Reports: Seahawks request interviews with Ed Donatell, Sean Desai

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks
Getty Images

As the Seattle Seahawks look for a replacement for fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., they are looking heavily at the defensive staff of the 2015-16 Chicago Bears.

In addition to potentially promoting assistant head coach/defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, the Seahawks have reportedly requested interviews with Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai.

The initial report from the Seattle Times of Norton and defensive passing game coordinator Andre Curtis’ firings mentioned Hurtt and Donatell as potential candidates for the position. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reported the Seahawks have requested an interview with Donatell. Michael-Shawn Dugar of TheAthletic.com has reported the Seahawks have requested an interview with Desai.

Hurtt, Donatell and Desai all worked together under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for two seasons with the Bears in 2015-16. Hurtt was an assistant defensive line coach and then outside linebackers coach, Donatell coached defensive backs and Desai was a defensive quality control coach.

Hurtt has been Seattle’s defensive line coach since 2017 and was given the title of assistant head coach in 2018.

Donatell has spent the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos under Fangio. Dontatell coached with head coach Pete Carroll for five seasons when they were a part of the New York Jets coaching staff in the 1990’s, including Carroll’s lone season as head coach of the Jets in 1994. The Broncos were eight in total defense and third in points allowed this season under Donatell and Fangio.

Desai is coming off his lone season as defensive coordinator of the Bears under head coach Matt Nagy. The Bears ranked in sixth in total defense and 22nd in points allowed. Desai served as the team’s safeties coach for two seasons before being promoted to defensive coordinator this past season.

Vikings complete G.M. interview with Chiefs executive Ryan Poles

Wild Card Round - Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints
Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings have completed their interview with Kansas City Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles for their general manager vacancy.

Poles is also being pursued by the Chicago Bears and New York Giants for their G.M. vacancies as well.

Poles has been with the Chiefs since 2009 when he joined the team as a player personnel assistant. He was eventually promoted to college scouting administrator in 2013, director of college scouting in 2017 and then assistant director of player personnel in 2018.

The Vikings have already conducted interviews with Cleveland Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vice president of player personnel John Spytek, Tennessee Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort, Philadelphia Eagles director of player personnel Brandon Brown, and Eagles VP of football operations Catherine Raîche.

They have also requested interviews with New England Patriots player personnel consultant Eliot Wolf and Browns vice president of player personnel Glenn Cook.

The Vikings are looking for a replacement for Rick Spielman, who was let go after 10 seasons as general manager earlier this month.

Bears complete interview with Eliot Wolf for G.M. vacancy

Cleveland Browns Rookie Mini Camp
Getty Images

The Chicago Bears announced they have completed an interview with New England Patriots scouting consultant Eliot Wolf for their open general manager position.

Wolf has been with the Patriots for the last two seasons after a two-year stint as the assistant general manager for the Cleveland Browns.  Wolf, the son of Hall of Famer and former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf, spent most of his career with the Packers. He began with the club as a pro personnel assistant in 2004 and progressed to director of football operations for the 2016-17 seasons. He left to join the Browns when he was passed over in favor of Brian Gutekunst when the Packers looked for a replacement for Ted Thompson as G.M.

Wolf is one of at least a dozen people the Bears have requested to interview for their general manager position after relieving Ryan Pace of his duties earlier this month.

The Bears have already interview Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and vice president of player personnel Glenn Cook, New Orleans Saints assistant G.M. Jeff Ireland, Indianapolis Colts assistant G.M. Ed Dodds, Buffalo Bills G.M. Joe Schoen and Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort.

They have also requested interviews with Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan, Chargers director of player personnel JoJo Wooden, Miami Dolphins senior personnel executive Reggie McKenzie and Kansas City Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles.

The Bears have also interviewed in-house candidate, assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly.

Bucs sign Justin Watson to practice squad

Los Angeles Chargers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Getty Images

Receiver Justin Watson is back with the Buccaneers after three days, signing with the practice squad. He cleared waivers after being cut over the weekend.

Watson appeared in 39 games with four starts over his first three seasons after the Bucs made him a fifth-round choice. He was limited to one game this season because of a knee injury.

Watson underwent surgery in July and started the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He remained on that list until Dec. 24.

Watson played special teams in the Bucs’ Week 16 win at Carolina.

He caught seven passes for 94 yards in 2020 after 15 catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns in 2019.

The Bucs also announced they cut punter Sterling Hofrichter and cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson from the practice squad.

Nick Bosa remains in concussion protocol, Jimmy Garoppolo officially limited

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys
Getty Images

Jimmy Garoppolo expects to start Saturday against the Packers despite right shoulder and right thumb injuries. He officially was limited in Tuesday’s walk-through practice.

Defensive lineman Nick Bosa remains in concussion protocol, so he was listed as a non-participant. Defensive lineman Jordan Willis (ankle) also didn’t practice.

Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (knee), linebacker Dre Greenlaw (groin), linebacker Marcell Harris (Achilles), safety Talanoa Hufanga (knee), running back Elijah Mitchell (knee), cornerback Ambry Thomas (knee) and linebacker Fred Warner (ankle) were limited.

The 49ers held off the Cowboys 23-17 despite Bosa playing only 23 of 72 snaps and Warner 59.

Warner expressed optimism at his availability for this weekend.

“I think just the fact that the MRI results came back great. It was good news for sure, and just the way I’ve been feeling gives me a lot of confidence for Saturday,” Warner said, via Kirk Larrabee of 49erswebzone.com.

Broncos finish interview with Dan Quinn

Atlanta Falcons v Dallas Cowboys
Getty Images

It’s onto New England.

The Broncos completed their interview with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in the Dallas area on Tuesday night. The team’s announcement came a few hours after General Manager George Paton and the team’s search committee met with Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

The Broncos have interviewed five candidates for the head coaching position with Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo on deck for Wednesday.

Quinn, who just finished his first season with the Cowboys, is the only reported candidate with head coaching experience. He coached the Falcons for five seasons, leading the 2016 team to Super Bowl LI.

Quinn served as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator from 2013-14. He also had NFL stops with the 49ers, Dolphins and Jets. In all, Quinn has 19 seasons of NFL experience.

The Broncos will interview five more candidates for their head coaching position, including Mayo. Denver previously interviewed Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Packers quarterbacks/passing game coordinator Luke Getsy and Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett.

NFL response to Jon Gruden’s lawsuit is due tomorrow

Seattle Seahawks v Las Vegas Raiders
Getty Images

The battle will be joined on Wednesday.

According to Daniel Kaplan of TheAthletic.com, the NFL is due to file a response to former Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s lawsuit on Wednesday. Gruden accuses the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell of leaking his emails to former Washington executive Bruce Allen in an effort to force Gruden’s ouster.

As previously explained, the NFL will likely file a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that Gruden must submit the controversy to arbitration under his Raiders contract or any other document to which the league plausibly can point. The NFL also may claim that Gruden’s settlement with the Raiders precludes litigation against the league, depending on the language of the waiver of claims that Gruden signed to get a portion of the balance of his pay from the team. (Presumably, Gruden’s lawyers wrote the documents in a way that preserved his legal rights against the NFL, even though the Raiders are part of the NFL.)

Gruden’s lawsuit was filed on November 11. The response would have been due, by rule, in the middle of December.

It has been speculated that the league’s lawyers and Gruden’s lawyers mutually agreed to extend the deadline for responding. It’s possible that, for example, the two sides agreed that the response would be due four days after the conclusion of the Raiders’ 2021 campaign, in order to avoid creating yet another distraction in a season rife with them.

Report: Pep Hamilton declines interview with Panthers

New York Guardians v DC Defenders
Getty Images

Pep Hamilton has declined an interview with the Panthers for their offensive coordinator vacancy, Aaron Wilson of Sports Talk 790 reports.

Hamilton, the Texans’ passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, is expected to have other options this offseason. He could remain with the Texans depending on the head coaching hire, Wilson adds.

The Panthers’ offensive coordinator job could end up being only one season as head coach Matt Rhule will enter his third season on the hot seat. The Panthers went 5-12 this season after going 5-11 in 2020.

Rhule fired Joe Brady during the team’s bye week in December, and running backs coach Jeff Nixon took over offensive play-calling for the rest of the season.

Giants head coach Ben McAdoo, Colts wide receivers coach Mike Groh, Colts running backs coach Scottie Montgomery, former Washington head coach Jay Gruden and Vikings offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak have interviewed with the Panthers. Wilson reports that former Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly also has talked to the Panthers.

Hamilton, 47, has a history of success with young quarterbacks. He was the Colts’ offensive coordinator from 2013-15 after also coaching Andrew Luck at Stanford. He also helped Justin Herbert win AP offensive rookie of the year in 2020 as the Chargers’ quarterbacks coach.

In 2021, Hamilton worked with third-round rookie Davis Mills, who completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,258 yards with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions over his last five starts. That was good for a 102.4 passer rating.

David Bakhtiari misses practice for “load management”

Green Bay Packers vs Detroit Lions
Getty Images

Left tackle David Bakhtiari was the only Green Bay player to miss practice Tuesday. Coach Matt LaFleur called it “load management” rather than a setback with Bakhtiari’s knee.

Bakhtiari made his season debut with 27 snaps against the Lions on Jan. 9.

“He’s coming off a major injury, so you always want to be mindful of the big picture with a guy of his caliber,” LaFleur said, via Bill Huber of SI.com. “We’ll see where he’s at tomorrow and follow him throughout the course of the week.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (toe) remained on the practice report but had a full practice. Rodgers has not had three full practices in a week since Week 10.

Running back Aaron Jones (knee), linebacker De'Vondre Campbell (elbow) and offensive tackle Billy Turner (knee) also were full participants.

Cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder) and receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (back) were limited.

Jimmy Garoppolo says he will feel his injuries but is confident of playing

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys
Getty Images

Jimmy Garoppolo was asked Tuesday whether his thumb or his shoulder hurt worse.

Yes,” he answered to laughter.

The 49ers quarterback entered Sunday’s game with a torn ligament in his right thumb. He left with a slight sprain of his throwing shoulder.

Garoppolo injured his shoulder in the second quarter of the win over Dallas while trying to protect his thumb as he hit the ground.

“Got thrown down, went to put my hand out, and sort of had it in my head if my thumb hit I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Garoppolo said. “So, yeah, tried to catch it with my elbow a little bit and just jammed the shoulder up. Yeah, that was about it.”

In the second half, Garoppolo completed only 5 of 11 passes for 39 yards with an interception that allowed the Cowboys back in the game. The 49ers held on for a 23-17 victory.

“If you’re a quarterback, it affects every throw,” Garoppolo said. “It definitely had some impact, but if I’m out there and being put in that spot, I’ve still got to make the plays that I normally make. No excuses or anything like that. The injury is what it is. We’re all dealing with stuff now.”

The 49ers are practicing tonight, and Kyle Shanahan said in the afternoon that Garoppolo would have a limited practice. Garoppolo was limited on the first practice day last week before two full practices.

He said he expects to start Saturday against the Packers.

“Yeah, we’ll feel it out throughout the week,” Garoppolo said. “Just feeling good right now.”

Dak Prescott apologizes for his comments about fans throwing objects at officials

USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott did the wrong thing, condoning fans throwing objects at game officials. On Tuesday, Dak did the right thing, apologizing for his remarks.

“I deeply regret the comments I made regarding the officials after the game on Sunday,” Prescott said on Twitter. “I was caught up in the emotion of a disappointing loss and my words were uncalled for and unfair. . . . I hold the NFL Officials in the highest regard and have always respected their professionalism and the difficulty of their jobs. The safety of everyone who attends a game or participates on the field of a sporting event is a very serious matter. . . . That was a mistake on my behalf, and I am sorry.”

Dak’s apology comes in the wake of a strong statement from the NBA Referees Association criticizing his words.

Good move by Dak to walk back what he said and to apologize. No one should throw items at anyone during sporting events, for any reason. Dak spoke out in frustration. Two days later, he cleaned up the mess.

Should other teams interview Rich Bisaccia?

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Las Vegas Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals
Getty Images

When considering the promotion of a coordinator to a head-coaching job, NFL teams make a projection. Can the coach thrive in a much different job?

One candidate who has yet to generate real interest has shown that he can do the job of head coach. Rich Bisaccia, thrust into the role of interim coach of the Raiders after the forced resignation of Jon Gruden, helped guide the Raiders through adversity and dysfunction and into a playoff berth, capped nearly by an upset win over the Bengas.

While Bisaccia will get perfunctory consideration from the Raiders (the firing of G.M. Mike Mayock dramatically hurts his chances), why shouldn’t Bisaccia get interviews elsewhere? He’s shown that he can do the job. His players love him.

Again, we’re not saying with him (or anyone else) that they should be hired. But as teams cast a wide net when it comes to considering candidates, why not consider Bisaccia?

Packers are the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions
Getty Images

Eight teams remain in the hunt for a Super Bowl trophy. Who’s the favorite to win it?

According to the Points Bet sports book, the Packers are the current favorites, at +375. (Bet $100 to win $375.) The Chiefs are next, at +400.

The Bills come in third at +500, following by the Bucs at +550, the Rams at +700, the Titans at +900, the 49ers at +1100, and the Bengals at +1200.

The Titans are an intriguing option at 9-1, given the likely return of running back Derrick Henry this weekend.

Regardless, someone is three wins away from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Who do you think it will be? Make your prediction in the comments.

49ers say Jimmy Garoppolo, Fred Warner will be limited at practice

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys
Getty Images

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan gave a pre-practice update on some of the team’s injured players on Tuesday, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and linebacker Fred Warner.

Garoppolo suffered a slight right shoulder sprain in Sunday’s win over the Cowboys and Shanahan said on Monday that the thought the quarterback would practice this week. On Tuesday, Shanahan said that Garoppolo will take part in the first session of the week on a limited basis.

That will also be the case for linebacker Fred Warner. Warner hurt his ankle, but early signs were optimistic about his outlook and practicing in any fashion is a good sign for his availability against the Packers.

Defensive end Nick Bosa remains in the concussion protocol and will not practice Tuesday. Defensive end Jordan Willis has an ankle injury and will also sit out.

Raiders request interview with Bengals scout Trey Brown for G.M. spot

NFL: DEC 13 Colts at Raiders
Getty Images

Before the Raiders hired Mike Mayock as their General Manager in 2019, they interviewed Trey Brown for the position.

Mayock was fired on Monday and the Raiders are interested in speaking with Brown again. Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that they have requested an interview with Brown, who currently works as a scout for the Bengals.

Brown worked for the Eagles as their director of college scouting before stints in both the Alliance of American Football and the XFL during their brief existences. He joined the Bengals last June.

The Raiders have also requested interviews with Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler and Colts assistant G.M. Ed Dodds.