Monday, January 16, 2017

With Wade Phillips gone, will new names emerge in Redskins D-Coordinator search?

By JP Finlay

January 13, 2017

When the Redskins fired Joe Barry, it seemed the team had a logical list of possible replacements.

As the coaching carousel has turned, many candidates have taken other jobs.

Notably, reports show that Wade Phillips will join Sean McVay with the Rams, and it seems quite possible that Gus Bradley will take over as defensive coordinator for the Chargers.

Neither defensive coach was a sure thing for Washington, but Bradley had already interviewed with the team and Phillips met with the team in 2015 extensively, and his son is already on the coaching staff. There was also some interest in Steve Wilks, but he's been named defensive coordinator in Carolina.

Bradley appeared to be the Redskins' No. 1 priority at defensive coordinator, as he had ties to Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan. If he takes the Chargers job, as many expect, that will leave the Redskins with Mike Pettine, who the team already interviewed, and internal candidate Greg Manusky left on their notable list of possible replacements for Barry.

Unless there are other names that could emerge.

One name gaining buzz around the NFL is Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel. In fact, Vrabel was supposed to interview for the Rams head coaching job, but his Houston team won their first playoff game last weekend and he would not be able to interview until the playoffs conclude. In the meantime, the Rams decided McVay was their guy, and cancelled the interview with Vrabel.

Considered by many a future star, Vrabel even has the endorsement of his former coach Bill Belichick.

"Mike does a tremendous job. As a player he was very astute, had a great understanding of his position and technique and how to play his spot and corresponding positions from an overall standpoint," Belichick said via The Houston Chronicle. "He had a very good grasp of the overall defensive and offensive concepts and how they would attack different fronts."

Vrabel won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, and was named All-Pro in 2007. His work as a player is clearly defined, but his potential as a coach seems to be just beginning. Last year, Vrabel declined an offer to go run the San Francisco defense, instead getting a raise from the Texans.

Houston finished this season with the No. 1 defense in the NFL.

There are no high-level connections between Vrabel and the Redskins. The former Ohio State linebacker also played for the Steelers and the Chiefs, but never in Washington. There has also been little to suggest Washington has identified Vrabel as a potential candidate.

It is possible the Redskins are waiting for the opportunity to speak with candidates after the Divisional Round of the playoffs this weekend, and that could include Vrabel.

If Houston loses in New England this week - and the Texans are massive underdogs in that game - then 'Skins brass could reach out. It's also unknown if Vrabel would be interested in the Washington defensive coordinator position.

Even if it's not Vrabel, some fans are overreacting to the news of Phillips officially and Bradley quite possibly signing on to coach elsewhere. Pettine is highly qualified to run a defense, as is Manusky, and other candidates could also emerge.

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