Bruce Allen and the Redskins conducted their second interview for their head coaching position on Friday, hosting Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
Bisaccia’s name might not ring a bell to the average NFL fan, but people within the league describe him as a well-respected special teams coach and a fiery guy that players enjoy playing for.
Allen knows Bisaccia very well from the six seasons they spent together with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bisaccia coached at Tampa from 2002 to 2010, and Allen served as general manager there from 2003 to 2008.
From Tampa, Bisaccia went to San Diego, where he served as special teams coordinator for the San Diego Chargers from 2011 and 2012. There, he worked under then-General Manager A.J. Smith, who is now a front office executive with the Redskins. In 2012, Bisaccia was promoted to assistant head coach for the Chargers, working under Norv Turner.
In January 2013, Bisaccia agreed to become Auburn’s assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and running backs. But then he received an offer from the Cowboys and was released from his contract less than a month later to sign with Dallas.
We’ve been taking a look at the bodies of work that the Redskins’ candidates have produced. Thursday featured a look at Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, and Friday a look at Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, who is interviewing with Washington today.
Today, we examine how Bisaccia’s units have done over the years.
Dallas ranked seventh in the NFL with 1,147 kickoff yards, and fourth in the league with an average of 25.5 yards per return.
Dallas averaged 12.5 yards per punt return (fifth in the NFL). On kickoffs, Dallas ranked 10th in the league, holding opponents to just 791 return yards, and opponents’ average of 20.8 yards per return ranked seventh-lowest in the league.
The Cowboys gave up an average of 9.2 yards per punt return, which ranked 18th in the league. Conversely, the Redskins surrendered an average of 16.8 yards per punt return — last in the NFL.
Under Bisaccia San Diego’s special teams units ranked 16th and 11th in the NFL in 2012 and 2011, respectively.
In his final season in Tampa, Bisaccia’s kickoff unit ranked eighth in the NFL with an average of 24.3 yards per return, but 30th in the NFL in punt returns with an average of 6.4 yards. The Bucs held opponents to an average of 20.7 yards per kick return and seventh on punt returns with an average of 7.3 yards.
Prior to breaking into the NFL, Bisaccia spent 19 seasons coaching college football. His last college stint was from 2000-01 where he served at Mississippi as assistant head coach, running backs coach and special teams coordinator.
It’ll be interesting to see if Bisaccia has a legitimate shot at becoming head coach, as few special teams coordinators make that jump. John Harbaugh did in Baltimore, however, and just led the team to a Super Bowl victory last year.
Although uncommon, there could be some appeal in hiring a special teams coach as head coach. Harbaugh once explained to me during an interview years ago that as a special teams coach, you face the challenge of working with players on both offense and defense (many times, these are young players that require precise instruction) and uniting them to work together on the same kickoff, kick return, punt, punt return or field goal units. This also involves having a good understanding of the capabilities of players on both sides of the ball and a knack for evaluating talent.
One person within the league said Friday night that even if Bisaccia doesn’t wind up as head coach of the Redskins, they wouldn’t be surprised to see him brought on in a special teams-associate head coaching role.
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