A few hours after it was reported that Denver Broncos linebacker coach Richard Smith has given the team notice to take on a senior defensive coaching position with the Atlanta Falcons, the Broncos have already replaced him. Denver has hired season coaching vet Reggie Herring as linebackers coach, according to Andrew Mason of DenverBroncos.com.
Denver's assistant coaching carousel
Broncos linebacker coach Richard Smith is "likely" to take Falcons' defensive coordinator job; a defensive line coach and offensive quality assistant of the Denver Broncos have each been hired away by John Fox in Chicago.
Herring, most recently with the Chicago Bears, has 34 years of coaching experience, including nine in the NFL with Chicago, the Houston Texans, and the Dallas Cowboys. From the Broncos' press release -
In 2011, Herring's linebacker group accounted for 27 of the team's 44 sacks as the Texans ranked second in the NFL in total defense (285.7 ypg). Linebacker Brian Cushing earned second-team All-Pro honors from the Associated Press in 2011, and Connor Barwin transitioned from defensive end to outside linebacker and finished third in the AFC with 11.5 sacks.
Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware played outside linebacker under Herring from 2008-10 with the Cowboys and ranked first in the NFL with 46.5 sacks during that span. Ware led the NFL in sacks twice (2008, '10) under Herring, including a career-best 20 quarterback takedowns in 2008.
It's worth noting that Herring has twice worked under Wade Phillips as linebackers coach (Houston, Dallas). Is this a precursor to Phillips taking Denver's defensive coordinator job? We'll see. The hire could also be coming at the recommendation of new Broncos defensive line coach Bill Kollar, who also left Houston to join Denver.
The Broncos are rounding up their offensive and defensive staffs this week now that the Pro Bowl has concluded and some Baltimore Ravens assistants have been relieved of their contracts. Rick Dennison officially joined as offensive coordinator minutes before Herring's hiring was announced, while Clancy Barone has signed on to become the team's offensive line coach (moving from tight ends coach, where he spent the last four years under John Fox with Denver).