Redskins seek to interview six more coaches, including Whisenhunt, Gruden and Franklin


Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, formerly Maryland’s head coach-in-waiting, is doused by linebacker Chase Garnham after a Jan. 4 bowl. He’s now a candidate for the Redskins’ job. (Butch Dill/Associated Press)

The Washington Redskins continued to widen their coaching search on Monday, requesting permission to interview six more candidates — five of them NFL coordinators, and another from the college ranks, multiple people with knowledge of the situation said.

The Redskins hope to interview both of the Cincinnati Bengals’ coordinators, Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer , and both of the San Francisco 49ers’ coordinators, Greg Roman and Vic Fangio. They also seek interviews with San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin.

Those requests bring the total of candidates on Washington’s list to 11 . Monday’s requests came on the same day that General Manager Bruce Allen and other team officials hosted New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell for an interview at Redskins Park.

Gruden and Zimmer became available for interviews as soon as their team lost to the Chargers in Sunday’s wild-card round of the playoffs. Gruden confirmed to reporters in Cincinnati that he would interview with three teams, including the Redskins, but it wasn’t immediately clear if Zimmer would interview. Either could be hired immediately.

Monday represented the first possible date that Whisenhunt, Roman and Fangio became available for interviews because their teams both had first-round playoff games. But while each is free to interview, none is eligible for hire until his team is eliminated from the playoffs.

The Post Sports Live crew offers their picks for likely and unlikely candidates to be the next Redskins head coach. (Jayne Orenstein/The Washington Post)

It wasn’t immediately clear if a date has been set for any of those three interviews.

Franklin becomes the first college coach known to draw interest from the Redskins. His interview is expected to take place this week, said two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Redskins had not publicly confirmed interviews with any college coaches.

One of those people said that Franklin’s interview with the Redskins is not yet firmly scheduled, but he has told associates that he expects to speak to the team. Franklin also could be a candidate for the Cleveland Browns’ coaching vacancy, that person said.

Franklin, who has been at Vanderbilt for three seasons, is the former offensive coordinator at the University of Maryland and was named the Terrapins’ head coach-in-waiting under former coach Ralph Friedgen. But he left College Park for Vanderbilt in December of 2010. Vanderbilt this season went 9-4, including 4-4 in the Southeastern Conference, and capped its season with a 41-24 drubbing of Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Franklin is considered a rising star in coaching and a possible candidate for the Penn State coaching job in addition to his prospective candidacy with several NFL teams.

Gruden, the brother of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden, is regarded as a candidate for several teams with coaching vacancies, including the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans. He oversaw the league’s 10th-ranked offense this season, and it’s unlikely that the Bengals’ struggles in Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Chargers will significantly harm his chances of landing a head coaching job.

Gruden spent seven seasons on the Buccaneers’ coaching staff, working for his brother and with Allen, who was then the Bucs’ GM. Gruden has been a head coach in the Arena Football League and the United Football League.

Zimmer, likewise, is highly regarded within league circles. He is the former defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons and has been with the Bengals since 2008. Cincinnati ranked third in the league in total defense this season and was in the top five in rushing, passing and scoring defense.

The Redskins did not seek permission, at least at this point, to interview fellow Bengals assistant Hue Jackson, according to the person with knowledge of the deliberations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because neither team confirmed the requests publicly.

Meanwhile, Roman is in his third season as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator, and he spent 2009 and 2010 with Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, serving in the same role.

Roman has emerged as a head coaching candidate because of his success with a unit led by third-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, running back Frank Gore and tight end Vernon Davis. The 49ers ranked 24th in the league in total offense, but third in rushing. Roman also has appeal because he uses read-option and pistol-formation plays similar to those that Washington has run with quarterback Robert Griffin III the past two seasons.

The Redskins also have requested to interview Fangio, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed. Fangio has 14 years of experience as a defensive coordinator during stints with the Panthers, Colts, Texans and 49ers. His unit ranked fifth in the league this past season.

Whisenhunt, 51, joined the Chargers this season and has helped revive the career of quarterback Philip Rivers while directing an offense that ranked fifth in the league. Whisenhunt previously was head coach of the Arizona Cardinals for six seasons. He guided the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance after the 2008 season, but fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whisenhunt served as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator from 2004 to 2006, and played for the Redskins from 1989 to 1990.

Whisenhunt is believed to be the front-runner for the head coaching opening at Detroit.

The Redskins in the past week have interviewed four other coaches: Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Dallas special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, and Baltimore offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell.

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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