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.

Buffalo Bills: A postseason legend returns as an enemy on Saturday

A Buffalo Bills postseason legend returns to Orchard Park on Sunday. But Frank Reich won’t receive a warm welcome.

If anyone knows what it’s like to be underestimated in the NFL playoffs, it’s Frank Reich.

Reich is best known for engineering perhaps the greatest comeback in football history, leading the Buffalo Bills back from 32 points down to top the Houston Oilers in the 1992-93 AFC Wild Card playoffs. The Bills were underdogs when Reich had to start the following weekend against Pittsburgh, but he scored two touchdowns in a 24-3 triumph. Reich’s long-awated Super Bowl title came when he was the offensive coordinator of the star-crossed Philadelphia Eagles…underdogs to the mighty New England Patriots in the game’s 52nd edition. Reich’s unit became the eighth team in Super Bowl history to put up at least 40 points in the 41-33 triumph. Surely there were some Bills fans that appreciated the fact that the veteran Buffalo thrower finally got a ring…and that it came against the hated Patriots.

A similar situation awaits Reich on Saturday afternoon. This time, though, no one in Western New York is going to be celebrating if Reich leaves the area with a victory.

Reich returns to Bills Stadium as the opposing head coach in Buffalo’s first playoff game in Orchard Park since December 1996. The Bills battle Reich’s Indianapolis Colts in the modern AFC Wild Card playoffs, officially kicking off the 2021 postseason on Saturday afternoon (1:05 p.m. ET, CBS).

Obviously, Reich is business-focused as the Colts prepare to make their arrival. But it’s hard to deny the significance and irony of a former Bills postseason hero potentially spoiling a long-awaited party that will be open to just over 6,000 members of Bills Mafia (though Governor Andrew Cuomo will no longer be one).

“This is a business trip,” Reich said of Saturday’s showdown, per Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “Fortunately, I have been back to Buffalo a few times since (leaving in 1994) as a player and as a coach. I feel like I’ve gotten all of that out of my system. Love Buffalo, will always love Buffalo, will always be a Bills fan, except for this Saturday for sure.”

Bills fans more than likely hope that Reich’s latest visit ends like the one he made in November 1996, just over a month before they fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars in their most recent playoff staging at what was then known as Rich Stadium. Reich threw three interceptions as he and the one-win Jets fell in a one-sided 35-10 defeat to Buffalo. More recently, Reich holds the current bragging rights in the series, with his Colts dominating a 37-5 decision at Lucas Oil Stadium in October 2018.

Even if Reich is unwilling to give in to nostalgics, his impact is recognized by those who came after him in the Bills’ quarterback room.

“It’s a cool moment with coach Reich and what he meant here in Buffalo,” quarterback Josh Allen told Maiorana. “I saw his press conference on coming back and you know he was excited that we won on Sunday, but he’s not gonna be a fan of the Bills when he comes into town this time. The fans obviously love him and what he’s been able to do here so that’s a cool story in itself.”

A good part of Reich’s NFL story is written in blue and red ink. He was drafted by the Bills in the third round of the 1985 draft out of Maryland, spending a decade as Jim Kelly’s backup before he served as a mentor and fill-in thrower in Carolina, New York, and Detroit. Such a career made him ideal in a coach’s spot, and his career with a headset has come full circle. He was an offensive assistant for four years with the Colts (2008-11) before other deputy positions in Arizona and San Diego before his championship dream was finally fulfilled with the Eagles. Reich accepted his first head coaching job shortly after with the Colts. Philadelphia hasn’t reached 10 wins since his departure.

Reich’s tenure has been about stabilizing a franchise that could’ve been set back years by the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck. The Colts won 10 games and a Wild Card contest during Reich and Luck’s one season of collaborating, but Luck’s departure during the ensuing preseason was a roadblock that could’ve set the franchise back several seasons.

But Reich made due with a fate that dealt him a Luck-free future, driving the Colts to a respectable seven-win season that fell two games short of the playoffs. With the addition of an experienced placeholder quarterback (Phillip Rivers) and the emergence of a day-two gem at the draft (Jonathan Taylor), the Colts won 11 games for the first time since 2014 and captured the final AFC Wild Card spot, leading to Reich’s date with destiny.

Even Reich’s most recent playoff clinch was sprinkled with a healthy dose of Buffalo-based irony: the Bills’ dominant 56-26 win over Miami during Sunday’s early window put the Colts in a win-and-in situation for their late afternoon game against Jacksonville. Indianapolis’ 28-14 triumph clinched the spot on the 28th anniversary of Reich’s dramatic comeback against Houston. Reich would later insist that he was unaware of the coincidence until the day before the game.

“Us coaches, we don’t know what day of the week it is or what the date is, we just know when we play and what the practice schedule is,” he remarked in Maiorana’s report. “It actually wasn’t until I was doing the production meeting with the TV crew and someone mentioned that did the thought even cross my mind.”

In preparing for the Bills, Reich was more willing to focus on the current incarnation of Buffalo’s gridiron endeavors. In another report from Matt Parrino of Syracuse.com, Reich referred to them as “one of the hottest teams, if not the hottest team in the NFL” and to head coach Sean McDermott as “one of the (most) respected coaches in this league”.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Should The New York Giants Make A Change At Offensive Line Coach?

On January 15, the Indianapolis Colts made a position coach change. The Colts fired their offensive line coach, Dave DeGugliemo. This move by the Colts prompted plenty of Giants fans to wonder if their team will make a change on their own coaching staff and pursue DeGugliemo.

Dave DeGugliemo’s Resumé And Connections With The New York Giants:

Dave DeGugliemo actually used to be part of the New York Giants’ coaching staff. He was a part of the 2008 Super Bowl victory in which the Giants had one of the league’s best offensive lines. DeGugliemo served as the Giants’ assistant offensive line & quality control coach from 2004 to 2008.

In 2018, the Indianapolis Colts had arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. They showed massive improvement from 2017 to 2018. In 2017, the Colts had the 25th ranked offensive line according to Pro Football Focus. DeGugliemo helped turn that around in 2018, as they were the 6th ranked offensive line per PFF.

Part of this change came from having DeGugliemo as the offensive line coach. He was brought to Indianapolis in 2018 by head coach candidate Josh McDaniels, who was later replaced by Frank Reich. Dave was the only assistant coach that Reich did not hire himself, so after one season he has decided that he wants to make his own hire.

Dave DeGugliemo has been part of some of the best offensive lines in the NFL over the past 15 years. Aside from working with the Giants, DeGugliemo also worked as an offensive line coach for the Dolphins in 2009-2011. The Dolphins 2009 offensive line unit was ranked second in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. They also ranked 8th in 2010.

The Dolphins’ offensive line struggled in 2011, and DeGugliemo moved on to become the offensive line coach of the Jets in 2012. The Jets’ offensive line ranked 3rd in the NFL in 2012. He only spent one season with the Jets and did not coach in 2013. In 2014, Dave went to the New England Patriots and coached the Giants’ current starting left tackle, Nate Solder.

Dave DeGugliemo has an extremely impressive track record. The New York Giants offensive line has been struggling for years and did not show much improvement when new offensive line coach Hal Hunter took over in 2018. The Giants could look to bring DeGugliemo back to New York in order to fix their offensive line issues in 2019.