Washington Redskins: Tony Dungy

NFLN survey/popular coach: Redskins

January, 28, 2014
Jan 28
It’s easy to see why Pete Carroll was the runaway choice by players as the coach they’d like to play for the most with 22.5 percent of the 320 votes. He’s vibrant; the players seem to have fun so the season isn’t as much of a grind. He’s also winning.

Trust me on this: If the Seahawks weren’t winning, Carroll would not be so high on this list. Of course, they might be winning in part because of how he coaches. But it’s clear that, for now, Carroll has found a way to win in a game that too often features coaches who feel you must be serious all the time. It’s too tough to survive that way; just ask former Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano.

I’ve always liked Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, who is No. 2 on the list. I’m surprised Rex Ryan is so high on the list (fourth) considering that the Jets haven’t done a whole lot lately; he also earned one more vote than Bill Belichick. Just shows you that winning isn’t everything. But if I want to win? It's tough to go against Belichick. He clearly won't win every year, but the Patriots are always in contention.

But it also seems like the coaches who perhaps fared better than anticipated did so because they give the players room to breathe. You can’t be a successful NFL head coach and not know how to work or just be buddy-buddy all the time. However, you can make it a good environment and when you do that, talent knows it can shine. Andy Reid (sixth) is another I like; though he comes across as dry in interviews, his humor occasionally pokes through and his players have always seemed to respect and like playing for him.

Redskins angle: Redskins players were all over the place on this one with seven different coaches named, though no one said Carroll. Three coaches received two votes: Jeff Fisher, Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin. Of course, Dungy is no longer an active coach. One player did say Mike Shanahan and the former Redskins coach did pick up two other votes from this survey. He had his issues, but players liked the way he ran practices and how he kept them fresh for late in the season.
The Washington Redskins interviewed Jim Caldwell for their head coaching vacancy Sunday.

Age: 58

Position: Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator

Recent background: Caldwell joined Baltimore as the quarterbacks coach in 2012, then took over for fired Cam Cameron late in the season. He remained in that role this season. The Ravens improved under Caldwell in total yards per game in his three regular season games (from 18th to 8th); rushing yards per game (17th to 6th) and passing yards per game (16th to 13th). However, they went down in total points during his three games, from 25.5 to 22.3. In the playoffs, though, they averaged 31.0 en route to a Super Bowl title.

The past: Caldwell was Tampa Bay’s quarterbacks coach in 2001 and served in the same role with Indianapolis from 2002-08. He was named as the Colts’ coach-in-waiting in January 2008 and replaced Tony Dungy a year later. The Colts went 14-2 in his first season, losing to New Orleans in the Super Bowl. They went 10-6 and 2-14 in his next two seasons. Caldwell was Wake Forest’s head coach from 1993-2000, compiling a 26-63 record with one winning season.

What I’ve heard: He’s considered cerebral -- and flexible. He does not have one set way of having things and will take input. One NFL coach said he’s heard good things about Caldwell. But, like others, he wonders about Caldwell’s inability to adjust to life without Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Without Manning, the Colts fell apart. He had more input in Baltimore’s offense this season – after taking over as offensive coordinator late last season and doing well. The Ravens finished 29th in total yards and 22nd in points. It’s a major knock that the Colts did so poorly without Manning. He’s considered a smart coach, but one former executive wondered about his ability to see the big picture and thought “[Redskins owner Dan] Snyder would eat him alive.”

Potential fit: There are things I like about Caldwell. His even-keel demeanor is good for any team and he would not be leaking any stories. Just not his style. He seems to understand it’s a players’ league and I don’t get the sense he’s worried about being upstaged by them. Jim Zorn was even keel, but also not a head coach type and had no background to point to so players – and management – could trust what he was saying and doing worked. Caldwell does have an NFL track record as a head coach, which includes a Super Bowl trip. Plus he was instrumental in helping the Ravens get there a year ago. Yes, his Indy was at that level already and he had Manning, but they got there. However, that demeanor is almost too low key and it’s hard to imagine it working with the Redskins. You can be low key and not a pushover, but I think the Redskins need a stronger personality in charge.

Suggested reading: Not a fan of Caldwell as a head coach…The switch from Cam Cameron to Caldwell paid off last season…You can learn something about his beliefs from a speech he delivered at Morehouse College three years ago…Why the Lions should hire himCaldwell deserves another shotA good look at Caldwell’s personality.

Behind enemy lines: Lions links

September, 18, 2013
The Detroit Lions have enough problems without creating more of their own. Sounds a little like the Washington Redskins; OK, sounds a lot like the Redskins.

Anyway, Detroit has dropped 10.4 percent of quarterback Matthew Stafford’s passes through two games. Stafford hasn’t shied away from going back to any of the receivers who have dropped the ball. And there aren’t complaints about where he’s putting the ball.

They’re just not catching his throws.