We’ll be honest here: We’re not sure if Boomer Esiason simply knows what the rest of us know about the way the Washington Commanders seem to be leaning when it comes to who they are going to hire as their next head coach, or ...
If the former NFL QB actually has some inside intel. But either way, Boomer has locked in his scoop. Or his prediction. Or something.
“He’s going to be the head coach of the Commanders, I told you that,” Esiason said during his New York WFAN radio show on Wednesday morning.
The “he” is Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.
Taylor became the Bengals head coach in 2019. Three seasons later, Taylor volunteered, “I’ve tried to hire Ben many, many, many times,” Taylor revealed during a Super Bowl media session. “He always just gets promoted to where I can’t get him. (Lions coach) Dan (Campbell) knows that. I’ve always just tried to find a place for him on staff, whether it’s offense, defense, special (teams), it doesn’t matter. He’s one of those guys you want on your staff because he’s brilliant.”
“He’s just really sharp,” Taylor continued. “He’s got a mathematics background. He’s much smarter than I was in school. He sees things differently. He does a great job with the analytics side of things, as well. He’s just one of the really, truthfully one of the sharpest football coaches in this league, and he’s only going to continue to learn from his experiences.”
Brilliant, really sharp, mathematic background, much smarter, a great job with the analytics side of things…”
Next comes the interview next week with the Commanders. Adam Peters knows he needs an intelligent head coach. But he also made it clear he knows he needs a leader of the room, of the entire roster, the coaching staff.
With the NFL world convening in Mobile, Alabama, it’s also a bit of a job fair for coaches and executives looking to land their next gig. Practices begin on Monday, Jan. 29, with the game being played on Saturday, Feb. 3.
The Washington Commanders hold the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft. The Commanders also have three of the top 40 picks and six selections among the first 102. Washington has had a lot of success in selecting players from the Senior Bowl over the years, with Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, Brian Robinson Jr. and Sam Howell among current Commanders who’ve stood out during Senior Bowl week.
Washington also has a new general manager. So, certainly, Adam Peters will be in Mobile, right?
A longtime scout who made his name as a scout with the Patriots before moving into different roles with more responsibility with the Broncos and 49ers, Peters is considered by many to be the NFL’s top talent evaluator. Executives like Peters are made for Senior Bowl week.
Of course, Peters just started his new job with Washington. He also hasn’t hired a head coach yet. Remember, the Commanders are traveling to Detroit to meet Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson for a second interview next week. Washington will also likely interview defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, too. The Commanders could also interview Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald and associate head coach/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver again, too.
Additionally, Peters has plenty of decisions to make regarding the makeup of his front office. Will he keep current Martin Mayhew on in a different role? What about Marty Hurney? Eric Stokes?
It will be interesting to see if Peters travels with Washington’s contingent to Mobile next week. The front office/scouting staff has a different season than the coaches. They will likely stay on until after the draft, and then Peters would likely make moves to bring in some of his own people.
In a normal year, Peters would be at the Senior Bowl, watching every snap, every drill, but this time around, he may rely on Washington’s current staff to handle those details while he lines up the next head coach.
Bullock’s Film Room (subscription)
Evaluating how head coach candidate Mike MacDonald performed in the Ravens playoff victory over the Texans
One defense that has kept [the Texans] offense in check is MacDonald’s Ravens unit, which when you look at the season they’ve had stands out as incredibly impressive.
They’ve taken on Bobby Slowik and the Texans, Zac Taylor and the Bengals (twice), Shane Waldron and the Seahawks, Mike McDaniel and the Dolphins, Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and Sean McVay’s Rams. All of those guys have links to the Shanahan system and run their own versions of it, and all of them lost to the Ravens. Only McVay’s Rams managed to put up 30 points, the rest all failing to pass 20. It’s a remarkable record against one of the toughest and most popular systems in the league.
So it should come as no surprise then that when MacDonald faced the Texans again in the playoffs, his Ravens’ defense was once again able to shut down that Shanahan system run by Slowik. The Texans managed just one touchdown and one field goal throughout the game, with Stroud completing less than 58% of his passes and just 175 yards passing. The run game was shut down too, with the Texans picking up a total of just 38 yards on 14 carries, an average of less than three yards per carry.
So how did MacDonald and the Ravens manage it? Let’s take a closer look.
They work out of 12 personnel with one running back and two tight ends. Both tight ends align to the right of the formation and the Texans look to run this zone scheme to the weak side, hoping that they can get some more double teams up front. MacDonald and the Ravens respond with their base 3-4 defense. The base 3-4 scheme has traditionally been very hard to run against, especially with zone run schemes, and that’s what MacDonald relies on here.
The Ravens have three big bodies along that defensive line. The defensive end over the right side of the line is Travis Jones, listed at 338 pounds. At nose tackle, they have Broderick Washington, listed at 315 pounds. Justin Madubuike is the third defensive lineman, lining up over the left tackle. By running this to the weak side, the Texans hope they can generate some double teams up front and displace those big defensive lineman. They do manage to get significant movement on Jones and Washington initially gets driven back, but he does eventually break through the double team.
Most importantly though, the downside of running to the weak side is that the left tackle and left guard have to block one-on-one. Madubuike does a great job stunting inside to beat the left guard with quickness while Jadeveon Clowney is strong on the edge against the left tackle. This prevents the running back from working outside and forces him to cut his run inside quickly. Once he makes that cut, Madubuike sheds his blocker and makes the play, assisted by Washington who had also broken free of his double team.
Questions to answer
— What to do at defensive end: The Commanders are in a tough spot at defensive end. They decided to move on from not one but both of their toughest decisions when they traded away Chase Young and Montez Sweat. The team did receive draft picks as compensation, but it did make the group much thinner in the short term. What’s more, Smith-Williams and Toohill — their top players at the position with Young and Sweat gone — are both entering free agency. There’s an argument to be made for keeping one or both players; the Commanders have the cap space, and they had moments where they showed how valuable they can be as complimentary pieces to Allen and Payne. Either way, expect a hard reset at the position this offseason.
— Can Washington get more out of Phidarian Mathis: It’s not all Mathis’ fault, but so far he has struggled to live up to being the Commanders’ 2022 second-round pick with just eight tackles in two seasons. Most of that is due to injury; he missed his rookie year with a torn meniscus and seven games in 2023 with a calf injury. The results are nowhere near Mathis’ standards he has for himself, and he said during locker room cleanout day that he plans on working hard all offseason to “show everybody who I really am.” He knows that his third season is an important one, too. If he can come back healthy and be productive, he can still be the quasi-starter that Washington originally hoped he would be when it took him out of Alabama.
Podcasts & videos
Episode 747 - Guest: @BenStandig on the #Commanders' head-coaching search & more.— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) January 24, 2024
- if Ben Johnson is the No. 1 target, who is No. 2?
- how vital is "leadership" as highlighted by Adam Peters?
- Mike Macdonald?
- why have we heard nothing on the Martys?https://t.co/hhNe8wonKi
#2 Overall Pick Options, Free Agency Predictions, Cookie Bake-Off! | Podcast | Washington Commanders
Locked on Commanders Mailbag: Washington Commanders Jonathan Allen Trade to Packers? | Ben Johnson Staff | Jayden Daniels
️What's the secret sauce in Lions OC Ben Johnson's offense? Why has the Ravens' defense, under Mike Macdonald, become so formidable? @FB_FilmAnalysis dropped insight on those topics and Eric Bieniemy's year with the Commanders. Also, HC search updates. https://t.co/jCyZCmFSlu— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) January 24, 2024
NFC East links
Bleeding Green Nation
Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni finally sat down for their end-of-season press conference, and gave updates on the head coach’s role and what they’re looking for in new coordinators.
Sirianni admitted that the Eagles offense was stale at the end of the season, and while he couldn’t say enough good things about Brian Johnson, they needed to make a change. He noted that Johnson was a big reason for a lot of the success they had the past three years, but now it’s about bringing in fresh ideas.
They’re looking to bring someone in with different ideas and a new scheme, with Sirianni acknowledging that it won’t be his scheme, but rather “our” scheme, this time around. The new OC will also merge some of the concepts they’ve had success with the past couple years.
“Whoever the new coordinator is, there’s going to be things that they bring [that are] fresh ideas for us to help our players grow, and help our players play at a top level. And, there’s been some things we’ve done really well on offense, too, in the past that you’ll mesh in some of that in, as well.”
He doesn’t know how things will look yet, and how much will be influenced by the new coordinator, saying they’ll have to figure that out following their extensive search to find the right fit. They want to bring in someone to run the offense, coach the quarterback, and everything that entails.
“I’m hiring him to do a job, and to be in charge of the offense.”
Sirianni also said that he’ll keep Jalen Hurts in the loop with things as needed, because the QB and new OC will need to work closely together to get back to where the offense needs to be. The head coach did consult with Hurts about their decision to part ways with Brian Johnson, and noted how hard this part of the business is on everyone.
On Sirianni’s revised role
While Sirianni will remain the head coach, he acknowledged that he’s ultimately ceding control of the offense to whomever they end up hiring as the offensive coordinator. When pressed about what his role would be in 2024, he said as the head coach, he’ll oversee all three phases of the game and make sure the culture is right and that everyone is living up to their core values.
Bleeding Green Nation
Philadelphia appears to be getting the DC they wanted but failed to secure last year.
The following Adam Schefter tweet emerged during the Philadelphia Eagles’ Wednesday press conference featuring Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni:
The Dolphins and Vic Fangio have mutually agreed to part ways, sources tell me and [Jeremy Fowler]. Fangio now will be the top target for the Philadelphia Eagles to hire as their defensive coordinator, and a deal is expected. Miami is allowing Fangio to leave to be closer to his family in Pennsylvania. Fangio and the Eagles had an interest in working together in 2023, but the timing didn’t work. This time it will.
For the record, neither Roseman nor Sirianni commented much about this tweet despite being directly asked about it. But it’s possible they don’t want to say anything until the ink on a contract signing is dry.
So, the Eagles are getting the guy they wanted to run their defense last year after all.
In case you were living under a rock, Fangio was once expected to be the Eagles’ defensive coordinator in 2023. As Bleeding Green Nation originally reported, he was consulting for the team during the 2022 season. The idea was for him to replace Jonathan Gannon if/when he left for a head coaching job.
Of course, the plan went awry when Gannon wasn’t transparent with the Eagles about his intentions of leaving Philly. It turned out that he was a stronger candidate for the Arizona Cardinals’ opening than the Eagles originally realized, which left the door open for Fangio to accept the Miami Dolphins’ DC job. Fangio didn’t want to renege on his commitment after Gannon left the Eagles.
With Plan A out the window, the Eagles ultimately turned to hiring a Fangio disciple in Sean Desai. That obviously didn’t work out too well with the team demoting him in favor of Matt Patricia, which made Philly’s defense even worse. The Eagles predictably decided to retain neither of them for 2024.
NFL league links
Report: Jim Harbaugh getting five-year deal. https://t.co/58gmICwhu0— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 25, 2024