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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chris Harris: Now A Coach

Former Panther and Bear Chris Harris recently retired, but he didn't
stay idle long.

He's now a defensive quality control coach for the Bears.

The hard-hitting Harris essentially outplayed his own career, wearing
down after a massive 2007 here in Carolina that saw him pull 8 forced
fumbles, and a 2008 that included a couple jarring hits in the first two
games before Harris started to fade. Most notably, I remember a
Chargers season opener in which Harris took on a pulling guard and
knocked him back into ballcarrier LaDainian Tomlinson.

So it's not completely out of bounds for me to have wished that
Carolina would've been the one to pick up Harris, though I wasn't aware
before now that he was looking for coaching work. Having played under
coach Rivera in Chicago, and having played here as well, you might hope
they could've swayed him, though Marc Trestman also has more longevity
going forward than the potentially year to year Rivera.

Good for him, to continue on in the sport. Need more like him.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hurney On Edge In Final Days

It turns out before this image:


and before the decisive conversation between Marty Hurney and Jerry Richardson that was Hurney's undoing, Hurney was consulting with Ernie Accorsi already.

So what was Hurney trying to get out of that?  It appears it's a matter of what went wrong, how to fix it.   That's what the Richardson conversation was about.  That's what Hurney couldn't answer.  And now there's the suggestion that Accorsi was, potentially, trying to get Hurney that answer, not long before he himself became responsible for starting to answer it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Al Holcomb: New LBs Coach

Carolina continues to go younger in coaching by picking up Giants defensive assistant Al Holcomb.

Holcomb was available from an existing staff by being a third-tier assistant - by not being a full position coach, he's more or less allowed to move if he wants.

As a defensive assistant, Holcomb had worked with the LBs and handled some of the processing of gameplans, and running the scout teams.  A 2007 graduate of the NFL's minority internship program (he served with the Jets), Holcomb went from being a grad assistant at Temple to spending a decade in Division II football, coaching LBs and ST for Bloomsburg, then defensive coordinator for Kutztown in 2004-05. He was then with Lafayette in Division 1 FCS as DL coach before picking up with the Giants.

Likely with a recommendation from new Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, Holcomb fills the last official spot on the coaching staff.  The team will (hopefully) also fill some other spots - having lost three third-tier assistants of their own.  One was to promotion (Ricky Proehl), and two to the Browns as position coaches (Scott Turner as WRs coach, Bobby Babich as LBs coach).  Add in the promotion from assistant for Richard Rodgers, and that's four third level coaches that are missing.   Hopefully the team fills those roles well.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Steve Spagnuolo Fired

Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was fired today, in one of the first moves made by reinstated head coach Sean Payton.

There were rumblings of such a move following the season, and things didn't work out the way they expected with Spagnuolo.   To make it more bizarre, the Saints are going to the 3-4 (but haven't hired a coach), which seems like a terrible fit.

Spagnuolo is interesting here: he was a defensive assistant (third tier coach) with the Eagles 99-00, becoming assistant DBs coach in 01-02 under Leslie Frazier, and then succeeding him in 03 (when he went to be the first DC under Marvin Lewis), before moving to LBs coach in 2004 (when Ron Rivera moved to be DC under Lovie Smith).

To further that, Sean McDermott more or less followed Spagnuolo up the tree, taking the defensive assistant job (from a scouting position) in 2001 when Spags became Asst DBs coach; he took over LBs coach when Spags went to the Giants in 2007.


So, short answer, he assisted Ron Rivera and worked alongside McDermott.

Now, all that happened under Andy Reid, but Reid has chosen to keep existing LBs coach Gary Gibbs and DBs coach Emmitt Thomas.  Spagnuolo's versatility and experience probably puts him in line for various positions, but it wouldn't be the worst thing to have him here, either.


Regardless, a year ago I was fairly worried by the Saints' hire of Spagnuolo (and the Falcons' seeming upgrade of Mike Nolan), and yet neither worked out so well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

More Assistant Moves; Rooney Rule

Chargers picked up Fred Graves, last the receivers coach in Carolina.
Good for him - I don't know that he deserved to go, necessarily, but
hopefully there's some success from a new approach. It's interesting
that Graves did such a poor job in theory, and yet his assistant WRs
coach (Ricky Proehl) is good enough to succeed him, and Offensive
Assistant Scott Turner is a WRs coach now, too. Graves couldn't have
been all bad.



Not sure what to think of expansion of the Rooney rule to OCs.

For one, it might find itself continuing to be outdated - what if the
trend heads back to DCs as head coaches, and teams just start hiring
smaller college offensive HCs as OC to be able to run more college style
offenses?

I'm not against the system - though I feel like it does punish the Ron
Riveras and Marc Rosses who are going to interview for jobs they have no
shot in getting. Does it provide experience? Yes. Does it provide the
best candidate? Not sure. I think, in the end, a team is going to want
the best candidate. Does Rooney provide the ability to make minority
candidates better options? That would seem to be the want - better
minority hires for merit, because nothing good would come from token
hires.

Two, there are just more minority candidates from the defensive side of
the ball. No one can change that. I can't think of an offensive hire
for head coach from a minority circle - I would go as far as Sylvester
Croom (Mississippi State) before I can think of one. He and Maurice
Carthon (failed OC in Cleveland), and then Jim Skipper over a decade
ago, are the guys I can think of in playcalling. That's about it.

But how do you cultivate it? More WRs coaches and RBs coaches need to
put together succession plans to head to QBs coach or OC. Plenty of
non-QBs coaches have become OCs, but they still had to find their way
into the gameplanning. The assistant head coach part doesn't hurt, but
you can't sanction leadership into someone.


Finally, I just think they're going about it wrong. There aren't that
many guys that I can think of, that were "cheated" out of head coaching
jobs. Perry Fewell isn't that good. I can't think of anyone else in
the pipeline that is really destined to be a good head coach. Does
Raheem Morris really strike you as someone who deserves another shot?
There's Lovie Smith, who should be coaching, but he shouldn't take on a
subpar job in Jacksonville just so the NFL can feel good about itself.
Since coaching has a level of cronyism to it, you never know. Look at
Tony Dungy - he brought up a couple minority coaches (Herm Edwards,
Smith) but really didn't push anything on the offensive side any better
than anyone else. I think David Shaw from Stanford is a fantastic
candidate, but that's from college. I think Pep Hamilton makes a lot of
sense, too. But he just finished up at Stanford, and if he does have
success in Indy (and he should), he'll have done it with a QB he knows
(which creates a little doubt).


I think that there are a few good pro QBs who would've made coaches -
like Rodney Peete - and there's just no motivation to do it. You have
good money, why work 16 hours a week to spend 15 years working up a
ladder and spending time away from your kids? Maybe Charlie Batch will
go into coaching. I don't know, but I don't really recognize many
minority coaches with an NFL playing background on offense.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New QBs Coach: Dorsey

Despite being at the coaching world's biggest job fair (Senior Bowl), Carolina has looked back within itself to find its new QBs coach - Ken Dorsey.

Carolina might've actually stolen one back away from Rob Chudzinski on this one - Dorsey was a quarterback under Chudzinski in college, where they shared an alma mater and a playing history.  Dorsey came into Carolina as a pro scout in part because of Chud (and partly an association with Chris Weinke's IMG Academy).  At IMG, Dorsey coached Cam Newton, before any of Carolina's coaches had free access to him.

Dorsey was one of the winningest quarterbacks in college football history at 38-2 - winning a national championship (and losing a 2nd) at Miami; he was a Heisman finalist twice, won the Maxwell award as a senior, and then flamed out in the pros, being unable to overcome arm strength issues with

Dorsey was a pro scout for 2011-12.  Carolina gets another break here - Dorsey was, I'm certain, a good pro scout, but any movement allows new GM Dave Gettleman the ability to move in new blood.


I like it.  Dorsey wasn't a guy on my radar, but  I don't usually expect coaches and scouts to move between the disciplines (and yet, they do).   Would I have preferred more experience?  Depends.  John Ramsdell?  Absolutely.  Otherwise, not as much.  I somewhat like that there are young guys willing to prove themselves, in Dorsey and Ricky Proehl.

Scheme Notes

These don't apply speciflcally to Carolina (sorry) but scheme is
important to me, and I wanted to touch on a couple of things. You'll
hear plenty of these things in the offseason, so here's where I stand on
them.

*The Pistol "offense"

If it's being run in the pros, the pistol is just an alignment.
Really, anything anyone does with the Pistol is simply adding it to what
they do, and that's all Nevada's Chris Ault did to "create" the O. It's
simply a formation, and to a point a technique used with it. Lining up
in the pistol in the pros isn't an offense. It's a scheme infusion, of
sorts. An addition to what's being asked. For it to be an offense,
especially in the old-school thought of what an "offense" is, it'd have
to be all, or the vast majority, of what's being used, i.e., lining up
with the pistol every down and rarely doing anything else.

*Wide-9

Similarly - the Wide-9 is an alignment. It's not a defense. It's just
a playcall. It's just a way of lining up the DL (specifically, letting
the DEs align wider, and having two 3-technique DTs instead of running
one NT and having one end head up on the TE) and having the LBs fill
behind it.

Only a few teams run it - it might or might not find a home stopping
the option for some teams, and here's why. The option has you reading
the playside DE, or in some forms, the DT. If both ends and tackles are
crashing from the outside, your read is always going to be inside. Ask
any DC about the read option, and that's what their hope is, inevitably.
Force it inside.

Now, you only have LBs, and you'd be blocking them with linemen (a
wide-9 alignment flaw anyway), which might cause a team to put up a SLB
like Jarrett Johnson (a DT in build, but has made a living setting the
edge in the 3-4) that can take on blocks better. But, the wide-9 might
be able to work the option better than some other 4-3 arrangements,
situationally.



Also, smartfootball.com's Chris Brown also had a great article on
grantland (I will try to update later with a link) about the Pats'
Ehrhart-Perkins scheme and its evolution. Great article, as his stuff
tends to be.

But, I disagree to a point about its argument. The article suggests
that the outdated ground-and-pound EP scheme (heavy in the lineage of
the Parcells guys, and Steelers) is modernized because route combos are
easier than the heavily wordy West Coast systems or the Coryell's number
systems - which, in a spread, becomes more complicated because, if your
Y and the surrogate F (in a spread, now a WR) are split, you can't just
name the routes with the formation. You have to drop in the F Post so
the F knows what to do (absence of a call means being part of the
protection, which would be kinda silly for a split WR), sure.

But here's where Brown and I disagree. For one, Brady isn't calling
out route combos at the line with playbook names. So Brown's
suggestion is inherently a falsehood - whatever shorthand he uses to
call out plays, or alignments, at the line or walking to the line, is
likely no different than a standard audible system.

So, it's not like Coryell teams running the no-huddle are going to walk
to the line, and say Queen Right, Jet Right orbit, 940 H Swing. They're
going to have a different, shorter nomenclature for audibles and
no-huddle calls. I don't know that particular language, but it's going
to be shorter for any offense. So I disagree that running the archaic
Ehrhart Perkins system gives any sort of real advantage. Kudos for the
Pats livening it up the way they have, but the no-huddle bit is
independent of the verbiage used in the huddle.

Staff Update

The Charlotte Observer's Joe Person, who was the main (and potentially
only) source of info on the QBs coach position being eliminated,
suggests in today's paper that the job may be open, but doesn't expand.
So far, there aren't any real candidates, so I'm still uneasy on this
one.

Carolina should definitely have a legitimate QBs coach. Former Rivera
associate Pat Shurmur is now OC in Philly (it's interesting how many
potential position coach candidates here, are becoming coordinators
again elsewhere), and I can't find anyone who'd really fit from Mike
Shula's past that would also be available. Frank Reich would've been
interesting, but he's in San Diego.

Which leaves John Ramsdell, a Chargers assistant that might find
himself in a tug of war between Carolina and Cleveland, if he doesn't
just outright go to Cleveland. Ramsdell was my initial favorite for the
Carolina OC job if allowed to go - he wasn't, but Rob Chudzinski had no
contract (wisely) and jumped instead. No rumors on Ramsdell or any
other QBs coaches. The team also should be in the market for an
offensive assistant of some sort - it lost two (Scott Turner to the
Browns as WRs coach, Ricky Proehl to the upgrade to WR coach) and should
hire at least one.


The LBs coach job continues to have a ton of nibbles, however. Mark
Duffner (Jacksonville) interviewed, as did Billy Davis (former Dom
Capers OLB coach here, 1995-98; former AZ/SF DC). Brian VanGorder
(Auburn DC, former ATL DC, and Georgia LBs coach who developed a few of
Carolina's draft picks there) will this week. Bob Babich, never a
formal candidate, had an association with Rivera but is now the DC in
Jacksonville (over Duffner, who opted to stay).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Running Out Of Assistant Options

After Carolina resolved a number of their assistant options, they're running out of other options to fill LB coach, or if they wanted, QBs coach.

At LBs coach, it appears Brian Van Gorder is what's left, after Bob Babich is now DC in Jacksonville and John Pagano has stayed in San Diego.

I'm still hoping for a quarterbacks coach, though Pat Shurmur is OC in Philly now (what an odd hire), and Hue Jackson isn't likely to jump here now that he's been passed over as OC.  I do still hope they make something happen there.





FWIW, I really liked the hire of Pep Hamilton in Indy.  I didn't assume he'd be available, but the college coordinator move to pro coordinator is becoming popular now.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Shula as OC; Skipper, Proehl, Rodgers Hired

It's a day for promotion, I guess.

Mike Shula was promoted to offensive coordinator; Ricky Proehl goes from "consultant" two years ago (assistant WRs coach last year) to WRs coach; Richard Rodgers was named special teams coach after being interim special teams coach a year ago.

Additionally, Shula apparently will continue to coach quarterbacks.  I haven't seen this confirmed by the team  yet, but media is reporting it as a possibility.   Jim Skipper, who was approached as RBs coach today, has also been announced to return to his former role (2002-2010).

My reaction?
Shula is a good hire, but not a great one.  It appears to give a lot more credence to Cam Newton than other players; it potentially takes a dynamic offense too conservative.   I would've gone with Hue Jackson, personally; any continuity given by promoting Shula would've schematically remained.

Separately, I'll react to the potential that Shula will be both OC and QBs coach - that's a terrible idea.  No coordinator should be overseeing a position as well.  Shula's time spent with the QBs is a necessary situation for either role; but carrying both roles, he's shortchanging each role.

It's possible that Skipper, who Shula has no prior experience with, could help provide some relief administratively, but with a young WRs coach in Proehl and no QBs coach, there's more power on the running game side than the passing game.  I do like both Proehl and Skipper hires, but pairing the trio together, and I come away wishing for some more perspective for the passing game and experience in gameplanning.

Rodgers, I don't know.  He's qualified, and able, but there were better options.

To a point, it feels like a number of moves to tread water.  With Ron Rivera potentially on borrowed time, I wonder how many coaches would've been willing to come aboard for what might've been only one year - not the same worry with three guys who were being offered promotions, and one who had no job.   Luckily, they're quality coaches.  We'll see what happens.

Now the team must look to a LBs coach, and hopefully, a QBs coach, assistant WRs coach and/or offensive QC type role, and an assistant special teams coach.  I don't know that they'll go for the QBs coach but certainly hope so; the team needs to have some third tier offensive assistants and a special teams assistant.

Skipper Now Possible Again

Jim Skipper, a mainstay under the John Fox regime, might finally come
home again. Profootballtalk.com has an unsourced rumor suggesting that
Ron Rivera has reached out to the former assistant for its RBs coach
job. The assistant was an assistant head coach under Fox, a rumored
college head coach a few times, a former XFL head coach, and Jim
Fassel's first playcaller in NY.** More anecdotally, he was an assistant
coach with the USFL's Philly/Baltimore Stars that featured a young Sam
Mills, and on most of the same Saints teams thereafter.

Skipper didn't move with Fox (Eric Studesville was an interim head
coach, so there was pressure to keep him) like most Panther assistants,
and eventually ended up in Tennessee (where he was fired, along with
most Titans assistants, though Skipper was tasked with the problems with
Chris Johnson).

Rivera had a shot at Skipper in 2011 - reportedly interviewing him but
not offering to him. Inexperienced John Settle, who knew the O from
Paul Chryst in Wisconsin, apparently made a good impression at Senior
Bowl and was one of two college coaches hired (both he and LBs coach
Warren Belin have been released this year).

The move will definitely be popular with Jonathan Stewart, expected to
be the starer in 2013. But none of the other backs from Skipper's
tenure are anticipated back - assuming some movement with Deangelo
Williams.

This is the first non-coordinator assistant rumor to come out,
potentially pushing the staff a little further to completion. Carolina
has fired 3 coaches, and lost two more, in the last two weeks. Skipper,
if the team feels he's the right fit, is the right hire.

**his experience in New York, 1997-2000 isn't any less interesting with
Dave Gettleman aboard. Skipper as an unofficial OC was scapegoated by
Fassel, as was Sean Payton later on.

Around The League

I know things are coaching-centric right now. It's a big interest to
me, and has been for the duration of this blog (started around the 2007
offensive switch). That, contracts/management, and game strategy are my
focus, if you haven't figured that out by now. If that's not your
thing, sorry in advance.

As well, I'm trying out a new way of inputting my thoughts, so bear
with that as well.
Either way, I've been following the hires and figured I'd just put
down everything at once across the league I found interesting, starting
with last night's AZ hire.

*AZ - Bruce Arians
A disaster, and a downgrade, in my opinion. Age doesn't bother me, but
Arians was a lightningrod for years and years. He's a longtime
coordinator whose offenses have only been top 10 twice (2009 and this
year) despite a lot of talent. Not being able to keep Ray Horton is one
thing but replacing him so quickly with Todd Bowles is a whole separate
disaster. John Pagano, Rob Ryan make sense than Bowles.

*SD - Mike McCoy
McCoy was a big name because of success I don't feel he had a lot of
hand in, and because he's young; he's definitely knowledgeable and
learning on John Fox' staff isn't the worst way to go, but I don't know
that he'll succeed.
Adding Ken Whisenhunt was smart on paper but it's not the Coryell stuff
that McCoy had suggested he preferred. It's back to the Ehrhart Perkins
stuff that McCoy dealt with in Carolina 07-08, and with Josh McDaniels.
I don't know if that'll be as happy for Phillip Rivers, but Whiz is an
allright OC. It's unsurprising to me that McCoy has already found a way
to overrule his own offensive ideals, something that's followed him
around (he was a WCO guy coming in, which is why he even got his initial
internship in Carolina) from Fox to McDaniels to Tebow to Manning.
McCoy's tofu, so for his sake he better pick wisely for staff.

*CHI - Marc Trestman
I like it. I was in favor of his name coming up for OC here in 2011
when Marty Hurney was pushing that; he's a solid coach with a couple
different systems under his belt and some head coaching success. His
house-cleaning of staff has some mixed emotion (Mike Tice can go - I
think the D staff going is better longterm, but keeping Marinelli and
staff might've helped more and will be a critical hire; Jeremy Bates is
tough to deal with but would've helped with Cutler), so it'll be
important he backfill from there.

*BUF – Doug Marrone


Not impressed. Sure, has some background in the NFL, but Sean Payton didn’t suffer without him. .500 ball in the Big East isn’t incredible either. Parcells stands by him, but also stood by Tony Sparano. Hiring his college OC, Nathaniel Hackett, is fine because of familiarity, but uninspiring.
Danny Crossman will be a disaster. Mike Pettine was a coup (he’s good, and getting an iterdivisional coach is almost unheard of), so it won’t be a total disaster with cronyism.


*CLE - Rob Chudzinski
Obviously a knowledgeable coach, we'll see how he does with a full
team. He certainly has the recommendation from Panther players. Adding
Norv and Scott Turner were smart hires, but the pending Raheem Morris
deal might not work so well. Thefting John Pagano would've been better.

*KC - Andy Reid
Solid vet choice who should be able to navigate their QB issues well,
if nothing else.
Hiring Bob Sutton, longtime Jets staffer, feels positive but we'll see.
Reid doesn't care about defense. Doug Pederson paid his dues, but I
guess it might be more that he didn't want to tie himself to other names
(Childress, Shurmur were available, and so was his last Eagles OC,
Morhinweg). Dave Toub/Kevin O'Dea were a ST coup for Reid.

*JAX - Gus Bradley
Not a lot to think about this one, honestly. Bradley was a quick riser
and will probably gut the staff. He was what was left, but likely still
paying on two coaches, Bradley it is. Lovie Smith would've been a lot
more respectable (and you'd have gotten Lovie's defensive staff, and
possibly Monte Kiffin since Marinelli went to be an assistant there).

*PHI - Chip Kelly
The most interesting, and quickly surprising after the other night.
Kelly appears willing to leave a lot of his staff in Oregon; he'll
easily be able to recruit from college ranks like he did with an
excellent Todd Grantham hire. I don't have worries with his scheme -
he's constantly evolving.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Browns Official On Turner, Turner

The Browns made it official with Norv Turner, and let the other shoe
fall on the Turner family by officially hiring Panthers offensive
assistant Scott Turner as well. The younger Turner will be the WRs
coach.

It's not unexpected, but wasn't resolved completely until now. Turner
wasn't a position coach, but probably would've been promoted to WRs
coach here if he had not left. Carolina hasn't announced any
candidates for the remaining jobs open, and probably wouldn't until
after hiring a coordinator.

Shula Interviews For OC

There was internet chatter over the potential candidacy of Mike Shula
for OC, whether he was a serious candidate or whether he'd interview.
THe Observer states that Shula interviewed Wednesday for the position,
two days after candidates Hue Jackson and Pat Shurmur interviewed.

Here's where Shula gets interesting - he provides the necessary
continuity, has a relationship with Cam Newton, and would still allow
the team to hire an OC and a head coach-experienced QBs coach based on
the fit with Newton (either Jackson or Shurmur). At this point, with
Shula having the experience at coaching Alabama, all three candidates
fit an ideal of a former head coach with previous coordinating
experience.

Truthfully, if the team played its cards right, it could hire each
candidate - if Jackson would come aboard as WRs coach, the team could
promote Shula and hire Shurmur as QBs coach. Jackson has experience
with WRs in his history. However, that would depend on a lack of ego
and pride, and honestly I believe Jackson to be too good a coach to just
drop in at WRs.


In moderately related news, the Broncos have promoted QBs coach Adam
Gase to OC to replace Mike McCoy. The Panthers haven't officially
expressed interest in Ken Whisenhunt, but he had been considered an
option in Denver. There's no connection between Whiz and Rivera, and
he's never coached any of the position coach jobs open in Carolina, so
it's believed that chatter about Whisenhunt would be nothing more than
that - chatter.

Still no word on potential position coaches so far. It appears that
the Browns are leaning toward Raheem Morris as DC, but if you're hoping
to land John Pagano, he seems more destined to stay in San Diego. With
the Marc Trestman hire, it appears Rod Marinelli is on the move, so the
future of Rivera associate Bob Babich is cloudy (which might lend him
toward a hire here for LBs).

Either way, the Senior Bowl is 1/28, and as much as it is a scouting
combine, it's also a coaching job fair. So it's assumed something might
happen by then, but if not, by the Bowl itself.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gettleman: First Impressions

After incoming GM Dave Gettleman's press conference, and with about a
week passing since his hire, time to analyze a bit.

He definitely appears competent, and personable. He certainly appears
knowledgeable. In that, I suggest that he sidestepped the pending moves
by the team because decisions haven't been made, and shouldn't have been
made, moreso than that he has no idea about the expensive side of the
roster or the salary cap issues.

*Age
A few have already painted the 61 year old as old-fashioned, and I
don't believe that'll be the case coming out of the vet. I certainly
hope it doesn't change how he approaches things, regarding advanced
stats or advancing

I think it was interesting that Gettleman stated his role changed of
his own volition. I don't know what the difference is between Pro
Personnel Director and Senior Personnel Analyst, but it does seem to
pair with the idea that Gettleman, not a big self-promoter, needed a new
role to be able to prep for a run at a GM role.

*Age was a consideration for Richardson, too

I think it's interesting that the buzz on Gettleman was that the team
wanted someone experienced.
So why didn't anyone else on Ernie Accorsi's list have the experience
Gettleman did? The rest, minus CFL GM Jim Popp, didn't have experience
in the role; all had some level of scouting background and over a
decade's worth of experience, but Gettleman was the only really
experienced guy. So if that's what they were after, why bring in only
one guy that fit that description?

*Don't expect a ton of changes immediately

Darin Gantt at PFT pushes this (as many other things relating to
Carolina lately, as a negative) as a probability. He doesn't, however,
state why. It's not a lack of decisiveness, or being stuck in his ways.
The end result is that, if there are any available coaches or scouts
that Gettleman can add, he might - but some of the existing execs on
Mint St might continue on, at least through May. The scouting cycle
really ends after the draft, and that might be a better time to make any
necessary additions or changes.

Even then, there's a chance that the team might stand pat.

*Brandon Beane wasn't a serious candidate

It's hard to say if Beane did in fact interview, but it appears based
on what the team released in its statements, Beane was never really a
factor. His title has returned to its Football Operations past. That's
a bit of a relief, that there was no serious threat for he or any other
non-football guy to become GM.


*Team Personnel
I liked Gettleman's statements about the lines. That's been a sore
spot on the team in the last few years, and it needs an infusion of
toughness. Suggesting QB, receivers, and rushers were the biggest
concern for any team, and then mentioning the lines, my only additional
worry is whether there'll be as much concern to DBs.


*Cap
I like the thoughts about overspending and sentimentality. That will
inevitably cause me some hurt (former 1st rounders for instance that now
look somewhat endangered), but the idea of proper valuation makes sense.
An amount of pain will happen, but hopefully it will lead to some of
the "gold mine" roleplayers he mentioned.


I'm not unhappy with Gettleman. He's the best guy to come in and clean
up the cap issues. He's going to work hard, and not be power hungry; if
it doesn't work out overall, the hope is that at the least, the pro side
will be more evenly bolstered. There are no platitudes or meaningless
vows about doing it a specific way, for instance "building through the
draft" specifically, or a rigid methodology. So far, so good.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Toub Gone, April Next?

Former Ron Rivera associate Dave Toub interviewed in Carolina, but went with his first pro boss instead, signing with Andy Reid and the Chiefs.

Toub came aboard Reid's staff in 2001, two years after Rivera; the pair went to the Bears under Lovie Smith.   Chances are, the longterm stability of Reid (the longest tenured coach in the league before being fired this year, Reid will probably be a Chief for a long time as well) played a part.

So, with that said, the Panthers interviewed Bobby April, the Eagles' ST coach the last few years.   April, a two time Special Teams coach of the year, has 20 years in the league on special teams.  His Eagles' tenure was somewhat rocky (as was with anyone with the Eagles over that time) but is a tremendously respected coach who would likely turn things positive here.

Still no word on position coaches.

Toub Out in Chicago; ST opening

Dave Toub, Chicago ST coach and head coach candidate for various jobs
the last few years, isn't considered a serious candidate for the Bears
job (if you can make any sense of a job search with 15+ candidates).
It's stated that he's not going to stick around for the job under the
next Bears coach - and he's interviewed with Carolina and Kansas City
already.

profootballtalk.com suggests that Toub is leaning toward Kansas City.
If Bears Assistant Special Teams Coach Kevin O'Dea isn't going to stay
with the Bears, he may be a candidate as well. So far, the only other
action the team has found? They've been denied the ability to speak
with Chris Tabor, the Browns' ST coach, along with five other teams.
That would assume he'll stay in Cleveland.*

Danny Crossman is out in Detroit, but Carolina has avoided that
disaster once again, as he's on his way to Buffalo. That puts Bruce
Dehaven in play, and to this point I haven't heard anything on Bobby
April either. I'd take any of them at this point.

*Speaking of the Browns, Norv Turner is officially out of play, going
with the Browns as expected. Nothing yet on other offensive assistants,
including poaching any from the Panthers or Chargers; it's assumed Scott
Turner will go, but as of yet, nothing stated. It may be that a
promotion to WRs coach could keep him, but I doubt it.

OC Update; McCoy

It appears that Mike McCoy, somehow, has finagled the Chargers job. In
a way I like it - I can't begrudge him for what I'd consider an
undeserved promotion. I think it's very interesting that they've hired
yet another Coryell coach, and hope he doesn't poach anyone from here -
ideally I'd even prefer he doesn't keep John Pagano, but it would appear
that some of the existing Chargers coaches would be wanted by McCoy, and
would make sense to keep longtime Chargers assistants like Hal Hunter,
Charlie Joyner, or Ollie Wilson. I would expect a fight for John
Ramsdell by both McCoy and the Browns, and if there's room for him, I'd
hope he considers Carolina, too.

Hue Jackson was recently mentioned as a potential OC candidate for the
Bengals, which might be a better opportunity for him. It brings up
another potential candidate in Ken Zampese, the longtime QBs coach
(ranging from Bob Bratkowski to Gruden's tenure) who interviewed here in
Carolina for the OC job in 2007. Chances are, the team would allow him
to interview if Jackson leapfrogs Zampese for the job (which would be
realistic). Zampese would also likely hire Bratkowski as WRs coach,
which might be an interesting fit.

Both Jackson and Pat Shurmur interviewed yesterday (Monday). It was
rumored that Shurmur, a West Coast Offense coach, was told his system
would have to undergo major changes to fit here - which isn't
unrealistic. It sounds as if they would prefer Shurmur to run the
Coryell system in place, and that he's not familiar with that. That
leads me to assume that they'd prefer to hire Shurmur as a QBs coach
under Mike Shula rather than make Shurmur an OC. Hopefully, Jackson is
a preferred option to either.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cap Update

New GM Dave Gettleman's biggest challenge is going to be pulling the Panthers to cap solvency, short and long term.

John Clayton pitches in that the Panthers took $3.6 million from this season and allocated it forward to next year - leaving the team at $11.8 million.

In addition, it will cost about $4.3 million to sign draft picks (I'll show my work below), so the team will need to clear a total of $16 million.  




OK, for those that want to know why it'll cost that much: 
Michael Brockers was 14th last year, 4 years/9.4 mil (5.36 mil bonus). His cap hit for the year was $1.71 million. Robert Quinn was same (5.3 mil bonus) in 2011. So our 14 pick will probably cost $1.72 mil, give or take.

To make it roughly even, remaining rookies will have a base of $400k (it was $390k last year). Last year's 47, Lance Kendricks, got $1.57 mil to sign (/4=.39, cap hit is roughly 800k). 107 got $400k (so roughly $500k total). Couldn't find anything on 140 (Gabe Miller) for a SB, but Richard Sherman got $182k (so 45k/yr, $435k). Let's estimate two other rookies at $425k ea, which gets me to $4.285 million.

You don't have to drop that immediately. Not until you sign them (generally August, but if it matters, the Giants had theirs all signed in May for rookie camp).  But, by then, you have to have it. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Just When Things Looked Up...



 
I have to admit, Carolina rode a nice wave of good things for a while.
 
A winning streak to end the season, and retaining the coach that helped bring it together, brought some positivity.   Adding a GM everyone thinks well of – that doesn’t hurt.  It seemed like Carolina had some real momentum.  
 
They had a coach and GM when a third of the league didn’t.  With Dave Toub interviewing for the ST job, a major get if they were to pull that off?  Again, trending upward.   There were reports that Norv Turner was in town; completely unsourced rumor had him unofficially joining the staff without a position, for a moment.  And, then, that’s when Chud left. 
 
You can’t begrudge Rob Chudzinski for getting his dream job.  But it brings a host of problems.
 
Chud appears poised to take Norv with him, and only naturally, his son Scott as well.  Norv would’ve been an ideal transition piece for the offense.  It’s not that the team was going to live and die based on the availability of the younger Turner, but Chud’s right hand man upstairs was a riser on this staff.  Chances are, he’d have had first shot at the position coach job at WR, a job I’d expect he’ll take in Cleveland now.   Carolina can’t and wouldn’t let him go. 
 
So, at first glance, the Chargers’ staff being released would be a positive for a staff laden with former Chargers, but now it’s going to play second fiddle to a Browns staff that’ll have more loyalty to its former head coach.   Carolina has to fill five spots – four offensive – and has to compete with its former offensive mind to get
 
Now, the open positions can be a positive.  The new OC, who I’d assume to be Mike Shula at this point, can choose his own staffers.  If, for some reason, there’s scheme change, the remaining jobs could tailor toward that change, or without scheme change, the new OC can provide some new hires that he’s comfortable with.  And since Chud himself tended to overthink, a new approach to the same offense might not hurt. 
 
But, it’s a critical time for the team, in an already do-or-die situation.  I'm personally hoping for Hue Jackson over Mike Shula, but either at this point seems acceptable.  Let's hope that's the case. 

Shurmur Also an OC Candidate

Pat Shurmur, recently fired as Browns head coach, will interview with the Panthers for the offensive coordinator job.

Shurmur, a longtime Eagles assistant with ties to head coach Ron Rivera, was TEs coach when Rivera was hired as LBs coach there.  Shurmur worked up to QBs coach - and interviewed with the Panthers in 2007 for their OC job, which eventually went to Jeff Davidson.

In 2009 he went with former Eagles staffer Steve Spagnuolo (after his NYG stint) to St. Louis, where he was OC for the Rams.  The Rams finished in the bottom 25% of offenses in both years, though admittedly bridging the gap between a highly aged Marc Bulger and a very green Sam Bradford.

Nonetheless, Shurmur was hired as Browns head coach for 2011-12.  Those offenses finished 30th points/29th yards, and 24th in points/25th in yards in two years.  Shurmur, as well, had issues in delegation and didn't have an OC his first year.

A WCO style coach, I don't honestly see the fit.  It would be scheme change, and while a moving pocket couldn't hurt Cam Newton, the rest probably would.  There would be a lot of bad fits for the WCO.  My assumption is that they're interviewing Shurmur as a candidate to be able to hire him as a QBs coach, should they determine Mike Shula is their new OC.

Hue Jackson: Potential OC



Carolina has requested to speak to Bengals assistant Hue Jackson, former coordinator at Cal, USC, Redskins, Falcons, Raiders (and later head coach).  Jackson, in the pros since 2001, has also been a pro QBs coach and WRs coach. 
A Coryell disciple, Jackson would be a good fit; in my opinion he was a good OC, and even a decent head coach in 2011 (8-8) whose issues stemmed more from Al Davis’ death and an odd power vacuum than coaching acumen.  His time as QBs coach in Baltimore was fruitful, and it’s worth noting that OL Coach John Matsko was on staff with him.
An interesting sidestory for Jackson might be hiring from his past for the openings at RB and WR coaches; a QBs coach under Cam Cameron (a Chapel Hill native), Jackson may look to Cameron to be a WRs coach (and his eyes in the press box).    As well, it may be worth reaching to Jackson’s Oakland days for Senior Consultant Al Saunders, a Coryell heir – Al worked directly under Don Coryell, and at one point replaced him.  
Kelly Skipper was his RBs coach in Oakland, which may land he or his father, Jim (a longtime Carolina assistant) in that role.   Sanjay Lal was his WRs coach that season, and may make sense there as well. His “Passing Game Coordinator”, Ted Tollner, may be a hire at WRs coach.
Any of that suggests that Ron Rivera would oversee the hires with Jackson’s input – that may not be the case, Rivera may not request input. Rob Chudzinski had recommended Mike Shula, but most other hires seem to have come from Rivera without suggestion.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Toub Interviews



Bears ST coach Dave Toub interviewed this week, in a pleasantly surprising move. 
 
The former Lovie Smith aide coached with Rivera as well; he’s widely considered one of the better ST assistants, and has interviewed for head coaching jobs in the past.    The move was a nice surprise in that I worried the team would stand pat with Asst ST coach Richard Rodgers as a permanent solution; Rodgers is a decent coach, but inexperienced.  Toub has no concerns with that, continually excelling at the NFL level.

Toub will also interview with the Chiefs - it's suggested that he would also be interested in following Lovie Smith if/when he receives another head coaching position. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rob Chudzinski Gone To Cleveland

Panthers OC Rob Chudzinski was hired by the Cleveland Browns.  It's his third stint in Cleveland - first as a TEs coach, then as OC for two years, and he's a Toledo native.


It's definitely a setback for Carolina, just moving forward with a new GM yesterday and keeping Ron Rivera as of only Saturday.  Now, they have to find the team's 8th offensive coordinator in its 18 year history.


No word yet on what Carolina wants to do to replace him, but it's likely they're just finding out.  I'm certain they're interested in Norv Turner here, but Chudzinski will want him for Cleveland, too.  Not getting Turner would mean losing Scott Turner as well.   Chud and the younger Turner are a strong team, but if the elder Turner came here, it would be difficult to see him go.

I would imagine Mike Shula would be a candidate, as would Chargers QBs coach John Ramsdell, both Coryell guys (the two could team well, honestly).   There's no real association, but I'm sure that Hue Jackson, another Coryell guy, could become available if Jay Gruden doesn't leave as a head coach, since the Bengals let position coaches leave for promotions.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Advice

With the hiring of new Panthers GM Dave Gettleman more or less official at this point, I'll urge on him two points that'll be critical in my opinion for longterm success.

*Expand scout spending

There are still tons of teams that spend only a minimum on scouting.

 Not to pick on Carolina, but they had a GM with no scouting background, and a shortened pro personnel department (which consisted of, until 2011, just Mark Koncz, director).  Carolina doesn't list its scouts, and Dorsey's the only known assistant; I have no idea who works under college director Don Gregory.  So it's hard to say exactly how many true scouts you have in the building.  Consequently, coaches have had more say, and more power, even if they're not good at it.  And their job performance might not be based on scouting at all - it being a part time job.

The Oakland Raiders, for instance, never had a war room until last year.  It was just Al Davis in his office.  The Bengals barely paid any scouts for the longest - first Paul Brown, then son Mike, made the decisions, and there was minimal input.  

Compare that to this - the Giants have a GM/VP; an Assistant GM; a Senior Pro Personnel man (Gettleman, up until today) backed by a Pro Personnel Director already in line to replace Gettleman; a College Scouting Director (Marc Ross), and a Football Ops guy who assists the GM in all duties (essentially, an assistant to the GM who helps with the cap and all scouting).  They put 9 scouts under Ross - three with the title of Executive Scout, which I imagine is an analogy to most team's National Scout - and three pro scouts.

Consider that this is a billion dollar franchise whose annual payroll is $120 million.  A general manager might make  $2 million to start; two directors at $150,000 apiece, a cap guy at $75,000, and let's say the team in question spends well and gives their scouts $50,000 apiece. Let's give one to pro scouting and four to college.   So you're in for under $3 million, for a roster of $120 million in spending.  2.5% of the budget, to acquire and learn every player that gets that $120 million.

So, spend.  Doing it the Giants' way costs more - Jerry Reese probably makes double that; let's leave the other numbers the same but expand for more people.  We're still barely spending $6 million.  But you have a lot more eyes out there, gathering information.

So with that said, here's how you spend:

-Assistant GM.  Without this role, there's only one guy with authority to spread around; an assistant adds another set of eyes.  A guy who might be able to let a GM be in two places at once.  Find a good candidate with at least two disciplines on his resume; two from between a group of of cap management, college scouting, pro scouting, and coaching.

-Experienced Pro and College Scouting Directors.

A lot of teams promote area or national scouts.  That's fine, but let's go a little higher and get guys who have done it before.  Don't skimp because pro scouting might be OK with Gettleman backed by a young guy.

-More scouts

4 national scouts, and 4-5 area scouts.  That allows each corner of the nation to be covered with redundancy in person, followed by plenty of coverage for workouts and pro days in addition to the executive staff.

Three pro scouts, deployed in this format: scout 1 is assigned week 1; scout 2 and 3 get week 2 and 3, and so on.  That way, each pro scout ,when the team faces that opponent, has three weeks dedicated advanced scouting for the team to use.   As well, each pro scout is responsible for one division opponent to study all year, every week.  In addition, I'd deploy the Pro Scouting Director to self scout weekly; watching the team from the outside to give input to coaches on tendencies and to have continual knowledge of personnel.

-Sabermetrician

I think the team should have a czar of advanced statistics/sabermetrics as well.  While this isn't a specific title that I expect to be given (the Giants have a Director of Football Information), I anticipate the team to use advanced stats as an aid to scouting, and there needs to be someone who can anchor that analysis.  So with that said, here's point #2:

*Pro Analytics

The Giants were one of the teams that used profootballfocus.com's analyis (which comes with some advanced statistics, charting, and grading) in 2011, and are said to believe in the ideal of advanced statistics in general.  For instance, PFF's analysis breaks down common sense info (corners and WRs playing in the slot, for instance) with more detail, and with more info (targets, drops, QB rating).  It gives an applicable way of looking at OL play in terms of pressure and overall play, as another example.

Advanced stats aren't an end-all approach, but they take things like emotion ("but this guy was a Pro Bowler last year!", or "but this guy's given everything to the franchise for a decade!") out of the equation, so to speak.  It feels like, if the Giants were doing it, that approach will have a bit of a home here; if not for game use, it likely will help standardize college and pro scouting to a point, and help decision making in ways that 40 times and tape won't touch.  It won't replace those, but it'll help.  And since agents are using advanced stats to negotiate, this levels the playing field on that end, too.


Hopefully those two ideals make sense.  That's what I'd do, and hopefully Gettleman might get around to doing the same.

Dave Gettleman - Your New General Manager

Dave Gettleman, Senior Personnel Analyst for the Giants, is the new Carolina Panthers' GM.

Here's my prior article on Gettleman. 

Working down from a list of six prospective candidates, Carolina interviewed all six in the last three days before deciding on Gettleman.

Ernie Accorsi, the former Giants GM who helped provide NY with the Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning combo and set in motion the Falcons' recent good luck with Mike Smith/Tom Dimitroff/Matt Ryan, compiled the list of candidates and did the preliminary work.  It's been suggested that interviews were primarily carried out by owner Jerry Richardson and President Danny Morrison.  Still, Accorsi's favorite was rumored to be Gettleman going into interviews, and he's who they hired.

The move will be officially announced next week.

Gettleman, the only candidate to have actually worked with Accorsi, was also the most experienced by about a decade, and the 62 year old wasn't just the most experienced - he was the most diversely experienced (college and pro scouting, and was a high school head coach), and the most educated (with two master's degrees).

Assistants Fired

Carolina annouced today that RBs coach John Settle, WRs coach Fred Graves, and LBs coach Warren Belin have been released.

It was interesting to have seen Belin and Settle, two career college coaches, come in for Rivera - whose staff dealt mainly with pro coaches, and neither Rivera nor DC Sean McDermott had any real college coaching experience.  Both came from fairly good stock.

Graves was an established coach in the league, and had ties to Steve Smith.  It might've been the ties to Smith that got him hired; it might also be why, with Smith now handily in Carolina for the rest of his career, that he won't be needed any longer.

I don't believe I'd say any of the three did a poor job.  The RBs and LBs obviously had talent and production.  That's not to say the firings were unjustified; it's fairly easy to say that they wanted more experienced coaches at RB and LB, and someone with more longevity at WR.  Hard to totally say, though.

I would anticipate that Settle and Belin would each go back to college, and won't have much trouble finding work there.  Graves, at 62, isn't at retirement age by any means, but it might hinder him.  There were whispers that John Matsko would be fired on the OL, but not so far.  Both coordinators are safe; nothing so far at all on the special teams - whether there's an opening, or whether Richard Rodgers is the guy.

A sign for possible hope - up to the start of the 2012 season there was only one change on the Rivera staff - Steve Wilks, DBs coach/Passing Game Coordinator, a guy I've lauded here so often.  And he's worked out really well.  So hopefully, as Rivera makes a few less concessions moving forward, hopefully that'll help these positions.

Now, for the openings:
Here's an incomplete list of guys I think make sense based on, in some situations, association; in others, competent coaching absent of association to the current coaches.

RB
*Jim Skipper was fired in Tennessee, and we know he's good.  But, only one of his old backs is likely to be on staff in 2013, so the cries for him won't be that strong.  He has head coach, OC type duties (Giants) and assistant head coach duties in his background.  Knows a version of this offense via the Dan Henning years.

*Curtis Modkins was Buffalo's OC the past three years, and was a RBs coach by trade.

*Ollie Wilson was RBs coach in San Diego.  Pretty good.  Probably would follow Norv to wherever he's going, or stay where he is.  Knows the O, and three Panthers coaches, well.

*Tim Spencer coached the Bears from 2004.  The Bears have been Coryell that entire time, though under three different coordinators.


WR
*Charlie Joyner of the Chargers is likely to stay there.

*David Culley of the Eagles has been on staff since 1999.  That sounds like a career Andy Reid guy to me.

*Scott Turner - Rob Chudzinski's right hand man might make sense for a promotion.  Some of his current duties could go to Ricky Proehl, officially an assistant WRs coach as of last year (prior, "offensive consultant").  Or they could promote Proehl - it's possible that the younger Turner might want to follow his father (to an OC job somewhere) or uncle (to FIU).



LB
*Dave Wannstedt got Ron Rivera his first job after his playing days were over, and coached Rivera.  Wannstedt, an assistant head coach/LBs coach in 2011, became Buffalo's DC in 2012 to mixed results.  He coached the Pitt Panthers team that Scott Turner was a WRs coach with.

*John Pagano was the LBs coach under Ron Rivera in San Diego; he was their DC last season after former Panther head coaching candidate Greg Manusky flamed out after one year.  That defense finished 16th in yards but 9th in points.   He doesn't have a lot of ties to Rivera (having been there since 2005), and it might be hard for him not to go join his brother, head coach of the Colts.

*Bob Babich was the Bears' LB coach from 2004; Rivera was DC from 04-06.  Bob's son, Bobby, is a defensive assistant for the Panthers, but isn't apparently credited on the team site.  He's been brought up by Rivera a few times.


Third Tier Assistants
There are a couple of non-positional assistants out there I like:

*Duce Staley, Asst Special Teams - SC native would make sense if Richard Rodgers stays as ST coach instead of receiving a demotion

*Kevin O'Dea, Asst Special Teams - Bears ST asst who was potentially sought as the STs coach here at one point.

*Cris Dishman, Asst DBs - Steve Wilks has done a great job, but let's give him a hand back there, too.



Of that list, Jim Skipper or Dave Wannstedt could be the Assistant Head Coach type that I could see Ron Rivera adding to his staff for additional responsibilities.  Pagano might also make sense there.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dave Gettleman Profile



On the Pro Personnel side, Senior Pro Personnel Analyst Dave Gettleman is the other half of GM Jerry Reece’s arsenal in New York, and the other known candidate for the Panthers’ open GM spot.

Gettleman – a 25 year pro and entering his 15th year with the Giants, has been Pro Personnel Director for 13 years.  His time with the Giants is all pro personnel – the prior ten years were college personnel.

His college personnel years start in Buffalo in 1987 after a year interning; he spent five years as an area scout before representing BLESTO as a scout (BLESTO started as an association between teams to share scouting costs). He then moved on to the Broncos for four years, before moving in on the Giants Pro Personnel department.  After two years under Tim Rooney, he was promoted to Director.

Pro personnel, in a way, is more interdisciplinary – it’s scouting, but it also deals highly on internal matters like cap management, team needs, and helping put together a roster.

In a way, it’s not as hard to deal with pro personnel – you have to deal with things like fit, but you’ve seen these players in the league.  For your own players, you have the ability to access them at any time, talk to their coaches, other players.  College and the draft is much more a matter of circumstance for success.

Gettleman has a short background as a player (one year as an OT for Springfield College) and coach – he was head coach of the Spackenkill (Poughkeepsie, NY) HS for eight years, including two league titles, with a total of 12 years coaching and 10 as head coach. More impressively, with the job of teacher/head coach, Gettleman earned two Master’s degrees in that time (one in PE, one in sports administration).

Monday, January 7, 2013

Jim Popp Profile

Jim Popp, General Manager of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, is a candidate for the GM job in Carolina. 

Arguably the most successful General Manager in CFL history, Popp has won four Grey Cups (1995 with the Baltimore Stallions;20022009, and 2010 with the Alouettes) and his teams have appeared in 10 Grey Cups (eight over the past decade).  

Something most GM candidates don't have?  Coaching experience. Popp coached at his alma mater (Michigan St), UNC, and the Citadel before moving to help coach Saskatchewan of the CFL. As WR coach, he was also given director of personnel duties, which he took to the Stallions as GM.  When the Ravens moved to town, the CFL franchise moved to Montreal and became the Alouettes; they've been in 10 Grey Cups under Popp, and have won four. 

Popp actually named himself coach twice - 2001, and 2006-07. IN 07, he hired former 49ers assistant (and reported Marty Hurney candidate for OC last year) Marc Trestman, who led the team to back to back Grey Cups. 

Initially, you'd say, that's still odd - being in the NFL from the CFL.  There's a local tie or two in there, though.  The 48 year old Elkin native moved south to go to Mooresville HS (the team's stadium carries his father's name), lives in Charlotte in the offseason, and most interestingly, he's a Panthers season ticket holder. 

I'm not 100% certain what to say about this one.  I like that we're looking outside the box; my initial reaction was a bit of shock, and somewhat disappointment.  But, it's growing on me.  I don't really care if he's from here, but I like that he's had success.   It's not unlike finding a top college coach with pro experience, in a way. 



Popp interviews late this week.  Apparently Marc Ross is the first in, tonight.  Beane, Gettleman, Paton, and Dawson will all interview this week.   There was a report out there that John Dorsey was a candidate, but as of yet there's nothing solid about that.  

One rumor puts Gettleman as Accorsi's top pick going into interviews.  We'll see what happens. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Beane Rumors Persist

Brandon Beane, a guy I wasn't aware of a year ago and I'm sure most people weren't aware of the day Marty Hurney was fired, continues to be a potential candidate for general manager.   To this point, the media hasn't really talked to him; there's little info on him other than that he handled a lot of non-football operations for the team (travel, for instance) and was considered right hand man to Marty Hurney (who had no scouting background).

The team has suggested it wants someone with a scouting background.  So why is Beane continuing to get so much press?

There's one possibility - Pat Yasinskas has pushed him as a hardline candidate for a while. It's possible any other press pushing it, is simply citing him.   I don't see many other options.  I can see Beane getting an interview as a courtesy, but I can't see how he's that serious a candidate.

If the team does like him, why not simply elevate him to Assistant GM and let him learn from a good GM and the College/Pro Scouting Directors?

This reminds me, to a point, of the Jeff Davidson issues in 2007.  A former OL coach and OC for half a year in Cleveland, when Davidson was sought to come to Carolina that year he'd been let go, along with plenty of others from that staff (and replaced with Rob Chudzinski, if you remember correctly).  Davidson was officially the OC and "running game coordinator" until Mike McCoy (similar to Beane, a relative unknown who Yasinskas pushed hard, stating he was by far the top candidate for the OC job) left after 2008.

So why's this remind me of Beane?  Davidson was a free agent.  The other guys - Pat Shurmur, Ken Zampese - were QBs coaches only willing to come for the upgrade to OC, and only able because their teams were willing to see that happen.   So you could've gotten one - Zampese has a Coryell background, which would've made sense here after Henning, over Shurmur's WCO - and Davidson as your new line coach, and if you wanted, dress it up with that silly "running game coordinator" title for Davidson if he's that great.   I didn't have a problem with Davidson, given the hand he was dealt under John Fox, but you could've had more.

With Beane, it feels like the same thing, to a point.  Is he a good football administrator?  Does he have any reason to show that he'd be a good scout?  No idea.  And the only way he as GM would work is under the possibility that he finds great Directors and has a lot of guys feeding him good information.   But then you're essentially restarting Marty Hurney's career with Beane, which doesn't seem like much change.

George Paton Next Candidate

I don't know George Paton: here's a rundown of the Vikings Assistant GM on their website.  Browns have also requested to interview him.  As Asst. GM, he'd have a full-picture situation that the Scouting Directors may not have.

        With Ron Rivera in place for 2013, it appears the team's GM search can finally make headway Monday.  News outlets expect 5 or 6 interviews, with the Giants' Marc Ross and Dave Gettleman a part of it; Paton is on the list, and it appears Brandon Beane is still somehow a candidate.  No official word on Lake Dawson yet, or any other candidate.

         So, the team should have a GM in about a week.  It has a coach, and that's a start.

Ron Rivera - Staying for 2013

Jerry Richardson and Ron Rivera met this morning - apparently in Richardson's gated community home outside Charlotte.

And, apparently it went well.  Panthers PR spokesperson Charlie Dayton has stated Rivera will stay.  It's a safe assumption that playoffs were a stated expectation.

Now, Rivera has to put together the rest of his staff.  It's doubtful in my opinion that Rivera would've been asked to sacrifice a coordinator.  The few rumors I heard about Mike Shula suggest that there's an outside chance he'll leave if he wants (i.e., they wouldn't stop him).  I would definitely hope for a good Special Teams hire - say, Dave Toub, who you could also name Assistant Head Coach.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Rivera, Richardson Meet Saturday

There's no reason to be in too big a hurry, but Carolina is not starting out fast so far.  They have three interviews - Marc Ross, Dave Gettleman, and what I'd consider a courtesy interview for Brandon Beane - for their open GM job, and might be waiting for the playoffs to square up with another candidate.

        Maybe it's the holiday.  Maybe it's not really a situation where Rivera is in limbo.  But, if a decision is to be made, apparently a lot will be riding on this Saturday conversation.  It appears the GM situation may be riding on whether or not Rivera is allowed to stay - if not, it still appears to be holding for it.   Richardson apparently setup a similar conversation with Marty Hurney the day he was fired, though it may not have been on Hurney's knowledge that the conversation was that in depth.   You might consider it an interview for a job Rivera already has. 

        It should likely deal with where Rivera feels like he must improve, what he feels like he'll need to fix in his staff and himself, and what direction he sees the team heading.   What's unlikely is whether that interview might provide Rivera additional power, or guarantees past the year.

Pioli Out; Reid In, for KC; Ross

         The Chiefs dropped Scott Pioli as GM and hired Andy Reid, a reasonable followup to owner Clark Hunt’s proclamation that the GM wouldn’t manage the coach. Pioli deserved to be let go, and Reid likely wasn’t going to work with him. So, that probably puts Tom Heckert in as GM; John Dorsey of the Packers may be in play as well, but there’s a suggeston Dorsey wouldn’t leave without more power, which he probably won’t have with Reid. That’s not suggested it’s definitely Dorsey that wouldn’t want to go; it’s whether the Packers would let him leave as well. 


          That marks the first coach hiring, and adds one GM spot open. I’d consider it highly unlikely that Carolina, if a job was open, would’ve hired Reid; chances are, they won’t hire Pioli. I wouldn’t want him either way, and if I had to guess, you could put him in Cleveland. They love Pats retreads. Now, for KC, I’d be willing to bet that they’re interested to see what happens with Carolina’s staff, since a few key former Reid staffers are in place here.


          So far, Carolina’s leisurely pace hasn’t cost them anything. I don’t see many coach openings changing until this time next week, depending on who loses this weekend. I don’t know that the GM race will be impacted by that, but the coaching search (if applicable) won’t be.

          Speaking of that, looks like Marc Ross will interview with Jacksonville, as well.  That makes four teams (so far) and may create more delays in the process if Ross is Carolina's top candidate.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Interest In Lake Dawson

per the Charlotte Observer, the Carolina Panthers have shown interest in, but have not yet requested to interview, Titans Vice President of Personnel Lake Dawson.

The 41 year old Dawson was a 3rd round pick out of Notre Dane in 1994.  He played for four seasons for the Chiefs, and was rostered for two more with the Colts but never played due to chronic knee issues.

Dawson pursued an MBA at Notre Dame before joining the Seahawks as a Pro Personnel Assistant in 2001.  Moving to the Titans in 2007 as Pro Personnel Director, he moved up to VP/Football Operations last year, before getting a salary bump to Vice President of Personnel after interviewing with the Rams last season.

His entire career has been in pro personnel.  Like Dave Gettleman, that may give him an advantage as the GM role and pro personnel role go more hand in hand, dealing with internal issues, not just prospects.

Dawson, in a way, creates a unique compromise between Gettleman and Marc Ross, the two candidates so far - Dawson has a good school history and playing history, with a similar charisma to Ross', but carries pro personnel experience and strong business sense.  Being a former NFL player isn't a negative by any means - Dawson doesn't have as much experience as the two Giants candidates, but that experience as a player would likely be valuable.  

The team "showing interest" likely means contact from Accorsi, but not an official request for interview.  

I think it's interesting that two of the first three candidates started out as wide receivers, if nothing else.  Whether it just happened that way, or Accorsi is pandering to JR blatantly, I think Dawson is a talented young pro personnel exec that, if bolstered by an experienced assistant GM and/or an experienced College Personnel Director, could go far with this team.

Jim Skipper Fired in TN



Former Carolina staffer Jim Skipper, the last two years spent as RBs coach with the Titans, has been let go.

Skipper, a former XFL head coach, occasional head coach candidate in the college ranks, and Carolina’s RBs coach from 2002-2010, was also John Fox’s assistant head coach from 2006-2010.  A constant force on the sidelines, standing within reach of Fox at all times, Skipper wasn’t slated to go with Fox to Denver (Eric Studesville, the interim head coach, was promised to stay), and Carolina chose not to keep him on Ron Rivera’s staff.  However, that was to the protest of the RBs on roster at the time.

While it’s probable that the only remaining back from Skipper’s tenure for next year will be Jonathan Stewart (the team had 4 backs in 2011’s camp that had an attachment to Skipper), it’s possible that, if RBs coach John Settle doesn’t return for any of various reasons, Skipper might be sought as a replacement.  However, it’s unlikely the team would fire Settle at this point, and Skipper has no association to any coaches on staff.   Still, a selling point for bringing in WRs coach Fred Graves was a connection to Steve Smith, so who knows.

Ross’ Dance Card Fills


Marc Ross, Giants College Personnel Director, is being very highly sought at this point. Aside from the Panthers, the Jets and Chargers have asked to interview. Ross has become a hot name leaguewide and may not stop at three teams, weighing the potential of various openings. At this time there are six teams at minimum looking.

 

Maybe that’s why Dave Gettleman is considered by some as the front runner in Carolina. The more experienced, pro personnel side of the Giants’ front office, Gettleman isn’t as highly sought, but doesn’t appear to be less talented. At this point I’m convinced that the Panthers would be happy with either, and that Gettleman isn’t a Plan B guy.



Ross, not unlike coach Ron Rivera, has had a number of interviews – and will continue to interview. Why that becomes a negative to a prospect I’m unsure – but, it does carry a negative connotation. In Rivera’s case, he’s suggested that as a Rooney Rule candidate,



In Ross’ situation, there aren’t really many alternatives for Rooney candidates (Joey Clinkscales of the Raiders, who’s been out there less than a year). So it’s a win-win at the time – teams get their requisite interview with a serious candidate out of the way; Ross gets wined and dined while showing other teams there’s interest. I imagine after a while, the perception becomes that Ross gets passed by, moreso than the reality that he gets more interviews as a promising minority candidate.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cam/Offense: A Quick Wonder Into Other Offenses

There's no coaching change, and there might not be.  Even if there is, I'd probably push toward a Coryell type system.  There would be continuity; it features a downfield game that benefits Cam Newton, Steve Smith, and Greg Olsen. Regardless of what happens with the team, these three are big parts of that.

But, there's no telling what might happen.  A new coach might come in, and that coach might have his own offense (or, as a defensive guy, has an OC he prefers, which may mean the new head coach prefers that OC over caring about the offense at all).

So, let's go through the other offenses and find where the fits are.

West Coast Offense

The WCO has some positives - Smith's run after the catch ability, the added emphasis on getting the ball to the backs.  It fits into a zone blocking scheme that won't be far off where Carolina falls right now.  Mike Shanahan has shown it's a malleable enough offense to throw in the pistol and zone read.   There's a lot of moving pocket stuff that would fit.

It's only more recently that shotgun ideals have worked with the WCO.  Carolina ran more shotgun than anyone but Detroit (another Coryell, under Scott Linehan).  So there would be an adjustment.  Olsen, always under a Coryell scheme, would get his touches but probably wouldn't get the downfield stuff he's enjoyed here.

Ehrhart-Perkins

This scheme, most reminiscent of the NY Giants/Patriots lineage, is the most dependent on who's running it.  A Jeff Davidson scheme here, it came to the Patriots as Charlie Weis came over with Bill Belichick.  The Patriots have used it toward spread ideals lately, featuring the slot receiver and tight end.  Steelers disciples generally run this as well.

This isn't really an "offense" that was developed in the same form as the others, in a way.  It's just old school football that eventually came together in one playbook, untouched by the innovators of the 70s and 80s.  In its pure form, it's a power running, play action offense.  This would inevitably limit Newton's passes and touches, and work harder on the run game.  Though Dan Henning ran Coryell, his ideals were more of the E-P variety - "feed the stud", pound the ball, take deep shots, play the odds.

Another situation where shotgun isn't an ideal format.  More or less wastes Smith, and Olsen isn't blocker enough.  The backs would get plenty of touches.

Run and Shoot/Spread/No-Huddle

The spread offenses of the last 15-20 years in college are adaptations of the original run and shoot offense.   A few teams in the league run this - though their adaptations can be made from any offense, notably Belichick's spread ideals above.   This offense was huge in the AFC in the early 90s, with various no huddle, run and shoot type offenses putting together success for a time.  It's not as radical as it used to be, but can be as potent.

This would be an intriguing fit for Newton specifically, with a lot of shotgun and flexibility.  There would be a worry about structure, however.  Since so many versions have adapted, there's not a common philosophy - there are versions of the spread that derive from the Wing-T, for instance.  Without a lot of commonality, this offense is tofu - it'll take on the flavor of what you put with it.  And that probably isn't enough structure for a young quarterback.   Since various offenses are changing to fit the college game now, it's not necessary to tailor something new to do the same thing.

So those are the basic options, and how I view their adaptation.   I'd really prefer to stay with the same offensive staff, and if not, the same system.

Marc Ross Profile

First brought up here in October, Marc Ross is potentially the first interview for Carolina.



      The 39 year old Princeton grad has 16 total years in scouting.  Getting his start as a public relations intern for the 1995 training camp under the Giants, he was hired to the Columbia University athletics department.
 Added to the Eagles' personnel department in 1996, he moved up as an Eastern regional scout in '97, and again in 2000 as the youngest college scouting director in the league at the time (age 27).  Fired in 2003 ito promote eventual GM Howie Roseman, Ross moved on to Buffalo as a national college scout.

       He was hired by the Giants in the wake of the 2007 draft, the first season of Jerry Reese succeeding the retired Ernie Accorsi.  Accorsi now consults for Carolina in addition to his duties as the chair of the General Managers Committee for the NFL -- he never worked directly with Ross but worked with most of the guys Ross has worked with.

        Ross, an all-Ivy League receiver at Princeton 1993 and 1994, graduated in 1994 with a sociology degree, and received a Master's in Sports Management from the University of Massachusetts.

In my opinion, Ross may be the brightest available candidate.  His flaw as a general manager would be a relative lack of experience with the pro personnel and cap end.  He'd need an experienced player in that realm, which might come with recently released Browns GM Tom Heckert, who had been Eagles GM after Ross left the Eagles.  Heckert appears to be headed to wherever Andy Reid heads, but has an association with Ross (Heckert was promoted to Directer of Pro Personnel in 2003, when Ross received his college promotion) and knows the pro side.  But, any good Pro Personnel Director would be required.

Ross, Gettleman To Interview

New York Giants' Pro Personnel Director  Dave Gettleman and College Scouting Director Marc Ross have been requested to interview with Carolina, the Giants have released. 

The pair are the top two executives under GM Jerry Reese, who has directed the Giants to two titles in five seasons.  Since the Giants weren't in the playoffs, both are immediately available.  Permission was granted by the Giants.  Apparently, the same has been offered for Ross to the Jets as well. 

Proximity of the two executives together, to go with the Jets' interest in Ross, may prompt Panthers execs to travel instead of host, much as they did in the coaching search of 2011.  It might provide quicker access to Ross, who had interviewed with various teams in the past as well, and cover Gettleman's interview quickly as well.  

So far, no word on other candidates.  At least a few, assumedly, would still be in the playoffs.