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Without Sean McVay, Redskins coach Jay Gruden could return to playcalling

Head coach Jay Gruden called the offensive plays during his first season with the Redskins in 2014. With offensive coordinator Sean McVay moving on to coach the Rams, could Gruden return to that role? Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire

The Washington Redskins suddenly need another coordinator. And it likely will be an inside job, according to a source.

The Redskins lost offensive coordinator Sean McVay Thursday when the Los Angeles Rams named him their head coach. This comes a week after Washington fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry. But unlike the defensive coordinator search, the team will likely look for an offensive coordinator mostly inside the organization. One source said the Redskins were still figuring out exactly what they will do but were leaning toward filling the vacancy from within.

The team has several alternatives:

Head coach Jay Gruden: He called plays his first season as the Redskins' head coach and earned this job because of what he did for three seasons as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator. One Redskins player predicted this is what would happen -- and another source called it a definite option -- but the team has not yet decided on anything. However, this option makes sense. Gruden worked extensively on the game plan with McVay the past two seasons, but it was McVay who called the plays. Having Gruden call the plays would enable the Redskins to maintain the most continuity within their larger plan offensively.

Gruden ditched playcalling because he had other areas to focus on throughout the week, which is why he had McVay call plays. Handling multiple roles proved taxing for Gruden, but if he hires an experienced defensive coordinator (who also has head-coaching experience and can run his side of the ball without interference), Gruden could return to calling plays. Someone such as Gus Bradley, a leading candidate for the defensive coordinator job, could give Gruden that level of confidence.

Offensive line coach Bill Callahan: He was an offensive coordinator from 1998 to 2002 with Oakland and from 2012 to 2014 with Dallas, so Callahan has the experience. He also has strong input in the Redskins' game plan already, being in charge of run plays. He doesn’t call the run plays, but he installs the ones he thinks will work best that week. Callahan has done a good job with the offensive line, and that could be part of the problem for Washington. If he becomes the coordinator, it would take away from some of his involvement with the line, such as his staying after practices for 20 minutes working with linemen. It’s one reason McVay had to give up the quarterback coach duties before last season; it just took too much time.

It could be that Callahan receives the offensive coordinator title, and a bump in pay, but Gruden still calls the plays.

Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh: He, too, has experience. From 1997 to 2008, he was an offensive coordinator for three franchises: Chicago, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. There would also be continuity for the Redskins, as Cavanaugh worked closely with McVay. Those two led meetings in the quarterbacks room, and both starter Kirk Cousins and backup Colt McCoy have raved about Cavanaugh and his detailed approach. But his serving as coordinator would mean the Redskins need to hire someone to help coach the quarterbacks. And, again, Cavanaugh could get the title but Gruden could end up calling the plays.

Tight ends coach Wes Phillips: He’s the most inexperienced of the group and has spent only four years as a position coach. So if he assumed the offensive coordinator title, it would be a big promotion. However, Phillips worked closely with McVay and has a good reputation -- players describe him as competitive but also a good communicator. They also feel he sees the big picture well, a necessary trait for such a job. Plus, Gruden clearly has no problem grooming a young coordinator. There’s also a chance McVay tries to bring Phillips to Los Angeles. Phillips, who played quarterback at UTEP from 1997 to 2001, has coached the Redskins tight ends since 2014 and before that held the same position for one season with Dallas. He’s been in the NFL since 2007, and his father, Wade, has been a successful defensive coordinator.