The Redskins' coaching search continues on its unusual path, with names being added to the list of candidates more rapidly than they're being crossed off. Like the heads of the mythical Hydra, each coaching option that is eliminated is quickly replaced by two more who take his place.
Our own Keely Diven wrote a very good summary of where the coaching search stands as of yesterday, with the title "Allen: 10 to 12 Candidates for Redskins Head Coach." But note that even this list of "10 to 12" names actually includes 14 names.
I think some of the names on the list aren't really serious contenders (probably Perry Fewell, Mike Zimmer). A couple aren't going anywhere, or at least not to Washington (Vic Fangio, James Franklin). Therein lies my big question, though: Even if the Redskins have one or two top candidates in mind, will they be able to get the man they really want?
I think the perception of the organization as chaotic or Dan Snyder as (pick an adjective - incompetent, meddling, evil) is partially a media creation. There's no question the organization has issues. We all agree on that. But, to think that top coaching candidates would turn down an opportunity to lead the Redskins because they're "afraid" of Dan Snyder is silly.
Why? Because successful football coaches are almost universally wildly confident.
Now, that may lead to them butting heads with the owner down the road, which is what led to Marty Schottenheimer's departure, to name one. But nearly all of the top candidates in play probably believe strongly that they could come to Washington and turn things around after such a terrible season.
There are also two other attractive features in play with the Redskins. First, and more obviously, the owner has deep pockets and has shown a willingness to pay very well for coaches. Secondly, the future in Washington looks bright. The Redskins still have a good nucleus of young talent, the salary cap penalties have run their course, and the team is coming off of a rock-bottom year.
In other words, even if the new coach is just average, the Redskins could more than double their 2013 win total next season. If the coach is good, Washington could very well be back in the playoffs come next January.
In other words, the newcomer won't have to follow a legend, as Richie Pettitbon did when he replaced Joe Gibbs (and then got fired a year later). The newcomer also won't have to take over a team that made the playoffs the year before, as Jim Zorn did when he took over for, uh, Joe Gibbs (and then got fired two years later).
There's nowhere to go but up, and that's an appealing prospect for someone concerned about long-term job security and/or perceptions of competence.
There is a huge "but" in play, however.
Yes, the "organizational circus" element may be exaggerated, but it does exist to some extent. And the big problem the Redskins may have-and the reason they might have trouble securing their top choice-is that there are several teams looking for coaches. That gives the top candidates more leverage than usual, especially college head coaches who want to jump to the NFL. On top of that, there were some high-profile college jobs available that further complicate things.
To cite one example: Vanderbilt's James Franklin seems like a strong potential hire. Except that he's the front-runner for the now-vacant Penn State job and there's also an NFL team in Nashville that needs to find a new head coach.
We still have a long way to go before we sort this thing out, and the worst part is that the Redskins may not be any more certain than we are about who's actually going to get hired.