Tha Sports Junkies 101

Jay Gruden Stuck between a Rock and a Hard Place

Defensive Keith Allison


After the firing of Joe Barry, the Redskins are scrambling to find a new defensive coordinator

The search for a new defensive coordinator has left Jay Gruden and the Redskins front office in a tough spot. On paper, the job is a tough sell. Ryan Kerrigan and Josh Norman are the only true impact players on defense but both are approaching 30. Su’a Cravens is a promising player but he’s still a work in progress. Outside of Chris Baker, there isn’t much talent along the defensive line and both safety positions are in need of an upgrade.

The position however does offer a few benefits. Washington’s offense finished 2016 as one of the more productive units in the entire NFL, and the right defensive coordinator can be the perfect compliment. There’s roughly 60 million dollars for Washington to spend in free agency and they have nine draft picks to land a few impact players on defense.

The New York Giants dished out over 200 million dollars on their defense a year ago and the dividends were instant. After finishing 2015 last in total defense and 30th in points, New York jumped 22 spots, finishing 10th in total defense and an astonishing second in points allowed. Jay Gruden however doesn’t have Steve Spagnolo on his staff, and he may not get his top choice in Gus Bradley as he’s rumored to to join Anthony Lynn with the Los Angeles Rams.

Rob Ryan interviewed for the position this week, and the Redskins have also interviewed current outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky who was the defensive coordinator for the 49ers (07-10) and Colts (12-15). Former Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver also is scheduled to interview for the job later this week. There was interest in Steve Wilks but after Sean McDermott bolted for the Buffalo Bills, Carolina promoted Wilks to defensive coordinator.

Mike Pettine also interviewed for the position, and he’s possibly has the best resume among the group. He’s Rex Ryan disciple as he was the defensive coordinator with the New York Jets from 2009-12. He spent 2013 with the Bills in the same position, then he became head coach for the Cleveland Browns through 2014-15. After spending 2016 out of the NFL, Pettine could be tasked with making the Redskins defense his reclamation project.

Dennis Thurman and John Pagano both interviewed with the Redskins this week, as both have coordinator experience. Pagano was the defensive coordinator for the Chargers from 2013-16 and Thurman has experience as well in the same position after he took over for Pettine in New York in 2012.

Since Daniel Synder became owner in 1999, no head coach has lasted more than four years in the nation’s capital. With Gruden entering the fourth year of his contract, he could possibly be coaching for his job next season. After hiring Joe Barry instead of Wade Philllips three years ago, the pressure is on Jay Gruden to find a competent defensive coordinator.