Coach Norv Turner said yesterday that the Washington Redskins will retain LeCharls McDaniel as their special teams coach.
Meantime, the Redskins and the representative for running back Stephen Davis have suspended their contract negotiations until after the Super Bowl. That will give the sides only 11 days to try to complete a long-term deal before the Redskins would declare Davis their franchise player to keep him off the free agent market. Monday, the Redskins made Davis a five-year contract offer that apparently is worth just less than $20 million, but sources said Davis and agent Steve Weinberg are seeking a 10-year deal.
Also, the Redskins are near a deal with Atlanta Falcons secondary coach Ron Meeks to become their defensive backs coach, but yesterday's storm prevented them from completing the agreement.
McDaniel's job security, like that of former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, was under intense public scrutiny all season, ever since special teams' mistakes and a fourth-quarter defensive collapse contributed to the Redskins' season-opening overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys. But, unlike Nolan, McDaniel will keep his job.
"I think LeCharls did a good job with the circumstances we were in," Turner said yesterday. ". . . The glaring mistakes that we had weren't his fault. Like, we snapped the ball bad. Well, LeCharls didn't snap the ball."
Said McDaniel, who just completed his second season as special teams coach: "I'll just try to get ready for next season, and try to help the team be better and go further than it did this season."
The overhaul of Turner's coaching staff was contained to the defense, and is virtually completed. The Redskins announced the hirings of defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes and linebackers coach Foge Fazio on Monday. The Redskins plan to have Meeks replace fired defensive backs coach Tom Hayes, and it appears that Nolan is set to replace Meeks in Atlanta.
According to sources, the Redskins are interested in hiring Mike Trgovac--who, like Rhodes, just was dismissed by the Green Bay Packers--as a defensive line coach to work alongside holdover Rubin Carter.
McDaniel met with Turner last week, and club officials said then they were leaning toward retaining McDaniel because they didn't think there was a better special teams coach available.
The decision came as a mild surprise to some at Redskin Park, since the Redskins struggled on special teams this season. It began in the season opener, when the Cowboys recovered an onside kick and the Redskins failed to attempt a would-be game-winning field goal at the end of regulation because of a dropped snap by holder Matt Turk. In the Redskins' season-ending playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, place kicker Brett Conway never got to attempt a go-ahead field goal in the closing moments because of Dan Turk's botched snap.
Matt Turk had the worst of his five seasons as the Redskins' punter, and veteran return man Brian Mitchell struggled early and began to share kickoff-return duties with James Thrash. But Mitchell had a late-season resurgence, and returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the Tampa Bay playoff game. And the Redskins' blocking and tackling on special teams improved when they began to use more offensive and defensive starters on special teams, and added some key players such as veteran defensive back Curtis Buckley.
"The biggest thing we had to do was, we upgraded our personnel," Turner said. "We added some people, and the people we went with gained an understanding of what it takes to be good on special teams. . . . Our coverage teams got better and better. With Buckley, it's amazing what a difference one guy can make. . . . There's nothing wrong with our return game."
McDaniel said he's optimistic about next season. He said he believes the Redskins are prepared to devote the sort of resources to special teams--in terms of using players who start or play key roles on offense or defense--necessary to succeed.
"I believe that commitment is there," McDaniel said. "I believe the organization saw the improvement."
For McDaniel, an often-trying season was followed by an offseason waiting game as Turner and other team officials determined his future. But McDaniel did not complain, saying yesterday it's part of the coaching business.
"It's tough going through that indecision, but all I could do is wait while they decided," he said. "It was out of my hands. It's always tough when your future is involved. I was just trying to do my job. That's how I handled it all season, and it's how I handled it last week. Either I was going to be gone, or they were going to give me another shot at it."
As for the Davis negotiations, Redskins officials and Weinberg shelved their contract discussions until next week after meeting on Monday at Redskin Park. The two sides remained far apart, and the Redskins were left uncertain about whether they'll be able to complete a multiyear deal with Davis before their Feb. 10 deadline. The NFL free agent signing period begins on Feb. 11 and the Redskins don't want Davis, the NFC rushing champion who's eligible for unrestricted free agency, on the market.
Redskins Notes: The NFL's Houston expansion franchise has hired former Washington Redskins scout Mike Maccagnan, 32, as its first scout. Maccagnan spent the last six years as a Redskins scout and in 1990 was an intern for then-Redskins general manager Charley Casserly, now the executive vice president and general manager of the Houston expansion team.