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NFC East news: New coordinators likely to be hired by all three division foes

Here’s a quick look around the division.

Philadelphia Eagles Offseason Workout Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Giants hire Michael Ghobrial as special teams coordinator - Michael Eisen, Giants.com

The Giants didn’t look far when hiring their newest coordinator.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants’ new special teams coordinator won’t need a tutorial on the unpredictable winds in MetLife Stadium.

Michael Ghobrial, who spent the previous three seasons as an assistant on the Jets’ staff, has been hired as the Giants’ new coordinator.

Ghobrial, who will turn 36 on Feb. 9, was a special teams coordinator on the collegiate level for five seasons before joining the Jets. He replaces Thomas McGaughey, who was dismissed on Jan. 8 after six seasons as the Giants’ coordinator.

With the Jets, Ghobrial coached under coordinator Brant Boyer and fellow assistant Leon Washington as the team fielded one of the NFL’s best special teams units.

In 2023, the Jets’ kickoff coverage led the league by allowing an average of just 15.3 yards a return. Their opponents’ 40.4-yard net punting average ranked seventh in the NFL. Kicker Greg Zuerlein made 35 of 38 field goal attempts, including five-of-six from 50+ yards, a .921 percentage, and scored 120 pounds. Rookie Xavier Gipson was second in the league with a 23.2-yard kickoff return average and tied for 12th with a 9.7-yard punt return average, including a game-winning 65-yard touchdown in the season opener vs. Buffalo. Ashtyn Davis was among the league leaders with 12 special teams tackles (nine solo) and forced and recovered a fumble.

The previous season, special teams captain Justin Hardee was selected to his first Pro Bowl after posting a career-high 14 tackles. He became just the sixth Jets special teamer to be selected to the Pro Bowl since 1970 and the only core special teamer. Two of the six were chosen during Ghobrial’s tenure. Zuerlein kicked three of the four longest field goals in franchise history and became one of four Jets to convert multiple field goals of 55+ yards as a Jet.

In 2021, the Jets were the only team in the league to finish in the top five in both kickoff and punt return average that season. Wide receiver/return specialist Braxton Berrios was selected as an All-Pro after he led the NFL in kickoff return average and finished second in punt return average.

Spadaro: 6 takeaways from the Howie Roseman, Nick Sirianni end-of-season press conference - Dave Spadaro, PhiladelphiaEagles.com

Despite the end-of-season collapse, Philly’s front men look for the best path forward.

For the first time since the 2023 season ended and the team returned to Philadelphia following the playoff loss to Tampa Bay, Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman and Head Coach Nick Sirianni met the media on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex to discuss the way the ‘23 campaign ended, changes within the coaching staff, and what is ahead for this football team as it eyes the 2024 season.

The takeaways? There are many, but the overarching theme is that Roseman mentioned multiple times his belief in the youth, rising players on the current roster, and Sirianni acknowledged the interest in having a “fresh” approach to an offense that he said became “stale” at times this past year.

1. Sirianni on moving on from Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson and what he’s looking for next

“We evaluated our season at the end of the year. Obviously are going to be in constant evaluation of this. We did what we thought was best at the time, and I can’t say enough good things about Brian, though,” Sirianni said. “He’s a great football coach, and he’s going to have another opportunity to lead an offense, and I will miss him. Some of the things that we want to do as a team is grow in a lot of different areas and grow in some of the guys that have been in here with me, that have been there with me for a while. So it’s about coming up with fresh ideas and doing some things different.”

3. Roseman on his philosophy of building the defense moving forward

“I feel like we’ve had a long history of success here building the team a certain way, and I think maybe there’s some preconceived notions that we’re just at the linebacker position, that we don’t care who we play at linebacker. Again, our two Super Bowl teams over the last six years, the linebacker play was good from those guys. I think if anything, it’s my belief in the players that we have, the young players that we have. I have a lot of belief, and I know Coach does, as well, in Nakobe Dean. I believe in the player. I believe in the person,” Roseman said.

Commanders Coach Search: Ben Johnson Has Offensive Coordinator Set? - David Harrison, Sports Illustrated

One of Washington’s top head coaching candidates just became a more appealing option.

If popular opinion prevails then the Washington Commanders are going to be hiring Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson as their next head coach following the firing of Ron Rivera and hiring of new general manager Adam Peters.

Once that hire is made official the next question - well, one of them - will be the formation of the rest of the Commanders’ coaching staff through possibly retaining some of the current members and the hiring of new ones.

But Washington may solve two hires in one move if NFL insiders Ian Rapoport, Mike Garafolo, and Tom Pelissero are correct in reporting Johnson may already have his offensive coordinator sorted out.

“It is very possible that the Detroit Lions go into next season, whenever this season ends, needing two new coordinators,” Rapoport said while Pelissero added, “Also worth noting Lions offensive line coach Hank Fraley could end up following Johnson wherever he goes as Johnson’s offensive coordinator.”

Both Johnson and Fraley have been part of the Dan Campbell led coaching staff in Detroit that has adopted a hard-nosed approach to the game and that mentality has clearly made its way to the roster and onto the field.

However, both men were also on the Lions staff before Campbell arrived with Fraley arriving in 2018 while Johnson joined on in 2020.

With four seasons working together the two coaches know each other well and if Johnson has faith in Fraley’s ability to help install his offense while being an always important successful offensive line coach the duo could provide a real boost to the Commanders offensive ability in the near future.

It’s also worth noting that Fraley is also a local guy, hailing from Gaithersburg, Maryland.

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