DefenseGrade vs. Bengals: DComment:Lets start off by discussing what went right for the Redskins defense on Sunday. With linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker lost for the season, opportunity knocked for backups. One of them, Rob Jackson, seized his opportunity, recording three tackles for loss and intercepting a pass in the end zone for a touchdown in his first NFL start.That, however, is where the positive reviews end.As a unit, the Redskins struggled from the Bengals first play from scrimmage through the fourth quarter, yielding 450-plus yards of total offense for the second straight week, while sacking Andy Dalton only twice. In 16 games last season, the 13th-ranked unit surrendered 400 yards a total of three times.The biggest concern entering Sundays game in Tampa is the inadequate play of the secondary and, specifically, its vulnerability to big plays. A week after Sam Bradford and the Rams completed pass plays of 56, 34, 27 and 25 yards, the Bengals connected on long passes of 73, 59, 48, 38, 27, 25 and 22 yards. The three longest all resulted in touchdowns.Theres plenty of blame to spread around. DeJon Gomes and DeAngelo Hall failed to impede A.J. Green on the wildcat formation that resulted in the 73-yard score on Cincinnatis first play from scrimmage. Josh Wilson gambled and lost on the 38-yard touchdown and rookie Richard Crawford was burned by a double move on the 59-yarder in the fourth quarter that clinched the victory.Is the culprit preparation? Personnel? Injuries? The simple answer is its probably a combination of all three.The secondary seemed utterly confused and slow to react on the Bengals trick play in the first quarter.Injuries are hurting, too. The trio of linebackers asked to replace Orakpo -- Jackson, Chris Wilson and Markus White must improve in pass coverage. Gomes has been playing for Brandon Meriweather. Crawford played on Sunday for Cedric Griffin, who suffered a hamstring injury early and did not return. And dont forget that the team had been counting on a significant contribution from Tanard Jackson, who was suspended for the season after failing a drug test.Thats not an excuse, its reality.Whats frustrates Hall the most, though, is the fact that core defensive players had longed for an offense that up points. Now theyve got one, they cant stop anyone.Last year, 21 points was a great day, Hall said. To see this offense go out these last three weeks and put up the kind of points they have and the defense go out there and totally drop the ball, its frustrating.
The Redskins have conducted interviews with a number of candidates at defensive coordinator, but a new name emerged Thursday morning.
Thurman played cornerback in the NFL for nine years from 1978 to 1986, recording 36 career interceptions in 137 games. The bulk of his playing career was spent with the Dallas Cowboys, but he played his final season with the then St. Louis Rams.
In coaching since 1988, Thurman's coaching career started working with the secondary for the Cardinals before an eight-year run at his alma mater, Southern Cal. From there, Thurman came back to the pros, joining the Ravens coaching staff in 2002 working under Rex Ryan. In 2008, Thurman moved on with Ryan to the New York Jets, and in 2013, was named Jets defensive coordinator In 2014, he went to Buffalo with Ryan to serve as their defensive coordinator when Ryan was named head coach.
In four seasons as a coordinator, two in New York, two in Buffalo, Thurman's defenses ranked no worse than 19th, per Pro Football Reference.
A football lifer like Thurman likely has connections all over the league, but it's interesting to note he has worked with new Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn since 2009. The two were on staffs both with the Jets and the Bills. Another Redskins coordinator candidate Gus Bradley has often been linked with Lynn, though the two have never been on the same staff.
Meeting with Thurman will satisfy the NFL's guidelines to interview minority candidates for coordinator positions. The Rooney Rule, as it was instituted, requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching jobs, but only suggests that teams extend the practice to coordinator positions. Washington had set an interview with Carolina's Steve Wilks, but then he was promoted internally to be the Panthers defensive coordinator and the meeting never took place.
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You can strike Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan off the list of candidates for the team’s vacant offensive coordinator position.
It’s not a matter of the 60-year-old veteran coach having been passed over by the organization. The simple fact is that Callahan enjoys doing what he’s doing, reports the Washington Post.
“Bill has never been happier in his life,” said Bob LaMonte, Callahan’s agent. What Callahan is doing now is coaching the Redskins’ offensive line and helping in the running game planning. He is well known for keeping the linemen out well after practice ends, schooling them on various techniques and details of their craft.
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LaMonte said that Callahan enjoys working with Jay Gruden and he didn’t rule out the possibility that Callahan may want to take the step up a coordinator job in the future.
Callahan is certainly well qualified for the job. His resume includes 37 years as a coach including seven as an NFL coordinator and two years as the Raiders’ head coach.
The Redskins’ offensive coordinator search still seems to be focused on internal candidates. Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh is considered to be the favorite, while tight ends coach Wes Phillips could get the promotion, remain with the tight ends, or head west to Los Angeles to join the staff of former Redskins offensive coordinator and new Rams head coach Sean McVay.
In the week since McVay was announced as the Rams’ new head coach there has been little news about the search. The team is also looking for a defensive coordinator after firing Joe Barry two weeks ago. They have announced interviews with four candidates including Rob Ryan and an internal candidate, outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky, earlier this week.