WASHINGTON — The Redskins continued their search for a new defensive coordinator on Thursday by interviewing San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach Jason Tarver.
Tarver, 42, is the sixth person to interview for the position. Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano interviewed on Wednesday. Meanwhile, former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman is set to interview on Friday, according to multiple league sources. He will be the first minority candidate interviewed. That news was first reported by NBC television affiliate WIVB in Buffalo.
After a decade on staff with the 49ers, where he worked under Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan, Tarver became the defensive coordinator at Stanford in 2011. The following year he joined the Raiders as defensive coordinator. Tarver stayed in Oakland for three seasons, but head coach Dennis Allen was fired in the first month of the 2014 season and his coaching staff followed at the end of the year.
When Tarver joined the Raiders they were coming off a year ranked 29th in yards allowed per game (387.6) and points per game (27.1). Under Tarver, Oakland immediately improved to 18th in yards (354.5) in 2012 – although the defense improved only modestly in points .(27.7). Tarver has coached both 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes.
Thurman, 60, played in the NFL for nine seasons as a defensive back. He is yet another assistant coach interviewed by the Redskins who worked for and with longtime NFL head coach Rex Ryan.
Thurman was on staff in Baltimore (2002 to 2007) when Ryan was a defensive line coach and then defensive coordinator. When Ryan moved to the New York Jets as head coach in 2008, Thurman came with him to coach the defensive backs.
Thurman stayed in that position for five seasons and in 2013 replaced Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator in New York. When Ryan was fired and took the head coaching job with the Buffalo Bills in 2015, Thurman again came along as defensive coordinator.
There’s plenty of overlap here, too. Thurman replaced Pettine, who has also interviewed for the Washington job. The Redskins also interviewed longtime NFL assistant Rob Ryan for the position on Monday. He is Rex Ryan’s twin brother and joined the Bills staff this past season as assistant head coach/defense in an awkward structure with Thurman, who remained the defensive coordinator. No matter. All three men were fired after another unsuccessful season in Buffalo.
Pettine interviewed with Washington on Jan. 9. Former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley followed on Jan. 11 and remains in contention for the Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator job, too. Ryan spoke with the Redskins on Monday and outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky interviewed on Tuesday. None of Pettine, Ryan, Manusky, Thurman, Pagano or Tarver have been linked to other job interviews as Bradley has.
Pagano, who was fired by the Chargers this month, took over in San Diego for Manusky – another close tie between the Redskins prospective candidates. The two men have even described themselves as close friends. But when Manusky was fired after the 2011 after just one year on the job, Pagano was elevated to the post he held until after this season. Pagano had been on staff in San Diego since 2002, rising from a quality control coach to coordinator. He is the brother of Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano.
Either way, expect the process to wrap up this weekend. Senior Bowl practices begin in Mobile, Alabama on Monday and that’s a key scouting trip for the front office, which would like to have any hires done by then if possible. The Senior Bowl ranks behind just the NFL Combine in Indianapolis for pre-draft events.
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