In Defense of Art Briles and the Redskins HC Job

Cooper Neill

The fan base is split on the idea of Art Briles coming to Washington. Here's why he deserves a shot.

Just hear me out.

I know there are reasons why this could fail, and fail miserably.

I also realize that there are just as many, if not more, reasons why this could be a huge coup for the Redskins.

Art Briles, the current head honcho of Baylor University football, is one of the great offensive minds in college football today. I don't think that much is disputable. What is, apparently, is if his version of the spread offense would translate to the NFL.

I honestly can't believe we are still having this conversation in 2013 (and will continue to have it in 2014). NFL teams have been incorporating spread looks for years now, and Chip Kelly proved this season that a whole offense of it can be damn effective. Doubters love to bring up the "read option" as evidence of it failing, since it has been used less this year after its big boom in 2012. First of all, the read option is not an offense, or a formation, it's a play, and it was never supposed to be an entire offense. It's a tool. The Seahawks are an example of a team using it to perfection. Don't use this argument; you just look foolish.

People also love to perpetuate the myth that Briles' offense is all passing and ignores the run. Nothing could be further from the truth. As stated in this wonderful piece from Smart Football's Chris Brown (which everyone should read, regardless of how you feel about Briles), Baylor actually averaged 230 rushing yards a game the past three seasons, and once ran the ball 67 times to just 13 passes in a win over UCLA. The offense is built to take whatever a defense is willing to give up. Briles also says the key to Baylor's success is it's tempo, not it's schemes. That is the same thing Chip Kelly preached after taking the Philadelphia job, and it seems to be working out just fine (their defense, though, uh, still needs some work). Not to say that his offense is really all that similar to Kelly's; Brown describes it in much more detail than I can, but there are tons of little variations to Briles' scheme that make it completely unique, even in the world of the Spread.

Baylor has also seen numerous wide receiving prospects translate extremely well to the NFL, including Kendall Wright, Josh Gordon and (unfortunately for Washington) Terrance Williams. They also have Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley (potentially) entering this upcoming draft. It's not just the scheme. Williams and Reese were 2-star recruits coming out of high school, the others were all 3-stars. It's no coincidence that they will all eventually be playing on Sundays. Briles has taught these young WRs how to become dominant at the highest level. He has a knack for getting the most out of the talent on his team.  Remember, before he got there, Baylor was floundering program that hadn't reached a bowl game in 12 seasons. They will now be playing in their first ever BCS bowl game on Wednesday night (The Fiesta Bowl vs. UCF, 8:30 ET, ESPN). The Redskins as we know them are about to be burned to the ground; Briles has proven that he can build an empire on top of ashes.

Would he need to be surrounded by an NFL-experienced staff? Of course. But so would David Shaw or any other college coach the Redskins may hypothetically bring in. One hot name surrounding the Briles-to-Washington rumors is Gregg Williams, who would instantly garner tons of respect from players and completely take care of the defensive side of the ball. He will also not be in charge of player transactions, so his plate won't be overly-full during his first season. Briles is also known in college football circles as a fantastic leader and motivator. That's a huge plus, because the Redskins have certainly lacked in that department during the Shanaclan's reign.

And, look, I get the other argument. You know the one. About the perception. It would look like RGIII hand-picked his coach. And, in all honesty, he probably will be consulted, at least somewhat, on the decision, and I'm sure he wouldn't mind a reunion with Briles. He did, after all, win the Heisman Trophy at Baylor. And they still reportedly keep in touch.

But Briles is a smart man. He knows how his hiring would be torpedoed out of the water by certain members of the media. Reporters are going to say what they will. That shouldn't even be taken into consideration. It's the perception in the locker room that matters, and I'm completely confident in his ability to gain the team's respect. As the fantastic Spencer Hall mused, after conducting an interview with Briles:

"Have you ever listened to a coach get into his motivational talk? Have you ever noticed how at the same time your brain might recognize it as being wildly, even blindly optimistic? And maybe even noted how a lot of it sounds like cliché? And even despite that, you find yourself nodding along somewhere in your head, and thinking yeaaahhh, that's totally it, dude. Let's do THAT. Let's LIVE. Art Briles does that thing really, really well..."

Plus, any player who is seriously SO BOTHERED by how a coach was picked, so jealous of the attention that a star QB may or may not actually receive, needs to get his mind right anyway. A player's job is to play football at the best of their ability. If they are more focused on another player's relationship with the coach than learning the playbook, I don't want them on my team. As long as Briles proves himself to be a capable NFL mind, the initial skepticism should fade by the time the season rolls around.

Now, all of this might be a moot point. There's nothing concrete saying Briles wants to leave Baylor, let alone that Snyder is offering him the gig (and, full disclosure: Mike Zimmer would be my top choice, not Briles; it seems like Washington is going with an offensive-minded coach this time, though, and he's my #2 choice). But I've been getting a negative vibe from lots of Redskins fans when they mention his name, and I just don't get it. Maybe this will change some minds. Maybe not. But I think bringing in Art Briles would be an exciting, bold hire by the Redskins. No, it's not a guaranteed triumph, but nothing is, and they've tried pretty much every other type of coach under the sun. Why not give the wily Texan a shot? He could very well turn out to be the next big, innovative thing in coaching.

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