NFC West: Andy Sugarman

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

April, 10, 2012
A few notes on NFC West coaching staffs after the St. Louis Rams announced theirs for 2012 in a news release Tuesday:
  • The Rams are not listing suspended defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on their staff. They did not mention him in the news release. They did not list a defensive coordinator. Coach Jeff Fisher and assistant head coach Dave McGinnis will presumably take the lead. Secondary coach Chuck Cecil has also been a coordinator.
  • Williams' son, Blake, coaches the Rams' linebackers.
  • The Cardinals have 3-4 fewer assistants than the other teams in the division. I've noticed that to be the case in recent seasons. Staff sizes can vary. Arizona has one more than the NFL listed for New England heading into the most recent Super Bowl.
  • Every team in the division has an assistant head coach. Two serve as offensive line coaches. Another coaches special teams. Assistant head coaches might earn more money than they otherwise would, but the title does not distinguish them from other assistants in relation to hiring protocol. The title affords no additional protections against losing an assistant to another team, in other words.
  • Paul Boudreau is the Rams' offensive line coach. His son, also named Paul, is assistant special teams coach. They are not Paul Sr. and Paul Jr., however. It's not yet clear how the Rams intend to differentiate between the two. Middle initials?
  • Niners offensive assistant Michael Christianson is also coordinator of football technology.

The chart lists full-time assistants, not interns or administrative assistants. Strength-and-conditioning coaches aren't involved in football strategy, but I have listed them.
NFL assistant coaches are some of the best people to know for those looking to learn more about the game.

That has been my experience in covering the NFL since 1998.

I've helped push for better media access to assistants through the Professional Football Writers of America. I've also learned more about some of the issues important to coaches, including some outlined in this recent story about the NFL Coaches Association.

The chart shows NFLCA team reps as the association talks about forming a union.

Kevin Spencer (Cardinals), Johnnie Lynn (49ers), Dan Quinn (Seahawks) and Andy Sugarman (Rams) are the reps for NFC West coaching staffs. The 49ers' Jimmy Raye is president of the NFLCA executive committee.

It's not clear yet whether the NFLCA will move to unionize and such an effort would face a challenge even if the association did decide to move in that direction. But as coaches consider their options, these assistants presumably will be active behind the scenes.

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

February, 4, 2010
MIAMI -- With the Seahawks announcing their 2010 coaching staff, I went through every NFC West team's staff to produce a chart allowing for easy comparison.

It's pretty clear the Cardinals do more with less than the other teams in the division. They have fewer assistants than the other teams in the NFC West.

In most cases, I have recreated official titles for each assistant coach. That explains why the Cardinals have no offensive coordinator listed (Russ Grimm coordinates the running game, Mike Miller coordinates the passing game and Ken Whisenhunt calls the plays). I did not create a special category for 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan (he also carries the title senior assistant). Seattle's Carroll is also executive vice president. I did not create an extra category to reflect that title.

I have listed no offensive line coach for the Cardinals. Grimm handles those duties. The 49ers do not list a defensive quality control coach, but clearly someone must break down the upcoming opponents' offensive video (I am checking to see which assistant handles those duties). Update: Outside linebackers coach Jason Tarver handles those duties. Also, I updated the chart to reflect Curtis Modkins' departure from the Cardinals to become Buffalo's offensive coordinator. Ray Brown is the new assistant offensive line coach in San Francisco.

The Rams are expected to hire a receivers coach after Charlie Baggett left. They could hire an assistant offensive line coach to replace Art Valero, who took the same job with Seattle. The 49ers might need to find a new offensive quality-control coach (Shane Day is interviewing with the Bears to coach quarterbacks for Mike Martz).

The Rams and Seahawks list special assistants to the head coach. These are largely administrative positions.

Musical coaches in NFC West

January, 24, 2010
The Seahawks offered offensive line coach Mike Solari a chance to stick around as tight ends coach.

Solari passed, instead joining the 49ers in the same job he held with Seattle.

The Rams offered assistant offensive line coach Art Valero a contract extension, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Valero declined, instead joining the Seahawks -- presumably in the same job he held with St. Louis.

Other NFC West coaches with experience on more than one staff within the division: Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole (Seahawks); Cardinals secondary coach Teryl Austin (Seahawks); 49ers tight ends coach Pete Hoener (Cardinals); 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye (Rams); 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan (Cardinals); Cardinals defensive coordinator Billy Davis (49ers); Rams offensive line coach Steve Loney (Cardinals); Rams secondary coach Clayton Lopez (Seahawks); Seahawks tight ends coach Pat McPherson (49ers); Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn (49ers); and Rams offensive quality control coach Andy Sugarman (49ers).

Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. played for the 49ers. Seahawks secondary coach Jerry Gray played for the Rams.
Posted by's Mike Sando

NFC West coaching staffs are mostly complete after the Rams assigned titles to Frank Leonard, Paul Ferraro, Andre Curtis and Clayton Lopez.

The chart shows which coaches retained their titles from the end of last season (gray shading) and which coaches are new to their current roles (yellow shading). The Cardinals could face additional changes if they fill vacancies from within.

Title Cardinals 49ers Seahawks Rams
Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt
Mike Singletary
Jim Mora
Steve Spagnuolo
Off. Coord.
Jimmy Raye
Greg Knapp
Pat Shurmur
OL Russ Grimm
Chris Foerster
Mike Solari
Steve Loney
QB (open)
Mike Johnson
Bill Lazor
Dick Curl
WR Mike Miller
Jerry Sullivan
Robert Prince
Charlie Baggett
RB Maurice Carthon
Tom Rathman
Kasey Dunn
Sylvester Croom
TE Freddie Kitchens
Pete Hoener
Mike DeBord
Frank Leonard
Def. Coord.
(open) Greg Manusky
Gus Bradley
Ken Flajole
DL Ron Aiken
Jim Tomsula
Dan Quinn
Brendan Daly
LB Bill Davis
Zerick Rollins
Paul Ferraro
DB Teryl Austin
Tim Lewis (shared)
Special Teams
Kevin Spencer
Al Everest
Bruce DeHaven
Tom McMahon

All four offensive line coaches remain in their roles from last season (subject to change if Russ Grimm becomes the Cardinals' offensive coordinator). Every other core staff position features at least one change in the division.

The 49ers and Rams have the largest staffs with 20 members apiece, counting head coaches. The Seahawks reduced to 18 after moving assistant offensive line coach Mike DeBord to tight ends and eliminating the job of assistant special teams coach John Jamison. The Cardinals have 13 coaches, a number that figures to rise by at least three.

The 49ers and Rams have full-time administrative assistants assigned to their head coaches. The Cardinals do not formally list an assistant strength and conditioning coach, although Pete Alosi does help John Lott in that area.

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Rams' coaching staff grows by three

February, 9, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Rams' coaching staff is tied for the largest in the NFC West after the team added Clayton Lopez, Andy Sugarman and Derius Swinton in moves announced Monday.

The hirings give the Rams 20 coaches, counting head coach Steve Spagnuolo. That matches the 49ers' total. The Seahawks have 18. The Cardinals have 14 after losing offensive coordinator Todd Haley and firing defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

The Rams' and 49ers' totals are higher in part because both teams list their head coaches' administrative assistants -- Bruce Warwick in St. Louis and Bill Nayes in San Francisco -- as staff members. The Rams listed 20 coaches entering last season as well.

Lopez, a Seahawks assistant from 1999 to 2003, joins the Rams as a defensive assistant. A specific title was not given. His background is in the secondary. The Rams have not named a secondary coach. Lopez coached with new Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole in Seattle.

Sugarman, a former Lions and 49ers assistant who was out of the league in 2008, will serve as offensive quality control coach. Swinton spent the past two seasons at the University of Tennessee. He will serve as quality control coach for special teams. Quality control coaches tend to work extremely long hours logging formations, personnel groupings and a long list of other parameters while breaking down video of upcoming opponents, among other often underappreciated duties.

The Rams have not named coaches at tight end, linebacker or secondary. Andre Curtis and Paul Ferraro were hired as unspecified defensive assistants. The Rams have also hired Frank Leonard as an unspecified offensive assistant.

Full Rams staff below:

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