1. This is the first time since Jim Haslett has been in Washington that he’s been able to hire the defensive staff. Or at the least to clearly have a say in who’s on board. Brian Baker coached three seasons with him in St. Louis. Kirk Olivadotti worked with him for one season before bolting for Georgia. And Haslett tried to hire him back a couple years later when Lou Spanos left for UCLA, only to be rebuffed.
2. Whatever you think of Haslett, it’s important for a defensive coordinator to have a say in who he hires. He’s the one working with this staff. He needs to have people he can trust around him. It’s different when you’re surrounded by the head coach’s guys. After Spanos left there was no one with ties to Haslett.
3. Will that make a difference on the field? That remains to be seen; they need more talent and they need to stop having breakdowns that lead to big plays. But for those wondering why Haslett stuck around, it’s partly for reasons such as this. He was in charge of the defense, but not nearly to the extent that other coordinators here have been in the past. Now it’s all on him, for better or worse. There is no doubt the Redskins will spend to improve the defense. The play had better improve, too.
4. I remember talking to a former Redskins coach who interviewed for a position at a place where he had a good relationship with the general manager. The two had a good talk and were laughing as they exited the office. It happened to be right near the coach’s office and the head coach saw the two laughing. At that point the position coach knew he would not be hired. He knew the head coach would not fully trust him, knowing his chummy relationship with the general manager.
5. The point: It’s tough to fully trust guys when they’re brought in without your input. That was Haslett’s world the past couple years. Still, as I’ve written before, players would say the most trusted voice in the defensive room was that of linebacker London Fletcher.
6. Josh Morgan told WJFK 106.7 The Fan that he didn’t have a clue as to what happened to his game in 2013. Here’s what happened: He wasn’t productive. It’s not as if Morgan never played; he did. He was inconsistent as a blocker and did not make many plays. Late in the season he played worse -- his blocking was poor -- and that led to him being inactive. The film supports that belief.
7. That said, nobody has been more involved in the community than Morgan. And he speaks passionately about playing for his hometown team. He deserves a lot of praise for all of that, but there is no mystery as to why he played less.
8. Morgan also said coach Mike Shanahan would not meet with him to explain what was happening. Shanahan said many times that he would meet with players, especially former starters, to explain certain actions. But even tight end Fred Davis said early last year that he wasn’t sure why he wasn’t playing more. Shanahan said, though, that he met with him. All I know is that Morgan needed to play better.
9. The coaching staff has some strong bloodlines. Sean McVay’s grandfather once coached the New York Giants and served as San Francisco’s general manager during the 49ers’ five Super Bowls. Gruden’s ties are well-known, with his brother, Jon, and also his father Jim, who was a longtime NFL coach and scout. And Olivadotti’s father, Tom, spent 21 years coaching in the NFL.
10. I wrote a little of this in the original story on Olivadotti’s return, but I always liked talking to him during Brian Orakpo's rookie season. Olivadotti did not like talking a whole lot for much of his time in Washington, but he got better in that area. And when Orakpo was a rookie, Olivadotti was excellent discussing his improvements and what he needed to work on. When coaches are that clear with us, they’re usually that way with the players. Makes it easier for them to improve.
11. Olivadotti is an understated guy who just likes to coach. I used to wonder why he never became more than just a position coach; he worked for six different full-time head coaches in Washington, so he was clearly respected. But I think Olivadotti is just happy coaching and isn’t as focused on climbing the career ladder. Just a thought.
12. Don’t know if new special teams coach Ben Kotwica will succeed or not. I received one unprompted text praising him from someone who worked with him in New York. The Jets made him an offer, but my guess is if it was that strong he would have stayed. But in New York he had to replace a legendary coach in Mike Westhoff. That won’t be the case in Washington.
13. Westhoff told the New York Daily News that Kotwica established a bond with the players. Westhoff told the paper that he’d often see players stop by Kotwica's office to watch a little more tape before leaving.