By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo began formally interviewing for the Redskins' head coaching vacancy with team owner Daniel Snyder last night after flying to Washington following a parade in New York honoring the Giants for their Super Bowl win.
Spagnuolo, who league sources said had a lengthy telephone conversation with Snyder on Monday night, will likely be the final candidate interviewed by Washington before a successor to Joe Gibbs is named.
Spagnuolo, 48, has become an attractive candidate for the position after his defense stifled New England's record-setting offense in the Super Bowl on Sunday, and he is expected to remain in the Washington area through this afternoon.
Snyder scheduled a session with Spagnuolo for last night, with talks to resume at Snyder's Potomac home today. Spagnuolo was to spend the evening in a guest house on the Snyder property, as have several other candidates for the Redskins coaching job.
Snyder has said he would like to end the month-long search for a replacement for Gibbs by the end of the week, with former Giants coach Jim Fassel the other leading candidate for the position. The Redskins also had a second interview with Indianapolis defensive coordinator Ron Meeks last week.
Although former San Francisco and Detroit coach Steve Mariucci met with Redskins officials last week, he is not believed to be a serious contender by the other candidates, according to sources close to them. Mariucci's agent, Gary O'Hagan, yesterday declined to say whether Mariucci was still interested in the job or thought himself to still be a candidate. "I can't comment on that," O'Hagan said.
Fassel was nearly given the job two weeks ago but, with the outlines of a contract in place, Snyder decided to expand the search until after the Super Bowl, when the Redskins would be allowed to contact Spagnuolo.
Fassel, who was almost hired by Snyder to coach the Redskins in 2004 before he landed Gibbs, remains enthusiastic about his chances but understood that a strong performance by the Giants in the Super Bowl would increase the allure of the New York assistant, according to league sources. League sources said the Redskins have remained in touch with Fassel since his last face-to-face meeting with Snyder two weeks ago.
Snyder, speaking yesterday after a ceremony at Redskins Park to honor former Redskins Art Monk and Darrell Green for their election to the Hall of Fame, said Spagnuolo's effort in the Super Bowl did not go unnoticed.
"For the most explosive offense I've seen in years and years to just be slowed down like that is quite impressive," Snyder said. "We stayed for the whole game."
When asked if Spagnuolo's playoff outing served as a strong job interview of sorts, he said: "It would for anybody."
At the time of Gibbs's resignation, Spagnuolo was regarded largely as a first-year defensive coordinator, in his first season with the Giants, whose team was not given much of a chance at winning a title. Since then his stock has risen dramatically in the Redskins' eyes.
Spagnuolo is extremely interested in the Redskins job, league sources said, despite Washington's unusual decision to hire its new offensive and defensive coordinators and fill most of its coaching staff before picking a head coach. The Redskins have named Jim Zorn as the new offensive coordinator and promoted assistant Greg Blache to defensive coordinator.
Blache was given a three-year contract as defensive coordinator, the same number of years as Zorn, league sources said yesterday. Blache had one year left on his previous deal.
Spagnuolo does not have any ties to Blache, but would be comfortable working with a new staff, sources said, pointing out he had little previous contact with most of New York's defensive staff before joining the Giants from the Eagles a year ago.
Spagnuolo, who espouses an aggressive defensive scheme learned during his seven years working under Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, has been lauded for his tactics and second-half adjustments in the postseason, with the Giants' 17-14 win over New England the crowning accomplishment.
During the playoffs, the Giants did not enjoy a home game yet toppled the NFC's two premier offenses, beating Pro Bowl quarterbacks Tony Romo of Dallas and Brett Favre of Green Bay -- the Packers had the NFL's second-ranked offense and Dallas ranked third -- before stifling quarterback Tom Brady and New England's top-ranked attack Sunday.
Spagnuolo's experience within the NFC East also intrigues Snyder. It is a trait he also prized in Fassel, who has not had a head coaching job since 2003, when he left the Giants.
Redskins Notes: Gregg Williams, Washington's former assistant head coach-defense, agreed to terms on a multiyear deal yesterday to take over Jacksonville's defense, league sources said. Williams met with Snyder four times about the Redskins head coaching opening but was then fired nearly two weeks ago. . . .
Quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor interviewed for the same position in Seattle yesterday, league sources said. Lazor will not retain that title in Washington and is in jeopardy of being let go once a new head coach is named. . . . Bob Saunders, an offensive assistant coach the past two years, cleaned out his office at Redskins Park, league sources said, and is no longer with the organization. Saunders is expected to join his father, Al, in St. Louis. Al Saunders was Washington's associate head coach for offense for two years before being fired last month. . . .
Snyder intimated yesterday that the Redskins are likely to take part in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, this summer, an event that begins the preseason schedule. . . .
Director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer, who has been with the Redskins for more than 30 years, said he would return for another season. Tyer said cornerback Carlos Rogers, who underwent reconstructive knee surgery last season, had taken a positive turn in his rehabilitation in the last week. Prior to that there were serious concerns about Rogers's rate of recovery. Starting quarterback Jason Campbell, whose season ended with a dislocated kneecap, is now fully recovered and passed his exit physical, Tyer said.