On Tuesday September 13th the XFL announced the full coaching staffs for all 8 markets, and like Dany Garcia & Dwayne Johnson have expressed several times, this league will be a league of opportunity and second chances. In each announcement and decision that has been made since day 1 of their ownership, they’ve continued to give opportunities to those that were never given the chance to play or coach professionally.
Experience and collaboration is the new approach to the sport of football. There are plenty of offensive and defensive “gurus” that have been hired for their specific skill set but it is always important to have a balance.
Despite specialized expertise, no head coach can be successful by themselves and having a well rounded coaching staff can provide different expertise and perspective in many different areas. Each coaching hire for the XFL San Antonio franchise has years of coaching experience in the college and professional ranks.
Let’s get to know the coaches you will see on the sidelines come 2023.
Let’s start with the offensive side of the ball:
Offensive Coordinator: Jamie Elizondo
Elizondo’s resume as an offensive mind speaks for itself. Elizondo has over 25 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional level. Elizondo won a Grey Cup as the offensive coordinator with the Ottawa Redblacks in 2016 and his latest stop in the CFL was as recent as last year as the head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach for the Edmonton Elks. And let’s not forget Elizondo isn’t foreign to spring football. Elizondo was part of Marc Trestman’s staff in Tampa Bay as his offensive coordinator. During his time with the Vipers, Elizondo had arguably one of the best rushing attacks in the XFL in 2020 and prior to the league shutting down operations due to the pandemic, the Vipers offense finally found their rhythm in a primetime shootout with the Los Angeles Wildcats.
Quarterbacks Coach: Josh Neiswander
Like Elizondo, Josh Neiswander also has experience in the CFL, playing quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes where he was coached by former Tampa Bay Vipers head coach Marc Trestman. Neiswander had an impressive collegiate career at Angelo State University breaking all of the school’s passing records. As a quarterbacks coach with the Vipers he worked with Taylor Cornelius who completed close to 64% of his passes through 5 weeks and threw for 4 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. Despite the high number of interceptions, Neiswander’s coaching helped Cornelius become one of the more accurate passers in the XFL.
Running Backs Coach: Jimmie Johnson
Johnson, who is a product of Howard University, one of the top HBCU’s in the nation. Drafted in the 12th round by the Washington Commanders in 1989, Johnson played in the NFL from 1989-1998 and won a Super Bowl with Washington in 1988. Johnson has 20 plus years of coaching experience and held the position of tight ends coach with the Minnesota Vikings from 2006-2013, and then went on to be the tight ends coach with the New York Jets from 2015-2018.
Offensive Line Coach: Pete Mangurian
Pete Mangurian is another coach who coached in the XFL during the 2020 season with Elizondo and Neiswander in Tampa Bay. Mangurian has coached the offensive linemen and tight ends for 40 years and had several stints in the NFL and college football. He even had a 3 year stint with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots back in the mid 2000s, who relied heavily on their offensive line to create opportunities at the point of attack to run the football.
Relationships and understanding of schemes and systems will not be difficult tasks for this group of coaches. 3 out 4 of the hires have coached together before and I am sure Jimmie Johnson has fit right in with this group of coaches. Not only that, Elizondo, Neiswander, and Mangurian have XFL ties which will be a major help to Coach Ward throughout the season.
This is an exciting group of coaches and it will be interesting to see how this team builds their roster on the offensive side when the draft takes place later this year.
Now let’s talk about the defensive hires for this San Antonio franchise.
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Herrmann
People forget, Jim Herrmann was the defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan the last time the Wolverines won a college football national championship and won a Super Bowl with the Giants back in 2012 as the linebackers coach. Herrmann returns to the XFL after serving as the New York Guardians Defensive Coordinator in 2020. During his tenure with the Guardians, his defense on average gave up only 17 points per game and held the Dallas Renegades 12 points in their last game before the XFL suspended operations.
Defensive Line Coach: Paul Spicer
Paul Spicer began his coaching career with the franchise where he became a fan favorite as the Assistant Defensive Line Coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He held the same position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2015-2018. While with Tampa his unit totaled 38 sacks in 2016 which was ranked 14th best and totaled 41 sacks in 2018 led by Jason Pierre Paul with a team best 12.5 sacks. Recently he served as the Defensive Line coach for the New Orleans Breakers in the USFL.
Linebackers Coach: Joey Porter
No need for an introduction here. Joey Porter is known for his passion spilling over to the gridiron which made him a must watch player during the 2000s with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Porter finished his professional career as a 4 time Pro Bowler, 2 time All-Pro and Super Bowl Champion. Porter’s coaching career began shortly after he retired, becoming a defensive assistant at his alma mater Colorado State, and then returned back to Pittsburgh as a defensive assistant and outside linebackers coach.
Defensive Backs Coach: Corey Chamblin
Corey Chamblin has a ton of CFL ties like some of his colleagues on the offensive side of the ball. Since he began coaching in 2006, Chamblin has coached for 5 of the CFL franchises and was the head coach for 2 (Toronto Argonauts ,Saskatchewan Roughriders). Chamblin has won 1 Grey Cup as a head coach and 2 as a defensive backs coach.
Assistant Defensive Backs Coach: Derrius Bell
Derrius Bell began his coaching career in 2013 as graduate assistant at his alma mater SMU and later became the defensive backs coach at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Bell is another coach returning from the XFL in 2020. Bell coached the Houston Roughnecks defensive backs for his former head coach at SMU June Jones who is now the offensive coordinator for the Seattle XFL franchise.
Special Teams/ Tight Ends Coach: Scott Boone
Scott Boone is a coach with a unique skill set. He has served as a defensive coordinator at the University of Nevada and at William-Mary University, before having a stint at the University of Arizona as the linebacker coach. Not only will he lead the XFL San Antonio Special Teams Unit but will also coach tight ends.
It is apparent Coach Ward has carefully combed through all of the hires he has made for his staff and it speaks to what he envisions for the franchise that he will be leading within the trenches. This coaching staff has history and chemistry, which is important, but members of this coaching staff also know what it takes to build a culture and develop a winning pedigree. There are many reasons to be excited for the fans who will pack out the Alamodome come 2023.
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