New York Jets: Breaking down 3 confirmed head coaching candidates (part 2)

In the first part of the New York Jets’ confirmed coaching target breakdowns, I highlighted some of the top offensive coordinators reportedly being targeted for the job. This time, here are the three rumored defensive coordinator candidates and what they bring to the table.

Matt Eberflus, Indianapolis Colts Defensive Coordinator

Matt Eberflus is a rising coaching candidate in the league, and for good reason. The well-traveled coach began his coaching career as a student assistant at Toledo in 1992, he then spent eight years coaching at Toledo, holding the positions of graduate assistant, recruiting coordinator, outside linebackers coach, and defensive backs coach. Due to his success at Toledo, Eberflus was named defensive coordinator of Missouri in 2001, where he coached until 2008. He then signed on for two seasons as the linebackers coach of the Browns before he entered into the most crucial years in his coaching development. From 2011 to 2015, Eberflus coached under Rod Marinelli, super bowl champion coach. Marinelli taught Eberflus the Tampa 2 style defense, which has proved to be his staying power since then. Marinelli mentored Eberflus and developed him into a disciple, which led to him ultimately landing his current gig.

Eberflus was initially brought on to the Colts staff by the short-lived coach, Josh McDaniels. When he decided to return to New England and Frank Reich was hired, the team looked to Marinelli for his advisement on someone who could instill the Tampa 2 defense in Indy, and he let them know that guy was already on the staff. So, Eberflus kept his job, and in the time since, he has become an esteemed coach. The Indy defense has become a top one in all of football, but the way Eberflus has gotten the most out of his players is the true shining piece of his resume. Darius Leonard was not supposed to be a star in this league, he was out for most of his rookie camp, and he was a little known second-rounder. Now, Leonard is one of the best linebackers in football. The team also acquired Deforest Buckner this offseason, and he has had a monster season in the defense.

Eberflus’ only indictment is that he may not be that CEO type coach rumored to be the target. Eberflus does not have experience as a head coach, and just like most coordinators, there is no hardcore proof he could have success. Still, Eberflus is well connected in the league and could likely build a good staff and be a good leader. Eberflus is a true wildcard candidate; depending on his staff, he could be a solid hire.

Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Rams Defensive Coordinator

A year ago, Brandon Staley was a rather unknown coach, now, he has a shot to be a head coach rather quickly. Staley has bounced around the college ranks, starting in 2006 at Northern Illinois. From there, Staley went to various schools including, St. Thomas, Hutchinson Community, and Tennessee. Then, Staley got his shot as a D3 defensive coordinator at John Carrol University. From there, he went to James Madison and back to John Carrol. Then, he drew the eye of Vic Fangio and had been on his staff in both Chicago and Denver before getting his shot as a defensive coordinator this season in Los Angeles.

Brandon Staley succeeded esteemed defensive coordinator Wade Phillips after his retirement last season. He inherited a defense with two of the best players in the NFL, Jalen Ramsey, and Aaron Donald. Donald brings a ferocious ability to get into the backfield unmatched by anyone in the league. Ramsey is one of the best lockdown corners in the game and didn’t have a single game this season where he allowed more than 20 yards. Despite that, the talent they had was present in both Phillip’s time and Staley’s. So, in analyzing their defensive jump from the middle of the league to first, that makes what Staley was able to do all the more impressive.

Staley has earned quite a reputation quickly. He has drawn comparisons to the man that hired him, Sean McVay, and been labeled as the defensive carbon copy. Staley would be the younger, more flashier hire than Eberflus, but both are unproven. Staley has not been in the league long, meaning his staff hires could leave something to be desired. Staley is a bold choice, but the Jets have gone the successful defensive coordinator route once in the past 8 years, and it didn’t bode well, will they make the same choice again?

Robert Saleh, San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator

Robert Saleh is a football guy. The former college tight end began his coaching career in 2002 with Michigan State. He then coached at Central Michigan and Georgia before going to the pros. Then, in 2005, Saleh was hired as an intern with the Texans, and he climbed through the ranks to the position of assistant linebackers coach before heading to Seattle. In Seattle, Saleh got to learn under Pete Carroll and coach on a Super Bowl championship-winning staff. Saleh coached there until receiving a shot to coach the linebackers in Jacksonville, where they had a large amount of success in his time there. His success across the board drew enough attention from Kyle Shanahan to earn him the defensive coordinator job in 2017. Since then, Saleh has become a household name.

Last season, the San Francisco 49ers went to the Super Bowl behind one of the most talented defensive lines I have seen in the past decade. Their defense was ranked in the top tier of the league overall, and although they were unable to pull off a win in the big game, they still showed major growth in 2019. This set them up as one of the most heavily feared defenses heading into this season, but when Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman, Javon Kinlaw, and Kwon Alexander are among the big names who missed multiple games, if not the entire season. The team was banged up but still managed to finish as a top defenses again, taking only a small step back.

Robert Saleh is that CEO type of coach Joe Douglas should target. Saleh is the middle ground of Staley and Eberflus. He has the connections of Eberflus and the youth of Staley. Saleh brings juice and energy to the defense. One rumored connection is with Mike McDaniel, a rising offensive mind in San Francisco, who some believe could follow him as an OC wherever he choses to go. He is so intense that he runs the stadium stairs in order to get mentally prepared before games. Saleh is a fantastic coach and near the top of my board for prospective coaches. Saleh is a hot commodity, though, and there is a hometown connection with the Lions that could prove to be too much for the Jets to overcome.

Aaron Donald has kind words for New York Jets, Sam Darnold

On the cusp of Los Angeles Rams history, Aaron Donald made it clear he’s not taking the New York Jets’ visit lightly.

The holiday season is often meant to be one of glad tidings of comfort and joy. One of the NFL’s most fearsome defenders is fully on board with that concept.

With the holidays come the NFL’s most crucial games, as the calendar inches closer toward the postseason. Aaron Donald’s Los Angeles Rams (9-4) have three such contests remaining. Though their playoff prescience is mostly assured, they’re engaged in a brutal battle for the NFC title with the Seattle Seahawks, a battle that could shift an NFC playoff game from Lumen Field to the Rams’ palatial home of SoFi Stadium.

While the Rams have looked strong at the perfect time, having won three in a row and dismantling the New England Patriots on a national stage last week, they were unable to gain separation from the Seahawks, who crushed the woebegone New York Jets by a 40-3 final last weekend at home. Little more needs to be said about how wayward the Jets’ season has become, but things certainly have a chance to get uglier this weekend. The winless Jets (0-13) will return to the west coast this Sunday to round out their interconference slate in Inglewood (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox). 

Los Angeles would almost have every right to take the Jets lightly, especially with New York now missing six defensive starters from their opening day lineup after linebacker Jordan Jenkins was placed on injured reserve earlier this week.

But Donald isn’t buying the idea of an easy Los Angeles victory. The interior pursuer of quarterbacks spoke highly of the opponent in his weekly statements and also had friendly words for his Sunday prey.

“Obviously, they’re not playing how they want to play, but I think he’s a good quarterback,” Donald said of Darnold, Peter Botte of the New York Post. “He’s really mobile. He can move, make things happen with his feet, and get out of trouble. It looks like he’s strong. I’ve seen a couple times when it looked like he was about to get sacked, but he was able to break out and make something happen. He’s a solid quarterback, so we’ve been studying that and understanding that plays aren’t going to come easy. We’ve got to earn them. We’ve just got to do our job. He’s a good quarterback. They’ve got some good players around him, young players.”

A Sunday sack of Darnold could set history for the second consecutive weekend. Donald is three sacks away from tying Leonard Little for the most in Rams history (87.5). Darnold was previously the victim of a Jamal Adams sack in Seattle that made his former teammate the NFL’s single-season sack leader amongst defensive backs.

A native of Orange County’s Huntington Beach, Darnold is ready to make his return to Los Angeles, where he entered the national spotlight as the star thrower for the University of Southern California Trojans. He reciprocated Donald’s praise in his own availability.

“Aaron Donald is a good player,” Darnold said, per Botte. “He definitely pops out on tape, especially it seems like whenever a play needs to be made, he is always there making it. So it will be fun playing against him.”

As the Jets seek some form of momentum and any good feeling to take from this lost season. Some members of the team feel like they can take a lesson or two from Donald, one of the premier defenders and scariest backfield invaders in the NFL.

“When you watch this guy get doubl- teamed almost every snap, and the five snaps he gets singled up, he wins,” Gase said of Donald, per team reporter Eric Allen. “I’m sure every D-tackle is trying to get to that point, especially guys that have similar skill sets of length, quickness, strength, things like that, they’re like, ‘Hey, I want to be like that guy.'”

“You look at their front, their front is very disruptive, with their games, especially on third down, so we have to do a good job up there up front and then the back end, they have really good players there too and they do a good of disguising coverages and mixing it up that way,” Darnold said of the Rams defense as a whole, per Max Goodman of SI.com. “We’ve got our work cut out for us, but we are excited for the opportunity.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Giants: Keys to victory against the Rams in Week Four

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants will head to Los Angeles to face off against the Rams in Week Four. Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses in Week Three. The Giants were blown out by the 49ers, falling to 0-3 on the season and the Rams lost a close one with the Bills, falling to 2-1.

The Giants desperately need to win in Week Three to turn their season around. If the Giants want to take down the Rams, they need to limit their turnovers, slow down Aaron Donald, and play a bend-don’t-break defense in Week Four.

Limit The Turnovers

Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones has a turnover problem. Through three games, Jones has turned the ball over six times in three games. The Rams’ defense has forced five turnovers in the last two games. The Giants will not win this game if they turn the ball over multiple times. The turnovers have crippled the Giants’ offense through three games and have directly turned into opposing points.

Slow Down Aaron Donald

The best defensive player in the NFL has been wreaking havoc through the first three weeks of the 2020 NFL season. Aaron Donald has not lost a step. Donald has been a First-Team All-Pro in each of the last five seasons. Donald is maintaining that elite-level of play in 2020, leading the NFL with 20 pressures generated this season (via Pro Football Focus).

The Giants’ offensive line has struggled tremendously in 2020. Quarterback Daniel Jones has been pressured on 41.5% of his dropbacks in 2020, according to PFF. This is the third-highest rate in the NFL.

Starting center Nick Gates has struggled this season while making a position switch. Now, he will face his toughest opponent yet. Aaron Donald has three sacks through three games in 2020. New York’s offensive line needs to step up in Week Four and prevent Aaron Donald from wrecking this game.

Do Not Break On Defense

The Giants’ defense could not get off the field on third down against the 49ers in Week Three. New York plays a bend-don’t-break defense. But, in Week Three, that defense broke more often than it should have.

The Giants’ defense forced the 49ers’ offense into 11 third-down situations. Technically, the 49ers ran plays on 12 third downs, but the last third down was the final play of the game when the 49ers took a knee to seal the win. So, actually, the 49ers converted 8 of their 11 third-down attempts. Additionally, the 49ers scored 6 points on 4th down, making 2 of 3 field-goal attempts. The 49ers did not punt once in Week Three.

This is not sustainable. The Giants cannot win games if they allow opposing offenses to convert over 70% of their third-down attempts. Against Sean McVay’s high-flying offense in Week Four, the Giants’ defense needs to get off the field on third down,

New York Giants: Offensive line motivated to improve against Rams in Week Three

New York Giants, Nick Gates

The New York Giants have been arguably the weakest unit on the team through its disappointing 0-3 start. After investing a fair amount of assets into the offensive line this offseason and acquiring one of the best positional coaches in the sport to guide them, the Giants’ offensive line appears to have somehow gotten worse in 2020.

Quarterback Daniel Jones has been under pressure on 41.5% of his dropbacks in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus. This is the third-highest rate in the NFL. PFF Also states that the Giants’ offensive line has recorded a 46.3 pass-block grade through three weeks, ranking dead last in the league.

The members of the Giants’ front line are not oblivious to their poor performances. According to starting center Nick Gates, the Giants’ offensive line is “pissed off.”

Nick Gates Quotes

The New York Giants’ offensive line has gone up against some of the best defensive lines in the NFL to start the season. The Steelers and Bears were fully healthy and had All-Pro pass-rushers line up against the Giants’ weak offensive line. The 49ers’ defense was injured, but well-coached with a few impact players that gave the Giants plenty of trouble.

Entering Week Four, the Giants are set to face off against another great defense featuring one of the game’s greatest players: Aaron Donald. When asked about this matchup, Nick Gates called the matchup “exciting,” and saying Donald “will be the best player” Gates has “ever gone up against.”

Nick Gates admits that these first three weeks have been “frustrating” and the team is “pissed off.” But he also recognizes that the team has to “focus on the Rams” and move on “to the next game.” This falls in line with Joe Judge’s quotes.

Marc Colombo Quotes

Offensive line coach Marc Colombo also spoke with the media as his unit continues to struggle. Colombo is aware that his line is frustrated, saying, “I love that they’re pissed off. That’s the type of group we want.”

As frustrated as Colombo and his unit are, they are also aware that they have been dealt a pretty bad hand in 2020. With the craziness of the COVID offseason, Colombo reminds the media that the Giants’ offensive line is “thousands and thousands of reps behind.” Continuity has also been a problem for the Giants. But Colombo is not here to make excuses. Instead, he is here to find solutions:

“We’ve gotta do better in the run, period. That’s where we’re falling short right now. It’s going to alleviate a lot of stuff in the passing game. That’s something we have to do.” – Marc Colombo on his offensive line’s play through three weeks of the 2020 NFL season

Clearly, the Giants’ offensive line and coaches are frustrated. They need to play and coach better and they are all aware of that fact. If New York wants to turn around its season, the offensive line will need to improve quickly and drastically.

New York Giants: Dalvin Tomlinson A Long-Term Building Block

New York Giants, Dalvin Tomlinson

The New York Giants have quickly built one of the best young defensive lines in the NFL recently. Since taking over as general manager in 2018, Dave Gettleman has invested the following into the defensive line: 2018 third-round pick, 2018 seventh-round pick, 2019 first-round pick, 2019 seventh-round pick, 2020 third-round pick, 2021 fifth-round pick, $16.1 million franchise tag.

Interestingly enough, one of the best players on the Giants’ defensive line was not a Dave Gettleman acquisition. Jerry Reese’s 2017 second-round draft pick, Dalvin Tomlinson, has been the most consistent and reliable defender on the Giants over the past few years. Soon enough, the young defensive lineman will be due for a new contract.

What Might Tomlinson’s Contract Look Like?

The interior defensive lineman position is growing particularly expensive. Aaron Donald, the league’s best at the position, signed a record-breaking contract worth $22 million on average annually in 2018. Now, Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs is searching for a contract north of $20 million and could find himself on the trade block because of it. With this considered, Dalvin Tomlinson’s contract could be north of $10 million per year. However, there is reason to believe he is fully worth that contract value.

Dalvin Tomlinson Stats and Highlights

Dalvin Tomlinson is as consistent as a defensive lineman can be. In 2019, Dalvin only missed 3 tackles, a missed tackle rate of only 5.8%. In 2018 he was even more consistent, missing just one tackle (1.7%). Tomlinson has played and started in all 16 games in each of his three NFL seasons.

The 2019 season was the best of Dalvin Tomlinson’s young career. In 2019, Dalvin recorded 49 combined tackles, a career-high 7 tackles for loss, and a career-high 3.5 sacks, 13 pressures, and 7 quarterback hits.

2020 could be an even better season for Tomlinson. Tomlinson compared the Giants’ new defensive scheme to the scheme he used at Alabama in college:

“The technique kind of reminds me of my Alabama days. You can only pick up so much on virtual meetings and things like that so I feel like I’ve picked up the playbook pretty well over the virtual meetings,” Tomlinson said to Sirius XM NFL Radio.

Tomlinson has tried his best to learn the Giants’ playbook remotely, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has made that increasingly difficult for the Giants. The Gmen have a new head coach and new schemes to learn on both sides of the ball. If Dalvin Tomlinson is able to learn the new scheme by the start of the season, he could break out for another career-year.

NFL: LA Rams Aaron Donald-99 on the Field, but 100 off of it

When you think of someone who is an absolute powerhouse, a force to be reckoned with, and just an all-around adept athlete the first person that comes to mind is Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald.  Donald is one of, if not the best, to ever play the game.  He makes each and every match up exciting to watch and gives it his absolute all no matter what the score may be.  On the field, he may ram into offenses, but off the field, he is an absolute angel!  

What truly sets Donald apart from the rest is the incredible work he does with his foundation AD99 Solutions Foundation.  His beautiful family is on the board of directors of his foundation and they are fully involved and immerse themselves in giving back.  Looking at his classy, upstanding family, it is no wonder how Donald is such a good guy!

Donald hosts a free football camp for the youth each year.   The foundation has a program called Cohort Curriculum in which offers students mentoring through various services including finding out what career they may be interested in pursuing, physical activities including training and outdoor activities, as well as leadership development, empowering them to excel in all that they do.  They know the importance of equipping students with more than academic knowledge, going above and beyond to ensure that they are fully developed in every area.  The foundation, partnering with Ready Nutrition, also started an initiative called “Fuel for Success”,  which aims at making sure that healthy foods are provided to all and that the youth understands just how significant good nutrition is to their overall well-being.  They have also hosted a Cocktail hour to raise money for academic as well as athletic leadership programs.   

Just recently, with the ongoing pandemic, Donald saw fit to host a free Mental Flex forum which will last for the next seven weeks,  for student-athletes in which he discusses topics like health and wellness, race, gender, and society, volunteerism and advocacy and career and personal development.  Donald knows that it takes more than talent and skill to be a truly good athlete.  To fully be well-rounded, Donald knows that it goes far beyond the game of football and that one should give back in any way they can, something Donald excels at.  

His foundation also donated 9,999 cases of protein water from Ready Nutrition to help those on the front line assisting those battling Covid-19. 

With each and every person he meets, a huge smile always adorns Donald’s face.  He loves interacting with and helping others and it shows.  

The work that Donald does is beyond extraordinary.  To help so many people and make such a profound impact on the lives of Pittsburgh’s youth is awe-inspiring.  Donald is so full of humility and does all of this philanthropy out of the goodness of his heart.  His soul is pure and so altruistic.  There are not enough kind things to say about him!  Donald is one-of-a-kind and a gift not only to the NFL but to the community!  They say we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give and Donald embodies that to the fullest!  Kind people are the best kind of people and Donald is certainly one of them!