- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 3, 2004

Three meetings over two days between Washington Redskins officials and former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel were said to leave the Redskins’ apparent top candidate “extremely impressed.”

Owner Dan Snyder and vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato yesterday capped their interview with Fassel over breakfast in San Francisco. Agent Steve Rosner said the trio of meetings beginning Thursday totaled 12 hours and reviewed myriad issues pertaining to what Fassel might expect as Redskins coach.

“Jim was extremely impressed with Dan Snyder,” Rosner said after the Redskins and Fassel parted ways. “He was impressed with how prepared they were. They brought all sorts of information for him to look at. It was very helpful — sheets on the personnel, the salary cap, the structure of the organization.

“Dan Snyder definitely made a big impression on Jim. Let’s hope Jim did the same.”

Fassel is scheduled to leave San Francisco this morning and travel to the Phoenix area to interview with the Arizona Cardinals later today. Early next week he plans to meet with the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills, the latter of whom made official contact yesterday.

Having raced to the front of the line to sit down with Fassel after coach Steve Spurrier abruptly resigned Tuesday, the Redskins now will interview former Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green.

A meeting with Green was expected today in San Francisco, according to one Redskins official. The interview will satisfy the NFL’s diversity guidelines, which mandate at least one discussion with a minority candidate.

Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes also could be interviewed on the trip if Seattle loses tomorrow’s first-round playoff game at Green Bay. Redskins officials gave preliminary indications that they would wait to meet with Rhodes even if the Seahawks advanced to the divisional round, but it is unclear whether Washington would wait another full week if it has a chance to hire Fassel.

The Redskins’ immediate trip west to meet Fassel fueled speculation that he is their top candidate, but a number of officials with other NFL clubs believe that Rhodes is the candidate most likely to end up as Washington’s coach. Several league executives think Fassel will be coaching Buffalo.

Redskins officials were keeping an open mind about the meeting with Green, whose history of total control over personnel in Minnesota made the prospect of joining Washington seem unlikely.

The Redskins have no immediate plans to alter their current front-office structure, which has Snyder heavily involved and Cerrato the personnel chief. In disputes while Spurrier was coach, Spurrier had equal say to Cerrato with Snyder the final arbiter. Green probably would object to such a setup, Rhodes probably would accept it and Fassel might go either way.

Rosner, asked yesterday if personnel power was shaping up as an obstacle in Fassel’s discussions with Washington, replied, “At the moment, I don’t think it is an issue.”

Fassel went 58-53-1 in seven seasons with the Giants, winning two NFC East titles and reaching the Super Bowl following the 2000 season. Redskins officials are particularly impressed with his division record; Spurrier went 2-10 in NFC East games. Last season, though, New York finished 4-12, losing its final eight games.

Green enjoyed the most success of Washington’s top candidates while Vikings coach. In 10 seasons he went 97-62, reaching the playoffs eight times and winning the defunct NFC Central four times. His track record of offensive success intrigues the Redskins; in 1998, his Vikings set the NFL record for points (556).

Rhodes wasn’t particularly successful as a head coach after making the playoffs in his first two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. His record in four years in Philadelphia and one in Green Bay was 37-42-1.

It remained unclear whether Snyder and Cerrato would attempt to meet with Oakland Raiders senior assistant Bruce Allen while in the Bay Area. SI.com this week reported that Washington might be interested in Allen for an executive position, likely team president, though one club official said he had no knowledge of a prospective hire.

ESPN.com reported yesterday that Allen interviewed Tuesday with officials of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who might hire Allen in an executive capacity and reunite him with coach Jon Gruden.

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