NFL Nation: NFL coaches 010211

The NFL's busiest time of year -- known as the offseason -- will transform every NFC West team in significant ways.

The moves made Tuesday continued a transformation that began with the San Francisco 49ers replacing Mike Singletary with Jim Harbaugh.

We've seen the Arizona Cardinals fire their defensive coordinator. We've seen the Cleveland Browns hire St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as their head coach. We've seen the Rams replace Shurmur with Josh McDaniels. We've seen the Seattle Seahawks fire offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, hire Tom Cable as offensive line coach and remake other staff positions.

And it's still only January.

Five quick thoughts on matters lingering from Tuesday:
  • McDaniels and the money. Reported issues over money, whatever they were, did not doom the deal. Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch indicated the sides had been $200,000 apart, and that McDaniels had separately sought $2 million per season from Minnesota. The settlement McDaniels worked out with the Denver Broncos removed him from their books, meaning there would be no salary offset for McDaniels' next employer. If the Broncos were still paying McDaniels, the Rams could have paid a modest wage to him and Denver would have been responsible for the difference between what the Rams were paying and what the Broncos still owed.
  • Seattle's involvement a bit murky. The Seahawks' hiring of Cable to coach their offensive line supports suspicions that McDaniels was never a serious candidate in Seattle. Whether McDaniels was using Seattle for leverage with the Rams is tough to know. But it's illogical on multiple fronts to think Seattle would have hired both Cable and McDaniels, or that the team turned to Cable only after missing out on McDaniels. That isn't how business gets done. The deal with Cable was surely in the works longer than the few hours that McDaniels emerged as a candidate.
  • Cable might have affected Bates. Let's stick with the idea that Seattle had its mind set on Cable for some time. This would make sense because the Seahawks lost their offensive line coach, Alex Gibbs, before the season. They had plenty of time to consider replacements. Cable and Gibbs worked together in Atlanta, so there would be some carryover. Cable and Bates never worked together. Adding Cable, who brings a strong personality and his own ideas, would have affected Bates. Could they have coexisted? How would Bates' strong personality and old-school demeanor fit with a line coach who allegedly punched out an underling in Oakland?
  • Robert Gallery-to-Seattle makes sense. The Seahawks need help at guard. Cable coached a pretty good one, Robert Gallery, in Oakland. Gallery can become a free agent after this season. Gallery was known to like Cable. Signing Gallery would make sense for Seattle and it could be easier with Cable on staff.
  • Arizona's inactivity is conspicuous. The Cardinals need a defensive coordinator. They are not, by all accounts, interviewing candidates at this time. That suggests they're waiting for a candidate from a team still in the playoffs. Coach Ken Whisenhunt's connections to Pittsburgh suggest the Steelers might be that team. Hiring the right coordinator is what matters. The timing is a secondary issue. But if this process doesn't go well for Whisenhunt, it's a significant setback for him and for the team.
  • Who replaces Bates? The Seahawks interviewed Minnesota Vikings assistant Darrell Bevell as a potential quarterbacks coach. Reports suggest Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave could land in Cleveland with Shurmur. Cable's hiring suggests the Seahawks will continue to favor zone blocking tactics. The Seahawks pretty much have to hire around Cable, it seems. Might Cable, as assistant head coach/offensive line, serve as a sort of running game coordinator? So many questions, so few answers. But it's early.

On a side note, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Browns quarterbacks coach Carl Smith could be a candidate for an unspecified job with the Seahawks.
New Orleans fans might want to keep a very close eye on what happens with the head-coaching situation in Denver. There’s a very good chance someone who does not get that job will be running the Saints’ defense next season.

As expected, Denver requested permission Monday to interview New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Coach Sean Payton said permission was granted and Williams will interview sometime this week. The Broncos couldn’t seek permission to interview Williams until the Saints’ season was over and that came with Saturday’s loss to Seattle.

If Williams gets the Denver job, one possible candidate to replace him in New Orleans would be John Fox, who also is scheduled to interview for the Denver job Wednesday. Fox spent the last nine seasons coaching the Carolina Panthers and he and Payton are close friends dating back to the days when they both were assistants with the New York Giants.

Payton said Williams still is under contract for next season with the Saints and the team doesn’t want to lose him. But Payton also said the situation is bittersweet because he wants what’s best for Williams.

“He’s been a huge part of what we’re doing,’’ Payton said. “We have a close staff and guys that understand and are unselfish. It’s about the team; it’s about all of us having success and I think each coach – certainly Gregg – understands that I want what’s best for them. I want them to have these opportunities and I want someday a list of coaches that have all come through here and worked for us and gone on to have success. That’s just a sign that we’re finding the right type of people.

“I think he’s going to have that opportunity and I think he’s going to be very successful when he does have it. Selfishly, there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to see it happen on your watch but I also recognize that he’s too good a talent. If there’s any way, shape or form that we can help him, (general manager) Mickey (Loomis) and myself and the group here will help him. I think that’s something that over his career that he has earned. Back to when we brought him in on an interview and I had never met him really or gotten to know him at all personally in the profession, I knew how difficult he was as a defensive coach. I think he’s going to be a great hire for a team that chooses to hire him. He’s someone that I couldn’t recommend highly enough.”
Now, there’s some juice to the Denver Broncos’ coaching search.

Finding a new coach is not necessarily about name recognition. There was a time Vince Lombardi was a no-name. I get that. But the fact the Denver Broncos are pursuing former Carolina head coach John Fox should be reassuring to Broncos’ fans. It shows the team isn’t just going to settle for a cheap, inexperienced coach. Denver was trying to nail down an interview date for Fox on Saturday.

The Broncos said they were going to make a push for Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh before he took a five-year, $25 million deal from San Francisco on Friday. But Harbaugh never really gave the Broncos an opportunity to woo him. The other top name on the list, Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, has postponed his interview until the Falcons’ season is over, which may preclude him from interviewing.

Other names on Denver’s list include Giants’ defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, Houston offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and Jacksonville offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. It’s not exactly a who’s who of NFL coaching greats, although Fewell has been sought after.

However, Fox is at a different level. He is a legitimate, proven NFL head coach. Don’t be swayed by his final season in Carolina, where he went 2-14. Fox was forced into a youth movement he didn’t want to be part of and his departure was basically mutual.

He’d probably be refreshed to be with a new organization after nine seasons in Carolina, in which the Panthers were usually solid contenders in the NFC. Fox was known as one of the better defensive coordinators in the NFL before he went to Carolina and his defenses there were NFL stalwarts.

Denver could surely use a strong defensive influence. The Broncos allowed an NFL-high 471 points as it went 4-12 in 2010. Fox has a strong group of assistants who he’d likely bring with him and the Broncos’ defense would be bound to improve under his watch.

The key for Fox to be a successful head coach is to have a strong offensive coordinator. But his impact on defense would be a good start to re-establishing Denver’s program.

Fox was very complimentary of Denver quarterback Tim Tebow prior to the draft and he likely would be on board with continuing the Tebow project and make him the starter in 2011, which is the preference of the Broncos.

There are a lot of reasons to think this could be a good fit. Again, Fox shouldn’t be considered the frontrunner merely on name recognition, but adding him to the mix surely gives Denver a stronger pool of candidates.
Thoughts and highlights from the San Francisco 49ers' news conference to introduce Jim Harbaugh as head coach:
  • General manager Trent Baalke and Harbaugh both said Baalke would have final say on personnel decisions, including oversight of the 53-man roster. Former coach Mike Singletary had control over the 53-man roster coming out of training camp.
  • Harbaugh was the dominant personality in the room, far and away. The head coach should be the face of the franchise and that will certainly be the case with Harbaugh. Baalke, like former GM Scot McCloughan, is most comfortable in the background. He's a scout, not a commencement speaker. For example, Baalke used the phrase "without further to-do" when introducing Harbaugh.
  • Harbaugh said he plans to install a version of the West Coast offense very similar to what he ran at Stanford. Those three words -- West Coast offense -- resonate with York and 49ers fans.
  • Harbaugh repeatedly used the phrase "with great humility" in describing himself. He said he's looking forward to the "level playing field" the NFL offers. He spoke of wanting to compete at the highest level.
  • Harbaugh said he's looking forward to coaching against his brother, John, when the 49ers face the Baltimore Ravens.
  • Harbaugh didn't flinch when asked about past failures by coaches making the transition from college to the NFL. "I hope to be very underestimated," he said, citing the "wonderful competitive advantage" that goes along with it.
  • Harbaugh seems to have star quality. He'll need to have the right people around him. He appears in position to surround himself with an NFL-quality staff. He'll need help from his front office in handling day-to-day NFL business. Do the 49ers have the right people in those places? Harbaugh will find out. Baalke said the team would make some changes to its personnel department, including an addition to the staff "at some point" along with "some movement."

All for now. Big day for the 49ers and the NFC West.

Edwards, Fassel: Dolphins can get past this

January, 7, 2011
The Miami Dolphins prolonged their public relations disaster Friday.

Miami Herald beat writer Jeff Darlington reported the Dolphins had set up a meeting with Eric Mangini, but canceled it. Darlington wrote unidentified team sources informed him the Dolphins weren't going to speak with Mangini about being their coach, but just wanted to seek his advice.

Allrighty then.

Also reported Friday was a looming contract adjustment for Sparano, supposedly to smooth over any hard feelings. The Dolphins' front office embarrassed itself with a futile courtship of Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh and and reported contact with retired Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher.

Chicago Tribune and National Football Post writer Brad Biggs reported the Dolphins never made an actual contract offer to Harbaugh. Biggs, quoting an unnamed source, wrote Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was "intoxicated" with the idea of hiring Harbaugh after spending time with him in the days leading up to the Orange Bowl, but that Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland remained behind Sparano.

The Dolphins called a news conference for 4:45 p.m. Friday presumably to declare their allegiance to Sparano and then postponed it until noon Saturday with no word about whether Sparano's contract has been amended or if he's coming back for next season at all.

Strange days indeed.

All this happened while I was traveling for Saturday night's playoff game between the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium. I had been playing phone tag with ESPN analyst Herm Edwards all day, and once we finally connected, I had to ask for his take on the Miami madness.

"Feelings are hurt, obviously, because of the way things went about," said Edwards, the former Jets and Kansas City Chiefs coach. "But, hey, they didn't have a good record. They could have fired him.

"But that's the sad part. They had a coach under contract. They wouldn't fire him, but they went and interviewed people. If you're going to do that, man, you need to do that on the QT. This didn't have to be public. You don't need to bring that attention to your organization."

Edwards, though, stressed this saga won't necessarily drag down the team and noted the more critical concern should be what the Dolphins do at quarterback than the current mess.

"If you win, all this goes away," Edwards said. "If you win, this is no big deal. The good part is the season's over with. The players aren't even in the building right now.

"By the time training camp starts, if anything the players look at it and say 'The coach is in the same boat we're in.' The players get it. But if the quarterback doesn't get better they'll be in that same boat again in a year."

For additional perspective on what it's like to hang by thread, I rang up former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel for his thoughts.

"If you have the right guys on the team, they'll battle for the head coach," Fassel said. "Players know regardless, they're still going to be judged on their own performance. It won't affect their performance unless they're not very smart.

"The way it might play a role is in the discipline phase of it might say 'I don't care what he says to be anymore.' But that would a small minority of the players."

Edwards felt more sympathy for the coaching staff than for Sparano.

"The assistants are the ones who are suffering," Edwards said. "They're tied to the head coach. You want to let these 15 or so guys know because when the merry-go-round stops and all the jobs have been filled, you're stuck."

Denver to talk to Dirk Koetter

January, 7, 2011
New Denver football czar John Elway just announced that the Broncos have received permission to speak to Jacksonville offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to talk to about their head-coaching job.

Koetter has head-coaching experience, which Elway has said is a positive. He coached both Arizona State and Boise State. Koetter is known for his work with quarterbacks.

Koetter is a good football man. But like the other names currently on Denver’s list, he's not exactly a headliner. Expect more names to emerge in this search, which could be a slow process.

Jim Harbaugh a 'home run' for 49ers

January, 7, 2011
The San Francisco 49ers are getting a hard-charging, schematically brilliant head coach whose philosophy suits the team's existing personnel perfectly.

As a bonus, Jim Harbaugh has also clashed famously with Seattle coach Pete Carroll, meaning NFC West fans can expect more edge to the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry.

That was the word Friday from ESPN college football analyst and former NFL quarterback Brock Huard, who would know. Huard worked two Stanford games this past season and followed the Pac-10 closely even before his days as a quarterback at the University of Washington in the 1990s. His brother, Damon, went to camp with the 49ers under previous coach Mike Singletary. Huard works during the week as a radio host on 710ESPN Seattle.

"I think hiring Jim Harbaugh is a home run in every way for the 49ers," Huard said.

Let us count the ways, according to Huard:

  • [+] EnlargeJim Harbaugh
    Jason O. Watson/US PRESSWIREJim Harbaugh's rivalry with former USC coach Pete Carroll should add some spice to the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry.
    Offensive scheme. Huard: "Harbaugh likes the power run game, be physical, hit you in the mouth. The 49ers drafted two big linemen and they have a sledgehammer back when healthy. Many of the pieces schematically are in hand, unlike what he would have encountered at Michigan or other places. San Francisco will fit him really well personnel-wise, minus the quarterback."
  • Clear philosophical vision. Huard: "He is a guy who has tremendous staff and knows exactly what to do offensively, and he has a mind's eye for what he wants to do defensively. He fired his defensive coordinator at Stanford and got Vic Fangio. On offense, his identity is going to be built around the power run game, play-action pass and a physical presence."
  • NFL mindset. Huard: "Harbaugh to the NFL is no surprise for me. Being with him twice this year and having him rave about the NFL being the highest level of football with the cutting-edge schemes, the best of the best, it did not surprise me at all."
  • NFL-ready coaching staff. "His staff and so many of his hires over past few years are very much NFL guys. He hired Vic Fangio, who did brilliant things on defense -- 8.8 points per game against (over their past five games). And then he ran a 3-4 defense in Baltimore with the Ravens. Very aggressive, very blitz-friendly. The 49ers have the personnel in their front seven to run that."
  • Mastery of Xs and Os. Huard: "One of his graduate assistants is a guy I played with in Indy, Aaron Moorehead, the receiver. He said that they were doing things at the college level that a) you never imagined you could do at the NFL level and b) his depth of knowledge on Xs and Os is incredible." A rival college coach told Huard his team studied Stanford's running game and charted running plays from 30 different personnel groups and formations.
  • Hard-driving personality. Huard: "His personality is evident in how he handled the Orange Bowl postgame press conference, how he handled the media there. That personality is probably better suited for the NFL game, where Bill Belichick has shown personality doesn't matter as long as you win."
  • Tireless work ethic. Huard: "What people didn’t recognize was that Harbaugh was as relentless as anybody in college football in recruiting. He understood what it took to win at that level. Now, he can use the energy where his passion is just as rich, and that is in the Xs and Os of the NFL game. He is thrilled to match wits with the best of the best, 24-7. Having a quarterback who could handle it at Stanford, he pushed the envelope schematically beyond the rest of the conference."
Fans of the 49ers should be hopeful, in other words. Harbaugh's offensive expertise and passion for offensive diversity will stand in stark contrast to the simplified approach former Singletary implemented.

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. saw some of the same positives Huard outlined. He also offered words of caution based on his own experiences working under another successful former college head coach.

"I was hired by Butch Davis in Cleveland and he was the best in the group of college coaches, and he didn't do well there," Williamson said. "All those guys, they took a college view of how to acquire talent. It is just so much different. Knowing the league is so important. All those things with Harbaugh are very unproven to me. Yesterday, people were talking about Miami making him the highest-paid coach in the NFL. To me, that would be insane."

The 49ers reportedly will pay Harbaugh $25 million over five seasons, less than Carroll is getting from the Seahawks and less than what the Dolphins were reportedly offering.

"The 49ers were the worst schematic team in the league," Williamson said. "That starts with Singletary and goes down to the way they handle quarterbacks, put together game plans, have no stability. Harbaugh will erase all that. He is worth more to the Niners than any other team in the league."

Harbaugh has roots in the San Francisco Bay Area. His hiring should resonate locally.

"Last year, their fan base had to be champing at the bit because the NFC West looked so winnable, and there was no more disappointing team," Williamson said. "These were same old Niners who stunk since Steve Young left. Then they bring in a guy who has been extremely successful in that area of the country and it is good for ticket sales and all the off-field business things. They have always been the passive team who doesn't make the big move. Now, they spent the money and got the guy everyone else wanted."

The San Francisco 49ers wanted Jim Harbaugh and will get him, marking a badly needed victory for team president Jed York and the organization.

ESPN's Adam Schefter initially used the phrase "expected to" when reporting news of the five-year agreement, a wise choice of words given the twists and turns associated with Harbaugh's various candidacies for jobs with the 49ers, Miami Dolphins and others. The 49ers has subsequently called a news conference for 6:30 p.m. ET.

When Harbaugh signs the deal, York and the 49ers will have scored a bottom-line victory in a bottom-line business.

Their handling of the searches for a general manager and a head coach opened them to criticism at times, but getting their guy was all that mattered in the end. The terms of the deal, reported as five years and $25 million, meant the 49ers were not lowballing Harbaugh when they offered about $5 million per season, even as the Dolphins reportedly offered $7 million to $8 million.

The 49ers now appear to have shown admirable restraint and patience.

Can Harbaugh coach? The success he enjoyed at Stanford suggests he can.

Will that success translate to the NFL? Many factors beyond Harbaugh's on-field coaching will determine whether he succeeds with the 49ers. He'll have to find a quarterback, put together a staff, help identify talent in the draft, manage personalities, communicate effectively and more.

The 49ers can worry about those things later.

For now, they can celebrate landing a high-profile coaching candidate amid significant doubts. For the first time since they hired Steve Mariucci, they have a young, ascending, offensive-minded head coach -- exactly what they wanted.

With the Jim Harbaugh pipedream all but over for the Denver Broncos, new Denver football czar John Elway is streamlining his wish list.

If Denver fans are looking for a household name or seat filler, they may want to temper your hopes. While the list can change at any time, the current group of the Broncos’ candidates is not filled with bright-light names.

Elway said Friday the Broncos are likely out of the Harbaugh talks. Elway did say he is seeking permission to talk to former Denver assistant and current Houston offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and he may call former Giants coach Jim Fassel. Elway has ties to both men.

Other people Denver is going to interview are Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and Denver interim coach Eric Studesville. New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is expected to be interviewed when the Saints’ season is complete. Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey (considered by many as a top Denver choice) has postponed his interview until after the Falcons’ season ends.

Once you get past Mularkey and perhaps Fewell, this isn’t an overly exciting list. It’s not to say these aren’t good coaches, but they are far from Harbaugh when it comes to name recognition.

In the end, I’m not surprised Harbaugh probably isn't going to end up in Denver. He was too costly for the Broncos’ blood. Plus, I’m not sure if it was a great fit. It seems to me that Harbaugh is the type who will want to make his own decisions. After moving away from Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels in the past two years, the Broncos want their coach to just coach and not make personnel decisions.

Any of the above names would surely be fine with that arrangement.

I wouldn’t be surprised if other names pop up. They could include former Baltimore coach Brian Billick, Miami defensive coordinator and former Denver defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, Philadelphia assistant Marty Mornhinweg, San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers.

Billick could be an interesting candidate. He likely wouldn’t be overly expensive and he has had a lot of NFL success.
Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh has reportedly retained two agents, a potential contributing factor to confusing reports regarding Harbaugh's candidacies with the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and others.

Mindi Bach of tweeted the details Friday: "Stanford AD told me he is working with agent Jack Bechta on Harbaugh's new contract proposal with the university. But agent David Dunn is handling negotiations on Harbaugh's behalf with NFL teams."

Bechta and Dunn are competitors. Each is presumably speaking with Harbaugh separately. Neither might know the full picture. Reporters speaking with various parties -- Bechta, Dunn, their associates or anyone else involved tangentially -- might have a harder time getting the full picture. The teams involved might not know.

Sounds like we might just want to sit back and wait for a formal announcement.

Did Jerry Jones tell a whopper today?

January, 6, 2011
Some of you might recall that new Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett once wowed the Falcons and Ravens during the interview process. A high-ranking Ravens official mentioned to me in '07 that Garrett could run for president if he got sick of coaching someday.

But as Garrett was doing a rather nice job of fielding questions Thursday during his introductory news conference in Arlington, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once again took center stage. Garrett was asked how much say he'd have in personnel matters. And the long silence following that question resulted because Jones was reaching for the microphone.

I have no doubt that Garrett would've provided a deft answer, which shed absolutely no light on the matter. But Jones interrupted his new head coach and declared that Garrett would have final say on all coaching hires and have major influence on every personnel move.

Jones wouldn't admit that this was a break from the past, but I'm sure Wade Phillips would be happy to confirm the change. You'll recall that Garrett had already been hired as offensive coordinator before Phillips was named head coach in '07. Phillips was in charge of all things defense, but he didn't have much of a say in who ended up on his staff. Jones has heard all the criticism about how he undermines head coaches, and what he said Thursday indicated a willingness to change.

But while Jones did step out of the spotlight to make room for Bill Parcells, I can't see him doing that for Garrett. I totally believe him when says he has a great deal of affection for Garrett, but that doesn't always translate to respect. From the start, Jones has never had much respect for the position of head coach. That's why he famously said at the end of the Jimmy Johnson era that 500 coaches could win a Super Bowl with the talent they had assembled with the Cowboys.

I do believe that Garrett has a good understanding of how to work with Jones. He'll be willing to disagree with the owner at times. But I'm not buying for a second the theory that Jones will defer to Garrett completely on major personnel decisions. Perhaps he'll stay out of the way in this year's training camp and allow Garrett to take his players through more physical sessions.

But for Jones to suggest that he's traded in some of his decision-making power simply doesn't pass the smell test.

Could be coaching domino affect

January, 6, 2011
There are several interesting moving parts in the coaching circles that affect the AFC West.

If Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh goes to Miami, who are heavily pursuing him, it will affect both the Broncos and the Raiders. The Broncos are interested in Harbaugh and would have to cross him off their list.

If Harbaugh goes to Miami, he would also be off San Francisco’s list. That could mean the 49ers could turn to Oakland offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who interviewed with the 49ers on Wednesday.

Jackson is considered the frontrunner to replace Tom Cable in Oakland.

If Jackson is not the guy in Oakland, could the Raiders turn to former Denver coach Josh McDaniels? It’s been reported that Oakland owner Al Davis is interested in McDaniels.

He fits the mold. He is a young, strong offensive mind. Davis loves those types of coaches. Still, McDaniels has turned down a chance to interview with San Francisco, so he could do the same in Oakland.

I know McDaniels is expecting to become an offensive coordinator and hopes to be in position to be a head coach again in a desirable spot within two years. But in the meantime, the coaching carousel is moving at a rapid pace and it affects the AFC West greatly. Hold on and stay tuned.
The Texans shot down a report Tuesday that Wade Phillips had been hired. Crazy, the tone was. He hasn’t even interviewed.

So today he interviewed and he’s hired.

How could anyone have jumped the gun like that?

I poured out my thoughts on Phillips as the Texans defensive coordinator last week when his name was first reported. That’s here.

He’s obviously steeped in 3-4 defenses, but it sounds like he and Gary Kubiak will look at what the Texans have and decide what kind of team to be. Phillips is known as 3-4 guy but has worked some 4-3. I’d envision them staying in a 4-3 only as part of a transition.

Houston radio guy and blogger Lance Zierlein had a good line recently about the decision. Paraphrasing, he asked what does it matter if they don’t have the personnel for a 3-4 when they don’t have the personnel for a 4-3 either?

Mario Williams isn’t ideally suited for it. But people probably said the same thing about Bruce Smith, and I don’t remember a major career derailment when he played for Phillips in Buffalo.

While the change could take some time, it might be a good thing. Give Peyton Manning and the rest of the division something different to dissect, be the one team deploying people differently.
The Carolina Panthers have added another name to their search for a head coach. The team reportedly has asked for permission to interview Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Add him to a list that includes Ron Rivera, Perry Fewell and Greg Manusky and it sure sounds like the Panthers are going with another defensive coach to follow in the footsteps of John Fox, George Seifert and Dom Capers. I still think there’s a chance the Panthers could interview an offensive-minded coach or two.

But, let’s say they do go with a defensive coordinator. Whoever that guy is will have to convince owner Jerry Richardson, general manager Marty Hurney and team president Danny Morrison that he’s open minded about offense and it probably wouldn’t hurt a candidate to say he plans to bring along a very strong offensive coordinator.

Richardson, Hurney and Morrison have realized from painful experience that the days of winning with dominant defense are over. You have to at least have a competent offense and whoever the new coach is better be prepared to deliver that.
Wisely, the Denver Broncos are planning to talk to some defensive coaches in their search to find Josh McDaniels' replacement.

New Denver leader John Elway told the Denver Post he will ask permission to talk to Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Williams has head-coaching experience. Fewell is also garnering interest from San Francisco, Cleveland and Carolina.

Denver will also talk to Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and Denver interim coach Eric Studesville. There has been talk that Mularkey could be the leading candidate because of his ability to work with a young quarterback such as Tim Tebow.

But Denver does have some major shoring up to do on defense. It allowed a league-high 471 points this season. Talking to coaches like Fewell and Williams is a sign Denver is prepared to do its due diligence in this process.

Also, Elway told the Denver Post he didn’t get the chance to talk to Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh about the job while Elway served as an honorary Stanford captain in the team’s Orange Bowl win Monday. Still, if Elway wants to talk to Harbaugh, I’m sure he’ll get the opportunity.