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Friday, January 30, 2009

Board, Edwards Unavailable; Haluchak Still Possible

Dwaine Board, my top choice for the DL coach job (and arguably the biggest role on that defensive staff given that DC Ron Meeks is a DBs coach at heart and the linebackers are the most stable position on the roster), signed with the Raiders. They're also talking to Mike Haluchak, the former Giants staffer under Fox, and former Panthers, 49ers, and Seahawk coordinator John Marshall about the same position with Oakland, but haven't signed Haluchak or Marshall. Either could be potential assistants here, though Marshall's showing as defensive coordinator here probably left a bad taste in both his and the franchise's mouths.

Also, Herm Edwards decided to coach the television in lieu of doing real work, becoming the fifty billionth former NFL player/coach currently on staff with ESPN.

(Pessimistic outlook? Herm is the candidate we won't want to hire when Fox is fired in 2010; fans bellyache. Optimistic outlook? After at least one Super Bowl win in the next two years, Fox hires his old teammate in 2011 as heir apparent, fans still bellyache)

Still remaining? Top DL coach Tim Krumrie, along perennial "interim" coach and LBs coach candidate Rick Venturi, and former Giants DBs coach Johnny Lynn (who coached under Fox and then replaced him) are out there still. Venturi actually serves as a wild-card - he's coached both LBs and DBs (not unlike the guy that succeeds him, new Rams DC and former Panthers LBs coach Ken Flajole), so he could fit at either; Marshall, if he were a position coach candidate should he not get the Raiders' job, has coached DL or LB. Venturi has also been an assistant head coach in many stops, and succeeded two head coaches with an interim title. He was, after all, the guy who coached the Saints after Jim Mora abandoned them following a Panthers' whipping in 2006.

Venturi's former head coach (Saints and Rams), Jim Haslett, is desperate to work in the league, since he has no former head coach's salary to work on unlike the non-interim guys fired, and was LBs coach under Fox, but it's been since 1995 since he's been a position coach. Haslett is a strong voice, but the attraction for him to get another head coaching job may be a distraction not unlike the one that's held Jim Fassel back.

Brett Maxie, former Saint and Panther safety, is available as a DBs coach, and the move could give Mike Gilhammer a little more power (Gilhammer, as a third-tier type assistant, works on third down packages and coaches safeties, but has survived two coaches with stronger titles than his own, and will be working on his third). Maxie has never held the position completely by himself. Keith Millard, a former Pro Bowler and DL coach, is a passable alternative at DL coach, but maybe too strong a personality and not enough of the technician for a team that was coordinated by a DL coach in Mike Trgovac and had another strong personality position coaching in Sal Sunseri.

Krumrie, of course, is the "workout guy". At combine, he's the guy working out prospects. At pro days, he's probably the guy working out defensive linemen and tweeners. He's the ultimate technician - not only is he testing you, he's in the trenches facing you. Krumrie, a former nosetackle, goes man to man with a hundred scouts and coaches watching, and in his fifties, looks like he could still play. He paces guys who'll get handed millions before they touch a pro field, at three times their age, and never backs down.

Bad news?
Is it bad news we haven't signed assistant coaches yet? The staff will undoubtedly have to come together at some point, and high quality coaches are still around.

Good news?
The coaches simply have to be present. Unlike about 1/3rd of other staffs, the coaches don't have to be integral to a major rebuilding effort. This team was 12-4 - we know what parts we want to keep, and what parts we must unfortunately replace.
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