Williams Interviews For a Fourth Time

By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Washington Redskins assistant coach Gregg Williams met with management about the team's head coaching position for the fourth time yesterday, taking another step in a process that many NFL sources expect will end with him succeeding Joe Gibbs.

Although owner Daniel Snyder still is scheduled to interview candidates from outside the organization this week -- including former Atlanta Falcons head coach Jim Mora -- as part of the process to find Gibbs's successor, Williams, Washington's assistant head coach-defense the last four seasons, remained the front-runner after his lengthy formal interview at Snyder's home Monday and another productive session with management yesterday, NFL executives said. Williams has interacted well with Snyder and team executives in numerous meetings since Gibbs unexpectedly resigned as coach and team president on Jan. 8, league sources said, moving forward in a search that could be completed soon.

Snyder and Gibbs, serving as a consultant to the owner, have stressed the importance of continuity as they search for a leader for the organization -- and Snyder's sixth coach since buying the team in 1999. Hiring Williams would best ensure that the Redskins maintain the stability from last season's playoff finish, several NFL executives and agents said. Williams, the only candidate under consideration among the current coaching staff, has strong support of Washington's coaches and players, and many in the organization said promoting Williams would be best for them after Gibbs walked away from the Redskins for the second -- and presumably final -- time.

Williams served as head coach in Buffalo from 2001 to 2003 and also was a successful defensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans. "I know how he is as a head coach, I know how he is as a person," said middle linebacker London Fletcher, who played under Williams in Buffalo in the 2002 and 2003 seasons. "He brings a presence. Gregg is very demanding, not only of himself but also of his players and coaches. He's detail-oriented. He's extremely meticulous about his structure . . . making sure we know everything that's going on."

The Redskins, however, remain interested in speaking with Mora, the Seattle Seahawks' assistant head coach, and Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Ron Meeks. Mora is scheduled to interview today and Meeks plans to speak with Snyder tomorrow.

Mora had a record of 26-22 in three seasons with the Falcons. In 2004, Mora's first season as Atlanta's head coach, the Falcons reached the NFC championship game. But the team slipped to 8-8 and missed the playoffs in 2005, and Mora was fired after the Falcons finished 7-9 (they started 5-2) and again failed to reach the postseason in 2006.

This season, Mora coached Seattle's defensive backs.

If Seahawks Coach Mike Holmgren retires, Mora would be considered for the job, league sources said.

Indianapolis recently granted permission for the Redskins to meet with Meeks as well as Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell, who oversees Indianapolis's offense and quarterbacks. But Caldwell, who league sources said would be a top candidate to lead the Colts if Coach Tony Dungy retires, apparently is not currently involved with the Redskins.

Contacted yesterday, Meeks declined comment about his upcoming interview. Meeks just completed his sixth season as the Colts' defensive coordinator. Indianapolis ranked third in the league in total defense this season and was 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.

Redskins Note: Former Redskins teammates Darrell Green, Art Monk and Russ Grimm were among the 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was announced yesterday.

Green and Cris Carter made the list of finalists in their first year of Hall of Fame eligibility. Four to seven enshrinees will be elected by the media members who serve as selectors during a Feb. 2 meeting in Phoenix.

The other modern-era finalists are former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and former players Fred Dean, Richard Dent, Randy Gradishar, Ray Guy, Bob Kuechenberg, Randall McDaniel, Andre Reed, Derrick Thomas, Andre Tippett and Gary Zimmerman.

Staff writer Mark Maske contributed to this report.

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