It might seem odd for a team that just appointed its fifth defensive coordinator in five years to be talking about continuity. But that's what the Washington Redskins are doing after promoting linebackers coach George Edwards to replace Marvin Lewis, who was named the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday.
Lewis won't spend a second season as the Redskins' defensive coordinator, but the club will be running his defensive system for a second year in a row. Edwards said he will change as little as possible.
"The guys here have had a lot of changes as far as coordinators and schemes, and the biggest thing will be to try to bring some continuity to what we're doing," Edwards said from Mobile, Ala., where he's scouting the Senior Bowl practices. "Marvin was a great coordinator, and he'll be a great head coach. I learned so much from him."
Edwards turns 36 on Thursday, and is a first-time defensive coordinator who hopes to be a head coach.
"We're excited for Marvin," Redskins Coach Steve Spurrier said. "We wish him well, and now we'll give George a chance. This enables us to keep the same system, and he should be able to stay in that job for a while and give us some continuity. I'll have an opportunity to be a little bit more involved with the defensive players."
Said Lewis: "I'm excited for George. He's worked hard for it. He's ready, and he's excited. He's a great student of the game. He's been very diligent with his group. Now he gets to be very diligent with the entire group."
Edwards said he rejected offers to be a defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia and the University of Florida in recent years.
"I wanted to stay on the NFL path," Edwards said. "I was hoping I would get an opportunity like this, but I didn't know when it would come."
He played linebacker for Spurrier at Duke, and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Spurrier at Florida in 1991. He spent four years as an assistant coach at Appalachian State, then one season each at Duke and Georgia before joining the Dallas Cowboys' staff in 1998. After four seasons in Dallas, he was reunited with Spurrier when he was hired by the Redskins last offseason as assistant defensive coordinator.
He is quiet and hard working, and linebackers LaVar Arrington and Jessie Armstead endorsed him as Lewis's successor. The Redskins say they weren't tempted to pursue Ray Rhodes, the team's former defensive boss, when he resigned from the Denver Broncos on Saturday, apparently on his way to becoming the Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator.
Redskins defensive tackle Daryl Gardener is fond of Edwards and would have no problem playing for him. Gardener is eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason. He has said repeatedly that he intends to re-sign with the club, but the two sides have made little progress in contract negotiations.
According to sources, Gardener and the Redskins remain far apart on the financial terms of a long-term deal but continue to work at it. Gardener said during the season that he would consider following Lewis wherever Lewis goes.
Spurrier said the Redskins will make some additions to their coaching staff within the next two weeks. Assistant quarterbacks coach Noah Brindise decided yesterday to remain with the Redskins after initially accepting an offer to be the offensive coordinator at East Carolina University. But the Redskins could hire a linebackers coach to replace Edwards.
Strength coach Chip Morton, assistant defensive backs coach Kirk Olivadotti and defensive line coach Ricky Hunley could be candidates to join Lewis in Cincinnati. According to sources, the Bengals requested permission to interview Hundley, and Spurrier said that Lewis "is talking to a few of our guys."