There does not appear to be a clear-cut favorite for the Washington Redskins’ head coaching job. But as Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden begins his round of head coaching interviews with several NFL teams, some people connected to the league-wide hiring process say they would regard the Redskins hiring Gruden as a move that would be a particularly good fit because of his connections to several members of the organization.
“There are some ties there,” one of those people said Tuesday morning, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the Redskins’ candidates or Gruden’s job prospects publicly. “It would make a lot of sense.”
Another person said late Monday he would not be surprised to see the Redskins make a push to hire Gruden when he meets with team officials, even with other candidates slated to be interviewed. But Gruden, that person added, has leverage because of the interest he is drawing from other teams with head coaching vacancies and it is not clear if he would be receptive to striking a quick deal even if the Redskins pursue that.
Gruden was expected to meet Tuesday with the Tennessee Titans. It was not yet clear when his interview with the Redskins would come. He also has drawn interest from the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.
Gruden has worked in the past with Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, secondary coach Raheem Morris and tight ends coach Sean McVay. Gruden was an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while his brother, Jon, was the team’s head coach and Allen was the club’s general manager. Morris and McVay also were Buccaneers assistants during that time. Jay Gruden worked with Haslett and McVay in the United Football League.
Haslett, Morris and McVay were among the assistant coaches not immediately fired by the Redskins last week when the team fired head coach Mike Shanahan and much of the staff, including offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and special teams coach Keith Burns. Allen said at the time that the Redskins’ next coach would determine the status of those assistants who were not immediately fired.
The Redskins have sought permission to interview Gruden, fellow offensive coordinators Greg Roman of San Francisco and Ken Whisenhunt of San Diego, and defensive coordinators Mike Zimmer of the Bengals and Vic Fangio of the 49ers. They also are expected to interview Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin, according to two people with knowledge of the deliberations.
Zimmer is expected to interview with the Redskins, according to one source, but the interview had not been scheduled as of late Monday. It is not known what Whisenhunt, a one-time Redskins player and the former head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, will do. He is regarded by many within the sport as the front-runner for the Lions’ job and he has other teams in pursuit as well.
Whisenhunt, Roman and Fangio are on teams that remain in the playoffs. Under NFL rules, they can be interviewed this week but are not eligible to be hired until their teams are eliminated from the postseason. This week’s interviews would have to be conducted in the cities in which the assistant coaches work, and the assistant’s current teams have input as to when the interviews occur.
Franklin, a former offensive coordinator at the University of Maryland, potentially could interview with the Redskins around midweek, according to one person with knowledge of the situation.
The Redskins’ known interviews so far have been with offensive coordinators Jim Caldwell of Baltimore and Darrell Bevell of Seattle, defensive coordinators Sean McDermott of Carolina and Perry Fewell of the New York Giants, and Dallas special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
Bisaccia, like Gruden, worked with Allen, Morris and McVay with the Buccaneers.
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