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No, it’s not–maybe

Jan 24, 2008, 7:45 AM EST

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It looks like I may have spoken too soon.

The train that seemed to be racing towards the hiring of Jim Fassel to be the next head coach of the Redskins appears to be running out of steam. In fact, it may have become derailed altogether.

Usually, a story like this unfolds in predictable stages over a 24-36 hour period. The media reports that a particular coach is a “strong candidate” for the job, then that the team “is expected to hire” that person for the job. Next you hear of a job offer and then, usually, a contract being signed.

The Fassel story made it up to the expectation stage on Wednesday afternoon, but it stopped there. You could tell from listening to John Riggins on the radio and from following Jason LaCanfora’s blog throughout the afternoon that each of them was very tempted to use a stronger term and say that Fassel was indeed the man.

But nobody could get a confirmation strong enough to go with it.

And, apparently, there were good reasons for that. It could have been that the “team and league sources” were misreading the information that they were getting about the situation or perhaps Dan Snyder simply changed his mind and decided to slow down the process.

Whatever the reason, the expected announcement of Fassel’s hiring did not come Wednesday afternoon. It did not come that night. Sentences in the stories on the Post website and on ESPN.com were rewritten to characterize Fassel as a “strong candidate”, but no longer the expected choice, not even the front runner.

There also were reports yesterday that Jim Zorn, Seattle’s QB coach, and Rex Ryan, the Raven’s defensive coordinator, were going to be part of the coaching team as offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively. It’s been confirmed that Zorn was flown in for an interview, but he left without agreeing to take the job (if, indeed, it was offered). It’s unclear if the Redskins have actually talked to Ryan. Apparently he was not fired when Brian Billick was canned and he remains under contract to the Ravens, who want him back as their DC.

There are reports—or rumors—that the Redskins will wait until after the Super Bowl and talk to Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. That would mean it would be a week into February before this situation gets settled.

There still is a chance that Fassel will be tabbed, but the longer we go the lower the chances are that this will happen. Take my handicapping for what it’s worth, but I’d say that right now there is a one-third chance that it will be Fassel, one-third that it will be Williams, and the rest to the field, which includes Spagnulo and, perhaps, Ryan.

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