AFC West: Jim Mora

Now, that the San Diego Chargers have hired former Indianapolis executive Tom Telesco to take over as general manager, the search is fully focused on finding the team’s new head coach.

The plan is to make a hire by the end of next week. The Chargers, who fired general manager A.J. Smith and coach Norv Turner on Dec. 31, have started the coaching search, but Telesco takes over.

There have been several names connected to the job including former Chicago coach Lovie Smith, Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, UCLA coach Jim Mora and former Seattle and Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren.

I think Smith and Arians may be the favorites of that group, although anything could happen.

Two more names could be part of the team’s list as well. Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden could interest the team. Telesco played at John Carroll University with San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer could also be part of the process.

While the Chargers’ immediate ends are on offense, Telesco has worked in programs that have been led by both offensive and defensive-minded head coach.

Arians has long been considered a favorite for this job. the fact that he and Telesco were key parts of the team’s wonderful turnaround likely won’t hurt his chances. But I’m not sure if it increases the chances of Arians being hired because I think Telesco will be open minded.

Telesco is also connected to Smith in a round-about way. Telesco was with the Colts when Tony Dungy coached there. Smith is part of Dungy’s coaching tree. Overall, I think everything is one the table for San Diego as it fully concentrating on replacing Turner now that Telesco is in place.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Arians will tentively is set to interview with the Chargers on Monday.
Well, six days into the San Diego Chargers' coaching search and we have our most intriguing name: Mike Holmgren.

CBS Sports is reporting that the Chargers could talk to Holmgren.

That would be quite the pursuit.

It makes sense in some areas because Holmgren is an offensive mind, he’d likely be intrigued to coach quarterback Philip Rivers and he is from the West Coast. Ron Wolf is consulting the Chargers during their general manager and coach search. Holmgren and Wolf won a Super Bowl together in Green Bay.

But the Chargers want to continue with a more traditional power structure where the coach reports to the general manager and the team is near the end of its general manager search. Would Holmgren, 64, listen to a young general manager? Would he want to be part of that structure?

Perhaps he’d simply be interested in coaching and be happy with the Charges’ setup. If that is the case, he would certainly be an interesting candidate.

Other candidates are expected to be former Chicago coach Lovie Smith, Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and UCLA coach Jim Mora.
Now that the Kansas City Chiefs have hired Andy Reid, the coaching-search spotlight within the division is squarely on San Diego.

Some interesting names are emerging.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports San Diego is one of several teams interested in Syracuse coach Doug Marrone. He is a former offensive coordinator in New Orleans and his name is getting hot. U-T San Diego reports that former NFL coach and current UCLA coach Jim Mora is a candidate.

The paper reports that Mora would bring Noel Mazzone as his offensive coordinator. Mazzone was the offensive coordinator for San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers when he played at North Carolina State. The two men remain close and work out together in the offseason.

Getting Rivers back to his old self would be the Chargers’ quickest way to being successful again, so it’s a worthwhile notion.

Former Chicago coach Lovie Smith and Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians are also candidates in San Diego.

The Chargers are still very much in the process of finding a general manager. Schefter is reporting they are interviewing the Giants’ Marc Ross on Saturday. They have interviewed several people and that process is expected to be done before the hiring of a coach. U-T San Diego reports in-house candidate Jimmy Raye and Colts executive Tom Telesco may be the favorites. If Telesco gets the job, Arians could become an even bigger candidate.

In other AFC West news:

CBS Sports report that Doug Pederson could be Reid’s offensive coordinator. He was Reid’s quarterbacks coach the past two years with the Eagles.

San Diego linebacker Takeo Spikes and Oakland Mike Goodson were both fined $7,875 for fighting Sunday. They were both ejected from the game. It may have been Spikes’ last game. The 15-season veteran may retire.

The Chargers announced most of their 2013 tickets will remain the same price as in 2012 or be reduced. The team had trouble selling out games in 2012.
Peyton Manning knows the experience Luke Del Rio is having this year.

Luke Del Rio is the son of new Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Luke Del Rio is entering his senior season in high school and he has committed to Oklahoma State. He is considered one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

Luke Del Rio spent time with the Broncos during training camp this year and it brought back memories for Manning.

“Luke was here, and I can relate to what he was going through,” Manning said. “When I was in high school, Jim Mora, the old head coach of the Saints before he came to the Colts, allowed me to go out there and sit in meetings. I actually got to practice with them a little bit, which may have been as nervous as I’ve ever been in my entire life. Luke helped us out in drills, but they didn’t put him in there with the offense. I was in there looking across at Pat Swilling and some of these guys and I was 17 years old, which was great experience for me going to college. I know Luke, this will be a great experience for him, just listening to meetings -- that was big for me -- hearing about different ideas on coverages. I’m looking forward to keeping up with him this year. He’s a great kid. I’ve known him since he came to our football camp when he was a freshman in high school.”

Deli Rio’s father and Denver coach Jon Fox didn’t throw him against the likes of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, still the time with Manning will surely help the young quarterback in his development.

You pick it responses

January, 28, 2011
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The moving on of two former AFC West head coaches was the story of the week in our AFC West storyline feature this week.

Readers voted for Josh McDaniels’ hiring in St. Louis as offensive coordinator and Tom Cable’s hiring in Seattle as offensive line/assistant head coach. McDaniels was fired in Denver in December and Cable was fired in Oakland earlier this month. The other candidates were former NFL head coach Jim Mora turning down the Broncos’ defensive coordinator job and Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel making the Pro Bowl.

I agree with the readers. McDaniels and Cable were big names in the AFC West. The fact that they are moving on is fairly big news. Below are some of your responses. Thanks to everyone who participated:

Jerry from Memphis: It’s the story of McDaniels and Cable getting new jobs. I think these are two pretty good coaches and I think they will make the Rams and Seahawks better.

Terry from Baltimore: McDaniels will make Sam Bradford a star. This is a big pickup. He may have been lousy in Denver, but this is a good coach.

Stan from Seattle: I think Tom Cable and Josh McDaniels is just want the NFC West needs. These are two big picks. It’s the story of the week.

Tony from Denver: The story of the week is Josh McDaniels getting a new job. We can finally close the book on his terrible Denver chapter. Yes.

Jason from Parker, Colo.: Bill, love your blogs as always! But the biggest story this week has got to be Mora bowing out. Though this seems to be more of "family time" issue, it just continues to set the tone that this Denver Broncos Staff MUST MUST MUST get it right this time. They've already lost out on a lot of chances in coaching because of what McD did to this team.

Mark from KC: It is the hiring of Tom Cable in Seattle. Oakland simply put is a mess and I would contend this lays at the feet of Al Davis. Davis cannot seem to stop making emotional decisions and start making sound football ones. This team sweeps the AFC West and misses the playoffs. This is embarrassing sure, but finishing 8-8 is a big step up for Oakland and this team was performing well. Al Davis can keep running down his list of "done me wrong" but he surely has to begin to see the common denominator in this football equation.

Bryce from Tucson: The story of the week is Cassel going to Hawaii. This is a very deserved honor as he had a great season despite having many doubters. In an AFC filled with great quarterbacks, I am glad Cassel is getting the recognition he deserves. Not many quarterbacks can take their team from 4-12 to 10-6 and a division championship. The next trick will be a playoff win.

You pick it: AFC West storylines

January, 26, 2011
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The candidates are:

McDaniels and Cable get jobs: Former Denver head coach Josh McDaniels became the offensive coordinator in St. Louis and former Oakland head coach Tom Cable became the offensive line/assistant head coach in Seattle.

Mora turns down Denver: Former Atlanta and Seattle Jim Mora bowed out of consideration to be Denver’s defensive coordinator.

Cassel goes to Hawaii: Kansas City coach Matt Cassel replaced former New England teammate Tom Brady on the AFC Pro Bowl roster. It’s Cassel’s first trip to the game.

Choose your story of the week and hit my mailbag with your thoughts. I will post some of your responses later in the week.

Report: Mora out of mix in Denver

January, 19, 2011
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The Denver Post is reporting that Jim L. Mora has pulled out of the running to become the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator.

He also told Philadelphia that he had withdrawn for consideration to be their defensive coordinator. He was Denver’s top choice. It appears Mora’s decision may have been financially-related.

He would have been a nice fit for new Denver head coach John Fox’s staff. The Denver Post points out a logical candidate in Denver, who has had five defensive coordinators in the past five seasons. The newspaper said Green Bay defensive line coach Mike Trgovac could be a candidate. He was Fox’s defensive coordinator in Carolina for six seasons.

He can’t be hired until the Packers’ season is over. Green Bay plays at Chicago in the NFC championship game Sunday. If time passes without Denver filling the spot, it could be a sign Denver is waiting for Trgovac. That wouldn’t be a bad hire as Trgovac is well respected and he and Fox clearly have a good working relationship.

Report: Denver close to hiring Mora

January, 18, 2011
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The Denver Post is reporting that the Broncos are close to hiring former Atlanta and Seattle coach Jim L. Mora as defensive coordinator.

If Mora gets the job, he’ll be Denver’s sixth defensive coordinator in six seasons. Denver should improve defensively under the guidance of Mora and new head coach John Fox, a defensive specialist. Denver was last in the NFL in total defense and points allowed in 2010.
  • Pro Football Weekly named Kansas City Chiefs’ general manager Scott Pioli as the executive of the year. Pioli’s strong drafting and free-agent pickups of running back Thomas Jones and offensive lineman Casey Wiegmann and Ryan Lilja helped the Chiefs turn around and win the AFC West.
  • Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley raised some eyebrows when he said he didn’t want to play in a cold-weather city. My reaction? I’m sure everybody would like to work in a warm climate, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Fairley -- who will likely be a target of Denver with the No. 2 pick -- will get over it if he has to play in chilly weather.
New Denver Broncos coach John Fox announced a portion of his coaching staff.

As previously reported, the additions included offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and running backs coach Eric Studesville, two holdovers from Josh McDaniels’ staff. Studesville finished the season as Denver’s interim head coach. Other holdovers from McDaniels’ staff include tight ends coach Clancy Barone, defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely, defensive quality control coach Jay Rogers and offensive quality control coach Brian Callahan.

Fox also hired two of his former Carolina assistants Dave Magazu (offensive line) and Tyke Tolbert (receivers).

The biggest remaining open job on Fox’s staff is defensive coordinator. McDaniels’ defensive coordinator, Don Martindale, is not expected back. Denver was ranked last in the NFL in total defense and points allowed in 2010. Among the candidates for the top defensive post is former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim L. Mora and recently fired Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

From the look at the early additions to the staff, it seems like Fox -- a defensive specialist -- will bring in a mostly new defensive staff. That is not surprising and considering Denver’s issues this season, a coaching overhaul on defense is probably necessary.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that McDermott has become the defensive coordinator in Carolina.
The Denver Broncos are keeping stability on offense.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Mike McCoy will remain the Broncos’ offensive coordinator. He was also getting interest in Kansas City and in Cleveland.

This move makes complete sense for Denver. McCoy worked for new Denver coach John Fox in Carolina prior to coming to Denver and working for former Denver head coach Josh McDaniels.

The biggest personnel question in Denver is the future of quarterback Tim Tebow. Fox is a defensive specialist, so he’ll need to have a coach who believes he can develop Tebow.

The fact that McCoy decided to stay in Denver rather than go to the Chiefs or the Browns is an indication that he believes he can make it work with Tebow. McCoy called plays after McDaniels was fired, and Tebow made strides when he started in the final three games of the season under McCoy’s guidance.

This continuity will only help Tebow moving forward.

Names that have surfaced for Denver’s defensive coordinator include Ron Meeks, Sal Sunseri and former Atlanta and Seattle coach Jim Mora.

Meanwhile, Kansas City will have to adjust its offensive coordinator search now that McCoy is staying in Denver. Other names that have been mentioned to replace Charlie Weis, who is now the offensive coordinator at the University of Florida, include Tampa Bay’s Greg Olson (who is under contract there and who could be difficult to hire), Arizona’s Mike Miller and Kansas City assistants Maurice Carthon and Nick Sirianni.

Evening AFC West notes

January, 14, 2011
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Dallas is working on a deal to hire Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. It has been speculated that he could be a candidate in Oakland as a head coach or as defensive coordinator if offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is promoted to head coach.
  • San Francisco has hired former Denver defensive backs coach Ed Donatell for the same gig.
  • Oakland Pro Bowl alternate running back Darren McFadden moved closer to playing in the game in Hawaii on Jan.30. Tennessee’s Chris Johnson replaced Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew on the roster, moving McFadden up in the alternate list.

Early notes: Marshall update

March, 23, 2010
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It looks like another possible suitor has decided to pass on pursuing a trade for Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano told reporters that he doesn’t think Marshall would be a good fit in Miami.

There had been speculation that the Dolphins could pursue Denver’s restricted free-agent receiver. Some Miami players had supported the notion. Now, that idea has been nixed. Seattle has been the only team to show actual interest in Marshall. Unless another team gets into the fray, Seattle has leverage in any trade talks with Denver.

Meanwhile, Marshall and Denver coach Josh McDaniels are in the same city, but are not planning to meet.

Former Seattle coach Jim Mora doesn’t seem impressed by the Seahawks' trade for San Diego’s former third-string quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst.

The NFL has delayed its announcement of key opening-weekend games once again.

Evening AFC West news and notes

January, 8, 2010
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San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson took a step toward the AFC Pro Bowl team. Top alternate Randy Moss was named to the team Friday. Jackson is a third alternate and is now two moves away from a Pro Bowl berth.
  • The Oakland Tribune wonders if freshly fired Seattle coach Jim Mora could be a candidate in Oakland if an opening occurs.
  • New Kansas City offensive coordinator Charlie Weis talks to the Kansas City Star about his new gig.
  • The AFC West is keeping an eye on the Pete Carroll discussions with Seattle. Every AFC West team plays the Seahawks next season.

ESPN's Mike Golic discusses some of the new coaches heading into the 2009 season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The news that Al Davis is meeting with offensive assistants on the Raiders staff is evidence a change is near. Nothing is official, but this may be the sign that a coaching change is imminent.

Davis is meeting with offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, offensive line coach Tom Cable and consultant Paul Hackett tonight.

They could be the candidates to replace Lane Kiffin. Earlier in the process, receivers coach James Lofton and running backs coach Tom Rathman were considered candidates to replace Kiffin along with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and linebackers coach Don Martindale.

There had been speculation Knapp would not want the job and that he would likely reunite with Jim Mora next year in Seattle. The two worked together in Atlanta. But Knapp would be a natural fit to take over in Oakland since he works so closely with quarterback JaMarcus Russell and running back Darren McFadden, the core of the offense. There would be little change in the overall scheme if Knapp took over.

Cable has also been linked to Mora's staff in Seattle. He could be attractive to Davis because he has done a fine with the offensive line. The unit has shown improvement, especially in the run game, under Cable's guidance. He uses a zone-blocking scheme that Denver has used for years.

Hackett is the most experienced of the group. He is a special projects assistant with the Raiders. He was brought in this summer. Hackett was the head coach at Pittsburgh and USC and has been an NFL offensive coordinator. He knows the Raiders' style of offense well.

Davis is meeting with these coaches for a reason. Stay tuned.

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