By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
On the same day DeWayne Walker was introduced as the new defensive coordinator at UCLA, the Washington Redskins hired former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Jerry Gray to replace Walker as their defensive backs coach.
Gray, 43, will be united with Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams for the third time in the NFL. As head coach in Buffalo in 2001, Williams hired Gray to be his defensive coordinator, a position Gray held for five seasons, two of which came after Williams was fired following the 2003 season. Gray also worked with Williams in Tennessee as his defensive backs coach from 1997 to 2000.
Gray became available last week when Marv Levy, Buffalo's new general manager, announced Gray would not be retained following the sudden resignation of coach Mike Mularkey.
"We are ecstatic to have a coach with the caliber and experience of Jerry Gray joining our staff," Williams said in a statement. "Obviously, I am familiar with Jerry from our previous years together and know that he is a great fit for our defense. He adds a new dynamic to our coaching staff and will help us continue to be one of the top defenses in the National Football League."
Gray interviewed for the head coaching job in Houston, a position that went to Gary Kubiak. Gray also had interviewed for the defensive coordinator job in Green Bay.
Williams tried to bring Gray to Washington when Williams joined the Redskins after the 2003 season.
The move comes a week after the Redskins introduced Al Saunders as associate head coach-offense and just days after the team added Bill Lazor to coach the quarterbacks. Lazor replaced Bill Musgrave, who was quarterbacks coach for one season before accepting the same position last week with the Atlanta Falcons.
Gray is a former defensive back who played nine years in the NFL, seven with the Los Angeles Rams and one each with Houston and Tampa Bay. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection from 1986 to '89.
Under Gray, the Bills were a strong unit, leading the league in turnovers forced with 39 in 2004. In 2003 and 2004, the Bills were fifth and eighth, respectively, in points allowed, and second both years in yards allowed.
However, last year Buffalo slipped badly, finishing 24th in points allowed (22.9 per game) and 29th in yardage allowed. They were 13th in turnovers forced with 30, two better than the Redskins' 28.
Meantime, Walker, 45, became the defensive coordinator at UCLA, a deal that had been in the works for weeks.
"We wish DeWayne all the best in his new endeavor," Williams said. "He did a tremendous job for us in his two years here in working with our corners, developing them into an outstanding unit and finishing seventh in 2004 and sixth in 2005 in pass defense in the NFL."
UCLA is allowing Walker to assemble his own staff, but it is unclear if he will attempt to lure any members of the Redskins' staff to join him.
"When the offer was presented to me it at first took some time to think this thing through," he said. "But I've been around some big-time head coaches, and at this stage it was time to see where I stand from a leadership standpoint."
Walker, a Los Angeles native, said he was offered a contract extension to remain with the Redskins, but the opportunity to run a defense was too good to pass up.