The offensive coordinator role is the biggest remaining opening on Rivera’s coaching staff after the hiring of Jack Del Rio as defensive coordinator. The decision could be complicated by the fact that O’Connell is considered a fast riser in the coaching community and is a potential candidate for coordinator positions with other teams.
The meeting between Turner and Rivera was first reported by the league-owned NFL Network. Turner was seen Friday at Redskins Park, but the team did not confirm the interview took place. Rivera did not respond to a request for comment.
Turner began this season as the Panthers’ quarterbacks coach, working for his father, who was Carolina’s offensive coordinator, and Rivera. When Panthers owner David Tepper fired Rivera on Dec. 3 and promoted Perry Fewell to interim head coach, Norv Turner became a special assistant to the head coach and Scott Turner was elevated to offensive coordinator.
Rivera can keep O’Connell if he wants. Others around the NFL believe the Redskins might be wary of allowing O’Connell to leave, given their recent track record of offensive assistants going on to head-coaching success elsewhere, including Kyle Shanahan with the San Francisco 49ers, Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams and Matt LaFleur with the Green Bay Packers.
But this is a new Redskins regime. Rivera was handed considerable authority by team owner Daniel Snyder, and he must feel comfortable that he can work with O’Connell.
“Ron has a lot of history with Scott, and Scott’s grown up in a very healthy offensive background with his dad,” former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky said. “I’m a Kevin O’Connell fan, so there’s value to that with Dwayne [Haskins] and some of the people that are there. Turner is a very bright offensive mind that a lot of people respect.”
Turner, 37, had his first NFL coaching job as a quality control assistant with the Panthers in 2011. He had stints as a wide receivers coach with the Cleveland Browns and as a quarterbacks coach with the Minnesota Vikings and the Panthers. He also coached at the high school and college levels after playing quarterback at UNLV from 2001 to 2004.
Turner played at Oakton High while his father was coaching the Redskins. Norv Turner served as the Redskins’ head coach between 1994 and 2000, winning the NFC East in 1999 in Snyder’s first season as the team’s owner. Turner had an acrimonious parting with Snyder, who fired Turner with three games remaining in a tumultuous 2000 season. The Redskins went 8-8 that year after Snyder added veterans Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Mark Carrier and Jeff George and the team drafted LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels.
It’s not clear whether O’Connell will remain with the Redskins. A person close to the situation said Thursday that O’Connell was “still working things out” with Rivera.
“Kevin showed a lot of really good stuff in the past six weeks with Dwayne and how the offense got better,” Orlovsky said. “That offense got more creative. He understood Dwayne a little bit more. … I’ve heard nothing but outstanding things with Kevin O’Connell. He would not be a guy I’d let out of the building. I think he’s got a very bright future in the NFL.”
The retention of O’Connell would provide continuity for Haskins, who didn’t seem to get comfortable with Washington’s offense until his final few games and said after the season that he hoped O’Connell would return. Rivera said during his introductory news conference Thursday that he thinks Haskins has the potential to “become a franchise-style quarterback” but stopped short of anointing him as next season’s starter.
“[Continuity is] important. It’s not as important as getting the right person, though,” Orlovsky said. “It’s more important to get a really good coach that really understands that position. … Not every coach is right for every player. … Continuity is very important, and respect is important, and understanding is important. But more than that is the ability to get the best out of a guy and challenge a guy and push a guy to be their absolute best.”
O’Connell probably will have other options. Some within the league believe he would be the offensive coordinator for Josh McDaniels if McDaniels, now the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, takes an NFL head coaching job. The Panthers, Browns and New York Giants have requested permission to talk to McDaniels, and he reportedly will participate in interviews next Friday.
The Redskins have announced Del Rio as the only official member of Rivera’s staff so far, and the team’s front office structure remains in flux after the firing Monday of team president Bruce Allen. The franchise’s focus is to build out the coaching staff first, according to one person familiar with the situation, before addressing the front office.
Les Carpenter contributed to this report.
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