Washington Redskins head coach search goes far and wide — but to what end?

The Post Sports Live crew looks to see if there are any surprises among the candidates the Redskins have interviewed over the past week for the team's new head coach. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)
Mike Wise
Columnist January 8

Since the newly empowered general manager has 11 candidates and counting in mind to be Robert Griffin III’s next mentor, isn’t it time we helped Bruce Allen and just posted a Help Wanted ad on Craigslist?

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Mike Wise is a sports columnist for The Washington Post. View Archive

Historic NFL team seeks head coach to resuscitate a franchise and a young quarterback’s image and career. Candidates should have coached something somewhere before and preferably worked with children. The right candidate will be able to take constructive criticism from customers AND immediate supervisors. Ability to not submarine best player on the way out of town through media leaks a plus. Bowing at the CEO’s feet is preferred, but not required.

This full-time contract position runs through January 2018, but could abruptly end sooner. Work hours are 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., Monday through Sunday. The salary for this position is whatever you want.

Founded in 1937, this NFL team has won three Super Bowls (including very recently in, like, 1992), sent more than a dozen players to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is committed to winning consistently again before the next millennium.

If you wish to apply, please send resume, playbook (for our QB’s perusal) and completed employment application to Bruce Allen, Human Resources Manager, 21300 R-Word Park Drive, Ashburn, Va. 20147.

No, really — 11 candidates, including a special teams coordinator not named Danny Smith?

I’m trying to figure out whether Allen is on a mission to find the next leader of a once-proud NFL organization or is actually rolling out his No Coach Left Behind initiative.

Hey, maybe he’s just weeding out candidates whose sons want to be the offensive coordinator.

Due diligence is one thing, but this feels like more than merely casting a wide net; heck, it’s practically a casting call. Bottom line, when fewer applicants were rumored to have interviewed for the day-shift manager at Potbelly’s in Ashburn last week it says one of three things:

(1) Known for being coy, Allen is back to playing possum and already knows exactly who he will hire. As a bonus, it doesn’t hurt to acquaint himself with the hottest assistants in the NFL just in case the person he picks is a two-year flop.

(2) This all-information-is-good-information approach might yield a real diamond in the rough rather than another Zornado.

(3) He has no idea what he is looking for.

The thought of (3) is frightening. Because if Allen and Daniel Snyder are just waiting to be wowed, if they’re just trying to find the right combination of an Xs and Os guy and someone to win the news conference, the candidate equal parts tactician and salesman, the organization is back to square one in its hiring practices.

That would say they don’t want a long-term consensus builder — someone to heal old wounds by becoming the first coach in more than two decades to take the franchise to consecutive postseasons — but another new face to sell suites and entice the whole family to Richmond for training-camp souvenirs.

From Marty to Spurrier to My-Way-Got-Me-Fired Mike, been there, done that.

The part about this hiring process that must be infuriating to fans used to having Snyder wave his millions and procure who he wants is that two of the three most sought-after candidates — former Patriots assistant/Penn State coach Bill O’Brienand former Bears coach Lovie Smith — already have taken jobs, in Houston and Tampa Bay.

The third, Ken Whisenhunt, whom Allen has asked San Diego permission to speak to, is already weighing whether he wants the Lions’ job — a team that appears to be much closer to contending than Washington at the moment.

It’s well known Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden are not leaving the announcing booth for this job. It’s also known several other established coaches found gigs more suitable to their liking than this job.

By deduction, turning this franchise around is not perceived as a great employment opportunity for the best in the NFL business anymore. Something smells enough in Washington to ward off the usual, ego-driven “But-I-can-win-there” crowd that always seems in the mix.

Or, maybe — just maybe — the owner, via Allen, is going to do what he should have done a long time ago: find a good, young assistant whose best years are in front of him. Find the next Mike Tomlin or Mike McCarthy.

This is where I could buy in, if they really didn’t care about a name, pedigree or connection.

I’ve always said, don’t let someone else validate your hire. Have enough faith and belief that that person can become a great head coach while working for your organization. Let the most innovative, fresh, young coach in football make his head-coaching bones in Washington for a change and not just cash in on a name he made somewhere else.

If someone like Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell or Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is that guy — if Allen is actually interested in hiring Jay Gruden and not working him to get to his brother — then this musical-chair, wide-open search could be worth the time and energy spent sitting down with a dozen or so hopefuls.

This hire will go on Allen’s watch, but as the finalists are trimmed down they will almost certainly be invited to Snyder’s French-chateau style estate in Potomac, where the owner will have much to do with making the call. For what it’s worth, he should hire a young nobody and make him a somebody. It’s the one thing he hasn’t tried yet, the one move that would show real foresight and trust in the team’s future.

After all, who was Daniel Snyder before he boldly launched his own marketing company and made a billion? He needs to see a little of himself in one of those assistants rather than hiring someone to give his franchise the credibility it should already have.

For more by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.

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