By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, January 28, 2008
Indianapolis Colts assistant coach Ron Meeks will be interviewed a second time for the Washington Redskins' head coaching vacancy tomorrow, league sources said yesterday.
A day after assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, who was once under consideration to replace Joe Gibbs, left the organization, the Redskins finalized plans for another session with Meeks, who runs the Colts' defense, a source close to the search said. Owner Daniel Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, executive vice president of football operations, are expected to meet with Meeks in Indianapolis.
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. When contacted last night, Meeks only confirmed the Redskins have told him he still is under consideration.
"Obviously, Mr. Snyder and Vinny Cerrato are trying to go through this process as thoroughly as they can to select the Redskins' next coach and continue moving in the right direction," Meeks said. "I thought that my interview was a productive and positive interview and I appreciate being involved in the process.
"There are some great candidates out there . . . and this is just one of these processes you have to go through to get it right. Mr. Snyder has been very active throughout the process along with Vinny Cerrato. They're trying to get it right. They're trying to get the right coach in there."
With Williams, whom many players strongly supported, out of the process, Meeks and former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel are the known remaining candidates. Meeks, who coached Washington's defensive backs in the 2000 season, first interviewed on Jan. 17 at Snyder's home.
Meeks was the fifth candidate to discuss the position. His initial interview fulfilled the NFL's Rooney Rule, which stipulates that a team meet with at least one minority candidate for a head coaching vacancy.
Meeks would be the third candidate to interview more than once for the job but only the second still under consideration to replace Gibbs, who resigned as team president and coach on Jan. 8. Williams and Fassel also had multiple meetings with Snyder and Cerrato.
According to a report, Fassel appears to be the leading candidate after Washington on Saturday promoted defensive line coach Greg Blache to the top defensive position and hired former Seattle Seahawks assistant Jim Zorn to replace offensive play-caller Al Saunders, who was "released" with Williams. Blache and Zorn were among Fassel's top choices for those positions, NFL sources said, and Snyder was close to hiring Fassel four years ago until he lured Gibbs out of retirement.
But Blache and Zorn also were among the coaches Meeks would have considered to be his top lieutenants, said sources familiar with the process, and their names were discussed when Meeks first interviewed for more than 10 hours with Snyder and Cerrato. In one of his interviews, Zorn was told that Williams, Fassel or Meeks would be Washington's next head coach, league sources said.
In fact, Fassel last week had anticipated receiving an offer from the Redskins, according to a source close to him. He discussed the framework of a contract with Snyder, which no other candidate has done, and Snyder and Cerrato spent two days attempting to contact and interview assistant coaches Fassel wanted -- league sources said they included Baltimore's Rex Ryan, Seattle's Zorn and San Diego's John Ramsdell -- but contractual stipulations precluded all but Zorn from interviewing.
Public sentiment about Fassel was decidedly negative once his involvement was disclosed, and, after huddling with Cerrato, Snyder called Fassel on Wednesday night to tell him the team would extend the search until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. A source said Snyder told Fassel he remained a strong candidate during a recent conversation.
The Redskins could interview Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels after the Super Bowl. Snyder and Cerrato also have discussed adding more candidates, said league sources who spoke with the Redskins last week.
Gibbs plans to meet with coaches today at Redskins Park.
Redskins Notes: Scott Campbell, a player personnel official with Washington the last seven years, has been promoted to director of player personnel. . . . Williams is in discussions with Jacksonville, league sources said, and could interview today for the Jaguars' defensive coordinator position.