AFC West: Jim Johnson
While the Chiefs haven’t announced the hiring of any coaches, several reports state that former Eagles’ quarterback coach Doug Pederson will be Reid’s offensive coordinator. It is interesting that Reid is going young with the hire. But let’s face it, the offense will be Reid’s show and Pederson will manage it.
The most important hire on Reid’s staff will be defensive coordinator. After the death of his longtime defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, the Eagles’ defense sagged in recent years. Reid has to get this one right.
The New York Daily News is reporting New York Jets linebacker coach Bob Sutton is in line to get the job. Sutton was the Jets' defensive coordinator from 2007-08. He has been with the Jets for 13 years and is known as a good coach. Still, he is fairly inexperienced as a coordinator.
If Sutton gets the job, the Chiefs will likely keep the 3-4. I think that is important. This defense is set up for the 3-4 and is solid on paper. Sutton will have plenty to work with.
If Pederson is the choice in Kansas City that means former Eagles’ offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will be available. He could be someone Oakland looks at for its opening at offensive coordinator. He is experienced and from the Bay Area.
Meanwhile, there are reports former San Diego Chargers head coach Nor Turner may end up with the Cleveland Browns. The Browns just hired Rob Chudzinski. Until last year, he was one of Turner’s top assistants in San Diego. Chudzinski is reportedly bringing Turner’s son, Scott, with him from Carolina to Cleveland. At this point of his career, I can see Turner wanting to work with people he is comfortable with.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
The death of Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson hit the AFC West hard. He was close to San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, who coached under him, and new Denver safety Brian Dawkins. Dawkins was a star under Johnson with the Eagles.
The Broncos and Chargers released statements from Dawkins and Rivera, respectively.
STATEMENT FROM BRONCOS S BRIAN DAWKINS ON THE PASSING OF JIM JOHNSON:
"This is a sad, sad day for myself and my Philadelphia family. Jim was tailor-made to coach in Philadelphia. He was a tough coach who wasn't afraid to let you know how he was feeling, but at the same time, he cared about us deeply. He was an absolute blessing to me with the way he used me on the football field and allowed me to show my God-given ability. His confidence in me meant so much-he looked to create new defenses each week to utilize my talents. I have been praying for him every day, and those prayers won't stop now. I'll be praying for his family and their comfort during this difficult time."
San Diego Chargers Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera on Jim Johnson:
"Jim was most certainly a very good man, a very decent man. He was definitely a mentor, not just for me but for several guys in the league right now that are coordinators and head coaches. He was just a real caring person. He gave me my start and my opportunity. He took the time to teach me. I'm extremely grateful for everything he did for me.
"Going into my fourth year in the league, he showed me how to script (plays). He showed me how to put together a game plan. Then he'd have me write his game plan up for him and he'd ask me, 'Why would you do this?' He'd tell me why. 'That's not good enough,' or 'That's a good idea.' He was most certainly a teacher.
"You talk about people giving you a start and helping you along the way. I got my first job coaching with Dave Wannstedt, but I got my first opportunity to be a position coach with Jim. He took the time to teach me and show me. I wouldn't be where I am today without him mentoring, showing me and giving me the opportunity.
"Leslie [Frazier], Steve [Spagnuolo] and I ... we laugh about our time with Jim all the time. We were the three young guys on the staff and Jim was hard on us. I remember just after I was hired in Philadelphia, I had just finished signing my contract and he walked into my office and closed the door. He said, 'Listen. I'm an old linebacker coach. Don't take anything personal when I come in and take over your meetings, when I take over your drills. I can't help myself. Don't take it personal when I'm hard on you because I'm just trying to teach you.' That's exactly what he did. You take a step back and look at the success we've all had. The direct correlation was Jim Johnson."
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
The decision to fire Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator and promote Ron Rivera from linebacker coach is not only a chance for the Chargers to turn around a disappointing season, but it is a chance for Rivera.
It is an opportunity for him to become a head-coaching candidate again.
Two years ago, Rivera was one of the most sought head-coaching candidates in the NFL. After the 2005 and 2006 seasons, Rivera interviewed for eight different jobs. He didn't get one and then a strange turn of events occurred.
The Bears suddenly released him from his contract and the hot coaching candidate went from being sought after to being unemployed. The Chargers quickly snapped up Rivera.
If Rivera can turn around this defense, he will get more head-coaching looks. His challenge is steep, though.
San Diego is ranked 32nd in the NFL against the pass and has allowed 195 points this season. San Diego doesn't have a sack or an interception in the past nine quarters.
Rivera was known for being an aggressive coordinator who likes to blitz. He is a protégé of Philadelphia's wildly successful defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Rivera, a former player, is known as a player's coach who understands their challenges.
He can be tough when he needs to be, but he was very well respected by his players in Chicago. Expect more fire from Rivera than from the sedate Cottrell. Rivera is a professional who has succeeded in this position.
It will not be too big for him. Expect a cool, confident approach that if it works to plan could result in a playoff berth for the 3-5 Chargers and a head-coaching job for Rivera.