Redskins: Where Is Mike Pettine’s Place In Defensive Coordinator Pecking Order?

The Washington Redskins interviewed Mike Pettine today to fill the vacant defensive coordinator position held by Joe Barry, whom the team fired last Thursday.

Mike Pettine is one of several candidates the Washington Redskins are considering to replace Barry, whose two-year stint with the team was marked by marginal production and abysmal defensive rankings.

Pettine, 50, who was out of the league last year, was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He finished with a 10-22 record, including a 3-13 mark in the second year of his tenure. Very little went right during his term as head coach, which included some critical errors during his first draft. Pettine, in particular, was part of a draft war room in 2014 that famously passed on Derek Carr in favor of Johnny Manziel.

But Pettine enjoyed far more success as a defensive coordinator with the New York Jets (2009 to 2012) and Buffalo Bills (2013). In that capacity, his defenses finished no worse than 10th in yardage, and posted some respectable numbers in other defensive categories. However, Pettine’s units also witnessed some uneven production in key statistics such as scoring defense. In 2009 and 2010, for instance, the Jets’ defense ranked first and sixth in terms of scoring. But in his final two years with the Jets and one-year stay in Buffalo, his defenses were 20th in that important defensive metric.

It’s unclear where Pettine stands in the pecking order of the team’s candidates for its next defensive coordinator. Pettine was the Redskins first interview for the position and one that came as a surprise. While the team is slated to meet with Panthers’ secondary coach Steve Wilks for Barry’s former job, it’s not known whom else it’s looking at. Reports have connected the Redskins with former Jaguars’ head coach Gus Bradley and Wade Phillips, whose contract with the Broncos will be expiring this season. They may also hire from within by elevating linebackers coach Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator.

As for Phillips, it should be noted that he strongly pressed the Redskins for an opportunity to become the Redskins defensive coordinator in 2015 after they let Jim Haslett go. The team ultimately passed on him and hired Barry instead. Prior to that hiring, Phillps had a storied career in turning around defensive reclamation projects, something which would aptly describe the team’s current defensive situation. While Phillips might seem like an ideal fit for the Redskins – which should also include the fact that this son Wes is the tight’s end coach – he also is older and has experienced some health problems.

Whether the team opts for Phillips or some other candidate, the team’s job search this time is to attract suitors with some established pedigree. This represents a far more sensible approach than its inexplicable hire of Barry in 2015, whose only brush with fame was his stint as defensive coordinator of a winless Lions team in 2008.

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