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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sunseri, Flajole Both Leaving

Two more coaches are leaving the Carolina Panthers, with speculation that the team may be done and will start to hire new assistants very soon.

DL coach Sal Sunseri and LBs coach Ken Flajole have both accepted other offers; Sunseri is now the LBs coach at the University of Alabama, and Flajole is now the defensive coordinator with the Rams.

The two coaches came into prominent roles as part of the 2003 coaching staff - Sunseri, as the team's third tier "defensive assistant" in 2002, was promoted to position coach in 2003 as Mike Trgovac was promoted to coordinator; Flajole, having been fired as Seahawks' DBs coach, was hired to replace the departing Alvin Reynolds, who was the assistant DBs coach. Of course, as Sam Mills' cancer became an issue, Flajole became his intermediary and eventually succeeded Mills in position. By the end of the year, they were the defensive front coaches for the Panthers in their Super Bowl run.

Replacing Them?

For the open DL coach position:

Dwayne Board, Seahawks DL coach - the former Seahawk and 49er assistant was replaced by incoming coach Jim Mora Jr. The former NC A&T three-time All-American was a big part of a 49er defense that consistently put up good numbers under George Seifert and Steve Mariucci (1990-2002) after having been with the team as a player (1979-1988), then left to be with Mike Holmgren's Seattle squad (2003-2008).
Board has sent ten players to Pro Bowls, and also includes a Defensive Player of the Year (1997's Dana Stubblefield). He was a member of four of the five 49ers' Championship teams.

Keith Millard, Raiders DL coach - a former nosetackle in thie league, Millard may unfortunately be best known for being arrested for disorderly conduct in Minnesota, during which he told cops to "shoot because my arms are stronger than your guns." An All-Pro, all-USFL, and first round pick, Millard leads defensive tackles all-time in sacks in a single season (18), which earned him Player Of The Year honors. As a coach, Millard spent a few years with high schools before being the Broncos (2000-04) and Raiders (2004-2008) DL coach. His units have placed consistently high in sack numbers and overall defense.

For the LBs coach position:

Mike Haluchak, Browns LB coach. His tie to John Fox is clear (he was LBs coach under Fox as DC of the Giants in 1997-99), but has jumped around in scheme and locale since - coaching the Browns (2005-08), was on the initial Jack Del Rio coaching staff in Jacksonville (2003-04), was with the Rams (2000-02) under Mike Martz. He coached in San Diego (1986-1991) around when Marty Hurney was coordinator of football operations (1990-1997). His 25 years of pro coaching experience has all been coaching linebackers, and he himself was a linebacker for USC in the late 70s on some of the program's best teams.

Rick Venturi, former Rams LB coach. The former Northwestern University QB/DB has stability, and that generally ends up in him being with a team a decade, then becoming an interim head coach in the middle of the term (a combined 2-17, he succeeded Ron Meyer in Indianapolis in 1991 and took over the 1996 Saints from Jim Mora following his quitting immediately after the Saints-Panthers game). He's also been head coach of Northwestern (79-80), and defensive coordinator of the Saints (2002-05) and Rams (08, interim). Venturi's units are prepared and tough, and his philosophies are very similar to Fox's.

Wild Card

Herman Edwards - the former NY Jets and KC Chiefs head coach probably won't get a head coaching job again for a few years, but he's a good coach. A teammate of John Fox' at San Diego State, they paired as safeties. It's been rumored by internet sites that if Edwards becomes available, Fox would consider doing anything to get Edwards on staff.

Two problems show, though - Edwards has only coached defensive backs, and the Colts need a defensive coordinator. That would also likely pay more, though the Chiefs do still owe Edwards' contract remainder.
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