NFL con­tin­ues coach­ing carousel

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By BARRY WILNER

The Cow­boys and Redskins went the ex­pe­ri­ence route in their head coach­ing searches. The Gi­ants and Pan­thers ap­par­ently are com­fort­able with new­com­ers to the job. Dal­las re­placed Ja­son Gar­rett with a Su­per Bowl win­ner, Mike McCarthy, who was as suc­cess­ful in Green Bay as any­one this side of Vince Lom­bardi. Wash­ing­ton went with Ron Rivera, who twice won NFL Coach of the Year honors.

The Cow­boys and Redskins went the ex­pe­ri­ence route in their head coach­ing searches. The Gi­ants and Pan­thers ap­par­ently are com­fort­able with new­com­ers to the job.

Dal­las re­placed Ja­son Gar­rett with a Su­per Bowl win­ner, Mike McCarthy, who was as suc­cess­ful in Green Bay as any­one this side of Vince Lom­bardi. Wash­ing­ton went with Ron Rivera, who twice won NFL Coach of the Year honors in Carolina and also took the Pan­thers to a Su­per Bowl.

Re­plac­ing Rivera will be Matt Rhule, a wor­thy col­lege coach at Tem­ple and Bay­lor, but with min­i­mal time in the pros.

And the Gi­ants, whose last two coach­ing choices, Ben McA­doo and Pat Shur­mur, got fired, are on the verge of go­ing with Joe Judge, New Eng­land’s re­ceiv­ing and spe­cial teams maven.

Still open is the Cleve­land job — doesn’t it al­ways seem to be? The Browns flopped with untested Fred­die Kitchens in charge, so maybe they’ll want some­one of the ilk of McCarthy and Rivera. Then again, it’s the Browns.

Of the four hires, only Rivera is a mi­nor­ity. De­spite the push for di­ver­sity in coach hir­ings un­der the Rooney Rule, the NFL has only three other mi­nor­ity head coaches among the 32 teams: Pitts­burgh’s Mike Tom­lin, the Charg­ers’ An­thony Lynn, and Mi­ami’s Brian Flores.

As op­posed to new owner David Tep­per in Carolina, it ap­pears long­time own­ers Jerry

Jones in Dal­las and Daniel Snyder in Wash­ing­ton went the safer route. That’s un­der­stand­able with the Cow­boys, who un­der­achieved in a big way this sea­son and are far closer to con­tend­ing than are the Redskins.

The 56-year-old McCarthy, who went to the play­offs nine times in 12-plus sea­sons with Green Bay and won his Su­per Bowl in Jones’ sta­dium, is a solid fit in Big D. The Cow­boys are ex­pected to give Dak Prescott a longterm con­tract any day, and McCarthy is a QB-friendly coach.

He also is bring­ing a proven de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Mike Nolan, with him.

Rivera has a far big­ger task to get the Redskins into the play­offs con­ver­sa­tion, and he also has hired an es­tab­lished de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in Jack Del Rio. Once Rivera was dis­missed in Carolina, though, Snyder made en­tic­ing him to DC a goal. He reached that ob­jec­tive with the prom­ise that the or­ga­ni­za­tion will un­dergo a “cul­ture change” un­der Rivera.

“Some­one that can bring a win­ning cul­ture to our or­ga­ni­za­tion,” Snyder said. “That starts and ends with our head coach.”

Wash­ing­ton’s record since Snyder bought the team in 1999 is 142-193-1, with one post­sea­son win. Rivera, who turned 58 on Tues­day, is the third ex­pe­ri­enced head coach Snyder has hired. The oth­ers were Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs, whose sec­ond stint was not mem­o­rable, and Mike Shana­han, who did not fare any bet­ter than re­cently fired Jay Gru­den.

“I told him I didn’t want to go through a five-year re­build­ing process,” Rivera said of the owner. “I just don’t have the pa­tience, and from what I’ve read, nei­ther does he, so we un­der­stand that.”

Pa­tience cer­tainly will be a virtue for the Pan­thers and Gi­ants as they ba­si­cally take a big risk on their hires.

Rhule, 44, has a his­tory of re­build­ing pro­grams in dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions. But those were in col­lege. He faces the same kind of chal­lenge in Carolina: The Pan­thers had seven-game los­ing streaks in the sec­ond half of each of the last two sea­sons. Quar­ter­back Cam New­ton has had a string of in­juries and barely played in 2019.

Rhule also seems set to bring along his de­fen­sive as­sis­tant at Bay­lor, Phil Snow, to be his co­or­di­na­tor. That sparked a strong re­ac­tion from for­mer NFL ex­ec­u­tive Pat Kir­wan on his Sir­iusXM pro­gram.

“He is bring­ing a col­lege de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor,” Kir­wan noted. “He is bring­ing a guy who was never a pro co­or­di­na­tor. He is ba­si­cally a one-year NFL guy (as an as­sis­tant with the Gi­ants) and he is bring­ing two guys who were never NFL co­or­di­na­tors, to my knowl­edge.

“No­tice McCarthy and Rivera ... who do they hire as co­or­di­na­tors? Mike Nolan has been a de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor seven times, Jack Del Rio has been a head coach. Mike Nolan has been a head coach. It’s funny how those guys who have all that NFL ex­pe­ri­ence are bring­ing guys with them that have head coach­ing and co­or­di­nat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Judge has put in plenty of NFL time as a spe­cial teams and re­ceivers coach in New Eng­land since 2012. He also worked un­der Nick Sa­ban at Alabama.

His jump­ing to the head of New York’s list was some­what sur­pris­ing — the Gi­ants also had in­ter­est in McCarthy and Rhule. And un­til this sea­son, not many Bill Belichick dis­ci­ples had suc­cess as NFL head coaches.

But Hous­ton’s Bill O’Brien and Ten­nessee’s Mike Vra­bel — at the ex­pense of the Pa­tri­ots — won play­off games last Satur­day. Flores worked won­ders with a weak ros­ter to win five games in Mi­ami.

Now, ap­par­ently, Judge will leave the New Eng­land fold.

As­so­ci­ated Press

NEW JOB? Pa­tri­ots spe­cial teams coach Joe Judge, cen­ter, speaks to the other coaches on Oct. 10. The Gi­ants and Judge are work­ing on a deal for him to be­come the team’s head coach.

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