KRYK SLANTS

Wash­ing­ton ought to con­sider Meyer as next coach af­ter canning Gru­den ... Hask­ins not a can­di­date to start now, in­terim coach says ... Ekeler sets a sea­son-high in re­cep­tions ... Jones calls out ‘lit­tle dar­ling’ ref

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS -

Ur­ban Meyer may want noth­ing to do with work­ing for Wash­ing­ton Red­skins owner Dan Sny­der. And who could blame him?

But given Sny­der’s past in­fat­u­a­tion with noted of­fen­sive-guru foot­ball coaches, it’d make a ton of sense if he were to take a se­ri­ous run at Meyer — the wildly suc­cess­ful col­lege coach who’s as ‘re­tired’ from coach­ing now as Brett Favre was at quar­ter­back­ing in early 2008.

Sny­der early Mon­day morn­ing fired his head coach of the past six sea­sons, Jay Gru­den. Ac­cord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post the dis­mal deed was done at 5 a.m., when Sny­der and team pres­i­dent Bruce Allen de­liv­ered the wholly ex­pected news to Gru­den. Look, when you’re sum­moned to meet the bosses for a 5 a.m. meet­ing, it’s just not go­ing to end well.

At 0-5, the Red­skins are the last win­less team in the NFC.

Only Nick Sa­ban could chal­lenge Meyer as the best U.S. col­lege foot­ball coach this cen­tury. Both have pro­duced two jug­ger­naut pro­grams in the 2000s — Sa­ban at LSU and now Alabama, Meyer at Florida and Ohio State.

Meyer stepped down from OSU in Jan­uary af­ter seven tran­scen­dent sea­sons with the Buck­eyes, which in­cluded one na­tional cham­pi­onship, three Big Ten cham­pi­onships and an 83-9 (.902) over­all record. This, af­ter Meyer won two na­tional ti­tles and went 65-15 (.813) at Florida from 2005-10.

He cited health rea­sons for leav­ing both jobs. Specif­i­cally, in­tense headaches caused by a be­nign, non-life-threat­en­ing cyst on the mem­brane that cov­ers his brain.

Meyer now holds some hon­orary job in the up­per trenches of the Ohio State ath­letic de­part­ment and, once a week, is vis­i­ble as an in­sight­ful stu­dio com­men­ta­tor on FOX’S col­lege foot­ball tele­casts. Comfy life. Which the worka­holic prob­a­bly de­tests.

Every knowl­edge­able U.S. col­lege foot­ball fan and his brother be­lieves Meyer is bid­ing his time un­til in­stantly rein­vig­o­rat­ing the next slum­ber­ing gi­ant of a pro­gram on his care­fully con­structed ca­reer path, as he did at Florida and Ohio State. Most money is on South­ern Cal. Some be­lieve it’s al­ready a qui­etly done deal he’ll take over the Tro­jans in 2020.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, how­ever, you hear the sup­po­si­tion that Meyer — hav­ing twice con­quered the high­est lev­els of col­lege ball — har­bours the need to tackle and tame the pro ranks too, be­fore he gets too old. He’s 55.

If true, then pre­sum­ably it could come down to two things for Meyer, should he be of­fered the Red­skins job.

One: Even if he were granted full, au­ton­o­mous foot­ball power by Sny­der, whether he be­lieves he could work for and suc­ceed un­der the ever med­dling, mer­cu­rial owner. When Steve Spurrier, Mike Shana­han and six other head coaches since 1999 ul­ti­mately couldn’t.

Two: How quickly Meyer be­lieves he could start suc­ceed­ing there with which­ever pro­duc­tive quar­ter­back.

Meyer proved twice at Ohio State — with Cardale Jones in 2014, and with Dwayne Hask­ins last year — that his spread col­lege of­fence that typ­i­cally fea­tures a dual-threat QB can in­deed be read­ily amended to show­case a passer whose tal­ents de­mand mostly pocket pass­ing, and lit­tle as a read-op­tion run

Given how so many young NFL QBS nowa­days are thriving in of­fen­sive sys­tems that closely mir­ror those in which they thrived as col­le­gians, then what bet­ter chance would Hask­ins have to suc­ceed than in Meyer’s sys­tem?

ner, so that he can still suc­ceed no less spec­tac­u­larly.

Jones took over for in­jured dual-threat Brax­ton Miller in 2014 and won a na­tional cham­pi­onship. Hask­ins suc­ceeded dual-threat J.T. Bar­rett last sea­son and broke the Big Ten’s sin­gle-sea­son pass­ing records for touch­downs (50) and yards (4,831).

Given how so many young NFL quar­ter­backs nowa­days are thriving in of­fen­sive sys­tems that closely mir­ror those in which they thrived as col­le­gians, then what bet­ter chance would Hask­ins have to suc­ceed with the Red­skins than in Meyer’s very own (pro-ad­justed) sys­tem?

If Sny­der is so sold on Hask­ins’ po­ten­tial in the NFL, as has been re­ported, and which in my opin­ion is not un­founded, then it’d make zero sense if Sny­der did NOT reach out ASAP to Meyer.

Meyer might be one of the few coaches in ei­ther the pro or col­lege ranks with the resume to be able to com­mand from Sny­der full foot­ball de­ci­sion-mak­ing power.

Un­til ei­ther the Red­skins flatly an­nounce that Meyer won’t get the job, or Meyer him­self em­phat­i­cally states he wouldn’t take it if of­fered, bear all of this in mind in the weeks and months ahead.

For now, Red­skins of­fen­sive line coach Bill Cal­la­han takes over as in­terim head coach.

Case Keenum started at quar­ter­back in Wash­ing­ton’s first four losses. He got yanked early in a Week 4 loss to the New York Gi­ants, and Hask­ins earned his first mean­ing­ful time as a pro — and was ter­ri­ble, throw­ing three in­ter­cep­tions.

Colt Mccoy started Sun­day’s loss to the Pa­tri­ots, with Keenum out with a foot in­jury and Hask­ins back on the side­line in base­ball cap.

It’s no se­cret that Sny­der and Allen are su­per high on Hask­ins’ po­ten­tial. Re­ports now say that duo and Gru­den did not see eye-to­eye on even draft­ing Hask­ins in the first place, let alone how soon the 22-year-old ought to take over as starter.

So, will Sny­der and Allen now in­sist the rookie start right away? No, Allen said.

“It will be up to coach Cal­la­han who plays at any po­si­tion, the same way it was up to coach Gru­den who plays,” Allen told a

mid-day news con­fer­ence. “We’re thrilled to have Dwayne here. We think his fu­ture is very bright. What­ever gives coach Cal­la­han the for­mula for suc­cess I’m sure he’s go­ing to do.”

And for his part, Cal­la­han told a Mon­day af­ter­noon

news con­fer­ence he’ll de­cide be­tween Mccoy and Keenum as Red­skins starter for this Sun­day against sim­i­larly win­less Mi­ami.

“We’re still eval­u­at­ing some med­i­cal things with Case. We want to see where he’s at,” Cal­la­han said. “We’re in the midst of those dis­cus­sions right now.”

Hask­ins, he added, is not un­der con­sid­er­a­tion to start.

“Not right now, but he will be at some point in time. We’re go­ing to con­tinue to de­velop him and heighten his mat­u­ra­tion process, and try to get him on schedule so that he his pre­pared.”

Allen, whose nearly decade-long ten­ure as Red­skins pres­i­dent has re­sulted in a 64% de­feat rate, took the ex­pected big-pic­ture ques­tions re­gard­ing the Red­skins’ cen­tury-long strug­gles.

“We’re all in­volved in this. I don’t ever want to hide from our record,” he said. “All we can do is work.”

Look, if all it took was im­mense work and ef­fort, then every NFL team would be un­de­feated, al­ways. All fran­chises work hard. Only win­ning fran­chises work smartly. Typ­i­cally, they hire smart foot­ball peo­ple and get out of the way.

Maybe af­ter now fir­ing his eighth head coach in 20 years as owner, Sny­der fi­nally will come to that con­clu­sion ... who­ever Gru­den’s even­tual non-in­terim suc­ces­sor might be.

FIVE FAST FACTS

Buf­falo QB Josh Allen leads the NFL with three game-win­ning drives in 2019 ... The New York Jets of­fence has ad­vanced into the red zone twice in four games ... Charg­ers RB Austin Ekeler caught 15 passes vs. Den­ver, an NFL sea­son-high for all play­ers ... The Colts held the Chiefs to their low­est point to­tal (13) since Novem­ber 2017 and low­est rush-yard to­tal (36) since De­cem­ber 2016 ... Of sea­son-long QB starters, Dak Prescott and Ja­coby Bris­sett have been sacked the least — six times.

TAK­ING A KNEE

NFL of­fi­ci­at­ing must be all that bad if mild-man­nered Dal­las Cow­boys head coach Ja­son Gar­rett — the guy who smiles brightly even sec­onds af­ter a gut-punch­ing loss — could be­come so en­raged as to say some­thing to a side­line of­fi­cial dur­ing Sun­day’s loss to Green Bay so in­cen­di­ary as to earn a 15-yard un­sports­man­like-con­duct penalty.

Good­ness, if it’s come to that, it’s time for the NFL to take a big-pic­ture look at its rule­book, as it has been hint­ing at now for years.

For in­stance, does any­one want to watch a punt play any­more? Pooch punts and con­stant, nearly un­avoid­able il­le­gal-block­ing penal­ties (ask any­one who ever has played tackle foot­ball at any level) are be­yond frus­trat­ing.

The pass-in­ter­fer­ence re­view thresh­old is so high as to be su­per­flu­ous. All those re­views do now is fur­ther en­rage one team and its fan base even more of­ten than usual.

The NFL’S indis­crim­i­nate de­ci­sion two weeks ago to re­duce the num­ber of hold­ing penal­ties called is an­other irk­some head-scratcher. Lit­er­ally, just like that, hold­ing calls plum­meted overnight. What kind of rule­book gov­ern­ing and of­fi­ci­at­ing man­age­ment is that?

Coaches seem more frus­trated than ever. Play­ers too. Fans too. Even own­ers.

In ref­er­ence to the Gar­rett in­ci­dent Sun­day, Cow­boys owner/gm Jerry Jones said of the NFL’S ev­er­more thin-skinned game of­fi­cials:

“I hope the lit­tle dar­ling didn’t hear any­thing he hasn’t heard be­fore.”

What a mess.

GETTY IM­AGES

Af­ter fir­ing head coach Jay Gru­den early yes­ter­day morn­ing, the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins would be smart to go af­ter NCAA leg­end Ur­ban Meyer (in­set).

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