Packers head coach Matt LaFleur is continuing to fill out his first staff in Green Bay.
Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reports that 49ers assistant offensive line coach Adam Stenavich will be the offensive line coach for the Packers. Stenavich interviewed with the team last week and also drew interest from the Jets.
LaFleur has also reportedly made an addition on the defensive side of the staff. PackersNews.com reports that Kirk Olivadotti will be the linebackers coach. He spent the last five years in the same role for Washington and was on the same Washington staff as LaFleur during the 2010 season.
The Packers have hired Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator and Mike Pettine will return as the defensive coordinator. The team is also reportedly trying to bring former wide receivers coach Luke Getsy back in the same position.
Morgan Burnett signed a three-year deal with the Steelers last March, but he hopes that it comes to an end before he’s been a member of the team for a full year.
Burnett told Ian Rapoport of NFL Media that he wants to be released from the deal before the 2019 league year begins in March.
Making such a move without a post-June 1 designation would give the Steelers back over $3.6 million in cap space while creating over $2.8 million in dead money. Cap savings would go up over $5 million if it’s designated as a post-June 1 move, but wouldn’t get that relief until later in the offseason.
Burnett played safety with the Packers and said that he feels the Steelers played him out of position by making him a dime linebacker. His goal is to find a team that would return him to his previous position.
Burnett played 11 games and made two starts in 2018. He had 30 tackles and six passes defensed.
The UFC and ESPN are trying to build up the disgraced former NFL player Greg Hardy as a mixed martial arts fighter, but his debut in the UFC on Saturday night did not go well.
Hardy was disqualified for illegally kneeing his opponent in the head while his opponent was on the ground. It was an obvious blatant foul that made the crowd gasp and the referee immediately stop the fight.
The fight hadn’t been particularly good even before that. The UFC fed Hardy a little-known opponent, Allen Crowder, in the hopes of getting Hardy an easy win. But Crowder held his own with Hardy through the first round before the disqualification in the second.
Hardy claimed afterward that the foul was unintentional.
“I’m not a cheater,” Hardy said. “Ask Tom Brady if I ever cheated all the times I sacked him. Never in my life have I cheated.”
Hardy said he’ll be back in the UFC.
“I’m here to stay. As long as Dana White, ESPN and all of you guys will have me, I’m here to stay. I’m going to fix what I did wrong. And it wasn’t intentional,” Hardy said.
Hardy is now 3-1 as a pro MMA fighter and 0-1 in the UFC.
Washington hired Nate Kaczor as its special teams coordinator, the team announced. Kaczor replaces Ben Kotwica, who joined the Falcons 10 days ago after five years in Washington.
Kaczor has 11 years of experience in the NFL. He spent the past three seasons with the Buccaneers.
Before going to Tampa, Kaczor worked with the Titans and the Jaguars. He was the special teams coordinator with the Titans in 2013-15 and assisted with the Jaguars’ special teams unit from 2008-11. Kaczor was the assistant offensive line coach in 2012 with the Titans.
“We are excited to have Nate join our staff,” coach Jay Gruden said in a statement from the team. “We have had the opportunity to face his special teams play during his time at Tampa Bay and respected competing against him. He is a competitor, and we have noticed and admired the intensity his units have played with through the course of his time as a special teams coordinator and assistant coach in the NFL.”
Colts safety J.J. Wilcox likely knew more than a penalty was coming the moment he grabbed Sammy Watkins from behind.
The league fined Wilcox $20,054 for unnecessary roughness for his foul in last week’s divisional round game against the Chiefs.
It happened on the Chiefs’ first series.
Watkins caught a pass from Patrick Mahomes and was racing toward the end zone. Wilcox brought down Watkins with a horse collar tackle after a 34-yard gain. The half-the-distance-to-the-goal penalty set up the Chiefs at the 10, and Damien Williams scored on the next play.
The Chiefs never looked back on their way to a 31-13 victory that has them in the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots on Sunday.
Marcus Peters and Amari Cooper exchanged words and shoves during last Saturday’s divisional round game. That continued after the game, too.
But only one of them was penalized and only one of them was fined.
The NFL docked the Rams cornerback $10,026 for unnecessary roughness.
Peters drew a 15-yard penalty for shoving the Cowboys receiver after a fourth-down run by Ezekiel Elliott. The two went two more rounds after the game.
The back judge broke up the first postgame shoving match which happened as time expired. The players reengaged, though, and Rams cornerback Aqib Talib, Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam and Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford were among those playing peacemaker.
Peters later said he “choked [Cooper] out.” It should make for a must-see rematch next season, although Peters has a must-see rematch this week against New Orleans in what he has called “Gumbo Week.”
The Jaguars announced Saturday they re-signed safety Jarrod Wilson. Wilson was set to become a restricted free agent in March.
The team originally signed Wilson as an undrafted free agent in 2016, and he has appeared in 47 games with two starts during his three-year career with the Jaguars.
Wilson’s career totals on defense include 21 tackles, two passes defensed and one forced fumble, while the special teams ace has also added 16 career special teams tackles.
The Jaguars could have a bigger role in mind for Wilson next season depending on what they decide about the future of free safety Tashaun Gipson. Jacksonville could save $7.45 million by cutting Gipson, via Phillip Heilman of First Coast News.
The Colts lost to the Chiefs last Saturday. Along the way, Colts linebacker Denico Autry lost more than $13,000.
The NFL has confirmed that Autry was fined $13,369 for unsportsmanlike conduct due to a sack celebration that took the term a little too literally.
Autry thrust his pelvis after taking down Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and referee John Hussey happened to be standing right in front of Autry.
Although the NFL has loosened considerably the restrictions regarding in-game celebrations, pelvic thrusts continue to be a no-no, no matter how many pumps were involved.
Seantrel Henderson signed a one-year contract in Houston last offseason, earned a starting job on the offensive line, and promptly suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week One. This year he’ll be back for what he and the Texans hope is a better season.
Henderson signed a one-year deal to remain in Houston, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
The report says the deal has a maximum value of $4.5 million, but that likely comes with a structure similar to the contract Henderson signed last year, when he ended up earning just $1.7 million because the Week One injury cost him more than $1.4 million in per-game roster bonuses.
Henderson has played well at times in his NFL career, but injuries have been a major problem, limiting him to a total of just nine games over the last three seasons.
Washington may need a new offensive line coach.
Incoming Bengals coach Zac Taylor reportedly wants to hire Bill Callahan. Washington can block the move, even if Taylor would be offering a promotion to offensive coordinator.
Callahan coached Taylor at Nebraska, which explains the connection. Callahan also served as head coach of the Raiders after Jon Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay in early 2002.
Washington will keep coach Jay Gruden for the 2019 season, and it recently was announced that defensive coordinator Greg Manusky will return, after the team considered various others to serve in that role, including Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams.
The Dolphins used rookie defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick at three different positions in 2018. He’d like to narrow that to one in 2019, and he’d like to know fairly soon which one it will be.
Via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Fitzpatrick said late in the 2018 season that he’d like to have an answer by January or February. And Fitzpatrick has a practical reason for knowing the answer.
“I lost 10 pounds playing cornerback because I moved faster, chasing guys around,” Fitzpatrick told Jackson. “If I’m playing safety, maybe eight to 10 pounds more [is better] so I have a little extra thud.”
Fitzpatrick made those comments before a major
thud happened in Miami, in the form of a coaching change. With Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores expected to take over, he’ll likely be the one to decide where Fitzpatrick plays: Safety, slot corner, or boundary corner.
When the Saints met the Rams in the regular season, New Orleans receiver Michael Thomas had 211 receiving yards, helping his team put up 45 points in a win. The Rams need to stop that from happening again.
But it won’t be easy. Saints coach Sean Payton has a knack for using his play design to get Thomas in one-on-one coverage. As noted by Matt Bowen of ESPN on NFL Matchup, in last week’s game against the Eagles, the Saints’ play design used Ted Ginn as a deep threat and Drew Brees looking first to a shallow cross, to give Thomas a favorable matchup in the middle of the field.
“Ted Ginn, he can fly down the field, so if you’re a safety, you have to clear out, you have to gain depth to create space in the middle of the field,” Bowen said. “Look at Drew Brees, how he manipulates the coverage here. Where do his eyes go? Underneath to the shallow cross, look what happens. Underneath defender, he vacates his zone. When you vacate the zone in the middle of the field, that’s what Drew Brees wants. Now Michael Thomas can run the deep-in cut, high percentage throw.”
Thomas caught an incredible 85 percent of the passes thrown his way during the regular season, and he kept it going last week against the Eagles: Brees was 12-for-16 for 171 yards when throwing to Thomas, compared to just 16-for-22 for 130 yards when throwing to all his other receivers. Thomas is the receiver the Rams will need to stop, but the Saints’ play design doesn’t make that easy.
Championship week resulted in plenty of hours of audio content from this specific media outlet, with PFT Live churning out 15 hours and #PFTPM adding another four.
If you missed, any, some, or all of it, here’s your chance to catch up.
And it’s easy. Just go to anywhere podcasts are available, and download PFT Live and/or #PFTPM. While you’re at it, subscribe to either or both podcasts. While you’re at it, review and rate either or both podcasts.
The week that was included four PFT Live shows with Chris Simms, one with Dan Katz a/k/a Big Cat, one with Peter King a/k/a Peter King, and #PFTPM interviews of Jets coach Adam Gase, Packers coach Matt LaFleur, Rams running back C.J. Anderson, Seahawks running back Chris Carson, and Lions receiver Kenny Golladay.
There’s another reason to subscribe now. A storm of Super Bowl-week interviews is coming soon, from our far-for-professional-than-we-deserve set in Atlanta.
Former Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Joe O’Donnell, who played in the AFL, NFL, and eventually the WFL, has died. He was 77.
Via Mark Gaughn of the Buffalo News, O’Donnell played in 91 games with the Bills from 1964 through 1971, helping the team to AFL titles in 1964 and 1965.
O’Donnell chose the Bills over Vince Lombardi’s Packers, even though the Packers drafted O’Donnell 10 rounds lower (13) than the Bills did (three). He played right tackle early in his career, slid to right guard for the 1965 AFL championship game, and remained there.
“He and Jack Kemp were the two leaders on our team,” former Bills teammate Marlin Briscoe told BuffaloBills.com. “He also helped me and encouraged me.”
Traded to the then-St. Louis Cardinals in 1972 (after the AFL-NFL merger), O’Donnell opted to retire in lieu of playing for the Cardinals. He unretired in 1974 to play for Birmingham of the WFL, winning a championship in the inaugural season of the short-lived alternative to the NFL.
We extend our condolences to O’Donnell’s family, friends, and former teammates.
A year ago, it wouldn’t have been necessary to report that an assistant coach reportedly pegged to become another team’s head coach would follow through with it. The world changed after Josh McDaniels didn’t.
This year, another Patriots assistant coach reportedly will become another team’s head coach when New England’s season ends. And it’s now being reported that the reported move will indeed happen.
Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post reports that a “zero point percent zero” chance exists that New England linebackers coach Brian Flores will tell the Dolphins “thanks but no thanks” after this Sunday or two Sundays later.
The article focuses on the fact that Flores wants the job and will take the job, contrasting him with McDaniels and, before that, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who used his supposed introductory press conference as head coach of the Jets to quit the job.
But there’s another side to this story that can’t completely be overlooked, especially if past performance is being used to potentially predict future behavior. Regardless of whether Flores fully intends to leave the Patriots and sign a contract with the Dolphins, the Dolphins have the same ability that Flores does to walk away.
Would Dolphins owner Stephen Ross do that? Considering that Ross once pursued then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh for employment without first firing Tony Sparano, telling Flores that an unofficial, incomplete arrangement will remain that way occupies a much lower spot on the antisocial behavior meter.
And with Jim’s brother John still not signed to an extension in Baltimore, all it takes is one phone call from Ross to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti (or vice-versa) to ignite (or reignite) talks aimed at making John Harbaugh the next coach of the Dolphins.