Redskins choices narrow for Defensive Coordinator

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Rumors and reports are flying, as they always do during January when teams are interviewing and hiring NFL coaches. However, the word is that former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay, the new head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, has beaten his old team for the services of Wade Phillips, who will leave the Denver Broncos and follow McVay to LA instead of coming east to Washington.

Meanwhile, the other team in southern California, the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers, has hired former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn as their new head coach. It has been assumed in many NFL corners that Gus Bradley, former Jacksonville Jaguars coach and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator who interviewed with the Skins about their vacant defensive coordinator job earlier this week, would follow Lynn if Lynn got a head coaching job. Since Lynn has done that, there is a very good chance Bradley will also spurn Washington in favor of Los Angeles.

In addition, the Buffalo Bills have hired former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to be their head coach, meaning Carolina secondary coach Steve Wilks, whom the Skins wanted to interview, is almost certain to be promoted to the coordinator job with the Panthers, taking yet another top name off the market.

If so, that means Washington’s choices for defensive coordinator are narrowing. Mike Pettine, who interviewed with the Skins about the defensive coordinator job, is still out there and would be a solid hire. And Greg Manusky, the current OLB coach, did well as a defensive coordinator in San Francisco and would also be a good hire. He has the advantage of already being on staff, as well.

Then there is Mike Vrabel, the 41-year-old former Patriots linebacker under Bill Belichick and the current linebackers coach for the top-ranked defense in the NFL, the Houston Texans. Vrabel is strongly endorsed by his former coach and will probably be available to be interviewed after the Patriots demolish the Texans in the divisional round of the playoffs this weekend.

It’s not certain Vrabel would take the job in Washington, even though it is a promotion. After all, Vrabel was offered the defensive coordinator job in San Francisco last year and very wisely turned it down. Vrabel could see the 49ers defense was a complete mess, the offense was almost as bad and he could badly damage his reputation in that job. So he smartly stayed put with an excellent defense in Houston.

Washington has a major talent deficit on defense, finishing in the bottom five of the league both years under the fired Joe Barry. Would Vrabel look at the Washington job and see reputation-killer like the 49ers job or would he see it as an opportunity to greatly enhance his reputation by turning a terrible defense into a very good one with a front office that finally seems ready to properly invest on that side of the ball?

Time will tell.

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