Send In The Clowns

By Carla Peay
Updated: January 30, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. — There’s nothing wrong with Redskins owner Dan Snyder taking his time in finding the team’s next head coach. When making a hire of this importance, especially when replacing a Hall-of-Famer like Joe Gibbs, there’s no reason to rush, bow to fan pressure, or even to let the players make the decision.

But there’s no denying that this entire process has begun to look like the Keystone Cops in those old black and white movies — driving around in circles looking like they have no clue where they’re going.

Let’s recap. Joe Gibbs abruptly resigns, leaving Snyder, and new Boss of All Things Football Vinny Cerrato to search for a new leader. Assistant head coach-defense, Gregg Williams, first emerged as the front-runner, and was reported to have interviewed for the position four times.

But despite having the support of Gibbs, and a large number of Redskins players, heard nothing from the team for 11 days following the final interview.

When it became clear that Williams’ was not going to be offered the job, rumors then surfaced that Williams’ was going to pull his name from consideration. I’m not sure I see the point of dropping out of a race you’ve already lost, but it just speaks to the strange nature of this entire process.

By Saturday, Williams was not only not the new head coach, he was out of a job.

Williams was followed out the door by associate head coach-offense Al Saunders, after his replacement, Seattle quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, had already been hired as the Redskins new offensive coordinator. Williams was replaced by Greg Blache, who was promoted from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator.

Then there’s the roller coaster ride of former Giants head coach Jim Fassel, the current front-runner, despite his statements about feeling “manipulated” after not being offered the job last week.

Snyder’s laundry list of interviews included Colts assistant Ron Meeks (who is scheduled for a second — or is it third?) interview this week, Seattle assistant Jim Mora (who pulled his name from consideration) and Titans assistant Jim Schwartz, in addition to Fassel and Williams.

This week, our contestants included college coaching darling Pete Carroll from USC (who, after a reportedly nine hour interview, decided that Snyder wouldn’t give him enough control) and former Lions and 49ers coach Steve Mariucci.

After the Super Bowl, Snyder is also expected to interview Giants assistant Steve Spagnuolo, and possibly Patriots assistant Josh McDaniels. (Maybe Snyder will ask NBC if he can talk to John Madden).

Whomever the Redskins ultimately hire, it was certainly considerate of Snyder and Cerrato to go ahead and hire the staff for him first, as opposed to letting the head coach put together his own staff.

Word out of Redskins Park is that Fassel approves of the two new coordinators in place, but why check with him if he’s not going to be the new head coach? And if they do plan to hire him, why the dog and pony show, unless it’s to offset all the negative fan reaction to Fassel, and show that they did their “due diligence” in finding the best coach available?

It reminds me of a line by former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy. If you listen to the fans, one day you’ll be sitting with them. If Fassel is the guy, hire him already. If not, why string him along, as they did with Williams?

Yes, Snyder is taking his time to find the right coach. But this entire search process has been a study in comic relief. Lets just hope that the fans in this town who bleed Burgundy and Gold aren’t laughing, crying, or scratching their collective heads, when the team, finally, finally, names a new head coach.