The hire of a new defensive coordinator in the NFL is often followed by changes on the defensive coaching staff, and that appears to be happening with the Chiefs.
Two weeks after Chiefs coach Andy Reid named Steve Spagnuolo to replace Bob Sutton in the defensive coordinator’s role, reports have surfaced about other coaching changes on the horizon.
Citing unnamed sources, ESPN’s Field Yates on Thursday reported that David Merritt, who coached the defensive backs for the Arizona Cardinals last season, will be hired by the Chiefs.
Yates reported Friday that Matt House, the University of Kentucky’s defensive coordinator, will join Reid’s staff, too. Both have connections to Spagnuolo.
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The Chiefs wouldn’t confirm the reports, but general manager Brett Veach said this week that he expects to be able to make some announcements soon.
“Coach (Andy) Reid and Steve are working through that now,” Veach said. “I know that they’ve had conversations with a bunch of different candidates at different positions.”
Two Chiefs defensive coaches from last season already have new jobs. Outside linebackers coach Steve Smith has joined the Green Bay Packers and Mark DeLeone will coach inside linebackers with the Chicago Bears.
Emmitt Thomas, Kansas City’s defensive backs coach since 2010 and a Pro Football Hall of Famer as a cornerback on the Chiefs’ Super Bowl teams, could be headed for retirement at age 73. Al Harris has also coached defensive backs with the Chiefs in recent years.
Merritt has coached with Spagnuolo on two different occasions with the New York Giants. Merritt was with the Giants from 2004-17 before joining the Cardinals in 2018; Spagnuolo was the Giants’ defensive coordinator in 2007-08 before leaving to become head coach of the then-St. Louis Rams.
Late last month, Merritt appeared to be headed to the Jacksonville Jaguars as an assistant defensive line coach. His name even appeared on the team’s website. But as of Friday, he was no longer listed on that site.
House, meanwhile, is the architect of a stout Kentucky defense. His Wildcats boasted the nation’s sixth-best scoring defense in 2018.
House previously served as a defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh and Florida International after a four-year stint in the NFL. He was a defensive assistant on the Rams’ staff when Spagnuolo was head coach there from 2009-11.