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7 Issues/Questions in the Redskins D.C. Search

January 17, 2017
Are the Redskins looking for an individual with complete autonomy  or a track-record based programmer for their defensive robots?

Are they looking for just one person that offers the best package out of anybody or are they looking for a  experienced coach that can implement the style they ideally want to play?

Are they looking for the coach with the least amount of leverage in contract negotiations or better yet, are they stuck looking mostly at coaches with no leverage and no other place to go?

These are all fair questions that we’ll attack in this post.

The Redskins won’t say much about their search. Privately or publicly, except for confirming our report from over the weekend, that they met with Rob Ryan, Rex’s brother, and the former defensive coordinator for the Saints, Cowboys, Browns and Raiders.

There are some who feel the Redskins are going to look bad or are doing this search wrong. Of course, I disagree. You should talk to as many candidates as possible to pick their brains and perhaps, they say something you didn’t think of or they bring up an issue that helps you in further interviews.

That’s one part of it.

The other element is that if you interview more people, you build a file on them and that could help you down the line or after you make your choice, they might become part of the new coaching staff under the person you chose.

The Redskins chose to retain Greg Manusky, Kirk Olivadotti and Aubrey Pleasant for now and they are expected to be part of the staff, but that is not guaranteed. As we reported on Monday night, and John Keim of ESPN reported it as well, Manusky interviewed Tuesday with the team.

He has strong ties to Scot McCloughan and Jay Gruden’s relationship with Manusky became very close over the course of the season. From a source familiar, they were quite tight in their first year working together.

Rob Ryan interviewed Monday, while Gus Bradley interviewed Wednesday of last week, with Mike Pettine before that.  Jason Tarver is expected to meet Thursday with Washington officials and John Pagano (pictured below), as we've reported, is on the Redskins list but his status with the Chargers is currently unclear, at least in media circles. 

Image result for john pagano

Not exactly the most impressive list of candidates, but it is what it is. There’s many reasons for it.

1 – The Redskins do not have the cache to just lure people with any kind of juice to Ashburn, based on their reputation. Then again,  only a handful of teams have it.

New England has it. Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Seattle might have it. Certainly, they are more desirable and stable franchises to work for.

2 – Washington is known for having a bad stadium and shaky home-field advantage, less than the best facilities and a horrible commute to and from home games. I remember Mike Shanahan complaining about it all the time. Even though he was being driven to and from games, the hour-and-a-half to two-hour commute from Redskins Park to FedExField the day before a home game (broken up by a night at team hotel) and the drive back from Landover to Ashburn was and still is brutal. People around the NFL know this. It’s not a desirable situation when you are exhausted, especially after a “home” game.

3 – The Redskins have become increasingly frugal whenever they can be under Bruce Allen. In other words, if a player or coaching candidate has leverage and power, the organization will be very competitive and sometimes aggressive, as they were with Josh Norman.

They no longer throw money around like it is going out of style. Even when it comes to coaching contracts which are not under the salary cap. It’s the reason they make as much money as they do and I suppose it is a good business model, but it also hurts you in securing perceived top names. This is true for players and coaches.

4 – Because Jay Gruden is going into the last two years of his contract, coaches around the league know that the Redskins defensive coordinator (and staff) situation could be just a one-year post. It might not be, but it could be.

Any coach with leverage is going to either choose a more secure option ( Gus Bradley w/ Chargers & a new HC?) or get a higher pay rate for the standard two-year contract at the minimum. A coach with “juice” is going to laugh at a nickel-and-dime, lower guarantee approach that the Redskins almost surely will be offering.

Why would they not be offering top dollar or more security (guaranteed years)? Because, they’re not sure that Gruden will be in Washington for more than just next year.

If the Redskins want somebody with a tremendous pedigree and track-record like Romeo Crennel from the Texans, they are going to have to get into a bidding war and sweeten the pot big-time.

Crennel will be a free-agent next week, per my pal Adam Caplan of ESPN.

5 – Wade Phillips did not want to come here, reportedly because of legitimate concerns about the level of talent on the Redskins defense. Phillips is no dummy. He knows what has been obvious for eight years. The level of talent on that side of the ball has been inadequate for so long, it’s mind-numbing.

Every other hot-name absolutely must think the same. Everybody knows it and has known it. For years.

Why would a guy like Crennel or even Rex Ryan have an interest unless they were blown away by money and security to coach a unit that has been put together largely at “Dollar General”.

6 – We don’t know exactly what the Redskins are saying to the candidates in the interview process, but is it unreasonable (no) to think that the Skins are saying “we want to play this way” or our “personnel fits this (scheme) best, can you make it work?”

What I mean by that is this – are the Redskins saying this: We want to be a ultra-aggressive 3-4 group with 4-3 hybrid front and we want to be mostly a man-coverage defense? Or a Cover 3 group?

The point is this: Do the Redskins want an identity first and foremost and an individual after that ?

Do they want a Rex Ryan type defense and know they can’t convince Rex Ryan to come and run it for various reasons? If that’s true, then why not get a Mike Pettine or better yet, Rob Ryan?

If they want a Wade Phillips type defense and attack – and they couldn’t get Phillips this time, because he had tremendous leverage, do they hire a guy that learned under him in Greg Manusky or John Pagano?

7 – Another issue for the Skins is if they are saying “we would like to hire you but we are planning on keeping certain assistants that you must keep” has heard over and over about how close Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky became this year. Also, the Redskins value (and for good reason) Kirk Olivadotti.

One player told us recently that Aubrey Pleasant will make an excellent defensive backs coach and that has been the indication, just by watching him work at practices. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for seven years for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five seasons. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Sports Network (,, & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FANYou can e-mail Chris at