As the Washington Redskins' search for a defensive coordinator passes the two-week mark, here are a few thoughts on the process:
Until Gus Bradley is signed elsewhere, he remains a viable candidate for the Redskins. He was said to be linked with new Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, but there have been no reports yet about Bradley being offered the job -- though he has interviewed twice. That doesn’t mean Bradley won’t be hired, but for someone who was linked with the head coach, it’s taking a lot of time. Perhaps San Francisco remains an option for Bradley?
One fear for Bradley could absolutely be this: If he wants to become a head coach again, the best way for him to rehab his stock is to go somewhere he has a chance to build his defense. Being with a new coach would give him time for that to happen. If the Chargers, for example, don’t make the playoffs this season, Lynn would not be on the hot seat. Can anyone say the same about Jay Gruden?
You can laugh about Bradley being a head coach again after a 14-48 record in Jacksonville, but at age 50, if he wants to get there again, the best way is to have a lot of success. Whether or not someone would hire him is another matter. Still, if he opted for the Redskins, he’d inherit a defense that would need to transition to his style of a 4-3. They’ll need more talent regardless, but it would take a little more to play at the level he’d want.
Outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky has a lot of support among the players, and it would lead to some continuity among the coaching staff, giving Gruden someone he knows well and could immediately trust. He has support in the front office, too. So he checks a lot of boxes. One player felt the longer this search went on, the better it was for Manusky, simply because it meant other potential targets couldn’t be hired for whatever reason. It might end up being Manusky, but it was not preordained going into the search that he would get the job.
The Redskins definitely want to hang on to assistant defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant. He’s also being wooed by new Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay. Multiple players expressed respect for Pleasant and felt they would have been a better group had he been in charge. Whether or not that’s true -- he had no experience being in charge -- it reflects the respect they have for him. Pleasant has risen from offensive assistant in 2013 to a defensive quality control coach from 2014-15 and last year moving to his current position. At practices, he was an exuberant, passionate and upbeat coach, and the players responded to him. He was key in helping Quinton Dunbar transition from receiver, among other things.
Here are the names of known candidates in addition to Bradley and Manusky: John Pagano (he was here Wednesday, according to one player who met him); Jason Tarver, Mike Pettine, Dennis Thurman and Rob Ryan. Lynn has worked closely with Thurman in both Buffalo and New York. I don’t know if Thurman has an interview scheduled with him; if not, it would be telling.
The Redskins clearly favor certain systems, and Pagano comes from that Wade Phillips 3-4 chain. The Redskins would have to still improve their talent if they stay in this style of defense (it’s a hybrid, like what the Redskins have been running). Also, Pagano and Manusky were once tight; after Pagano replaced the fired Manusky in San Diego, he referred to him as his brother. So it’s possible that whoever gets the job could hire the other as a position coach. That’s not something I’ve been told but just connecting the dots.