NFC East: mike westhoff

Redskins coaching scorecard

January, 17, 2014
In less than a week, new Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden has put together a good portion of his staff. Gruden's staff will include several holdovers, including Sean McVay (promoted from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator), Chris Foerster (offensive line), Jacob Burney (defensive line), Raheem Morris (secondary) and Jim Haslett (defensive coordinator). But they still have hires to make. Here's an updated list:

Head coach: Jay Gruden

Offensive coordinator: Sean McVay

McVay is highly respected by his players and comes across as older than his 27 years. He won't call plays, so he'll be able to ease into this position. Still, it's a lot of responsibility and there will be a transition and learning period. There always is.

Quarterbacks: Vacant (Gruden, a former quarterback, will no doubt work with this position)

Running backs: Vacant (Earnest Byner interviewing Friday)

Wide receivers: Vacant

Tight ends: Vacant (Wes Phillips interviewed for the job Thursday)

Offensive line: Chris Foerster

He has experience in different blocking schemes, though he works best in the zone blocking system. Players have spoken highly of him over the years. His lines the past couple of years have not been the most talented individually, but still had more success than anticipated. We don't know how much the young linemen have developed or if any will be future starters (but keep in mind that Joe Bugel did not develop any young players in his second stint in Washington either. Just some perspective.).

Defensive coordinator: Jim Haslett (has not been officially announced)

Like many, I'm surprised by this move given how the defense has played and the natural inclination to clean house, especially if a staff is unsuccessful. My guess: Haslett is surprised, too, or at least would not have predicted this on the day Mike Shanahan was fired. They improved down the stretch the past two years, but even this year their points per game -- the stat they point to the most -- did not dramatically improve (they were 30th for the season; 25th from Weeks 9-17). They finished 18th in total yards allowed -- 10th in the second half of the season (they faced five top-10 offenses in the first half and two in the second). Excuses can be made that explain some -- certainly not all -- of their deficiencies. The salary cap, head-coach meddling (though certainly there may have been some "suggestions" that worked; we never hear about those). After a while, excuses get old. But clearly the front office felt they were legitimate and perhaps they felt keeping Haslett, a former head coach, would be beneficial to a first-time head coach, one with whom he has a relationship. But it's now time for this defense to finally produce at a greater and more consistent level.

Defensive line: Jacob Burney

He's helped Barry Cofield become a solid nose tackle and the front has been solid against the run; I like how Chris Baker has developed, but Jarvis Jenkins has not done enough in the pass game. Overall, the pass rush needs to improve.

Inside linebackers: Kirk Olivadotti

Had a great reputation when he was here the first time around. This is an excellent hire, but he will be limited to just working with the inside linebackers. He worked with Perry Riley as a rookie and will have another starter to train inside with the loss of London Fletcher.

Outside linebackers: Brian Baker

Don't know a whole lot about him other than he's a veteran coach who has worked with Haslett in the past. He's coached linebackers in three of his 17 NFL seasons, serving as Cleveland's outside linebackers coach last season, but he played linebacker at the University of Maryland. Cleveland's linebackers did not produce as hoped. Dallas did not retain him after the 2012 season when it changed coordinators. His last three seasons have been spent in a 3-4 scheme.

Secondary: Raheem Morris

Energetic and enthusiastic. I'm sure he felt he'd be someone's coordinator by now, but he'll instead enter his third season as Washington's secondary coach. It's not as if the secondary play the past two years would have helped him land a coordinator's job. That's not all on him, however, as there's little doubt they have to upgrade the talent base. And what matters is this: general manager Bruce Allen wanted to keep him around. Fletcher gave him a strong endorsement on Twitter after Gruden was hired.

Special teams: Ben Kotwica

Have heard good things from people who used to work with him. In New York he had to replace a legendary coach in Mike Westhoff. That won't be the case in Washington so those players who remain from last year will be more eager to buy what he's selling.
Philadelphia Eagles

SB Nation takes a look at the "interesting, albeit not terribly exciting, cast of characters" in the Eagles' quarterback competition. About right. Lots of arguments over this issue lately, but I think the important thing for Eagles fans is to keep standards and expectations low no matter who wins it. They're going to hand off. A lot.

Oh, and in case you were wondering who Snoop Lion thought the quarterback for the Eagles should be, you can click here. Hint: It's Michael Vick.

Washington Redskins

Kirk Cousins has a book coming out next week. (Yes, really.) In it, he writes of a lot of things, including the moment he found out he was being drafted by the Redskins. As he has discussed a few times, he wasn't as thrilled as he expected to be.

It's not completely ridiculous to expect Jordan Reed to contribute as a rookie, but it's important to remember the Redskins look at him more as a long-term project than an immediate-impact guy. He's likely to have plenty of growing pains.

Dallas Cowboys

Third-round pick Terrance Williams agreed with the Cowboys on a four-year contract. The Cowboys plan to use Williams in three-receiver sets as a deep threat on the outside with Miles Austin playing the slot position while they and Dez Bryant are on the field together.

There's been some talk of the Cowboys bringing in Vince Young as a backup quarterback. I agree with Tim Cowlishaw, who says no. Even if it made sense from a football standpoint, I don't see how you sign Tony Romo to a $100 million contract and then create a situation in which the Texas fans who already don't appreciate it him would immediately start calling for a less qualified player to replace him.

New York Giants

Giants punter Steve Weatherford has played for both of the New York teams, but he says his time with the Giants has been so far superior to his time with the Jets that he'd "play for free," and he has bad memories of working with former Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told an elementary school assembly that he's not a Giants or Jets fan but rather a Cowboys fan. I still like his chances in November.