Redskins special teams coordinator Danny Smith is expected to interview with the Pittsburgh Steelers after Washington granted him permission to do so, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Smith, who grew up in Pittsburgh, has been Washington’s special teams coach since coach Joe Gibbs returned in 2004. He has since survived two head coaching changes, garnering significant offseason interest from other teams along the way.
In Jan. 2011, he declined an offer to join Denver head coach John Fox’s new staff with the Broncos, a source said at the time. Smith has long been favored by high-ranking Redskins executives, as well as his players.
Washington this season had punts blocked in each of their first two games. Players defended Smith by publicly assuming blame for breakdowns that resulted in the blocks.
The Redskins’ kickoff coverage unit ranked 18th in the NFL in 2012 with an opponents’ average starting field position of the 22.1-yard line. Washington’s kickoff return unit ranked 26th with an average starting field position of the 20.6-yard line.
Washington’s punt coverage unit ranked eighth in the NFL (8.2 yards per return), and the punt return unit ranked 17th (9.3)
The Redskins deactivated return specialist Brandon Banks for the final four games of the regular season and the playoff game due to ineffectiveness.
Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander was the NFC’s special teams representative in the Pro Bowl.
Richard Hightower, Washington’s assistant special teams and defensive backs coach, joined the coaching staff in 2010 from Houston when coach Mike Shanahan took over.