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Musgrave Leaves Redskins for Falcons

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Washington Redskins quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave left the organization after only one season to take the same position with the Atlanta Falcons yesterday.

Falcons Coach Jim Mora announced the hiring yesterday after interviewing Musgrave yesterday morning, and Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs released a statement indicating he is unsure how the team will address the vacancy but expects to announce a decision "in the near future."

"We wish Bill Musgrave all the best in his new role with the Falcons organization," Gibbs said in the statement. "Although it is unfortunate that he departed, we always want what is best for our coaches and their families, which is why we gave Atlanta permission to interview him."

The Redskins could have blocked Musgrave from interviewing for a lateral position with another franchise. Mora was seeking someone familiar with the West Coast offense to mentor quarterback Michael Vick, and Musgrave knows it as both a player and coach.

Gibbs hired Musgrave a few days after Washington's disappointing 2004 season ended, identifying him as a key component to helping the NFL's 30th-ranked offense and giving him a $500,000 annual salary. Musgrave did not come from the same coaching tree as the rest of the offensive staff, all of whom either coached with Gibbs during his first stint in Washington from 1981 to 1993, or played for him during that time.

Musgrave, a disciple of Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh, helped implement elements of the West Coast attack and was a leading factor in Gibbs's decision to utilize the shotgun formation after shunning it for most of his Hall of Fame career. The Redskins ended up using the shotgun frequently, even in many short-yardage situations, and Musgrave also tutored rookie quarterback Jason Campbell -- a first-round selection in last April's draft -- on a daily basis.

Musgrave was fired as Jacksonville's offensive coordinator following the 2004 season and hopes to run an offense again; the Redskins hired longtime coordinator Al Saunders to a record three-year, $6 million contract last week, with Gibbs turning over control of the offense to him.

Musgrave previously has served as offensive coordinator with Philadelphia, Carolina and the University of Virginia, as well as Jacksonville. He did not return a message left on his office voice mail yesterday and kept a low profile in Washington, with no introductory news conference.

Gibbs was unavailable to meet with the media at Redskins Park yesterday -- he was with his NASCAR team, celebrating its Nextel Cup championship at the White House -- but has one of the biggest, most expensive and most experienced offensive staffs in NFL history even with Musgrave's departure.

Jack Burns, who was the quarterbacks coach before Musgrave was hired, remains on staff as an offensive assistant, but could coach the quarterbacks. Gibbs also will have more time to float among players and positions with Saunders now running the offense, and he could work with the quarterbacks as well.

The Redskins agreed on extensions with all their assistant coaches last week, the team announced, but cornerbacks coach DeWayne Walker is drawing heavy consideration for the defensive coordinator position at UCLA, league sources said. Linebackers coach Dale Lindsey and defensive coordinator Greg Blache have turned down opportunities elsewhere, Gibbs said Monday.

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