Redskins need to listen and learn during the interview process

Patrick McDermott

A look at what the Redskins can gain from their wide coaching search.

Though typically in an interview you are the one asking questions of candidates to see how they fit a particular role. This is a case that is a little different, since the Redskins are looking to find a new direction (hopefully one that points to winning). They need to identify the coach that has the best game plan for success and is most likely to reach it. Taking this approach is refreshing change to the Redskins typical coaching searches.

Since the Joe Gibbs 1.0 era ended the Redskins have tried just about everything to find their next great coach.

They've promoted a successful longtime coordinator in Richie Pettibone, they've hired a top young offensive genius from a Super Bowl winning team in Norv Turner, they hired a highly successful NFL coach who had been to the postseason in 11 of his previous 15 seasons in Marty Schottenheimer, they hired an ultra-successful college coach from a top conference in Steve Spurrier, they brought back their last successful coach and a Hall of Famer in Joe Gibbs 2.0, and they've hired a two time Super Bowl winning coach in Mike Shanahan.

With the exception of the two year period of Jim Zorn the Redskins have had the best coaching options possible each time the job has come open these past 20 years, yet despite that the Redskins have struggled. One thing that these decisions for the most part have in common is the fact that they weren't vetted. These were top targets that the Redskins jumped on without a full interview process, and really without looking at many other candidates (and typically those were show interviews).

This time the Redskins are taking a different approach and interviewing just about any coach that deserves consideration for a head coaching gig. They are casting a wide net and hopefully it will lead to better results.

In addition to hopefully finding a better candidate the Redskins gain another important benefit from having such a wide open search; they get to find out the opinions of 10-20 well respected coaches on where the Redskins are strong and where they are weak. They also get their recommendations/opinions on other players from around the league and potential assistant coaches.

That can be invaluable to the Redskins, both in a sense getting opinions on what went right and wrong for the Redskins in 2013, but also to help validate the vision of who they end up picking as a head coach. There are bound to be similarities in responses and some sort of general consensus among the interviews on key topics. In a way the coaches are vetting themselves. If 7 of the 10 coaches have a central view point on a particular key player or concept and 3 coaches are completely different, then those three probably aren't who you are looking for.

This is an advantage the Redskins didn't have in the past, and one that likely would have shown how wrong a Spurrier or Shanahan was for this organization.  It's doubtful many assistants would have said that switching to a 3-4 defense without putting resources into the move, was a good call for the Redskins in 2010 (in fact their own defensive coordinator didn't want to make the move). Other top assistants around the league wouldn't be telling Dan Snyder that it would take a 5 year rebuilding plan to fix this team. Those two basic concepts alone should have been enough to show that Mike Shanahan wasn't the man for the job.

In addition to the overall concepts these coaches can give information on, they can help point the Redskins in a certain direction on what to do with certain players. Jim Caldwell for instance broke down every throw of RGIII's and what went wrong. That is a fantastic amount of insight to have, and can help give ideas on how to fix problems with a particular player/unit. Not only should the Redskins care what the offensive guys think of Griffin and their offense, but they should take serious interest into the perception from the defensive minds as well (and vice-versa as well).

Getting the opposing viewpoint can really open the eyes to a team of where they are strong and where they can be attacked. If defensive minds like Mike Zimmer and Sean McDermott are identifying weaknesses they'd use to attack the offense, then those are the things that you need to fix first and foremost. The same applies to offensive guys like Greg Roman and Jay Gruden with how they would look to attack the Redskins defense.

A lot of these issues are of course known already to the Redskins and were quite evident in their 3-13 record, but by getting so many view points it can help bring about a priority list of how to make these fixes. In the end the view point that matters most is that of the new head coach, but getting so much quality feedback from his peers can be a nice benefit for the Redskins organization.

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