La Canfora: Snyder led team's coaching search

As temperatures dropped around Washington, D.C., on Sunday, NFL insider Jason La Canfora had a particularly chilling report: Redskins owner Dan Snyder is back to his old ways, interfering on the football side of the office.

It turns out that the team's recent dalliance with defensive coordinator candidates Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams was orchestrated not by head coach Jay Gruden or team president Bruce Allen. It was handled directly by Snyder.

That could be because Gruden's position may have also been up for grabs. Per La Canfora:

Snyder flew Bowles, an accomplished former safety with the team who was recently fired as the Jets head coach, to the Washington team facility and made a concerted attempt to convince him to take over the team's defense. While the sides did not enter into negotiations, sources said, Snyder was leading this push, not head coach Jay Gruden, and the owner made it clear he would compensate Bowles as well as any coordinator in the NFL and was also willing to alter his personnel structure within football operations if Bowles was interested.

As one source with knowledge of the situation put it, "Dan put the full-court press on (Bowles). He didn't want to let him leave. He wanted to know what conditions it would take to get him to stay. If Todd had said, 'I'll only do it if I am the head coach,' I think he may have gone for it."

That says two very important things:

  1. Gruden is currently on the hot seat: The Redskins have had a glut of injuries in the last two years, and none bigger than quarterback Alex Smith. In the wake of another disappointing season, it was widely reported that Gruden would not be held responsible, but someone like defensive coordinator Greg Manusky may have been the sacrificial lamb. It turns out that they couldn't find an upgrade for Manusky and Bowles couldn't be convinced to stay even if he had the top job.
  2. The Redskins can't convince anyone to stay: Once upon a time, the Redskins could fly in a candidate, lock the proverbial doors and leave with a signed contract. Bowles apparently came in on Snyder's plane and still asked for a ride back to Dulles Airport. If the head coaching job really was on the table, Bowles decided he would rather try his hand at defensive coordinator for Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay. He joins Ben Kotwica and Kirk Olivadotti as coaches who would rather make lateral (or backward) moves in order to get out of Redskins Park. This says a lot about the team's reputation around the league, and could well impact them in free agency as well.

After losing out on Bowles, Snyder reportedly set his sights on Williams, a former Joe Gibbs assistant, who had a good relationship with Snyder when he was in Washington. How good? Snyder couldn't even get an interview with him. Per La Canfora: "The sides never met as he agreed to become the Jets defensive coordinator before the meeting could take place."

This goes back to point number two above, where the team can't convince qualified candidates to coach here. It might be a more damning refusal from Williams, who has been here and has a relationship with the man on the other end of the phone.

La Canfora's larger point is the Gruden's role as head coach with the right to hire and fire his own staff has been usurped, which does not speak well for Gruden's future. He goes on to further suggest that if Gruden is gone after next season, it could be Williams and Bowles coming back to interview for the top job.

In the meantime, Gruden stays on and so, apparently, will Manusky.

Before the Mike Shanahan administration, Snyder had a reputation for being hands-on with coaching and personnel. He famously left vanilla ice cream on defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's desk to criticize his bland schemes. He brought in retired coach-turned-bingo-caller Sherm Lewis to take over play-calling duties for Jim Zorn. 

It's been a long time since Snyder was accused of meddling in the coaching hallway, but patience is reportedly running short in the corner office.

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