The Washington Redskins’ unending search for a defensive coordinator tells much about the franchise.
The interview line seems ready to stretch from goal post to goal post. But it’s more than resumes. It’s also about two things to prospects: coach Jay Gruden’s longevity and lack of talent. The situation smells like a possible one-and-done and job seekers with options are as cautious as the Redskins about this move.
Washington is interviewing San Francisco linebackers coach Jason Tarver on Thursday and former Buffalo assistant Dennis Thurman on Friday. That means six interviews after already meeting with former Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley, former Cleveland coach Mike Pettine, former Buffalo assistant head coach Rob Ryan and Washington’s linebackers coach Greg Manusky.
Who knew Joe Barry was irreplaceable?
It’s not that owner Dan Snyder won’t pay top dollar regardless of president Bruce Allen’s austerity program. The money is there. The question is how long is Gruden staying, which is probably how long the defensive coordinator remains.
Gruden has two seasons left on his original five-year deal. While he led Washington to an NFC East title and two straight winning seasons by the narrowest of margins at 17-14-1, another mediocre year in the revamped NFC East might make him vulnerable. Buying out the final year of a contract is not a big deal to Snyder.
Candidates know that. While coaches are desperate to remain employed somewhere in the NFL for fear falling out makes it much more difficult to return, few want a one-year stay in an already transient career.
That Gruden has already gone through two defensive coordinators in three years is also cautionary. Those two were personal friends so Gruden has shown he’ll cut an assistant loose, not that either didn’t deserve to be fired.
The talent level is low enough that candidates might worry about being set up to fail. Aside from cornerback Josh Norman and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins could upgrade everywhere. Certainly, there are some talented players in linebacker Trent Murphy, safety Su’a Cravens, tackle Chris Baker and cornerback Bashaud Breeland, but this defense needs a major upgrade along the line and safety.
Surely, candidates want to hear the Redskins offseason plans where nearly $65 million in free salary cap space could lead to two prominent free agent signings while the draft might net a starting lineman or safety. Then again, those monies and picks might be moved to the offense if Washington doesn’t re-sign free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins and receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.
There are a lot of moving parts and no defensive coordinator wants to be run over by them like Barry, who saw little aside from Norman invested in his side of the ball.
It’s time Washington picked someone. If six candidates aren’t enough, then they’re not looking at the right people. But, it’s a solid half-dozen prospects. It’s time to decide.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.