On Sunday night, Washington head coach Jay Gruden was asked what he worried about his job.
"If the key works Monday, I'll keep working," Gruden said.
He did not test this. Dan Snyder's office at 5 am, when he was let go, according to The Washington Post . It's the sixth time in 20 years that Washington owner Daniel Snyder has fired his head coach. Barring interim head coach Bill Callahan's keeping the job, Snyder will be looking for his seventh head coach this off season. There's a push-pull for people considering the position. On one hand, NFL head coach is one of the hardest jobs to get in the US. There are fewer head coaching jobs than seats in the Senate.
On the other hand, 32. From the ouster of Jim Zorn to Scot McCloughan, Washington's professional football franchise is nearly as oleaginous as the rest of the work in the nation's capital. Someone wants to volunteer for the opportunity to please Snyder.
Bill Callahan, Interim Head Coach, Washington
Callahan is not dragging this team anywhere near the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl. The team plays the Dolphins on Sunday, which is their best chance at a win the rest of the season. Callahan returns to Dwayne Haskins for the rest of the year (he's already ruled Haskins out against Miami). If Cleveland's running backs coach, Freddie Kitchens, could go from interim coordinator to full-time head coach for the Browns by turning Baker Mayfield into one of the league's best QBs last year, anything is possible. If Callahan excels with Haskins. But there's little in Callahan's track record that suggests he can work with a young passer.
Kevin O'Connell, Offensive Coordinator, Washington
Washington has the dubious distinction of letting three current NFL head coaches-Los Angeles's Sean McVay, San Francisco's Kyle Shanahan, and Green Bay's Matt LaFleur-leave his offensive coaching staff in a four-year period from 2013 to 2016. If Washington is afraid that the 34-year-old O'Connell is the fourth member of Mount Rushmore, it would be a good idea for him, though there's plenty of reason to Washington's offense does not resemble the Rams'. McVay and Shanahan were both raised in prodigious football families, with McVay's grandfather being the architect of Joe Montana's Bill Walsh-era 49ers and Shanahan's father, Mike, being a two-time Super Bowl champion coach. Shanahan and McVay (the youngest head coach in NFL history) did when they took their jobs. O'Connell was not learning professional football out of the womb. O'Connell
The Three Who Have Been Floated
ESPN's Ed Werder reported that if Washington wants to offensive head coach to groom Haskins, it would be better off looking outside the organization and keeping it Tom Snyder would like to interview Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin (if he is fired), Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, and Tampa Bay's Todd Bowles.
Mike Tomlin, Head Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Tomlin is not a decision the organization wants to take lightly. Snyder's penchant for splashy signings. Snyder hired Steve Spurrier away from Florida in 2002, brought Joe Gibbs out of retirement in 2004, and hired Mike Shanahan in 2010. Tomlin, at alum of William and Mary, has an existing relationship with Washington's president Bruce Allen, who was a punter at the rival University of Richmond. Tomlin and Allen keep in touch, reaching out each year when their schools play one another.
Eric Bieniemy, Offensive Coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs
Bieniemy is the latest Chiefs Coordinator of Hyped to Be a Prime Coaching Prospect. Bieniemy, 50, is a longtime running backs coach who worked with Adrian Peterson from 2007 to 2009 in Minnesota, joined Andy Reid when he came to Kansas City in 2013 and helped make Jamaal Charles an All-Pro, and then served as Chiefs offensive coordinator for the last two seasons. Some wants to knock Bieniemy for heels callbacks (that's Reid's job) or Kansas City's QB (that's quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka). Doug Pederson Nor Matty, one of the last three coordinators who served Reid, and Pederson has already won a Super Bowl with Philadelphia.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay's defense is the worst in the league last year, according to Football Outsiders, but through four weeks, the Bucs were the sixth- best defense. Most of that turnaround belongs to Bowles, the former Jets coach whom Arians brought to Tampa Bay this year. (As a player, Bowles spent seven seasons patrolling the Washington secondary and a Super Bowl with the team.) Washington has even more defensive talent for Bowles to coach up than the Bucs did. Bowles took much of the case for a mismanaged roster under former Jets GM's Mike Maccagnan, but he's one of the best defensive coaches around.
How much weight is carries on an open question. Dan Snyder has not been coached by the defensive side of the ball since Marty Schottenheimer in 2001, and the league at large has moved away from defensive-minded head coaches. Washington has to incubate Haskins, so they may prefer one of the offensive-minded guys.
Other Logical Candidates
Byron Leftwich, Offensive Coordinator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The former quarterback was lured out of retirement to join the Cardinal coached by head coach Bruce Arians in 2016, and, in four seasons, Leftwich has been promoted from intern to quarterback coach to offensive coordinator in Arizona to the same role in Tampa Bay under Arians. He is on the short list of the league's best-considered coaching candidates this cycle, which might be the biggest reason he is unlikely to coach in Washington. Leftwich wants to have options-or at least, he should -and coaches with options rarely choose D.C.
Brian Daboll, Offensive Coordinator, Buffalo Bill
Washington has not been able to establish its own culture for a decade, so Nick Saban's. Eight of the 53 players on Washington's roster played at Alabama under Saban, including defensive leaders Jonathan Allen and Landon Collins.
"You know the culture is actually damn good," said Bruce Allen at his press conference Monday. "These people care.
Sabbat himself, the best person they could bring to that, is Bill's offensive coordinator Daboll. He served as Alabama's co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach in 2017 before taking on the OC job with Buffalo last year. Saban hired Daboll as a graduate assistant at Michigan State back in 1998, and Daboll has bounced around the Saban-Bill Belichick tree ever since, including winning three Super Bowls on the Pats staff when he was on it from 2000 to 2006, working as an assistant for Eric Mangini for four years across two teams, serving as offensive coordinator for Romeo Crennel, heading back to the Patriot as Robertson's best-end coach of Rob Gronkwoski's career, and then heading to Bama. Buffalo's offense is not exactly explosive, but the Bills are 4-1 with Josh Allen at QB.
Kris Richard, Defensive Passing Game Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
Richard is many things Gruden is not- young, loud, intense, and defensive-oriented, and he carries a Super Bowl pedigree. He was one of the key defensive coaches for Seattle's Legion of Boom and now a co-defensive coordinator in Dallas along with Rod Marinelli.
Sean McVay, Head Coach, Los Angeles Rams
True love is when you let someone go and hope they come back. McVay is not coming back.
Kyle Shanahan, Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers
Josh McDaniels, Offensive Coordinator, New England Patriots
McDaniels is perhaps the brightest offensive coordinator in the NFL. Despite his ghosting the Colts after saying yes in a handshake deal, teams silently want to hire him. [Http://enwikipediaorg/wiki/School_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Party_Partner_Party_Party_Party_PartyJalenHurtsRileymayproducethreeconsecutiveHeismanTrophywinnersHisexperienceswiththeSoonerhavehadagreaterimpactatthelevelthananyothercollegecoach'stodayHemaybethemostin-demandcollegecoachatthelevelandhewould(rightfully)askforalevelofpersonnelcontrol
Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach, University of Michigan
Now we're talking. Michigan fans have grown tired of Harbaugh's shtick, as well as his refusal to run one of the up-tempo offenses that dominate the college level. Harbaugh's days at Ann Arbor are likely to be numbered, and returning to the NFL would be far more interesting than anywhere he goes next in college. His, uh, quirky college tenure has made it easy to forget just how to make a splash in San Francisco. Harbaugh had more wins in four years (49) than Washington has in his last eight (48). He went 44-19-1 in the regular season after the 49ers had gone 26-38 in the four seasons prior, reaching the NFC championship three times, and came within a first-and-goal at the 7-yard line of winning the Super Bowl against his brother John's Ravens. Ravens last year, and Jim's setting up shop across town would ignore the Washington-Baltimore football rivalry that has failed to take off since the Ravens came to the DMV area in 1996. It would therefore give Harbaugh time to develop Haskins, who torched Michigan for six touchdowns last year. If anyone has the confidence in it, they can fix the ills of plaguing the nation's capital, it's Jim Harbaugh.