Colts Assistants Set To Talk to Redskins

During his six seasons, Jim Caldwell has made the Colts' offense one of the most productive in the NFL.
During his six seasons, Jim Caldwell has made the Colts' offense one of the most productive in the NFL. (Otto Greule Jr. - Getty Images)
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By Jason Reid and Jason LaCanfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Washington Redskins will interview Indianapolis Colts assistant coaches Jim Caldwell and Ron Meeks, possibly today, continuing a process that many NFL sources expect will end with Redskins assistant Gregg Williams becoming the team's next head coach.

Indianapolis recently granted permission for the Redskins to meet with Caldwell and Meeks, among Colts head coach Tony Dungy's top lieutenants, once its season ended, said a team official speaking on behalf of Colts President Bill Polian. The Colts lost to the San Diego Chargers, 28-24, on Sunday in the AFC semifinals.

Washington is scheduled to interview Seattle assistant Jim Mora this week, according to league sources. Mora could be a candidate to replace Seattle Coach Mike Holmgren, should he step down.

Williams, Washington's assistant head coach-defense the last four seasons, interviewed yesterday at Redskins owner Daniel Snyder's house, league sources said. Formal coaching interview sessions with Snyder often last more than 10 hours. Because of the timing of his interview with Williams, Snyder was not expected to schedule talks with Caldwell and Meeks on the same day. Williams is considered the front-runner, many NFL executives and agents said.

Caldwell, who oversees Indianapolis's offense and quarterbacks, and Meeks, the Colts' defensive coordinator, are highly regarded in NFL coaching circles and seen as future head coaches. Indianapolis's assistant head coach for the past three seasons, Caldwell has worked closely with star quarterback Peyton Manning. The Colts' offense has been among the NFL's most productive during Caldwell's six seasons with the team.

Meeks just completed his sixth season as the Colts' defensive coordinator. Indianapolis ranked third in the league in total defense this season and was ranked second against the pass.

The Redskins have yet to interview a minority candidate in accordance with the league's Rooney Rule, according to a source familiar with the search process. The rule stipulates that clubs must interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching vacancies. Caldwell, who has interviewed for several coaching openings this offseason, and Meeks would meet that stipulation.

If Dungy retires next week, Caldwell and Meeks would receive strong consideration to become the Colts' coach, a Colts source said.

Meanwhile, Snyder and Williams yesterday continued along a path that could result in maintaining the continuity that many in the organization would prefer after Joe Gibbs unexpectedly resigned as coach and team president on Jan. 8. Snyder and Gibbs, who is serving as a consultant to the owner, have stressed the importance of continuity as they search for a leader who will be Snyder's sixth head coach since buying the team in 1999. Hiring Williams would best ensure that the Redskins maintain stability, several NFL executives said.

The top defensive assistant on Gibbs's staff throughout his second stint with Washington, Williams directed units that finished ranked in the top 10 during three of the last four seasons. Williams served as head coach in Buffalo from 2001 to 2003 and also was a successful defensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans. After spending most of Saturday at Snyder's house, Williams, who has strong support of coaches and players at Redskins Park, began his formal pitch to succeed Gibbs yesterday afternoon. The meeting was expected to last well into the evening, sources said.

Williams was the third person to interview for the position, and although the Redskins hope to move quickly in this process, Snyder has a reputation for being meticulous when it comes to interviewing coaches since a failed experiment with Steve Spurrier six years ago. Moreover, with the team again seeking direction following Gibbs's retirement, there appear to be many football-operations issues for Snyder to discuss with candidates.

Washington began the interview process Thursday by meeting with Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, a Baltimore native and Georgetown graduate, and interviewed another assistant coach Friday. That coach's identity has not been revealed but it was not former Redskins player and assistant coach Russ Grimm, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Among the Redskins' current coaching staff, Williams is the only assistant to have interacted with ownership since the staff meeting in which Gibbs announced his retirement, a team source said.

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