The known candidates for the Washington Redskins head coaching vacancy don't exactly roll off the tongue. Bisaccia. Fewell. Bevell. McDermott. Caldwell.
For a change, the Redskins are taking a measured, lower-key approach to finding a coach. The focus, at least so far, is on high-level assistants from other teams, not blockbuster names. Interviewees are brought to Redskins Park in Virginia with general manager Bruce Allen as the point man, not to owner Dan Snyder's palatial house in Maryland.
Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia became the latest to interview when he visited Redskins Park Friday. Bisaccia and Allen worked together for several years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Bisaccia and Redskins consultant A.J. Smith were together with the San Diego Chargers.
Friday was the fifth day of the search for a replacement for the fired Mike Shanahan, which means it's already lasted more than twice as long as the process four years ago that led to Shanahan formally accepting the job after Jim Zorn's dismissal. Of course, Shanahan needed no introduction -- everyone knew the two-time Super Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos -- and his selection fell in line with previous Snyder high-profile hires Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier and Joe Gibbs.
Allen has laid out a new plan in which the power in the organization doesn't revolve around a larger-than-life coach. Allen will now be more a traditional general manager with final say in personnel matters, leaning heavily on front office assistants Scott Campbell and Morocco Brown, and the new coach will have to agree to work within those parameters, which means familiar Super Bowl names such as a Bill Cowher and John Gruden don't appear to be in the mix, at least for now. Nor is Baylor's Art Briles, who coached Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in college. Briles said Friday he has “no desire to pursue other coaching positions.”
Allen's known list consists mainly of rising coordinators hungry for a first NFL head coaching job, first-timers would be more likely to take a shot at fixing the chaos that has become the Redskins without demanding full authority over the roster. Washington went 3-13 this season, finishing last in the NFC East for the fifth time in six years.
The Redskins GM traveled to the West Coast Tuesday to meet with Seattle Seahawks coordinator Darrell Bevell and plans to head south to speak to Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott on Saturday. Under NFL rules, those coaches could not have their initial interview at Redskins Park because their teams are in the playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell are also on Allen's list. Except for Fewell's stint as an interim coach with the Buffalo Bills in 2009, Caldwell is the only one of the confirmed candidates with NFL head coaching experience, having led the Indianapolis Colts from 2009-11.
Assistants with teams playing in this week's wild card round of playoffs can't be interviewed until next week, so the process could take a while. In addition, the Redskins are competing with the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions in the coaching search sweepstakes.
“We're going to try and do this as quickly as possible,” Allen said this week. “But, more importantly, we want to do it correctly.”
The Redskins under Snyder have taken this route only once before, when Gibbs quit after the 2007 season. Snyder spent a month rejecting various candidates, while others made it clear they didn't want the job. Having run out of options, he promoted Zorn, who was overwhelmed and lasted two seasons.