Now most people aren’t going to get too excited for a Special Teams Coordinator becoming the next Redskins head coach, but Dave Toub is no ordinary special teams coach. Toub has been considered one of the top Special Teams Coordinators in the league for some time now, and has a long track record with success. He’s extremely well thought of throughout the league and has gotten the most out of his units.
While making the jump from special teams coach to a head coaching spot is extremely rare there have been some very successful coaches to make the jump. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was the Eagles special teams coach for 9 years, before he was a defensive backs coach for a single season before landing the Ravens job. Harbaugh has gotten the Ravens to the postseason in 5 straight years (6 straight if they can beat the Bengals on Sunday), has been to 3 AFC championship games and just won the Super Bowl. Marv Levy went from being the Redskins special teams coach under George Allen to the Montreal Alouettes head coach in the CFL. Levy then got the head coaching job in Kansas City, and eventually moved on to Buffalo where he was extremely successful going to 4 straight Super Bowls. Other top coaches like Bill Belicheck and Bill Cowher got their start on Special teams before moving on to defensive jobs.
Though some may view special teams coaches as secondary to offensive and defensive coordinators, they bring some things to the table that other coaches do not. Special teams coaches have to work with less than other coordinators. They don’t get to typically utilize the top talents on their units, making their job more difficult and harder to maintain consistency. They have to deal with the mainly back-up players and young guys who are just entering the league. Special teams coaches get very little resources at their disposal, and they have to deal with a lot of roster turnover from year to year. Special teams gets the least amount of practice each week, making their job to be ready that much harder. Also, with 7 players inactive each week, the special teams coaches need to make sure that multiple guys can fill a particular role, in case one of their regulars either need to be inactive or pulled off special teams to fill a role on offense or defense.
When you have a special teams coach who is continuously successful despite all those factors working against them, that says a lot about the guy. He clearly can get the most out of his players, regardless of a lack of resources or dealing with new faces. That coach also is used to dealing with guys from both sides of the ball and understands the importance of having quality depth and how to shape the bottom of a roster.
Toub has proven to be that guy. He was extremely successful both in Chicago from 2004-2012 and this season in Kansas City. There are plenty of metrics you could use to prove that, but the Dallas Morning News has ranked special teams units, and for every season from 2004-2011 they had the Bears in the top 1/3 of the league, including most years being in the top 5 (the Chiefs are likely looking at a top 5 finish as well this season). In 2006 Toub was voted Special Teams Coach of the Year (he will definitely be in the running this year as well) and has been one of the front runners on other occasions as well. Consider some of these other acknowledgements during Toub’s time as the special teams coach in Chicago (add in this year with KC and all these numbers are even better):
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-Toub had 5 different Bears go to a total of 8 Pro Bowls
-In Chicago Toub’s units had 22 return TD’s by 6 different players (This year in KC they have 4 TD’s by 3 different players)
-Between 2004-2012 the Bears led the NFL in punt return yards (4,143), and punt return TD’s (15). They were also first in combined punt and kick return yardage: 17,031
-Between 2004-2012 the Bears punt coverage unit ranked first in the NFL averaging just 6.8 yards allowed per return
-Between 2004-2012 the Bears blocked an NFL best 24 kicks
Toub has worked under some quality coaches who demand success during his tenure in the NFL. He started as an assistant special teams coach under John Harbaugh with the Eagles, on the staff of Andy Reid. In Chicago he was under Lovie Smith and now of course he’s back under Reid in Kansas City. Toub has been a part of numerous playoff teams, division champs and has been to his fair share of conference title games. That is a good track record of success that Toub has been a part of, and he’s seen up close and personnel what it takes to win.
Toub is looking for a head coaching job so he’s not likely to be too picky where he gets a chance. Though there are some obvious issues with taking the Redskins job (i.e. not having a first round pick), there are some advantages as well. The Skins have a good core of players to build around both on offense and defense. They have plenty of money to spend this offseason to reshape the rest of their roster as well.
One concern Toub could have would be just how horrific the Redskins special teams are. There is almost nothing to work with here, and if Toub can’t have or build a quality ST’s he may not consider that job worth taking. One possible benefit is that two of Toub’s top return men, Devin Hester and Dexter McCluster are unrestricted free agents so Toub could see them as part of the fix to rebuild the Redskins units.
It’s tough to say if Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen would consider a special teams coordinator for the job, but he should be on their list if they want to do their due diligence. If a couple of their top options either stay where they are or take another coaching job, Toub could rise up that list pretty fast. The chance is probably pretty low, but he’s one of the more intriguing dark horse candidates for the Redskins to consider.