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Assistant coaches need action

Jan 24, 2008, 9:27 PM EDT

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Now that Jim Fassel has been put on the back burner, perhaps permanently, there is a sense that the Redskins are going to deliberate further on their choice for Joe Gibbs’ replacement. It seems likely that a decision will not be made this week. There is talk—unconfirmed by the Redskins, of course—that Dan Snyder may wait until after the Super Bowl is over and have a chat with the Giants’ Steve Spagnuolo.

The members of Redskins Nation, their finger weary and voices cracking from typing and speaking so much anti-Fassel rhetoric over the past 48 hours, seem to be fine with the break, too. Let things settle down for a while, seems to be the general sentiment.

It seems like a great idea. Retrench, revise the search criteria, take a deep breath, and go back at it next week.

It may seem like a great idea.

But it’s not.

It’s a terrible idea not because we’re all tired of waiting or because the reporters who cover the team just want to be able to go home for a weekend. That’s irrelevant in the long term.

Suffering long-term damage here are the careers of the twenty-some men who form the Redskins coaching staff. They don’t know if they have jobs for this coming season. A new coach is likely to bring major changes to the coaching staff and even if Gregg Williams gets the gig he is likely to want at least to tweak the staff.

On top of that, every day that goes by means that assistant coaching positions around the league—and around college football for that matter—are being filled. The likes of Bill Lazor, Jerry Gray and others are hearing the sounds of doors closing every single day.

To be sure, most of them are under contract for 2008 and even if they are let go they will be paid. That takes care of the bills in ’08.

But while sitting out a year and taking a long vacation at the beach and puttering around the yard in the fall might sound nice to a lot of us, it can be career poison for a football coach. In a highly competitive business where there are many more applicants than jobs the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is a chilling phrase to these coaches.

If the answer to “what have you done lately” is “spent a month fishing in Florida and watched every one of both my kids’ soccer games”, you’re not going to impress an potential employer in this business.

The flip side of this is that the Redskins will find a very small pool of new assistants to hire if they don’t conclude their coaching search until mid-February. Even at this moment the logistics of finding new coaches with every other head coaching vacancy now filled might make the promotion of Williams, which would entail minimal coaching turnover, the only sensible course of action. We’ve seen the problems with finding assistants the past few days with the dramas with Jim Zorn, Rex Ryan, and John Ramsdell. Such issues will only get worse and worse as each day goes by.

Whether it’s GW or Fassel or Meeks or Schwartz or any other mystery candidates, the decision needs to be made. Not only is leaving the staff twisting in the wind just plain the wrong thing to do, it’s bad for business. You don’t want to get a reputation as an organization that will do that.

Make the call, Dan. It’s the right thing to do.

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