The Washington Redskins named Marty Schottenheimer their new coach yesterday, less than one month after Schottenheimer said he could not coexist with owner Dan Snyder.
The former Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs coach signed a four-year, $10 million contract less than one week after meeting Snyder. Schottenheimer also was named director of football operations, which apparently helped soften the one-time harsh critic of Snyder.
“At first, I felt our management styles were not similar, but when I met him I felt him to be a very engaging guy,” Schottenheimer said yesterday. “He’s totally committed to recapturing the winning tradition of the Washington Redskins. He has a tremendous passion for this organization.”
It was a startling turnaround for Schottenheimer, who had been a strong critic of Snyder’s hands-on management style.
“If a player has the sense that the head coach is not the one they’re ultimately accountable to, if they feel there is an alternative in the owner’s box, it becomes very difficult to manage and coach that player,” Schottenheimer said in an ESPN commentary soon after the firing of coach Norv Turner on Dec. 4.
When asked on the air last month about the possibility of working for Snyder, Schottenheimer said: “I don’t think that our management styles are similar enough that we could coexist effectively.”
The Redskins hired Schottenheimer after a series of rejections by the marquee coaches Snyder sought to hire. New York Jets director of football operations Bill Parcells, University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier, retired St. Louis Rams coach Dick Vermeil and former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs were among those Snyder pursued.
Schottenheimer, 57, is expected to make several changes in the front office, but interim coach Terry Robiskie and defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes will be asked to stay when they meet with the new coach today.
Player personnel director Vinny Cerrato may remain, but Chicago Bears vice president of player personnel Mark Hatley will also be considered for the job. Former Southern Cal coach Paul Hackett, an assistant under Schottenheimer in Kansas City, may be named offensive coordinator. Schottenheimer will have final say over the roster, as did Turner.
Snyder became increasingly involved in personnel decisions over the past year, causing conflict with Turner. Robiskie said that Snyder was closely involved over the final three games after Turner’s dismissal. However, Snyder is believed to have told Schottenheimer that the new coach will have final say on all matters. That seemingly was enough to convince Schottenheimer to reconsider Snyder’s offer.
“Daniel Snyder is the owner of this football team, but he has afforded me the opportunity to be involved in all the important decisions that affect the on-field success of the Washington Redskins,” Schottenheimer said. “I felt the Redskins were a very competitive team. There’s a strong nucleus there. Certainly, there’s a lot of work to be done, but the opportunity is there.”
Schottenheimer was among Snyder’s coaching candidates when he bought the team in 1999. However, the July 10 purchase date didn’t allow enough time to make a change before the season. After Turner led the Redskins to the 1999 NFC East title, he was retained. Turner was fired late this season after his team, with an NFL-record $100 million payroll, slumped to a 7-6 mark.
“Marty Schottenheimer knows how to win, and that’s what Redskins fans demand in a coach,” Snyder said in a release. “I believe we have a solid player foundation at the Redskins. We’re now pairing that with a coach who understands what it takes to be successful in the NFL.”
The Redskins said they will send two compensatory third-round draft choices to the Chiefs, who retained Schottenheimer’s rights for three seasons after he retired in January 1999. However, a Chiefs spokesman said no deal has been reached.
Schottenheimer quit after 10 seasons with the Chiefs that included seven playoff teams and a 101-58-1 record. Schottenheimer is the NFL’s 12th-winningest coach, at 150-96-1. He led the Cleveland Browns to three AFC Central championships but lost the in the AFC Championship game to the Denver Broncos in 1986 and 1987. He was the AFC Coach of the Year in 1986.
Schottenheimer spent the last two years with ESPN as an analyst.
Redskins players were surprised by the move. Few knew much about Schottenheimer and wondered what changes he will make.
“I would definitely want to have Ray Rhodes back,” said defensive end Marco Coleman. “I hope it’s not a move that makes Ray uncomfortable, but it was a pretty good choice. I grew up in Ohio and got a chance to watch Schottenheimer and what he did with the Browns.”
Said offensive tackle Jon Jansen: “I don’t know if there’s a sense of relief now. We can move on to next year and put this year behind us.”
Added safety Sam Shade: “Everyone I know that played for him respects him a lot.”