the confidence that they should have,” Rodgers said. “And we’re coming in with confidence as well, the season that we’ve had and what we believe we’re capable of.”

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Rodgers has set franchise single-season records for touchdown passes (48) and completion percentage (.707) this year while throwing just five interceptions for an offense scoring 31.8 points per game. Donald calls Rodgers a “great quarterback that’s playing lights out this year.”

Donald leads a defense that permitted the fewest points and yards of any team during the regular season.

“At any time, at any quarter of the game, a different guy could make a big-time play for us,” Donald said. “It’s not just one or two guys. When you’ve got a group of guys – all 11 out there – who are pretty much playmakers who can make that game-changing play at any time, you’ve got a great group.”

This will be the first time the NFL’s top-ranked scoring offense and scoring defense have faced off in the postseason since the New England-Atlanta Super Bowl on Feb. 5, 2017. The Patriots had the top-ranked defense and the Falcons had the No. 1 offense that year.

This also will be the Rams’ first playoff game at Lambeau Field. These two franchises have met in the postseason just twice before, with the Packers winning 28-7 in Milwaukee on Dec. 23, 1967, and the Rams winning 45-17 in St. Louis on Jan. 20, 2002.

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Denver Broncos reach deal with Minnesota Vikings’ George Paton to be general manager

John Elway and the Denver Broncos wanted George Paton to be the team’s new general manager so much, Paton was given a longer deal than Elway ever had in the same job.

Paton, who has spent the past 13 years with the Minnesota Vikings, has agreed to a six-year deal to be the Broncos’ general manager, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Broncos informed Paton’s hiring on Wednesday but did not disclose terms.

Paton had spent most of Tuesday in Denver for what was a second interview for him with team officials, and had returned to Minnesota Tuesday night.

Elway had promised to find the “best candidate, the best person” for the job. The Broncos also interviewed New Orleans Saints assistant general manager Terry Fontenot, Chicago Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly, the New England Patriots’ Dave Ziegler and the Broncos’ director of college scouting Brian Stark.

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“Early in this process, it became clear why George has been such a coveted GM candidate for so many years. He is a proven evaluator who knows every detail of leading football operations,” Elway said in a statement.

“With his experience in all aspects of the job — the college and pro sides, salary cap, trades, working with the head coach and bringing the staff together — George is more than ready to succeed in this role. George has waited and worked for the right opportunity, which shows that he is smart and serious about winning. We’re thrilled to name George Paton as general manager of the Denver Broncos.”

Paton and Fontenot, who did his interview virtually because the Saints are still in the playoffs, were each interviewed a second time Tuesday.

Elway, who has been the Broncos’ top football decision-maker since 2011, announced Jan. 4 he was stepping away from the day-to-day personal operations but would stay as president of football operations at least through the final year of his current contract.

Elway also said he didn’t think the team’s current ownership battle between Pat Bowlen’s children would affect the Broncos’ ability to secure what he believed would be a top candidate. Paton’s six-year deal would likely bridge any potential change in the team’s ownership in the coming years.

Paton has control over the team’s roster, free agency and the draft. The Broncos have missed the playoffs in five consecutive campaigns since the Super Bowl 50 victory and finished this past season 5-11.

The team faces contract option decisions on linebacker Von Miller and Kareem Jackson, and Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons is scheduled to be among the team’s unrestricted free agents. A decision about the plan at quarterback also is among the front-burner issues for the Broncos.

The team has one of the youngest rosters in the league and enough salary-cap room to participate in the open market. Paton is widely considered among the top talent evaluators on the Vikings’ personnel staff, and his exit leaves Minnesota with a big void in the front office. Ryan Monnens, the current director of pro scouting, could be in line to replace Paton this offseason.

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Ex-Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn reaches deal to become Dallas Cowboys DC

The Dallas Cowboys have hired Dan Quinn to be their next defensive coordinator, the team informed Monday night.

Quinn agreed to a three-year deal, a source told ESPN, matching the length of Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s new contract. Both coordinators will be signed through the 2023 season.

Quinn takes over for Mike Nolan, who was fired last week by head coach Mike McCarthy, and inherits a defense that had one of the worst seasons in Cowboys history.

Quinn was fired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons five games into the 2020 campaign after having held the job since 2015. He posted a 43-42 record and took the Falcons to the Super Bowl in his second season.

Going with Quinn signals a return to the scheme the Cowboys employed from 2013 to 2019 under Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard.

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Quinn, 50, was the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014, before becoming Atlanta’s head coach.

He employed a 4-3 scheme that mostly used a single-high safety look and helped the Seahawks to consecutive Super Bowl appearances. The Seahawks finished No. 1 in yards and points allowed in his two campaigns.

Team owner and general manager Jerry Jones was eager to move away from the scheme the Cowboys used in McCarthy’s first year because he thought it was too simplistic. Nolan brought in a hybrid defense designed to use multiple coverages and disguises to confuse offenses, but that never really happened.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Nolan and the defensive staff had to implement their new defense virtually, without any benefit of on-field work until a shortened training camp started. The early results were disastrous, with the Cowboys allowing at least 34 points in five of the first six games.

Nolan simplified the scheme early in the season, but the defense never really took hold. The Cowboys permitted the most points in franchise history (473) and concluded with the 31st-ranked run defense.

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Seattle Seahawks’ Jamal Adams says there’s ‘no question’ that he’ll play in playoff game

The biggest question facing the Seattle Seahawks this week actually isn’t a question to Jamal Adams: The All-Pro strong safety on Wednesday stated unequivocally that he’ll be on the field for Saturday’s wild-card game versus the Los Angeles Rams.

“No question in my mind. I’m playing, man,” Adams said. “Look, as long as these legs are moving, man, as long as my faith is with the man upstairs, which is very strong, I’m going to be out there.”

Adams said there was never a doubt in his mind that he would play despite the left shoulder injury he suffered in the fourth quarter Sunday that sidelined him for the end of Seattle’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Coach Pete Carroll said after the game the initial word was that Adams would be able to play this weekend, though he stopped short at the time of declaring as much. Carroll has been more noncommittal in his most recent comments, saying Adams’ availability wouldn’t be known until game day.

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Adams didn’t practice Tuesday, and he was listed as a limited participant Wednesday.

“I’m OK,” Adams said. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m not going to be limited to anything. I’m full-go. I’m full energy. I’m me. I’m going out there to continue to make plays and continue to continue help the team win. That’s what I’m about.”

Despite missing four matches with a groin injury, Adams led the Seahawks this season with 9.5 sacks, an NFL record for a defensive back. He was named to his third straight Pro Bowl.

Asked if he’ll have to wear a supportive harness on his left shoulder, Adams said he’ll be playing with “something.” He’s been playing through an injury to his right shoulder since Week 10 and has two broken fingers on his left hand.

He called it “just another challenge” to play with two injured shoulders.

“I’m a savage, bro,” Adams said. “I’m a warrior, man. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it takes. It’s not about me. It’s always going to be bigger than me. It’s about this team. It’s about my brothers. It’s about my family back home, my why. So again, I’m excited for this opportunity. It doesn’t matter what obstacle is thrown my way. I always figure it out and that’s all that matters, man. So I’m looking forward to the matchup.”

Adams briefly returned Sunday after injuring his shoulder on a blitz but concluded the game on the sideline with a dejected look on his face. Carroll said the team had to take Adams’ helmet away.

“All the stuff that I’ve been through the past year — and again, I don’t like to ever make it about me because it’s never about me — but yeah, I went through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity due to injury,” Adams said.

“Obviously, he had to take my helmet away. And when he took my helmet away, it hurt me a little bit because I wanted to be out there and finish no matter what. “But at the end of the day, it’s about this team. It’s never going to be about me. I can’t wait to get out there. I will figure it out and that’s just who I am as a person.”

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Giants expected to retain GM Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants have decided to keep Dave Gettleman in place as their general manager for a fourth season.

The Post reports substantiated several other reports that have suggested the same.

After another losing season, which dropped the Giants’ record to an abysmal 15-33 during Gettleman’s tenure, there were rumors that Giants brass was thinking of letting him go or re-assigning him to an advisory role within the organization.

However, ownership thinks the team showed enough progress in Gettleman’s third-year and are headed in the right direction.

While Gettleman received well-deserved heat for hiring previous failed head coach in Pat Shurmur, he also played a large role in the hiring of head coach Joe Judge, who showed promise as a leader in his rookie year.

Personnel wise, the Giants’ roster still has a lot of holes to fill, but the signings of James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, Logan Ryan and Graham Gano were home run additions.

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Gettleman’s investment in Leonard Williams also paid dividends as Williams had a career season with 11.5 sacks, 57 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, and 30 quarterback hits.

Despite continuous displeasure from their fan base regarding Gettleman’s time as GM, Giants ownership felt they had seen enough in 2020 to keep the current regime in place.

Although the team went 6-10, they were in contention for the NFC East until the final evening of the regular season due to poor competition within the division.

And while ownership said they wanted to be playing meaningful games in December, being a product of a poor divisional race likely did not play a factor in bringing Gettleman back. This decision came from the improvement of the team as the season progressed and the culture that the coaching staff built on the field and in the locker room.

Judge also publicly thumped for Gettleman, telling reporters recently that he’s thoroughly enjoyed working with the GM.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Dave the entire year,” said Judge. “We’ve done a lot of good things together. I really enjoyed the process of free agency and the draft. Obviously, we went through training camp, and there was a lot of logistical work we had to do in this particular spring and summer in terms of getting the setups ready for when the team came back.

“I think everyone is doing a good job right now in terms of understanding where we want to go and pushing in the right direction. There’s been some great coordination and communication with Dave [Gettleman] and everyone in personnel in terms of the kinds of players that fit into our systems.”

Co-owner John Mara and Gettleman will speak to the media on either Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss the decision. Gettleman will turn 70-years-old in February.

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Green Bay Packers claim Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison off waivers

Another run-stopper is on the way to the Green Bay Packers to perhaps help them evade getting run out of the playoffs like last campaign.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst claimed Damon “Snacks” Harrison off waivers on Wednesday, according to the NFL transaction wire.

The Packers did not informed the move.

The Seahawks waived the 32-year-old defensive tackle on Monday after Harrison requested his release. All players waived at this point in the season are subject to waivers, and Harrison said in a tweet after his release that he was not interested in getting claimed.

However, in response to a tweet that suggested he might actually play for the Packers given that they’re a Super Bowl team and one that was on his list of teams he planned to meet with before he signed with Seattle earlier this season, Harrison responded with a one-word tweet that read: “Bingo.”

A source told ESPN that Harrison assured the Packers he would report to and play for Green Bay.

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The Packers rank 14th in rushing yards permitted but 24th in yards per carry — a slight improvement over last season. But their run defense let them down in the NFC Championship Game, when the San Francisco 49ers rushed for 285 yards en route to the Super Bowl.

If the Packers (12-3) triumph Sunday’s regular-season finale versus the Chicago Bears, they would be the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have a first-round playoff bye. Even if they have to play on wild-card weekend, they could get Harrison through the COVID-19 protocols and ready for that weekend.

They were granted a roster exemption for Harrison.

The Seahawks signed Harrison to the practice squad Oct. 7 and he made his first appearance in a game on Nov. 15 versus the Los Angeles Rams. He played 138 total snaps in six games before he requested his release.

At the time, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was under the impression that Harrison no longer wanted to play. “He’s decided to stop playing,” Carroll said Monday during an appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle.

“He’s done playing. I talked to him this morning. He’s in good spirits and all of that. He’s really grateful for the opportunity in playing here, and he did really well by us, but he just … he’s done.”

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