NFC West coaching tracker: Seahawks poach Waldron from Rams, per report
There’s stability between the four head coaches in the NFC West, but each of their staffs have either fired or lost high-level coordinators.
Let’s take a look at the coordinator and assistant departures and openings for the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
This post will be updated as coaching staffs are formalized across the NFL.
Who’s out? OC Brian Schottenheimer and run game coordinator Brennan Carroll
Why? The Seahawks cited “philosophical differences” with Schottenheimer as the reason they parted with the offensive coordinator, and now it’s a curiosity how they move forward.
It’s assumed, based on his comments this year, that head coach Pete Carroll wants to return Seattle to the ground-and-pound identity that sets up the deep passing game.
This year, Seattle set a franchise record for points scored in a regular season and by most accounts (yards per game, points per game and DVOA) was a top-10 offense. But it stood out that the Seahawks averaged 34.3 points per game in the first eight outings of 2020 and 23.1 points per game in the back-half of the season.
The team still has passing game coordinator Dave Canales listed on staff, but the OC search heavily involved quarterback Russell Wilson, who made it clear he was a fan of the outgoing Schottenheimer even after the firing.
In addition to losing Schottenheimer, the Seahawks lost Carroll’s son, Brennan, who became the Arizona Wildcats offensive coordinator under new head man Jedd Fisch.
Who replaces them? Los Angeles Rams pass game coordinator Shane Waldron is expected to be named the new OC and has been poached from the NFC West rival, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. It’ll be the first time calling plays for the 41-year-old, who earned the job over several big-name candidates with more experience.
Three recently fired head coaches were linked to the Seattle OC opening. Adam Gase (New York Jets), Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers) and Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles) all reportedly drew interest, as did Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka.
More recently, Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey and New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi were in the mix, according to Schefter.
Los Angeles Rams
Who’s out? DC Brandon Staley, assistant head coach/LBs coach Joe Barry, pass game coordinator Shane Waldron, CB coach Aubrey Pleasant
Why? The Rams defense was damn good, which is why the Los Angeles Chargers hired Staley as their new head coach. The NFC West’s Los Angeles representative allowed a league-best 18.5 points per game in the regular season and only gave up 30 or more points twice in 18 total games.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports Barry will be joining Staley’s staff as a defensive passing game coordinator and linebackers coach.
Waldron has reportedly been poached from coach Sean McVay’s staff by the Seattle Seahawks, who hired him as offensive coordinator.
Pleasant is headed to the Detroit Lions. A Michigan native, he follows former Rams front offices leaders Brad Holmes and Ray Agnew to Detroit and will work with new head coach Dan Campbell.
Who replaces them? Atlanta Falcons DC and interim head coach Raheem Morris has been named to Staley’s spot.
Replacing Staley will be a tough ask. He shined during his one year as a defensive coordinator after replacing Wade Phillips heading into the season. Now it’s on to defensive coordinator No. 3 in three years for McVay.
Who’s out? WR coach David Raih, pass game coordinator/QB coach Tom Clements and assistant special teams coach Derius Swinton II
Why? It would figure that the lack of development in the receiver room has a lot to do with the turnover on the offensive side of the ball.
Raih and offensive assistant Jerry Sullivan were tasked with growing 2019 draft picks Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson and Hakeem Butler, but two years in, there’s relatively disappointing returns to show for it. Butler was released before his second season, while Isabella and Johnson have been healthy scratches too often.
Clements joined Arizona’s staff as a veteran NFL coach to help Kliff Kingsbury transition into the NFL. By appearances, it was Raih who was often a voice in his head coach’s ear during games as Kingsbury called plays, so now we get to see how much changes for a Cardinals passing game that was relatively underwhelming in 2020 outside of DeAndre Hopkins.
Meanwhile, Swinton is reportedly taking a promotion to lead the special teams group with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Who replaces them? The Cardinals announced that Cam Turner will take over as QB coach — he held the assistant QB coach title last year — and that Shawn Jefferson is Arizona’s wide receivers coach. Jefferson held the same position for the New York Jets last year.
Arizona also promoted offensive line coach Sean Kugler to run game coordinator, and it seems that is all the job shifting on the team for now.
It would not be surprising if the Cardinals don’t hire an offensive coordinator or pass game coordinator considering Kingsbury already had play-calling duties. Kugler was already mostly in charge of crafting the run game over the past two years.
San Francisco 49ers
Who’s out? DC Robert Saleh, passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur and O-line coach John Benton
Why? Saleh had been building cache as a head-coaching candidate over the last few years. Though the 49ers went 6-10 this year, their defense posted the No. 6 defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA), per Football Outsiders. Saleh is known as a detailed coach who has the leadership skills to turn around the New York Jets’ culture.
Saleh has also taken with him LaFleur to be his offensive coordinator, as well as offensive line coach John Benton.
Who has replaced them? San Francisco promoted from within, hiring DC DeMeco Ryans (former ILB coach) and OC Mike McDaniel (former run game coordinator) on head coach Kyle Shanahan’s staff. The Niners have reported agreed to add former Eagles senior offensive assistant Rich Scangarello as their quarterbacks coach.
The 49ers also hired former Cardinals and Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher in a senior defensive coaching role.