ASHBURN — Kyle Shanahan had some advice. Asked what he would tell perspective coaches interested in joining the Redskins, the 49ers coach and former Washington coordinator said they needed to “just look into it.”
“See what the situation is and who you want to work for,” Shanahan said.
The 39-year-old didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement of the Redskins’ front office, who will look to hire a new head coach following the season after the team fired Jay Gruden last week.
Though it’s too early to list possible front-runners, the Redskins have been linked to a number of rumored candidates — from the established (Mike Tomlin) to the unproven (Kevin O’Connell).
Here’s a look at who has been rumored so far, and what each could bring to the Redskins:
⦁ Mike Tomlin, Steelers coach: Tomlin would easily be the biggest splash the Redskins could make. CBS Sports reported owner Dan Snyder is infatuated with the Steelers’ coach and is prepared to give him “full authority.” ESPN, however, called the possibility “far-fetched.”
One problem: The Steelers don’t seem interested in firing Tomlin, which means the Redskins would likely have to give up draft picks to get him. That seems like a terrible idea for a franchise with a 1-5 record.
Still, Tomlin’s teams always seem well-prepared. He’s been a calming influence over dysfunctional situations — from Antonio Brown’s antics to Le’Veon Bell’s contract situation. Team president Bruce Allen knows Tomlin from their time in Tampa together.
⦁ Kevin O’Connell, Redskins offensive coordinator: With all due respect to interim coach Bill Callahan, if there’s an internal candidate on the Redskins’ coaching staff, it appears to be O’Connell. Washington once employed Shanahan, Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur — three of the league’s premier offensive minds — and could want to avoid letting another young mind walk out of the building.
At 34, O’Connell is regarded in the same vein. With Gruden gone, he’s now calling the plays, too. “I think he did a great job of play-calling and put us in some great positions,” running back Adrian Peterson said in Miami.
The remaining 10 games will be important for O’Connell to further establish his candidacy.
⦁ Todd Bowles, Buccaneers defensive coordinator: The Redskins pursued Bowles, the former head coach of the New York Jets, this offseason to join their defensive staff. Instead, the 55-year-old went to Tampa, where he has helped transform the Buccaneers into one of the league’s top defenses.
Bowles wouldn’t be the most inspiring choice to be the Redskins’ next coach, but he has experience — and connections to the franchise. In New York, Bowles went 10-6 his first year but went 14-34 over the next three before he was fired in January.
As a player, Bowles spent seven of his eight seasons with the Redskins. Bowles has been praised as being even-keeled.
⦁ Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers offensive coordinator: If the Redskins want to go with another offensive play-caller, how about Leftwich? A former quarterback, Leftwich is now the coordinator in Tampa. He’s worked closely with quarterback Jameis Winston, who was off to a strong start before his six-turnover meltdown Sunday in London.
The Redskins could go with an offensive-minded head coach because they have to develop rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Ironically, it was former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan who described Haskins as “Leftwich to a T” in his pre-draft evaluation of the Ohio State product.
His name will be floated for coaching positions, even if it’s not for the Redskins.
⦁ Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator: Bieniemy does not call plays in Kansas City, but he’s still seen as an innovator on offense. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes told The Undefeated Bieniemy “holds me accountable” and praised him for explaining the game well.
Before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2018, Bieniemy was a long-time running backs coach — even coaching Peterson in Minnesota. He is expected to be heavily pursued this offseason and has been interviewed for head coaching roles before.
Bieniemy, 50, has been described as incredibly detailed-oriented. It would be easy to imagine the Redskins being interested in that as a frequent criticism related to Gruden was that he didn’t pay enough attention to the details.
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