Red­skins, Mar­i­ucci Will Talk

Sny­der and Cer­rato Held 2nd In­ter­view With Meeks

The Washington Post - - Sports - By Ja­son La Can­fora and Ja­son Reid

The Wash­ing­ton Red­skins are likely to for­mally in­ter­view Steve Mar­i­ucci for their va­cant head coach­ing po­si­tion this week, league sources said. As they headed to Ari­zona for Su­per Bowl XLII, owner Daniel Sny­der and Vinny Cer­rato, the ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent for foot­ball op­er­a­tions, stopped Tues­day in In­di­anapo­lis for a sec­ond se­ries of talks with Ron Meeks, an­other can­di­date, as they seek a re­place­ment for Joe Gibbs.

Mar­i­ucci, who has coach­ing ties to Wash­ing­ton’s co­or­di­na­tors — Greg Blache (de­fense) and Jim Zorn (of­fense) — and worked with Cer­rato in San Fran­cisco, has told as­so­ciates he is in­ter­ested in re­turn­ing to coach­ing af­ter two years as an NFL Net­work an­a­lyst. Mar­i­ucci has been in Ari­zona this week work­ing for the NFL Net­work, and the Red­skins have said that they will make no coach­ing de­ci­sion un­til af­ter the game.

Mar­i­ucci’s agent, Gary O’Ha­gan, said “no com­ment” last night when asked if a meet­ing with the Red­skins was sched­uled, but de­nied broad­cast re­ports that there were plans for the sides to meet last night.

Meeks, the Colts’ de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, joined Jim Fas­sel, who was nearly of­fered the job Jan. 23, as re­main­ing can­di­dates who have

been in­ter­viewed twice. New York Gi­ants de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Steve Spag­n­uolo and New Eng­land of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Josh McDaniels could be in­ter­viewed next week.

Mar­i­ucci, 52, led San Fran­cisco to a 57-39 record and four play­off berths in six sea­sons (1997-2002), but fal­tered with Detroit and was fired dur­ing the 2005 sea­son af­ter com­pil­ing a 15-28 mark. Sev­eral of Mar­i­ucci’s for­mer play­ers and coaches said they be­lieved the Red­skins were a good fit, with the team hir­ing from the West Coast of­fense coach­ing fra­ter­nity that Mar­i­ucci be­longs to. Some as­so­ciates said Mar­i­ucci’s wife may have some con­cerns about mov­ing to the East Coast, and noted that Mar­i­ucci may have to work through some ques­tions about Wash­ing­ton’s front-of­fice struc­ture, but did not be­lieve they would pre­clude him from tak­ing the job.

Sev­eral league sources said that Mar­i­ucci has con­tacted for­mer as­sis­tants re­cently to in­quire about their job sta­tus — the Red­skins could have a po­si­tion or two to al­lo­cate on their of­fen­sive staff — and is mulling over pos­si­bil­i­ties should he reen­ter coach­ing.

One NFL gen­eral man­ager, af­ter study­ing the con­sec­u­tive hires of Zorn and Blache, said: “It all points to Mar­i­ucci. It’s like you’re start­ing a Wash­ing­ton branch of the West Coast fam­ily. Look at the co­or­di­na­tors. Then you’ve got Vinny, who could put it to­gether. That’s vi­able. That’s some­thing I think you could sell.

“He’s a lik­able guy, he’s had suc­cess, been to the play­offs, you can trace him back to [San Fran­cisco’s Hall of Fame coach] Bill Walsh. I think you could sell that pack­age to the fans and ev­ery­body’s com­fort­able. That’s what I think he’s try­ing to pull off.”

Sny­der is known for qui­etly pur­su­ing coaches, and Mar­i­ucci’s name was rarely men­tioned as the Red­skins in­ter­viewed other can­di­dates over the past two weeks. His last two hires — Gibbs and Steve Spurrier — sur­prised the foot­ball world. Sny­der could still of­fer the job to Fas­sel, who coached the Gi­ants from 1997 to 2003 and reached a Su­per Bowl. Zorn and Blache were rec­om­mended by him and league sources said Fas­sel re­mains en­thused by re­cent de­vel­op­ments. Meeks was im­pres­sive in his talks as well, but sources who worked with both Mar­i­ucci and Sny­der main­tain that Mar­i­ucci’s af­fa­bil­ity, charm and out­go­ing per­son­al­ity mesh with what Sny­der looks for in a coach, with com­pat­i­bil­ity a key fac­tor.

“I know [Sny­der] would be very at­tracted to Steve,” said a league source who has dealt with both. “Steve’s got that big smile, he loves to [talk]. He’s the kind of guy Sny­der could put his arm around and buddy around with.”

Both Mar­i­ucci and Fas­sel have de­vel­oped young quar­ter­backs — help­ing Ja­son Camp- bell grow is a pri­or­ity — and will be broad­cast­ing dur­ing the Su­per Bowl. Fas­sel, who lives in Scotts­dale, Ariz., works as a ra­dio com­men­ta­tor. Mar­i­ucci worked pre­vi­ously with Blache for two years in Green Bay un­der Mike Holm­gren, and tried to hire Blache in Detroit in 2004. Zorn also learned the West Coast of­fense un­der Holm­gren in Seat­tle.

Meeks met with Sny­der in In­di­anapo­lis, with the ques­tion-and-an­swer por­tion of the in­ter­view last­ing about five hours. Meeks, who has no head coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, helped re­vi­tal­ize the Colts’ de­fense late in the 2006 sea­son as the team went on to win the Su­per Bowl. He first in­ter­viewed with the Red­skins shortly af­ter In­di­anapo­lis was up­set by San Diego in an AFC semi­fi­nal on Jan. 13.

“I felt good about ev­ery­thing af­ter my first in­ter­view and I feel good about this one, too,” Meeks said. “I’ve moved for­ward in this process be­cause Mr. Sny­der and Vinny wanted me to move for­ward, and I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate that. All you can do is do your best and then just hope for the best.”

Meeks, who coached Wash­ing­ton’s de­fen­sive backs in the 2000 sea­son, just com­pleted his sixth sea­son as the Colts’ de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor. In­di­anapo­lis ranked third in the league in to­tal de­fense this sea­son and ranked sec­ond against the pass.

“We’ve had some suc­cess here,” Meeks said. “I’ve en­joyed work­ing with [Coach Tony Dungy] and watch­ing this team grow and get to a point where we’re com­pet­i­tive ev­ery year. The sys­tem we have is good. It’s some­thing that could be valu­able to many or­ga­ni­za­tions.”

Red­skins Notes: The St. Louis Rams hired Al Saun­ders as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor yes­ter­day, sign­ing him to a three-year deal. His hir­ing makes it vir­tu­ally cer­tain that Saun­ders’s son, Bob, a Red­skins as­sis­tant, would join his fa­ther. Red­skins quar­ter­back coach Bill La­zor, whose re­spon­si­bil­i­ties will be as­sumed by Zorn, could end up in St. Louis as well, while free agent backup quar­ter­back Todd Collins, an ex­pert in Saun­ders’s sys­tem who shined af­ter Camp­bell was hurt this sea­son, would be prized by the Rams. The Red­skins’ switch to a new of­fense makes him less valu­able here. . . .

Gregg Wil­liams, for­mer as­sis­tant head coach-de­fense, in­ter­viewed Tues­day in Jack­sonville and has drawn in­ter­est from Ten­nessee, St. Louis and Dal­las, with more in­ter­views pos­si­ble shortly, league sources said ....

Run­ning backs coach Earnest Byner had a strong in­ter­view for a po­si­tion with Tampa Bay on Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to league sources, but the Buc­ca­neers in­tend to in­ter­view one more can­di­date be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion. Byner’s con­tract with the Red­skins ex­pires to­day, and he is the only coach not un­der con­tract for 2008. He is mulling a one-year of­fer from the Red­skins.

MAR­I­UCCI

MEEKS

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