Who is next to ride the Redskins coaching carousel? [UPDATED!]

Updated: January 6, 2014
coaching carousel

The Washington Redskins fired Mike Shanahan as head coach on Monday and the search to replace him is now underway. The team has already begun the interview process and lots of names are being bandied about to take the top job in DC. Who are these guys and why should they be [or not be] the next head coach of the Washington Redskins. Read on to find out all the answers.


UPDATED:  Throw another name in the hat.   When Bruce Allen said his plan was to interview 10 to 12 people, he was likely telling the truth.  NFL.com is reporting that besides the Redskins desire to interview Jay Gruden, Mike Zimmer, and Vandy coach James Franklin, they also plan to interview 49ers DC Vic Fangio.

UPDATED: The Redskins and Vikings are in contact with 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman about interviewing for a head coach job.

UPDATED: The Redskins plan to interview Bengals OC Jay Gruden and Bengals DC Mike Zimmer. No interview dates have been set. More on Gruden and Zimmer below.

UPDATED: Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin will interview with the Redskins. It’s not clear exactly when the interview will take place, but likely this week. More on Franklin below.

UPDATED: Former NFL head coach and current ESPN broadcaster Jon Gruden says he has not spoken with the Redskins and has no plans to do so. More on Gruden below.

UPDATED: Former Colts head coach and current Ravens OC Jim Caldwell interviewed with the Redskins on January 5. Others who have interviewed with the Redskins are Darrell Bevell, Rick Bisaccia and Sean McDermott. More about all of them below.

UPDATED: Redskins have requested an interview with Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin.

UPDATED: The Redskins are interviewing Dallas Cowboys special teams/assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia today. For more on Bisaccia, see below.

UPDATED: Art Briles has told confidantes he is staying at Baylor. “I have no desire to pursue other coaching positions,” Briles said on January 3.

UPDATED: Redskins GM Bruce Allen says the team has not spoken with Bill Cowher about filling their head coaching vacancy.

UPDATED: Bill O’Brien & Lovie Smith were removed from this list because they have accepted coaching positions in Houston and Tampa Bay, respectively.

Bill Cowher He’s a big name with a Super Bowl ring and he’s on TV so he’s  famous. Dan Snyder likes all those things. Schottenheimer,  Spurrier, Gibbs & Shanahan all came to DC for the money.  Cowher seems like he would do the same thing. He will want the sort of control  Schottenheimer & Shanahan had and  GM Bruce Allen made it clear on  December 30 the next coach isn’t  getting that deal. Bruce Allen says the Redskins have not spoken with Cowher.  No. Cowher would only come to DC for the money. He’s not  young, he’s not hungry, he’s not  desperate to make a name for himself. He’s got a sweet gig on TV so only money  could make him leave. That’s precisely the coach you don’t want to hire.
Jon Gruden Same deal as Bill Cowher. Also, Gruden & Bruce Allen worked together in Tampa Bay. They were also fired together. Same deal as Cowher — control. No. Gruden has a sweet gig on TV, too and has said repeatedly he doesn’t want to coach in the NFL. That could be just talk and Gruden is young enough to get back in the game, but he will never be as hungry in DC as he was in Oakland and Tampa.
Rich BisacciaHas interviewed with Redskins Special teams coach/assistant head coach for the Dallas Cowboys. Knows the NFC East. Should be able to fix Washington’s chronic and crippling problems on special teams. Close to Bruce Allen from their time in Tampa Bay. Bisaccia was the special teams coach, running backs coach & assistant head coach in Tampa from 2002-2010. Not an offensive or defensive coordinator. Not generally thought of as a top-line HC material. I suspect the Redskins are just picking his brains for ideas about how to fix the special teams. That’s smart. I’m not as hostile to this idea as some may be. The last time the Redskins hired a Dallas assistant it was Norv Turner 20 years ago and that didn’t work out too well. However, John Harbaugh has proven in Baltimore that a special teams coach can make a fine head coach.
Art Briles He’s built little Baylor into a national power the last two years and obviously knows how to coach RG3. No NFL coaching experience. Nobody — including players — would know who is running the team, Bruce Allen or RG3. Apparently, Briles has told people he’s staying at Baylor. No. Briles might actually be a very good NFL coach, but it can’t be with the Redskins because of the RG3 connection. When asked about the job, Briles said: “I don’t have a missed call from Dan Snyder, do I? Nope.”
James FranklinWill interview with Redskins He’s coached Vanderbilt to three bowl games in three years and beaten U of Tennessee the last two seasons, something no Vandy coach has done in 90 years. Franklin is widely respected as an innovative offensive play-caller. The Redskins have never had an African-American head coach. It’s an awfully big leap from Vandy to the NFL. He’s had great success in college, but only for three years. It’s intriguing. He does have some NFL experience, coaching WR for the Packers in 2005 and he has some experience in the DC area as offensive coordinator at U of Maryland. It would mean picking someone not considered a topline hire, but maybe it’s about time Dan Snyder looked past the big names to find the next great NFL coach.
 David Shaw He’s gone 34-6 at Stanford and led the Cardinal to three top ten finishes and two Rose Bowls in three seasons. He says he has no interest in the NFL, but they all say that until they take the job. He runs a pro style offense and would probably like to equal or exceed the achievements of his predecessor, Jim Harbaugh. He’s had great success in college, but only for three years. He took over a strong program from Harbaugh so we don’t know if he can rebuild one in tatters, like the Redskins. Shaw would be a strong hire. He knows the college game so he should be helpful with the draft, so long as he doesn’t demand to run it.
Kevin Sumlin He’s gone 54-23 as a college coach and turned Texas A&M into a national power. His offenses are innovative, fun and hugely productive and he’s proven he can beat the very best in college football. The Redskins have never had an African-American head coach. Apparently, he’s not interested in coaching for the Redskins or any other NFL team. At least, not right now. Maybe it should have happened, but it doesn’t look like it will.
Josh McDaniels He does have experience as an NFL head coach in Denver, he’s young and he’s twice been a successful OC for the Patriots. His 2-year tenure in Denver was a complete disaster and it took two Hall of Fame QBs — John Elway and Peyton Manning — to fix it. McDaniels has a towering Bill Belichick-like ego without the accomplishments that should go with it. The Cleveland Browns apparently like him a lot. They can have him. Maybe he’s learned a thing or two from his many, many mistakes in Denver, but that seems like a risk I wouldn’t want to take with RG3.
Todd Bowles Has plenty of NFL experience as a player and coach and even a stint as an interim head coach in Miami. Bad turn as DC in Philly under trying circumstances now a faded memory after a terrific season with Arizona. Great ties to the Redskins as a safety in DC for seven years. Played over 100 games, including a Super Bowl win in January 1988, in burgundy and gold. Redskins have never had an African-American coach. He failed badly in Philadelphia, though he certainly doesn’t deserve most of the blame for it. Eight years as an NFL player and 14 years as an NFL coach mean he knows the league inside and out. Built top NFL run defense in Arizona this season. He’s young and hungry and would probably love to come back to DC and win it all. He isn’t the big name many Redskins fans think the franchise deserves, but big names haven’t served the team all that well in recent years.
Adam Gase A hot young name among possible head coaching candidates, the 35-year-old Gase has directed the most productive offense in NFL history in Denver this season. Who are we kidding here? The guy has had a coordinator job for all of one season. That offense is run by Peyton Manning, not Adam Gase, and everyone knows it. No. I think the Redskins need a hungry young coach, but this one is too young and too hungry. His most important task in Denver every week is staying out of Peyton Manning’s way.
Vic Fangio Tons of experience, having spent 25 years in the NFL before joining Jim Harbaugh in Stanford. Followed Harbaugh to San Francisco and built a top five defense all 3 years as DC of the 49ers. He’s 55 and never been a head coach. Why? Well, he’s not young, but he should be hungry to win. His experience is voluminous and credentials impeccable. This would be a strong hire for the Redskins.
Dan Quinn The DC of the Seattle Seahawks runs one of the best defenses in the league, the major reason why Seattle is considered a Super Bowl contender. He’s young and already had success. Same problem as with Gase. He’s been a coordinator for one season and took over a great defense built by Gus Bradley. No. He may be a fine head coach one day, but he doesn’t have enough accomplishments of his own to think that will happen in DC.
Darrell BevellInterviewed with Redskins on 12/31/2013 The OC in Seattle deserves a ton of respect for developing Russell Wilson and building a solid run-based offense around him. The Seahawks were a top ten offense this year in yards per play, points per play and points. Coached Brett Favre and was a college QB himself. The Redskins have already interviewed him for the top job. The Minnesota Vikings are hot on Bevell’s case to take over their head coaching vacancy. This would be a very good hire for the Redskins. RG3 and Russell Wilson have very similar skill sets and the ground-heavy offense he built in Seattle would work nicely with Alfred Morris.
Sean McDermottInterviewed with Redskins on Jan. 4 The DC in Carolina spent his first 11 years coaching with Philadelphia and became the DC there in 2009. So he knows the NFC East inside and out. McDermott runs the 2nd-ranked defense in the NFL this year, allowing only 15.1 points per game. He’s young and hungry and widely respected around the league. The Redskins are definitely interested in McDermott. He’s never been a head coach at any level and didn’t do well as DC in Philadelphia, though replacing the legendary Jim Johnson would have been tough for anyone. This would probably be a strong hire. He’s young, desperate to win and knows how to build a good NFL defense. He would need to hire a good OC to look after RG3 and the offense.
Jim CaldwellInterviewed with Redskins on Jan. 5 Offensive Coordinator in Baltimore and former HC of the Colts. 14-2 record & Super Bowl loss in first season with Colts. 2-14 and fired in third season [Peyton Manning missed the entire season] with the Colts. Has HC experience and worked with top quarterback in the world. Redskins have never had a black head coach. Couldn’t win without Manning and couldn’t make Oakland offense work this season. Maybe. He’s got head coaching experience and must be champing at the bit to get back and prove himself after the Colts gave him the shaft when he lost Peyton Manning. Plenty of offensive experience and worked with a running QB, Terrelle Pryor, this season in Oakland.
Perry FewellInterviewed with Redskins on Jan. 6 Interim HC with Bills in 2009 and DC for Giants in one Super Bowl season. Has been regarded as a possible HC. Giants defense finished 8th-ranked this season despite many injuries. Knows the NFC East well. Redskins have never had a black head coach. Why couldn’t he get a HC job after the Giants won the Super Bowl? Is he the right guy to run a team that needs to get RG3 going again? Maybe. Fewell knows the NFC East well and has gotten a lot out of a defense riddled with injuries this season and just not blessed with a lot of talent beyond the defensive line. Experience as an interim HC should help.
Mike ZimmerRedskins will interview Spent 14 years as a DC for Dallas, Atlanta and Cincinnati and has built some very good defenses during that time. Hugely respected by his Bengals players. Plenty of NFL experience and some NFC East experience, too. 34 years as a college and pro assistant coach. He’s 57 and never had a head coaching job. Has interviewed five times, but never gotten the nod. Maybe he doesn’t interview well, I don’t know. Seems like Zimmer would be a strong hire for the Redskins and bring some much-needed discipline to the team. Has the demeanor and personality of a head coach and definitely the desire to be one, too.
Jay GrudenRedskins will interview The 46-year-old brother of John Gruden, Jay has had success in the Arena League — winning 6 ArenaBowl championships in 10 years, but perhaps has done his best work as OC for the Bengals, turning an average physical talent like Andy Dalton into a playoff QB who can win the AFC North. Gruden was arrested for DUI in 2005. Dalton isn’t a great QB and the Bengals have never won a playoff game with Gruden. This would be a strong hire, as Gruden is an innovative offensive mind, not afraid to do things other coaches and teams are not doing. Putting him in charge of a talent like RG3 could be very interesting and exciting. Three years as OC in Cincinnati has resulted in three straight playoff appearances and a division championship this season. Arrived at the same time rookie Andy Dalton did and has managed to run him into a decent NFL starting QB, something many people didn’t think could be done. Imagine what he could do with a talent like RG3. He’s also built a strong running game in Cincy and would know what to do with guys like Alfred Morris and Roy Helu.
Ken Whisenhunt Went to a Super Bowl and made two playoff appearances with Kurt Warner as his QB in Arizona. As OC in San Diego this year he resurrected the career of Phillip Rivers and played a big hand in getting the team into the playoffs. Had a losing record as head coach in Arizona and was eventually fired because he couldn’t figure out how to win without a great QB like Warner. This would be a strong hire. Most coaches fail without a good QB so there’s no shame in that. RG3 is a huge talent so Whisenhunt would probably be in good shape with the Redskins. Rebuilding Rivers’ career was a lot tougher than his job would be with RG3, who was a star before the injury and most likely will be a big star again.
Tom Cable Offensive line coach and assistant head coach in Seattle has done a good job with a patchwork line riddled with serious injuries in 2013. Helped build a very strong rushing attack in Seattle. Did about as well as anyone could expect to as head coach of the Raiders before the late Al Davis foolishly fired him. Never had much success as an NFL head coach. He wouldn’t be a terrible hire, but there are probably better candidates out there.