Lingering thoughts on new Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry:
Let me be clear: I agree this is an underwhelming selection for defensive coordinator. When this process started my money would not have been on Joe Barry. I don't know how many teams have interviewed him for this position the last few offseasons, if any. A former general manager said he would not have looked at him simply because of what happened in Detroit. I'm well aware of the stats; I also learned long ago not to judge just off stats -- one way or another.
Either the Redskins are smarter than everyone else or they're only going off connections. I have a feeling I know which way you're leaning on this one. The multiple last-place finishes and double-digit loss seasons hardly inspires confidence. Nor should they.
I know what people have told me about Barry and, thus far, it's positive. Some of that is to be expected; some of it is from people speaking anonymously. They can be honest. That doesn't mean this will work -- others say they like him, but there's a difference between liking someone and thinking the guy will be great. I've covered this team far too long to provide that sort of optimism. But to think Barry automatically is bad? Not going there, sorry. By all accounts he's been a good position coach and he's only 44. Guys like that do get second chances eventually. He's getting his now.
No, being a good position coach does not guarantee future success as a coordinator.
If nothing else, you can't say this is about ticket sales. This is the Costanza approach: Do the opposite of everything you've ever done.
Yeah, this is a huge gamble for all involved. Next year at this time we'll either be lauding them or analyzing a new coach.
Nothing has worked here -- from hiring coaches to drafting well, etc. -- and that's the issue. If I was a coordinator in demand, that would be pretty important in my thought process.
Thus far this offseason, Redskins fans have lauded the team for hiring general manager Scot McCloughan (has connections here) and offensive line coach Bill Callahan (connections).
While Wade Phillips is a popular "why-didn't-they-hire-him" coach, I'll be curious to see what happens to him this offseason. His name is mentioned for other jobs, so perhaps he gets hired. But the Redskins' defense requires a rebuild; do you give that task to someone like Phillips or a younger guy who has more of a stomach for growing pains? The fit matters.
That's not to say Phillips wouldn't have done well. But it is easy to see why a head coach would stress energy so much when picking the coordinator. It will be required. Yes, other qualities matter. The people I've talked to who know Barry respect his knowledge and call him detailed; that's something this group needs (in addition to more talent). The Redskins have strong connections to Phillips, too, (and I was told before this process that Bruce Allen was a big fan). Obviously the ties to Barry are deeper.
I'm not trying to tell you why this is a good move. I'm trying to explain -- and understand -- why it was made. Understand the difference.
Mostly, this hiring also is symbolic of where the franchise is at these days. While everyone wanted Vic Fangio, he did not want the Redskins. He opted for a proven coach in Chicago with John Fox and an ownership group that doesn't change coaches every few years.
Again, under Snyder no coach has been in place for more than four years. Joe Gibbs could have stayed longer, obviously. But other than that it's Marty Schottenheimer (one year); Steve Spurrier (two), Jim Zorn (two) and Mike Shanahan (four). That's not the way to attract quality candidates. Job security matters to assistants.
While McCloughan has a good resume, people know one man won't turn a situation around. You need proof, first, or a strong belief in the people hiring you.
Gruden did not pick Barry over Fangio out of fear for his job. This was Fangio's call all the way. So please stop that argument; you have stronger ones. Some coaches could be that paranoid; Gruden doesn't strike me that way. Besides, the best way to provide security is to hire good people and win.
And there's no way if you're Fangio that you can assume, "Well, if Gruden is fired, I'll be the head coach." He had great defenses in San Francisco for four years and was passed over for that job.
Barry is not the reason Detroit went 0-16. That defense is on his resume and he can't run from it and it was dreadful, but when you're that bad the issues extend way above the defensive coordinator. Way above. Barry also was 36 years old at the time. Perhaps he's learned a thing or two since then or maybe he didn't; for better or worse, the Redskins are about to find out.