Jay Gruden’s Status Could Play A Role In Defensive Coordinator Choice

The Washington Redskins are still in the process of looking for a new defensive coordinator. Could the uncertain future surrounding Jay Gruden hurt the potential pool of candidates?

When the Washington Redskins initially parted ways with defensive coordinator Joe Barry, many were happy. They expected the team to be able to add one of the quality candidates on the defensive coordinator market and figured that almost anyone would be an upgrade over Barry. After all, the Redskins had ranked near the bottom of the league in most defensive categories, so a new coach was bound to improve on the unit.

Well, thus far the Redskins have had trouble actually getting interviews. They have formally interviewed both Mike Pettine and Gus Bradley for the job, and the latter was rumored to be their top candidate. However, Bradley seems likely to be offered the same job with the Los Angeles Chargers, and he would probably take that job over the Redskins job.

The reason for this is something that has been giving the Redskins trouble during their search. To put it simply, the uncertain status of Jay Gruden as the head coach in Washington could be scaring off potential candidates.

Gruden has been the head coach of the Redskins for the past few seasons, and the team has only made the postseason once. Overall, Gruden has compiled a 21-27-1 record, but the team’s uninspiring performance towards the end of the 2016 season has him skating on thin ice. If he cannot find a way to improve and motivate the team going into 2017, then it seems likely that the Redskins would part ways with him as their head coach.

Even if a candidate trusted that Gruden could turn things around, Gruden only has two years left on his contract. That essentially means that he has to prove himself in each of the next two seasons in order to be considered for a contract extension. That leaves a lot more uncertainty on the table, as he could essentially be playing for his job in back-to-back seasons unless 2017 goes very well.

With that said, that is the reason that Bradley seems likely to take the Chargers job. The team has a new head coach in Anthony Lynn, so Bradley would have at least a couple of seasons to work with the Chargers. Not to mention their personnel is much better than what Washington has. Still, the possibility of playing for a potential lame duck seems to be scaring some away, and that may have been why Wade Phillips avoided interviewing with the team.

At the end of the day, Gruden is going to have to figure out a way to get a decent candidate into the position. Pettine would not be a bad hire, but as long as the search continues, it seems more and more likely that the team could promote Greg Manusky as an internal candidate. Maybe the Redskins have one more trick up their sleeve (Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel?) but for now, it is very unclear what they will be able to do at the defensive coordinator position.

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