Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan goes to work on finding his assistants

Mike Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls as head coach of the Denver Broncos. is Daniel Snyder's choice to coach the Washington Redskins.
By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 7, 2010

Early Thursday morning, new Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan is scheduled to meet with assistant coaches at Redskins Park before returning to Denver. It figures to be the only time many of the holdovers from former coach Jim Zorn's staff will spend time with Shanahan.

The team's new top football official is expected to make many coaching changes, and one key member is in place: Shanahan's son, Kyle, will serve as offensive coordinator. It appears secondary coach Jerry Gray is a candidate to become defensive coordinator under Shanahan, but most of Zorn's assistants are not expected to return after the second coaching-staff shakeup since the end of the 2007 season. Unlike the transition that occurred when Joe Gibbs resigned, however, Shanahan can build the staff he chooses.

"I'm going to take my time," Shanahan said in his introductory news conference. "A lot of people want to come to the Washington Redskins and be a part of this organization, history, the leadership; a chance to do things that have [been] done in the past and hopefully will be done in the near future. And I'll get a chance to sit down with all those guys and make a decision, hopefully in a short time, so if they aren't retained, they get a chance to look elsewhere."

His choice for offensive coordinator was easy. Kyle has been a member of the Houston Texans staff for four seasons, including the last two as offensive coordinator. He was an offensive quality control assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2004-05 seasons under Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Bruce Allen, whom the Redskins hired last month as their general manager.

"Obviously, any time you talk about your son, you've had a few conversations along the line," Shanahan said. "Bruce was very gracious to give my son -- him and Jon Gruden -- the opportunity to learn in the National Football League after being a graduate assistant over at UCLA. They gave him an opportunity to work with a guy like Jon, who, in my opinion, you don't get any better than Jon Gruden. The X's and O's, his enthusiasm, his leadership. To be with a guy like Bruce, what a great opportunity for my son. And so, therefore, I thought he had his first couple years with a great opportunity to be successful.

"Then he got the opportunity the last couple years to be the offensive coordinator. And I think he's done a very good job taking advantage of that opportunity. I'm excited because I know what he brings to the table."

In Shanahan's last season with the Denver Broncos, Bob Slowik served as his defensive coordinator. Slowik is expected to be part of Shanahan's first Redskins staff, probably as the secondary coach, a league source said.

As for who will serve as Shanahan's first defensive coordinator, Gray might be retained and promoted to the role. Gray, who previously served as a defensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills, has told people in the organization he is optimistic about joining Shanahan, team sources said.

Although Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer also is considered a top candidate to lead the defense for Shanahan, it is not believed Shanahan personally spoke with Zimmer before accepting the Redskins' job.

But if Zimmer leaves Cincinnati for Washington, his son, Adam, a defensive assistant with New Orleans, might join him.

Shanahan also is interested in interviewing Blake Williams, Gregg's son, for a position, two league sources said recently. Williams is an offensive coaching assistant for the Saints, for whom his father, a Redskins assistant for four seasons, is defensive coordinator.

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