The Washington Redskins plan to hire Ray Rhodes as their defensive coordinator if all goes well when he meets with Coach Norv Turner on Monday, team officials said yesterday.
Rhodes, the former coach of the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles, is scheduled to arrive in town late Sunday and spend Monday with Turner. The Redskins could complete a deal with Rhodes late Monday or on Tuesday.
"Ray is going to come in, and we're going to spend some time together and see where we stand," Turner said.
Defensive assistant candidate Foge Fazio also is scheduled to arrive in town within the next few days to meet with Turner. The Redskins are close to hiring Fazio, whose contract as the Minnesota Vikings' defensive coordinator is expiring. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported last night that Fazio has resigned from the Vikings.
The Redskins announced Wednesday that they will not renew defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's contract. Team owner Daniel M. Snyder and director of player personnel Vinny Cerrato met with Rhodes on Wednesday in Mobile, Ala., the site of Saturday's Senior Bowl. Turner spoke with Rhodes by telephone.
The Redskins also interviewed Pete Carroll for the job on Wednesday, but decided to move forward with Rhodes. Carroll, who recently was fired as the New England Patriots' coach, apparently has contractual ties to the Patriots, and the Redskins found Rhodes more eager and available to make a quick move back into coaching.
Rhodes became the first NFL coach to be fired in consecutive seasons when the Packers, after going 8-8, dismissed him one season after the Eagles did so. But Rhodes has a solid reputation around the league as a defensive coach, and the Redskins believe he could help a defense that ranked 30th among the 31 teams this season. He is a former defensive coordinator of the Packers and San Francisco 49ers.
"Ray is a motivator," said Cerrato, who was a 49ers executive while Rhodes was with the club. "He gets guys to play to their level and above. He gets them to play with a passion and aggression. He brings passion and aggression to the defensive side of the ball. Attacking--that's his personality."
Rhodes was fired by the Packers, in part, because the team's management felt he was too close to the players. Redskins officials believe that is less of an issue for an assistant coach. Some Redskins players thought the defense was too passive under Nolan, and they urged the coaches to use a more aggressive, attacking approach. That's probably the style the Redskins' defense would have under Rhodes.
Rhodes would inherit a defense that ranked 16th, 24th and 30th in the league in its three seasons under Nolan. Defensive tackles Dana Stubblefield and Dan Wilkinson were supposed to be the team's defensive saviors when the club acquired them prior to the 1998 season, but they didn't have the impact over the past two seasons the Redskins had envisioned. This season, the Redskins also had to live with the mistakes of a young group of linebackers.
But the defense improved during the second half of this season, and the Redskins expect more improvement. They probably will use the second overall pick in April's college draft on Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington, and a proposed trade with the 49ers could give them the third selection and a chance to select Penn State defensive end Courtney Brown, as well.
Turner and Rhodes are longtime acquaintances and coaching foes, so it appears unlikely there will be any snags when they meet. Still, the Redskins did not want to complete the deal before Turner and Rhodes had a chance to sit down and discuss their prospective working relationship at length.
Meantime, the Redskins are leaning toward retaining special teams coach LeCharls McDaniel, although nothing is resolved. Turner and McDaniel have had a series of meetings this week. The Redskins' special teams were plagued by mistakes this season but, according to sources, club officials aren't certain they could hire a coach who would represent an upgrade.
Redskins passing game coordinator Terry Robiskie and quarterbacks coach Rich Olson have been mentioned in connection with the Miami Dolphins' offensive coordinator job. But the Dolphins have not requested permission to interview either, and Redskins officials don't think they're among the front-runners for the job.