NFL Coach Update: L.A. Likes McVay; Denver Eyes Joseph
Peter King/Sports Illustrated via MMQBhttp://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/nfl- ... bag-011117
Lots of email about the Chris Berman retrospective and, because in my Tuesday piece on Berman I didn’t say what I thought of the man, I’ll do that here. But first, let’s look at the coaching carousel, which appears to be moving much faster than we thought a few days ago.
On Monday, the Jaguars announced they were keeping interim coach Doug Marrone as the full-timer, backstopped by two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Coughlin as director of football operations. The Bills, according to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, appear to be closing in on Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, 42, a well-respected graduate of the Jim Johnson school of defense in Philadelphia. And then there were four. What each vacancy looks like this morning:
• Denver. The Broncos seem to have it down to two, with Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph having a slight edge over Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. But Joseph was scheduled to leave Denver after an interview Tuesday to keep appointments with the Chargers on Wednesday and the 49ers on Thursday. However—and this might be significant—Joseph had dinner with Elway after their interview and Joseph had not left Denver as of late Tuesday night and was scheduled to stay until this morning. “He has great leadership qualities and a strong vision of what it takes to win,” GM and decider-in-chief John Elway tweeted Tuesday. Longtime Broncos beat man Mike Klis says special-teams coach Dave Toub of Kansas City is still in the equation too. It’s still too early to think Joseph—who then would have a need to build an offensive staff while retaining most defensive assistants, a bit of an awkward scenario—is the better fit over Shanahan. But I’ve heard Elway and club president Joe Ellis were extremely impressed by the Shanahan interview, and that narrowed the early gap between he and the more well-rounded manager he thinks Joseph is. So we’ll see.
• Los Angeles. There’s always a candidate that comes out of the blue. This year’s guy is growing on the Rams, and fast. The Rams are serious about 30-year-old offensive coordinator Sean McVay of Washington. (Well, he’s not so young. He does turn 31 in two weeks.) He was the play-caller in Washington the past two years under Jay Gruden, and the grandson of Bill Walsh’s director of football operations in San Francisco is well respected by his players. When the Rams interviewed McVay, they found a guy who was totally un-awed by the prospect of being the youngest head coach in the league. He’s been training for it under Gruden. “I’m sure,” Gruden told our Andy Benoit last summer, “he’ll be a head coach a lot sooner than people think.” If McVay’s the call over Houston assistant Mike Vrabel or Buffalo interim coach Anthony Lynn (the Rams loved Lynn when they spoke Sunday), he’ll have to build a veteran staff to help him negotiate the stuff he doesn’t know. But the prospect of McVay, who helped tutor Kirk Cousins into respectability, working with top 2016 pick Jared Goff might be most attractive to the Rams. Keep in mind that owner Stan Kroenke has to approve all hires, and he hasn’t met with the youngster yet. So set nothing in stone here.
• San Diego. The Chargers favor a candidate with head-coaching experience, which gives former Falcons coach Mike Smith (seven-year mark in Atlanta: 67-50) a leg up. But that’s not a must. The choice will have to be flexible, in case the franchise moves to the Los Angeles ‘burbs this fall and plays as an orphan for two years while the Rams/Chargers palace dreamed up by Rams owner Stan Kroenke is built. Toub is in play here, as is Joseph (slated to interview Wednesday). All along, a defensive coach has seemed to make sense here, with so much young talent on that side of the ball. If not Smith or Joseph, Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is also liked in San Diego.
• San Francisco. The Niners know they’ll have to stretch for one of the young stars (Josh McDaniels, Kyle Shanahan), as in a very long-term contract and willingness to allow the pick to help overhaul the culture of this suddenly downtrodden organization. They seem willing to do that, and to lower expectations for the next couple of years while the franchise is rebuilt. An offensive man with the reputation for finding and coaching the quarterback of the future—quite likely not on the roster as we speak—makes the most sense. This is still an open place. The Niners have favorable draft (picks 2, 34, 66 in the first three rounds) and cap positions to sell.