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Tag:Mike Mularkey
Posted on: January 9, 2012 4:30 pm
 

Brian VanGorder bolts Falcons for Auburn DC job

VanGorder left the Falcons for Auburn. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, known for good defenses and a better mustache, left his gig in Atlanta for the same job at Auburn, the team announced on Monday.

Latest Coaching Rumors, News

VanGorder's departure is a bit of a surprise, as the Falcons are coming off a strong defensive season, ranking third in the NFL against the rush and 12th in total yardage allowed. In his four years as coordinator (albeit under a defensive coach in Mike Smith who was hired at the same time), the Falcons defense has steadily improved in most categories, though they did slip in points allowed per game.

Plus, it's not often that a coordinator for an NFL team takes the same job at the college level. Though the title is the same, it's clearly a step down.

Which is why VanGorder's departure may be an indication that changes are coming for the Falcons; Smith is obviously safe, with the Falcons making the playoffs in three of his four years in Atlanta.

But should Mike Mularkey be worried about his job now? The Falcons offensive coordinator has done good work with Matt Ryan in his four years there, and he's up for some nice head-coaching opportunities, but if he doesn't land a gig, it's hard to imagine he wont' be scrutinized heavily in the offseason.

The Falcons offense is good and it has been good. But it's struggled mightily in three playoff games, even though two of the three were against the eventual NFC Champions (we'll let you know about the Giants).

This is nothing more than speculation, of course, but considering that VanGorder's unit outscored Mularkey's unit 2-0 on Sunday in an embarrassing wild-card loss in New York, it's hard to imagine that Thomas Dimitroff and Smith won't take a long, hard look at the coaching staff in preparing to reload for 2012.

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 12:13 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 11:14 am
 

Latest coaching rumors, news

Coaching news and rumors abound through the playoffs. (EoF Illustration)
By Eye on Football staff

Coaching news and rumors don't slow down just because there's football. If you missed all of last week's action, hit it here to catch up and then scroll down. Make sure to bookmark this page as we'll be updating it throughout the week with the latest news and rumors.

SUNDAY
11:15 a.m. ET

FRIDAY
2:05 p.m. ET

12:45 p.m. ET
11:33 a.m. ET
  • Bill Callahan is officially on board with the Cowboys, and he's actually going to be named the offensive coordinator, which is pretty interesting. However, Jason Garrett will continue to call plays. And, presumably, timeouts. Ahem.
THURSDAY
8:35 p.m. ET

3:15 p.m. ET
  • With the loss of Mike Mularkey to Jacksonville, the Falcons reportedly are looking at Brian Billick, former Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to fill the Atlanta OC job.
  • Saints coach Sean Payton confirmed that Aaron Kromer, New Orlean's OL coach, will interview for the Rams head coaching job.

11:50 a.m. ET
  • If the Colts fire coach Jim Caldwell, could new Indianapolis GM Ryan Grigson, formerly the personnel director of the Eagles, consider Philadelphia offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg? The Philadelphia Inquirer thinks there might be some merit to that idea.
8:50 a.m. ET
  • According to a radio station in Orlando, the Bengals have signed a three-year extension with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. So, it appears that Gruden will be staying in Cincinnati.

WEDNESDAY


8:05 p.m. ET
  • Former Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris has landed a new job as the defensive backs coach for the Redskins. It's nice to see that Washington DOES provide jobs to the unemployed.
7:30 p.m.
  • Todd Bowles, formerly the interim coach in Miami, is the first Raiders coaching candidate to emerge in the wake of Hue Jackson's firing, according to ESPN.
  • Mike Mularkey wants to keep former Jaguars interim coach Mel Tucker in Jacksonville as the defensive coordinator. That's via the Florida Times-Union, which quotes Mularkey as saying, "I want to really just have a chance to sit down and talk to him. I’ve spoken to him already, prior to this going down. We really have a pretty good relationship, so hopefully it works out.” Tucker has already interviewed for the Vikings defensive coordinator job.
6:05 p.m. ET
  • According to the Newark Star Ledger, former Chiefs coach Todd Haley will arrive in New Jersey on Wednesday night to interview for the Jets offensive coordinator job. It's not yet Tony Sparano's gig.

5:35 p.m. ET
  • Here are a couple of reasons why we shouldn't be holding our breath about a Schottenheimer family reunion.

10:25 a.m. ET

  • Ryan Grigson is the new general manager for the Indianapolis Colts. Grigson served as director of player personnel with the Eagles for the past year and was the director of college scouting before that.
  • The Jaguars hiring Mike Mularkey eliminated Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski from leaving for Jacksonville, but the Associated Press reports he's now interviewing for the Rams job.
  • One report has the Falcons, who "let" Brian VanGorder leave for Auburn, checking out Steve Spagnuolo for the defensive coordinator position. That'd be a nice fit.
TUESDAY
11:45 p.m. ET

  • It's your standard quiet Tuesday night on the NFL coaching rumor front: Brian Schottenheimer is out as Jets offensive coordinator and the latest reports have Tony Sparano stepping into that role in 2012. (Schotty didn't get "fired" by the way, but yeah, it sounds awkward.)
10:35 p.m. ET
6:40 p.m ET
  • The Dolphins announced that they interviewed Mike Zimmer, defensive coordinator of the Bengals. Meanwhile, Cincy offensive coordinator Jay Gruden declined to interview with the Rams and Jaguars and will stay with Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton.

3:30 p.m ET

  • Winston Moss, the assistant head coach/linebackers coach for the Packers, is considered the front-runner for the open Raiders job.
2:20 p.m. ET
MONDAY
8:40 p.m. ET
  • Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has drawn interest from the Rams and will interview for their head coaching position Thursday, according to the Denver Post.
6 p.m. ET
  • One time-Rams scout Ryan Grigson, now the Eagles director of player personnel, interviewed Monday for the St. Louis general manager job, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
  • As Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was scheduled to interview for the Dolphins head coaching job Monday. Strangely enough, Cincinnati offensive coordinator has NOT been approached by the Jaguars to interview. “I have not heard anything," Gruden said. "I don’t know what’s happening to be honest with you. I don’t know if I’m ready. I’m just dealing with the season that came to an end and whatever happens, happens. I got a couple texts from people that heard I was a candidate for the job but I haven’t heard anything otherwise. I don’t know exactly how it works. I’ll probably find shortly if it is true.”
2:57 p.m. ET
  • Cowboys secondary coach Dave Campo, formerly Dallas' head coach, will not return for 2012, writes the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Apparently, the rest of Jason Garrett's staff should be safe.
  • Via ESPN's Adam Schefter, Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey will interview for the Jaguars job on Tuesday.
11:10 p.m. ET

10:30 a.m. ET

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 4:16 pm
 

For the gambler in you, wild card edition

By Josh Katzowitz

Each week, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Who will be the next head coach of the Buccaneers?    

Mike Sherman 8/5

Brian Billick 2/1

Rob Chudzinski 3/1

Mike Mularkey 3/1

Bill Cowher 10/1

I guess the big question is whether the hiring of Sherman would excite the Buccaneers fanbase? Considering his Texas A&M teams were so mediocre, does that wipe away the successes he had with the Packers when Brett Favre was in his prime? I mean, wouldn’t anybody else on the above list be more exciting than Sherman? Not that fan excitement is the biggest factor on hiring a coach, but I’m not sure I see Sherman as the guy. That said, I think I’d go with Mularkey, though it is more of a longshot.

Who will be the next head coach of the Rams?   

Jeff Fisher 1/1

Field 5/7

Go with Fisher. That Rams job could be a good one for him.

How many Wild Card teams will win this weekend?        

0 10/1

1 9/5

2 7/4

3 4/1

4 30/1

The Steelers will beat the Broncos. The Bengals will beat the Texans. The Falcons will beat the Giants. The Lions will lose to the Saints. So, I’d go with 3 and make some money.

Will a wild card team win the Super Bowl?       

Yes 6/1

No 1/10

Does anybody see the Falcons, Lions or Bengals winning the Super Bowl? Of course not. But the Steelers are a different story. If Ben Roethlisberger is healthy enough and Isaac Redman plays well enough at running back and that defense doesn’t get old overnight, Pittsburgh could make a run. And if you think so, give “yes” a shot. Otherwise, at 1/10, this isn’t worth a bet.

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:25 pm
 

Khan believes Gabbert is Jax's QB of future

KhanBy Josh Katzowitz

While there have been plenty of questions whether Blaine Gabbert is the Jaguars quarterback of the future, new Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan isn’t the one doing the questioning. In his mind, Gabbert is the guy -- for him and for whomever the next coach will be.

"I think a key question you have to ask any potential coach, what are you going to do to develop him?” Khan said on WKOV radio, via the Florida Times Union. “How do you make him the best he can be? Really, I've been asking them point blank, 'Can you work with him?' And so far everybody says he's great.”

As you can see from our handy Coaching Rumors post, most, if not all, of the Jaguars interview plans revolved around offensive coordinators, including New York’s Brian Schottenheimer, Cincinnati’s Jay Gruden, Carolina’s Rob Chudzinski and Atlanta’s Mike Mularkey.

With the quarterback turmoil experienced last season (cutting David Garrard, playing Gabbert, experimenting with Luke McCown, etc.), the franchise needs to find a way to help Gabbert become a legit starter. Because, in Khan’s mind, that’s exactly what he is.
 
"I think he [Gabbert] is going to be a great quarterback,” Khan said. “I think he is our franchise quarterback. I think he needs development. We want to develop him. We want to give him tools. A dedicated coach. And I think he's going to be great."

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:37 am
 

Film Room: Giants vs. Falcons wild-card preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


Both of these teams seem to be peaking at the right time. The Falcons are looking for their first playoff win in the Matt Ryan-Mike Smith-Thomas Dimitroff era; the Giants are looking for a second improbable Super Bowl surge in five years. Here’s the breakdown:


1. Falcons offensive approach
The Falcons spent most of the season trying to figure out if they would remain the two tight end/two-back run-oriented offense that has defined them since Mike Smith and his offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey arrived, or if they’d go ahead and assume the pass-first identity that Thomas Dimitroff committed them to when he traded a bounty for the chance to draft Julio Jones.

In the end, the pass-first approach won out. After fullback Ovie Mughelli went down with a Week 7 knee injury and Jones’ iffy hamstring strengthened, the Falcons drifted to more three-receiver sets and wound up finishing fourth in the league in pass attempts.

They also expanded Ryan’s presnap freedoms. The fourth-year quarterback has considerable power when it comes to audibling and changing protections at the line of scrimmage. In fact, it’s not unheard of for the Falcons to eschew huddling for an entire half. There have been some rough patches – Jones, in particular, was prone to mental mistakes early on – but the Falcons are finally clear about being a passing team.

By working out of three-receiver sets, Atlanta makes it tougher for defenses to double both White and Jones, as doubling both all but ensures Tony Gonzalez gets matched up on a linebacker:

Gonzalez has made a living feasting on zone defenses with an option route. With an option after Gonzalez gets over the top of a linebacker’s coverage, he runs his route based on how the safety plays. A lot of times the safety’s actions are determined by how he’s reading other receivers’ routes. This illustration shows the concept in its simplest terms. Gonzo and his QB must diagnose the defense the same way. That’s never been a problem for Matt Ryan and the veteran TE.

Also, what people don’t think about is how the three-receiver sets can actually help Atlanta’s power run game. Yes, there are fewer lead-blockers or offensive linemen for Michael Turner to run behind, but if Turner can get to the perimeter, he’s more likely to meet a defensive back than linebacker.

Not many defensive backs can’t tackle the 244-pounder one-on-one. This season Turner rushed for 459 yards on 93 attempts (4.9 average) out of three receiver sets.

The Falcons have not completely abandoned their heavy run game (they constantly used a fullback or extra tight end last week, likely to assure that Tampa Bay’s atrocious middle linebacker, Mason Foster, stayed on the field). If they don’t go no-huddle, they’ll be more inclined to bring in Michael Palmer, Reggie Kelly or Mike Cox, rather than stay exclusively in the three-wide spread.

That said, no-huddle would be an excellent tactic for them Sunday, as it could help quell the Meadowlands crowd and slow down that Giants’ pass-rush.

2. New York’s big nickel package
After rookie nickel corner Prince Amukamara got torched for the umpteenth time in early/mid-December, the Giants reverted back to their “big nickel” defensive package, with Antrel Rolle sliding down to slot corner/outside linebacker and either Deon Grant or Tyler Sash coming in to fill Rolle’s safety spot.

Rolle, whom the Cardinals drafted in the first round as a cornerback out of Miami, has the skills to cover slot receivers, and he also happens to be a superb run-defender. In fact, he’s so good that the Giants often used their “big nickel” package against base offensive personnel last season. Rolle doesn’t just offer solidity against the run; he’s also a shrewd blitzer and help-defender in zone coverage. In short, he’s a poor man’s Charles Woodson.

Obviously, though, if the Giants were overwhelmingly better with Rolle at slot corner, they wouldn’t have moved him back to safety to begin this season. Rolle being in the slot does leave the secondary a bit more vulnerable in downfield coverage. Cornerback Corey Webster’s terrific work in solo coverage ameliorates this somewhat, but Aaron Ross is a bit of a concern on the other side.

3. Atlanta’s approach
If Webster defends Julio Jones, Matt Ryan will look for the mismatch with Roddy White. If Webster defends White, Ryan will look for Jones. The Giants may want to give Ryan one more presnap read to dissect by having Webster alternate between defending Jones and White.

Regardless of where Webster lines up, a big focus of Ryan’s will be on getting the ball out quickly. He’s more inclined to find his rhythm with three-and five-step-drops, just as Tony Romo did in the second half Sunday night (it was a mistake for the Cowboys to not go with this approach earlier in that game).

Matt Ryan will be celebrating if he can get the ball out quickly. (Getty Images)

Even if Ryan’s rhythm is not a concern – and maybe it isn’t; the guy is a cerebral, fundamentally sound passer – Atlanta’s pass protection IS. The Falcons’ front five is a mauling, power-based group that is below the NFL’s athletic median.

It holds up because the five cogs are cohesive and familiar to Ryan. But that isn’t enough when facing a technician like Justin Tuck, a lightning bolt like Osi Umenyiora or a freak like Jason Pierre-Paul.

The only way the Falcons can give Ryan enough time to take a shot downfield is if they go max protect. Thus, when the Falcons do get away from their three-wide personnel, they won’t just be looking to pound the rock – they’ll be looking to go deep. The Giants secondary should be on high alert for play-action.

4. Stopping Eli and the passing game
Cris Collinsworth mentioned early in last Sunday night’s broadcast that Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan regretted not blitzing Eli Manning more when they met back in Week 14. But in the rematch, Ryan quickly found out that even his most creative blitzes couldn’t faze Manning.

The eighth-year veteran has reached that level where he himself can’t be beat. He simply has too much intelligence, poise and arm strength. Instead, the way to beat Manning is to beat his receivers and hope that leads to Giants mistakes.

Thus, don’t expect the Falcons to do anything more with their pass-rush than the occasional zone blitzes that they’ve used all season. They’re better off focusing on Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. The Redskins discombobulated the Giants in Week 15 by bracketing the top receivers with corners underneath and safeties over the top. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was betting that Manning would get impatient and force some balls into those coverages. He was correct.

Stifling the receivers outside is a great approach because it forces Manning to work to his third and fourth reads. He’s more than capable of that….as long as his protection holds up. The Falcons have only a good-but-not-great pass-rush (free agent pickup Ray Edwards has been a disappointment), but it’s a pass-rush that’s capable of exploding at any moment thanks to the supple speed of John Abraham. When Manning’s primary reads are covered, this offense goes from being big-play oriented to dink and dunk. That bodes well for the Falcons (see item 5).

5. Atlanta’s speed
The emergence of Sean Weatherspoon has been huge for Atlanta’s defense. The second-year linebacker is a swift, powerful three-down player who attacks the run and can patrol sideline-to-sideline in underneath coverage. The Falcons have a second player of this ilk in Curtis Lofton, a sound fourth-year pro who lacks Weatherspoon’s elite athletic prowess but compensates with decisive diagnostic skills.

With these two working behind vociferous, quick defensive tackles like Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters, it’s not only tough to run on the Falcons, it’s tough to execute screens, dumpoffs and shallow crosses. The intended receiver might catch the pass, but he’s not going far. If he does get away, he still has to get by William Moore and Thomas DeCoud, two of the game’s faster downhill safeties.
 
Overall, this speedy zone defense will be a problem for the Giants, a team that compensated for its bad run game this season by totaling 138 completions to Jake Ballard, Bear Pascoe, Henry Hynoski, D.J. Ware, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all the wild-card games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 10:43 am
Edited on: January 2, 2012 10:47 am
 

Report: Jags want to interview Mularkey

Mike Mularkey might have interest in the Jacksonville job (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz


The Jaguars, officially looking for the successor to Jack Del Rio, have asked the Falcons for permission to interview Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, according to NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora.

This would be Mularkey’s second head coaching job. He coached the Bills from 2004-05, and after a debut of 9-7, Buffalo fell to 5-11 the next season. He’s been in charge of Atlanta’s offense the past four years, and in the past two seasons, the Falcons have been among the top-seven teams in points scored.

Mularkey has been a hot coaching candidate the past two years. He interviewed for the Titans job last year, and he talked to the Browns about the position that ultimately went to Pat Shurmur.

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Posted on: February 4, 2011 6:47 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 7:59 pm
 

Gonzalez: 'I'd probably be done' if he had a ring

Posted by Will Brinson

DALLAS -- Tony Gonzalez has had an amazing career. He's the original modern-day prototype for the uber-athletic tight ends that are strewn across NFL rosters these days.

The one thing he hasn't accomplished, though, is winning a Super Bowl. "I'm just taking it one year at a time," Gonzalez told CBSSports.com. "I do anticipate next year being my last year.

"The way I look at it is, if I had a Super Bowl at this point, I'd probably be done. But that's really what's driving me -- it's not statistics, it's not records."

[More Super Bowl coverage]



It's kind of obvious that Gonzalez isn't stat-hogging, too -- if he simply cared about racking up receiving yards and whatnot, he'd have stuck with the Chiefs.

Since joining the Falcons, after all, he hasn't even topped 900 yards, but that's primarily because Mike Mularkey's scheme relies so heavily on the power run game and doesn't stretch the field with Gonzo the way the Chiefs did.

He has been a crucial third-down and red-zone target (six TDs in both his years with the Falcons, though, and age almost certainly has something to do with his decline in production.

Still, the Falcons shouldn't go anywhere in 2011, even in a tough NFC South, and given the talent base in Atlanta, it's entirely possible Gonzo could stick around for even longer.

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Posted on: February 4, 2011 11:52 am
Edited on: February 4, 2011 11:53 am
 

New Titans coach won't make Jeff Fisher money

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Are the Titans planning to lowball their new coach? It certainly seems that way if you read this Titans Insider piece in which Terry McCormick writes that the new Tennessee coach should expect to be paid about $2.5 million a season.

Considering Jeff Fisher would have made about $6.5 million per year, this newest figure doesn’t sound quite so special.

Unless former Bills head coach Mike Mularkey wins the job, the rest of the candidates (Titans OL coach Mike Munchak, Tiatans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell) would be first-time head coaches.

Thus, it makes sense that owner Bud Adams could get away with paying them much less than Fisher and why former coaches like Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden were never in consideration for the Titans job.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com