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Larry Izzo, special teams coordinator: Izzo is a Virginia native who spent his first two years of high school at Broad Run High in Ashburn. A linebacker who went undrafted out of rice, he played 13 years in the NFL, then started coaching as an assistant special teams coordinator for the New York Giants in 2011. After a two-year stint leading the Houston Texans’ special teams, he went to Seattle to coach special teams for the past six seasons.
Tavita Pritchard, quarterbacks coach: The former Stanford quarterback and offensive coordinator joined Washington’s staff last season and will keep his same role on Quinn’s staff, two people with knowledge of the matter said. One of those people said Pritchard drew interest from other teams but turned down those opportunities to stay with the Commanders.
Brian Johnson: The former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator is joining Washington’s staff in some capacity, but his title has not been finalized, a person with knowledge of the hire said. Johnson became the youngest FBS offensive coordinator in 2012 when he was hired at Utah, his alma mater. He went on to coach quarterbacks at Mississippi State, where he worked with Dak Prescott, and later served as the Florida Gators’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. After becoming the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach before the 2021 season, he helped develop Jalen Hurts into an all-pro.
Jason Simmons, defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator: Simmons, a former NFL safety whom the Steelers drafted in 1998, turned to coaching in 2011, as a defensive assistant Green Bay. There, he worked alongside Whitt. Simmons spent nine seasons with the Packers in various roles before going to the Carolina Panthers and then the Las Vegas Raiders as their defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach.
He’s from Ashburn
The Washington Commanders’ headquarters and practice facilities are in Ashburn, Virginia. Larry Izzo, the new Commanders’ special teams coordinator, has a special connection to Ashburn.
During his first two years of high school, Izzo attended Broad Run High School — in Ashburn. Izzo’s family would move to Texas before his junior year, and he’d play college football at Rice.
His Patriots’ run led to three Super Bowl rings
After five years with the Dolphins, Izzo signed with the Patriots in 2001. That’s the season Tom Brady replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe under center for New England, and the rest is history. The Patriots would upset the Rams in the Super Bowl to kick off a dynasty that would lead to six world championships.
Izzo played for the Patriots for eight seasons, winning three Super Bowl rings. He was a three-time Pro Bowl player and was once named first-team All-Pro. He is a member of the Pats’ All-2000s Team and also a member of New England’s
He is credited with the most special teams tackles in NFL history
In Izzo’s 14 seasons, he finished with 298 special teams tackles. While it’s not an official statistic, the history books do indicate that Izzo holds the NFL record.
Bullock’s Film Room (subscription)
I like the [Brian] Johnson hire on the surface, but as I mentioned on twitter last night (and a lot of people took this as a huge criticism), Washington just has to be careful with these hires. It’s great on paper to hire coaches from different staffs and backgrounds because in theory it can give you a lot of different answers to help solve any problems that come up. But you also have to be extra cautious of making sure everyone is on the same page. When you have coaches that have worked together before, they know the smaller details and are all on the same page together, so the messaging to the players is consistently. If you have guys that haven’t worked together before, there’s a risk that the messaging gets crossed.
Now strong leadership and communication should help solve this and that’s something that hopefully Quinn and Kingsbury can manage. But the Panthers are a good cautionary tale here. Last year they hired Frank Reich as HC, Thomas Brown from McVay’s tree as the OC and then Josh McCown as the QB coach. All three have good reputations and are highly thought of, but reports suggest that the messaging between the three of them to rookie QB Bryce Young wasn’t consistent. The last thing you want to do to your rookie QB that you just invested so much in is confuse him. Now I don’t know if this is what happened in Carolina, but it would certainly be easy to see how Young could have received different messages from his 3 primary coaches given their differing backgrounds.
It could even come from the best of intentions, but if you take a random play and the HC is saying “we read this 1 to 2 to 3”, then the OC takes Young aside during practice and says “hey, with McVay, we read this play slightly differently and perhaps just keep in mind if we get a certain look, we can do it this way”. And then in the meeting rooms after practice, the QB coach says “Actually, we could also read this play another way”. Suddenly the QB has been told 3 separate ways to read a play, because while most NFL teams will run the same concepts, they will teach them and read them differently in each system.
So yes, while I like Kingsbury, Johnson and QB coach Tavita Pritchard coming from different backgrounds and all having good reputations with developing QBs, I’m just slightly cautious of the messaging not being on the same page.
Mike Bass, special teams, Washington
When: Super Bowl VII, Jan. 14, 1973
Where: Los Angeles Coliseum
Final score: Miami Dolphins 14, Washington 7
Washington special teams ace Mike Bass (41) became lifelong friends with Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian. David Boss/USA TODAY Sports
Bass had one job on special teams: a spy. On the rare chance a kick was blocked, his job was to go after the ball. Which is how he entered Super Bowl lore.
Miami was trying to wrap up a perfect season, holding a 14-0 lead with kicker Garo Yepremian attempting a 42-yard field goal to clinch the win. Bass listened for the thud of the kick.
“If there was a second one, then I obviously became very, very alert,” said Bass, who was listed at 6 feet, 190 pounds. “The minute I heard that second thud, my eyes went directly to Garo. We all want to get a chance to hit a kicker, and especially a kicker who was half our height (Yepremian was listed at 5-7, 175). I saw him grab the ball and I thought he was really going to just try to run it. And so here I had a chance to really hit a kicker. But then he tried to pass it, and I bore down on him and he hit [the ball] twice.”
Yepremian had attempted to throw the ball, but it slipped out of his hands and bounced off him and into Bass’ arms. He sprinted down the left sideline, past his teammates on the bench. Yepremian ran at him, but Bass feigned a cut inside and then kept down the sideline for a 49-yard touchdown return with 2:07 remaining. Bass also wondered if holder Earl Morrall, a backup quarterback, might get him. He didn’t.
“The ultimate embarrassment would be to have either a kicker tackle you or a quarterback tackle you,” he said.
Though Washington lost the game 14-7, Bass said he has been asked about the play ever since. Miami’s perfect 14-0 season had some imperfect plays.
“They’ve been asking me about this play for 50 years,” Bass, now 78, said. “I haven’t won a dime on that play. I’ve never gotten 10 cents off of that play. But it is remembered, and Garo and I spent a lot of time after we both retired and we were great friends, obviously, and he passed away a few years ago. I remained very close to his wife as well and his son. But we’ve laughed about that for years and it’s a memorable play. But of course, it’s the only thing that really is remembered about the Redskins because obviously nobody remembers who finished second.”
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JP Finlay and Mitch Tischler join you leading up to Super Bowl LVIII
Ben Standig and Kevin Sheehan discuss the Commanders’ next steps to take this offseason
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Big Blue View
Florida State runner Trey Benson is one of those generalists who’s good at almost everything, but falls just short of being exceptional in any one thing.
Benson projects as a primary back for an offense that uses a downhill rushing attack and makes heavy use of running backs in the passing game.
Benson would be best in a rushing attack that allows him to be a one-cut runner. He certainly has some cutting ability, but outside zone schemes that ask their runners to select from a “menu” of holes and go where the defense is stressed won’t play to his strengths. Benson is much better when playing downhill and picking up what is blocked for him.
He is able to run the full gamut of routes out of the backfield. He has the speed to get vertical on wheel routes as well as enough agility to catch a pass in the flat or on an angle route and turn upfield.
Benson is a very well-rounded runner who’s good at just about everything an NFL back needs to do in order to be a consistent presence on the field. Teams might want to pair him with a “specialist” who can be great in an area of relative weakness for Benson, such as a speedster who can pick up chunk yardage or a power back who can pick up tough yardage. However, teams should feel confident putting Benson on the field in most circumstances and he should be able to keep an offense on schedule.
Final Word: A solid Day 2 value