Jay Gruden firing: Ranking five candidates who could replace him with Redskins, following interim period
Any of these coaches could turn things around in Washington, but there's one in particular few would see coming
Washington Redskins, the quest for their new head coach is officially under way. Gruden himself will look to locate employment elsewhere , but it won't be any easier for him to land a new gig than it will be for the Redskins to convince someone to take over his old one.of the door by the
The team is, after all, in shambles and has been for some time now. It will take a strong-minded coach and one with unwavering vision -- as well as conviction when dealing with owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen -- in how they'd like to see the Redskins turn things around. Additionally, it should be someone who can stop the tailspin fairly immediately, because the fanbase has nothing remaining when it comes to patience and tolerance of losing.
There is no shortage of quality candidate than could likely achieve these missions, should the Redskins be able to woo them.
1. Mike Tomlin
Tomlin landed a contract extension from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019, securing him but not for the intensely long term. He's only locked in through the 2021 season, and things aren't going well this year for the Black and Yellow crew -- to say the least. Even before losing Ben Roethlisberger for the season with an elbow injury, the Steelers simply haven't performed up to snuff on a consistent basis. That said, Tomlin is still easily one of the best coaches in the NFL and it's possible a fresh start will do him some good if he can't keep the boat afloat with Mason Rudolph. A Super Bowl-winning leader of men that almost always has the entire locker room on his side is something that would play very well in Washington, but Tomlin would truly need to be in the mood to take on a massive rebuild and to deal with the likes of Snyder after having spent years under the fur-lined class of the Rooney family. His son, Dino, does play football for the University of Maryland -- by the way -- and taking the Redskins job would allow him more time to take in those games and help coach his son up.
2. Bill Callahan
This will be the more obvious choice, and for several reasons. The whole "bird in the hand" adage is one, because Callahan has the inside track to landing the permanent coaching position after having now been named interim head coach. That means he's getting an interview that will last the next 11 games -- at minimum -- as the Redskins watch his every move to determine if he's the man for the job. A former play-caller and offensive line coach for the rival Dallas Cowboys, Callahan proved his worth in North Texas before things went sour following the insistence of head coach Jason Garrett to bring in and then hand over play-calling duties to now-ousted offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Callahan had the offense firing on all cylinders before then, and might be able to do the same in Washington; no longer having to run his ideas through Gruden -- who reportedly didn't want to draft first-round pick Dwayne Haskins anyway. Callahan already has a relationship with Snyder and Allen, and is one of the best offensive line coaches and play-callers around. If his 3/4 season tryout goes well, the job is essentially his to lose or wave off.
There's continuing dysfunction in D.C., so Jason La Canfora and John Breech broke down the Jay Gruden firing and much more on the Pick Six Podcast. Listen to the full show below and be sure to subscribe right here for daily NFL goodness.
3. Eric Bieniemy
The Redskins need a jolt of adrenaline on the offensive side of the ball, and Bieniemy would certainly provide it. As current offensive coordinator for the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs, his name is atop most lists as potential head coach in 2020 -- as it was going into the 2019 season. That level of intense interest isn't going away as long as the Chiefs offense keeps blasting through opposing defenses -- the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5 notwithstanding -- and the Redskins could certainly do much worse than to bring in a guy whose offense has averaged nearly 30 points per game this season and more than 35 ppg last year. Bieniemy is also key in the development of Patrick Mahomes, and first-round pick Dwayne Haskins -- whom no one is comparing to Mahomes just yet -- does have the same dual-threat skill set. If Snyder and Allen can convince Bieniemy their dysfunction is simply a narrative (good luck) and that they'll invest in weapons on the offensive line and wide receiver, he might at least pick up the phone and listen.
4. Jason Garrett
At face value, this seems more unexpected that it actually would be. Yes, Garrett has a deepened loyalty to owner Jerry Jones and the Cowboys for what they did to make him head coach -- i.e., name him offensive coordinator and then end up paying him more than head coach Wade Phillips, only to then fire Phillips and name Garrett interim and ultimately head coach in 2011 -- but loyalty only goes so far in the NFL. To that point, the Cowboys pulled a U-turn on giving Garrett an extension beyond the 2019 season after already having one prepared before the team was dismissed from the NFC divisional round by the Los Angeles Rams, and that means unless Garrett can turn the corner and at least get the Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game; he's probably looking for a new home in 2020. The longest tenured coach in the NFC East, no one knows all four teams like Garrett, and his insight into inner workings of the Cowboys would be just as valuable to the Redskins as his ability to revamp the offense and lead the locker room. He'd have to be ultra comfortable with the thought of driving a dagger into the heart of his beloved Jones family but, then again, that'd be the same family that sent him packing in the first place -- if it comes to that.
5. Mike Zimmer
The Vikings are seemingly back on track following a much-needed Week 5 win over the New York Giants, but how long before the boat hits the rocks again in Minnesota? They've been unable to string together two straight wins this season and the decision to pay Kirk Cousins a historic contract in 2018 is now their albatross, instead of being their crowning achievement. Before Cousins arrived, Zimmer was instrumental in leading the Vikings on a deep playoff run with the very same Case Keenum that has played like a junior varsity quarterback since being shipped out of the frosty Midwest. He has won the NFC North twice in his stead as Vikings head coach and owns a Super Bowl ring as well from his days with the Cowboys in yesteryear, and boasts one of the better resumes of any candidate a team would look to bring on in the next few months. His stretch with the Vikings appears to be nearing its end -- barring a stellar end to the season -- and isn't helped by issues with a disgruntled Stefon Diggs. A hard-nosed, proven coach that can stand firm in Washington, Zimmer's situation is one to watch going forward.
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