Friday, January 3, 2014
Sizing up the candidates: Rich Bisaccia
By John Keim
According to ESPN's John Clayton, the Washington Redskins have Rich Bisaccia on their list of coaches to interview. In fact, he was said to be interviewing in Washington on Friday.
Position: Dallas special teams coach
Recent background: This past season was his first with the Dallas Cowboys. Their special teams improved under Bisaccia, going from 29th in kick returns in 2012, for example, to fourth this season. Dallas ranked 18th defending punts and seventh against kickoffs. They improved in numerous areas statistically under Bisaccia.
The past: He was a college coach from 1983-2001 before joining Tampa Bay as their special teams coach. He stayed in that role until 2010 when he left to join San Diego in a similar role. A year later he was elevated to assistant head coach/special teams with the Chargers. But he left after the 2012 season to take a job coaching Auburn's running backs and special teams. He left after 22 days to join Dallas. His best season as a special teams coach statistically was probably 2009 with Tampa Bay. The Bucs blocked six kicks, led the NFL in kick return average (26.3 yards), were fourth in punt return average (11.6 yards) and second against kick return average (19.1). They returned a kickoff and punt for a touchdown and blocked another punt for a score.
What I've heard about him: After talking to an NFL coach, a Dallas insider and a former NFC executive about him, heard from one coach who said he knows him well and that he's a "great guy." Bisaccia was described as a no-nonsense guy; was respected by his players, with one apparently calling him the best coach he's ever had. Also heard him described as "not a head coach type," -- even by the coach who likes him and knows him well -- and there was no "wow" factor with him. He presents himself well and has a good resume, but it's not considered dynamic enough to command the entire room. But people do like him.
Potential fit: I don't mind a special teams coach being elevated to this job, but I'd want him to be more dynamic than it sounds Bisaccia is; I'd feel better if others around the NFL saw him as a head coach. The hard part is I did not know a lot about him until his name surfaced Friday morning. I wonder if this is a favor to him from general manager Bruce Allen, who was with him for five years in Tampa Bay, a way to get his name out there (possibly even for college head coaching jobs). Bisaccia also worked under A.J. Smith, a senior executive here. It helps that he has familiarity with people in the building; that's a plus. It helps that it sounds like he can get the most out of players' talent. That's all good. At this point he'd have to be considered a longshot. But Allen did say he'd be willing to look at special teams coaches as candidates as well.
Suggested reading: Some past players endorse him ... He could have been in the national championship game Monday night ... ."He holds people accountable."... A few years ago he was up for the head coaching job at the University of South Florida. Former Bucs stumped for him, including his old head coach, Jon Gruden.