With Bill O’Brien taking the Texans job and Lovie Smith set to take the Buccaneers job, two of the most talked about candidates are off the board for the Washington Redskins. If you add in the fact that it appears likely that Bill Cowher is staying in the booth and David Shaw is staying at Stanford, you have eliminated basically the biggest names out there (though not necessarily the best names out there). Where does that leave the Redskins in their coaching search?
Honestly David Shaw was the only college coach I was really interested in, even including O’Brien. But if Shaw is firm in his decision to stay and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin stays there is very little out there that is interesting at this point. Baylor coach Art Briles will get mentioned, but he would be a horrible decision for the Redskins. Not only is he an older guy with zero NFL experience, whose concepts don’t seem to transition well to the NFL, but there is the whole RGIII dynamic. The Redskins are in the mess they are in right now because Briles college system didn’t do much to develop RGIII as an NFL quarterback. Do the Redskins really want to see if a tweak or two could fix that? That is taking an enormous risk. Briles might increase Griffin’s stat line, but it won’t make him into the elite QB who can carry a team to the playoffs they are hoping for. Also, the idea that Griffin would have too much power in this organization wouldn’t be going away with a hire like this.
If Cowher and Jon Gruden are staying on the TV side of things and Lovie Smith is in Tampa, the market for former coaches thins out. Brian Billick may want to throw his name in the ring, but if the Redskins are wise they would politely throw it right back. It’s rumored that the Redskins are going to interview Jim Caldwell, but it’s tough to see him as a strong candidate. His Super Bowl run was with Tony Dungy’s team, and really that team was led by Peyton Manning. Caldwell has a strong track record with QB’s, but probably shouldn’t be a top candidate. Ken Whisenhunt had some nice success early on in Arizona, though it was tied strongly to Kurt Warner being the quarterback. Still Whisenhunt has had success this season as the OC in San Diego and had a lot of success in Pittsburgh under Bill Cowher. He would be an interesting option, but the team can’t interview him until after this week.
Still some good names here to look at for the Skins including Darrell Bevell from the Seahawks, Greg Roman from the 49ers, Pete Carmichael from the Saints, Jay Gruden from the Bengals, Adam Gase from the Broncos and Tom Clements from the Packers. Of that list I think Bevell, Gruden and Clements are the most interesting names. Gruden is getting a lot of hype out there and it’s likely a lot of teams are interested in him. All of them have good pro and con lists, but all have produced some big time offenses which will obviously intrigue Dan Snyder.
Defensive coordinators aren’t getting as much hype right now, which is a bit shocking since we’ve seen a lot of defensive minded guys go on to be very good NFL head coaches in recent years. In fact all four teams with byes are led by defensive coaches. The Redskins have been going with offensive minded guys for years and it hasn’t worked out. Perhaps going for a defensive guy is what is needed, particularly given the state of this team. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton are the top guys. Horton may again end up on the market as a defensive coordinator option if the new Browns coach cleans house as some expect will happen. Those are some really strong names for the Redskins to consider and if they are willing to go the defensive route they have some nice options.
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Well right now there are four job openings still remaining though that could change as Dennis Allen is still not 100% safe in Oakland. Whisenhunt and Jay Gruden are probably going to be the two most popular names out there and it would be mildly surprising if they both weren’t head coaches for some team next year. If they are the guys the Redskins want they will likely need to move fast to secure them. Josh McDaniels who shouldn’t even be a consideration for the Redskins is apparently considered a front runner in Cleveland so that could take one team out of the mix. Quinn and Adam Gase will get a lot of interest, but they’ve only been coordinators for one year so teams might not jump as fast on them. Bevell, Zimmer, and Bowels are probably the guys who hear with the most interest after that and could be the Redskins fall back if they aren’t one of the teams that land Whisenhunt/Gruden.
The Redskins are apparently doing their due dilligence this time in their coaching search, which should be considered a good thing. Sure they might miss out on a guy (like say Lovie Smith), but the last thing they need is to make a quick hire and end up regretting it for years to come.