AFC West: Bill Johnson

We heard Greg Manusky’s name connected with the Oakland Raiders' defensive coordinator job on Monday and passed it along.

Now, it has taken the next step. Fox Sports reports Manusky has interviewed for the job with new coach Dennis Allen.

Allen is moving fast to fill out his Oakland staff. He is reportedly bringing in Houston Texans quarterbacks coach Gregg Knapp. He was Oakland’s offensive coordinator in 2007-08, but Tom Cable stripped Knapp of his duties in 2008. Allen and Knapp worked together in Atlanta early last decade.

Fox Sports also reports Allen will retain running backs coach Kelly Skipper. The running backs are Oakland’s strength.

The Manusky hire could be looked with some skepticism. He was fired earlier this season as the Chargers’ defensive coordinator.

Kansas City Chiefs defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas, New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson and Denver Broncos linebackers coach Richard Smith were previously candidates. The Raiders were denied permission to talk to Smith and Johnson.
The nice play is over in the AFC West. It didn’t last long.

When Dennis Allen was hired to be the Oakland Raiders’ head coach last week, his former boss John Fox wished Allen well. And, now, Allen is on his own.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Broncos have denied the Raiders permission to speak to linebackers coach Richard Smith for the Oakland defensive job.

Previously, Kansas City defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas and New Orleans defensive line coach Bill Johnson were dropped off as candidates. It’s not a surprise Fox denied Allen permission. He wants to keep as much stability on his defensive coaching staff as possible. It seems more and more teams are denying permission these days and it’s no shock this intra-division hard stance was made.

Potential coordinator candidates may now include former San Diego defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and San Francisco defensive backs coach Ed Donatell.

UPDATE: CSN Bay Area reports Oakland special teams coach John Fassel has reported to St. Louis. The Raiders have had one of the best special teams in the NFL in recent years. Fassel was a strong coach, but the talent remains for Oakland in this area.

Meanwhile, NFL.com is reporting that Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is considering pursuing former Kansas City coach Todd Haley as offensive coordinator.

That would be an interesting pairing. Haley is known for being high strung and vocal in his coaching. Tomlin is intense, but he’s not much of a screamer and a yeller. Also, Haley is known for getting on his players often during games. It would be interesting to see an established quarterback such as Ben Roethlisberger adjust to playing for Haley.

I’m sure Haley would love the job. He is from Pittsburgh and his father, Dick, is a former legendary Steelers’ personnel man.
Among the potential candidates to become the Raiders' next defensive coordinator could be Denver linebackers coach Richard Smith, New Orleans defensive line coach Bill Johnson and San Francisco secondary coach Ed Donatell. Broncos coach Dennis Allen has coached with all three men. Smith and Donatell both have coordinating experience. Johnson coached Allen at Texas A&M and worked with him in New Orleans and Atlanta.

There is also talk that Allen could try to hire longtime strength coach Al Miller. Miller coached in Denver during the John Elway days and in Atlanta when Allen was there. There is no doubt Allen is deeply involved in filling out his staff.

FoxSports.com is reporting Kansas City defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas is no longer a candidate to be the Raiders’ defensive coordinator.

Thomas was a mentor of Allen in Atlanta for several years.

Meanwhile, new Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel, who is expected to run his own defense, said it may be a while before he hires an offensive coordinator. He said he hasn’t asked permission to talk to Brian Daboll -- the former offensive coordinator for the Browns and Dolphins -- but he might. Daboll has been considered a favorite to land the job.

Home game at stake

January, 11, 2009
1/11/09
12:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

PITTSBURGH -- The flight here was full of both Chargers and Steelers fans.

And the plane erupted into cheers when it was announced from the cockpit that Baltimore Ravens knocked off the Tennessee Titans.

It was something San Diego and Pittsburgh fans could agree on this week. The Ravens winning the game was good for both the Chargers and the Steelers.

It means the winner of the AFC Divisional playoff game in Pittsburgh on Sunday will host the AFC title game next Sunday. The Ravens are the No. 6 seed in the playoffs. They beat the No. 3 seed Dolphins last week and then the No. 1 seed Titans on Saturday.

Yes, the Chargers can become the first 8-8 team to host a championship game. It will be an interesting day in Pittsburgh on Sunday where it is currently very cold but not snowing.

Meanwhile, ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier may be the finalists for the Denver job. Both candidates were very impressive and team insiders believe both men would have success in Denver. The team is expected to make a hire within a week.

Meanwhile, it's being reported Denver defensive line coach Bill Johnson is moving to New Orleans.

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