With coaching staffs complete, we can take a look at those coaches who will be on the outside looking in this year. Their recent increase in free time does not indicate that they are poor coaches, as Wade Phillips can attest, but simply when the dust settled, these guys were left holding a golf bag or fishing pole.
In honor of their careers, we wanted to highlight a few coaches that could be back on a sideline near you, very soon.
*Coaches chosen were on an NFL staff during either the 2015 or 2016 seasons
Head Coach – Gary Kubiak*
Watching Kubiak’s emotional retirement press conference is something everyone should experience at least once, and while Gary may never return to the sidelines, his contributions to the game are deserving of this role. Kubiak appeared in seven total Super Bowls as a player and / or coach, winning three as an assistant with the Broncos and 49ers, and Super Bowl 50 as the head coach in Denver. He retired with an 82-75 career record and five postseason victories as a head coach.
Offensive Coordinator – Chan Gailey
This 40-year veteran of the sidelines may not be a household name, but has been an NFL head coach twice, an offensive coordinator for five teams, built offenses with Kordell Stewart and Ryan Fitzpatrick, and put together six winning seasons at Georgia Tech. Additionally, Gailey won a Division II National Championship as head coach of Troy University in 1984. Gailey’s most recent coaching stint with the Jets resulted in the 10th ranked overall offense in 2015 and the 24th ranked offense in 2016.
Senior Offensive Assistant – Chris Palmer
A 44-year coaching veteran, Chris Palmer has been a head coach in the NFL, NCAA, and UFL. He has coached 26 years in the NFL, beginning as WR coach for the Houston Oilers, where he led four different receivers (Curtis Duncan, Ernest Givens, Drew Hill, and Haywood Jeffires) to the Pro Bowl in the Oilers’ famous Run-and-Shoot Offense. Also a QB specialist, Palmer has coached Mark Brunell, Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo, and Eli Manning to Pro Bowl seasons, and won a Super Bowl as the Giants’ QB Coach in 2008. Romeo Crennel, Tony Sparano, and Ken Whisenhunt were former assistants under Palmer during his NFL career.
Offensive Line – Dave Magazu
A 37-year NCAA/NFL coaching veteran, Magazu was John Fox’s longest-tenured assistant, dating back to 2003 with the Panthers. In 2009, Magazu’s offensive line paved the way for Panthers DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to become the NFL’s first tandem to each rush for over 1,100 yards in a season. During his last stop with the Chicago Bears in 2016, rookie RB Jordan Howard rushed for a franchise record 1,313 yards and only six teams allowed fewer sacks.
Tight Ends – Pete Metzelaars
The 1982 third-round pick finished his 16-year playing career with over 380 receptions, 3,600 yards, and 29 TDs. Since his playing days, Metzelaars has coached 11 seasons in the NFL, including eight as the Colts OL coach, one as the Bills TE coach, and two as the Chargers TE coach. He won Super Bowl XLI with the Colts in 2007 and has coached All-Pro players Jeff Saturday and Antonio Gates.
Running Backs – Wilbert Montgomery
Montgomery led Abilene Christian University to a NAIA Division I Championship in 1973, breaking the league record for touchdowns (76), including a record 37 touchdowns as a freshman running back. A Two-time NFL All-Pro RB, Montgomery is in the Philadelphia Eagles’ Hall of Fame and trails only LeSean McCoy in career rushing yards for an Eagle. He then mentored Ron Dayne in high school before coaching 19 seasons in the NFL, where he coached the likes of Marshall Faulk, Steven Jackson, Kevin Jones, and Ray Rice. His most recent position was RB coach for the Cleveland Browns in 2015.
Wide Receivers – Jerry Sullivan
After 21 years as a collegiate WR Coach, Jerry Sullivan has spent his last 25 seasons in the NFL, 24 as a WR coach and one as Arizona Cardinals’ offensive coordinator (2003). He has coached several Pro Bowl receivers, including the San Diego Chargers’ Anthony Miller (1992-93) and Tony Martin (1996), Detroit Lions’ Herman Moore (1997-98) and Germaine Crowell (1999), Arizona Cardinals’ David Boston (2001) and Anquan Boldin (2003), and Jacksonville Jaguars’ Allen Robinson (2015). Sullivan’s son, Jon-Eric Sullivan, is currently the Green Bay Packers’ Director of College Scouting.
Quarterbacks – Greg Knapp
Knapp has 31 years of coaching experience, including 22 in the NFL. He has coached an incredible five different 4,000-yard NFL passers as either OC or QB coach: Steve Young, Jeff Garcia, Matt Schaub, Carson Palmer, and Peyton Manning. Additionally, Knapp coordinated the Falcons offense from 2004-2006, resulting in a trip to the NFC Championship in 2004 with the league’s #1 ranked rushing offense three years in a row.
Assistant Offensive Line – Paul Dunn
After two seasons as a collegiate graduate assistant, Paul Dunn spent 25 years as an NCAA OL coach before making the jump to the NFL, where he coached OL from 2008-2015. He recently coached All-Pro Offensive Tackles Joe Thomas (Browns) and Duane Brown (Texans).
Defensive Coordinator – Rex Ryan
Certainly the most well-known name on this list, Rex Ryan has 30 years of coaching experience, including eight as an NFL HC, and is the Jets’ all-time leader in playoff wins (4). Prior to becoming a head coach, Ryan spent 10 seasons in Baltimore, the final four as defensive coordinator, and coached standout players like Ray Lewis, Tony Siragusa, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, Bart Scott, and Haloti Ngata, and won Super Bowl XXXV.
Senior Defensive Assistant – Eric Mangini
After impressing Bill Belichick as a Cleveland Browns ball-boy, Eric Mangini earned his first coaching job in 1995, where he was infamously a part of the Browns’ “Slappies” who went on to have very successful NFL coaching and scouting careers. Mangini coached in the NFL for the next 21 years, and won three Super Bowls as the Patriots’ DB coach. Along with coaching under Bill Belichick, Mangini has served under Bill Parcells, Jim Harbaugh, and most recently Jim Tomsula.
Defensive Line – Bryan Cox
A three-time All-Pro Linebacker and Super Bowl XXXVI Champion, Bryan Cox recorded over 50 career sacks in 12 NFL seasons. He has coached DL/pass rush in the NFL for the past nine seasons and is just 49 years old. Notable players he has coached include Jason Taylor (MIA), Cameron Wake (MIA), Michael Bennett (TB), Gerald McCoy (TB), Osi Umenyiora (ATL), and Vic Beasley (ATL). His son, Bryan Cox Jr. will be a rookie DE this season for the Carolina Panthers.
Linebackers – Pepper Johnson
The 1986 second-round LB from Ohio State accumulated nearly 1,000 tackles during his 13-year NFL career and was a two-time Pro Bowler. He won two Super Bowls as a player with the Giants and won 3 Super Bowls as a Patriots’ assistant coach. Johnson spent six seasons coaching linebackers in New England, where he coached Tedy Bruschi, Dont’a Hightower, and Jerod Mayo. He has also coached defensive lines for 11 year in the NFL and has tutored many stars, including Richard Seymour (NE), Vince Wilfork (NE), Mario Williams (BUF), Marcell Dareus (BUF), and Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ).
Front 7 Assistant – Bobby April III
Son of longtime college and NFL special teams coach and current LSU special teams analyst Bobby April, Bobby April III has spent the past six seasons as an NFL defensive assistant after six seasons as a defensive and special teams assistant at the collegiate level. He’s just 35 and has a bright future. His most recent position was linebackers coach for Rex Ryan with the Buffalo Bills.
Defensive Backs – Ray Horton
A 10-year NFL defensive back and former second round pick, Horton won Super Bowl XXVII as a safety with the Cowboys and won Super Bowls XL and XLIII as the Steelers’ DB coach. He began his coaching career with Washington in 1994 under Norv Turner and has coached 23 years in the NFL, including 17 in the secondary and the last six as a defensive coordinator. Notable players he has coached include Darrell Green (WAS), Dre’ Bly (DET), Troy Polamalu (PIT), Patrick Peterson (ARZ), and Joe Haden (CLE). His last coaching gig was defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2016.
Defensive Backs – Donnie Henderson
The 33-year coaching vet has 18 years of collegiate experience as a defensive assistant and 15 years of NFL experience as a DB coach and defensive coordinator. His most recent position was with the Buffalo Bills under Rex Ryan from 2013-2016. Henderson served as a head coach for one of four teams during the six-game Spring League in West Virginia in 2017.
Special Teams Staff
Special Teams Coordinator – Bobby April
A Louisiana native and graduate of Nicholls State University, where he played linebacker, Bobby April enters his 39th season as a college or NFL coach and his first as LSU’s special teams analyst. He was an offensive and defensive position coach early in his coaching career before spending the past 26 years as special teams coordinator on nine different NFL teams. April was named the NFL’s Special Teams Coach of the Year by his peers in 2004 and 2008. He has coached standout returners Deion Sanders (ATL) and Rod Woodson (PIT), along with Pro Bowl kickers David Akers (PHI), Jeff Wilkins (STL), and Norm Johnson (ATL). His son, Bobby April III, is also on this list.
Assistant Special Teams Coordinator – Kevin Spencer
One of Kevin Spencer’s first coaching jobs was at Division III Wesleyan University, where he coached Eric Mangini. Spencer then began his NFL career with the Browns under Bill Belichick in 1991 and has since coached for five other NFL teams, mostly in special teams roles. As a member of the Steelers, he was named Special Teams Coach of the Year in 2003 and won Super Bowl XL in 2006.
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