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Notes: Latest updates on the NFL’s coaching, GM carousel

A team interviewed Joe Lombardi. No, really.

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Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

It’s January, so you know what that means for the National Football League: general manager and head coach hirings! Thankfully the Detroit Lions are not one of the teams in search of a replacement for either position, but many others are. In case you haven’t been keeping up with the two job carousels going, here are some resources and interesting tidbits on the spots up for grabs.

The available positions for which interviews are happening:

2022 Offseason Vacancies

Team Head Coach Vacancy? General Manager Vacancy?
Team Head Coach Vacancy? General Manager Vacancy?
Chicago Bears YES YES
Denver Broncos YES NO
Houston Texans YES NO
Jacksonville Jaguars YES NO
Las Vegas Raiders YES YES
Minnesota Vikings YES YES
Miami Dolphins YES NO
New York Giants YES Hired Joe Schoen

Visitors to our site are already aware that former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell interviewed with the Chicago Bears and current defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is a candidate for the Denver Broncos’ coaching job. Caldwell also interviewed for the Jacksonville job, but according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano he turned down interviews with Las Vegas and Minnesota. At least one Minnesota source is denying Caldwell declined an interview with them, but the fact remains he did not interview with them. The result, as pointed out by Pro Football Talk, is that ”(i)f Caldwell, 66, will indeed be accepting a job in the current cycle, it will be with the Bears or Jaguars.“ At least two former Lions players who played for him in Detroit think Caldwell deserves another shot. UPDATE: Caldwell himself denied the report that he turned down interviews in a Tweet from Saturday morning:

Those weren’t the only coaching candidates on the circuit with Detroit ties, though. Naturally interim head coach Darrell Bevell was interviewed for the Jacksonville coaching job. Former Lions backup quarterback and current offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys Kellen Moore interviewed with the Broncos, Jaguars, Vikings, and Dolphins. We’re not sure why, but the Houston Texans are doing their Houston Texans kind of things again and decided to interview current Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi for their head coaching job.

For anyone who wants to stay on top of all the job searches, there is a wealth of online resources available for just that. Here are some sites that are tracking the interviewing process:

Of note in the trackers, the Pro Football Talk tracker indicates the timing of when the vacancies opened up (i.e., when the predecessor was fired). The CBS tracker has a nice feature in that they link original sources confirming each interview or rumor. The Pro Football Focus tracker has some context for each team’s situation provided before the candidate lists, which can be helpful for those unfamiliar with the goings-on of other teams in the league (like me).

Now that everyone is caught up on that stuff, let’s move on to the rest of today’s Notes:

  • ESPN Sports Analytics writer Seth Walder assembled route charts to show how often particular receivers ran different route types relative to the rest of the league. In his Twitter thread, Walder took some requests and posted charts for specific players. One of these was Amon-Ra St. Brown:

The way to read this is the thickness tells you how many players ran the route type with the frequency indicated on the left hand vertical axis. The red dot shows the location of the player being examined. For example, if you look at the first column for hitch routes, the range of frequencies that hitch routes were run by NFL wide receivers in the dataset spans about 5.5 percent at the low end to some oddballs at the top who run them about 23 percent of all pass plays they are in.

Most receivers run somewhere between 9 and 14 percent of their routes as hitch routes because that’s where the elongated blue blob is thickest. Amon-Ra St. Brown is more likely than other receivers to run hitch routes because his red dot is right above 15 percent on the left hand scale. Going through the different columns, we can see he was more likely to run hitch, seam, dig, short outs, and flat routes (read: beating defenders with “situational intelligence” and “foot quickness”). He was less likely than other receivers to run deep vertical stem routes like deep fades, post, corner, or go routes. This lines up pretty well with what we expect from his heavy use in the slot.

  • Another fun one from Walder, this time comparing expected points added from designed runs (white dot) and designed pass (black dot) plays. The Lions (about two-thirds of the way down the left side) are one of the many teams where the black dot is to the right of the white dot (indicated by the bar connecting them being green instead of gold), so the EPA when they called pass plays were higher than when they called run plays. What’s interesting is there are six teams with gold bars, indicating they were better off running the ball more.

  • In case you were wondering about draft-eligible players:

  • An FYI for our readers who love the PODcast and interacting with the Pride of Detroit staff:

  • Pro Football Focus’ Ryan Weisman has a very cool article up that considers not just whether a pass was intercepted but the conditions surrounding the interception. It checks the type of throw and whether the throw was on target or not and figures out expected interception probabilities based on things like depth of throws, clock situation, defensive personnel, and so on. Anyway, when he boiled it down, he figured out who was lucky (lower interception rate than the model expects based on what they threw in their career) and who was unlucky (more passes intercepted than the model expects based on passes they threw). Using data from 2014 to the present, Jared Goff turns out to be modestly lucky and Matthew Stafford is modestly unlucky in his findings. You can read the full details and see the results in a fine article on the PFF site.

  • The league has changed its COVID protocols to accommodate a few players:

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