- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tennessee Titans assistant head coach Sherman Smith probably will be the Washington Redskins’ next offensive coordinator if he wants the job.

Smith was at Redskin Park yesterday for a series of meetings with new coach Jim Zorn, his backfield mate with the Seattle Seahawks from 1976 to 1982, and some holdover assistants from former coach Joe Gibbs’ staff.

Smith and Zorn then were going to meet with Redskins owner Dan Snyder and executive vice president Vinny Cerrato last night.

Seahawks running backs coach Stump Mitchell will be at Redskin Park tomorrow and is expected to be offered and accept the same role with the Redskins, replacing Earnest Byner. Mitchell spent the past seven seasons working alongside Zorn on Seattle’s offensive staff.

Suddenly, the semi-joking promise between longtime pals Zorn and Smith that the first one to become a coach would make the other his offensive coordinator is on the verge of coming true.

“I know Jim’s going to be a good head coach,” Smith told the (Nashville) Tennessean. “He’s like, ‘Now is the time for me to be a head coach. Is this the right time for you to be up here and be a coordinator?’ That’s what [my wife and I] have to decide. We really like it here.”

The 53-year-old Smith, who added the assistant head coach title in 2006 to the running backs coach job he has held since 1995, would replace associate head coach Al Saunders, whom Snyder fired Jan. 26.

“I think it’s mine to turn down,” Smith said. “But I need to go up there and see if the time is right. It boils down to asking the question, ‘Do I want to be a coordinator?’ So much is overblown about the coordinator’s position. It’s not like the [Titans’] coordinator goes up on a mountaintop and comes down and gives us a plan. We all worked together to put the plan in, so it is not one guy doing the planning and the rest of us nodding our heads. We all worked together.”

Although Smith would have the coordinator title, he said he expects Zorn, who has never called plays, to do so with Washington.

“Jim’s probably going to call the plays, and he should,” Smith said. “That’s what he wants to do, and that’s fine with me. He’s going to have a situation just like [Denver Broncos coach] Mike Shanahan, [New Orleans’] Sean Payton, [Seattle’s] Mike Holmgren. So many coaches are doing that … and I think that’s how Jim envisions it happening. Plus, he was under Mike, so that’s how he learned it and probably how he’ll do it.”

Still, the 53-year-old Smith said if he’s offered the job by Zorn, he’s not sure to take it.

“I work for [Titans coach Jeff Fisher], who I believe is the best coach in football,” Smith said. “We have a team that is on the rise. So do we disrupt our lives here and go up there and be a part of what Jim’s going to do?

“I just hope people will give Jim a chance. This guy is the real deal. He’s going to be a heck of a head coach. I just hope Mr. Snyder and the people in Washington will be patient with him. It’s not easy winning in the NFL.”

The Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans have had a 1,000-yard runner in 10 of Smith’s 13 years coaching running backs. Longtime mainstay Eddie George was followed by Chris Brown, Travis Henry and last season LenDale White.

Mitchell, who turns 49 next month, had a 1,000-yard runner in his first seven seasons with Ricky Watters in 1999 and 2000 and Shaun Alexander from 2001 to 2005. Alexander led the league with 1,880 yards while scoring a then record 28 touchdowns in 2005, but injuries slowed him the last two seasons.

A Redskins source said Byner spurned a one-year contract for 2008 after the team offered deals running through 2009 to his fellow assistants.

Notes — The Redskins source downplayed rumors about the team’s interest in trading for unhappy Cincinnati Bengals wideout Chad Johnson, though he didn’t rule out the possibility. The source also believes cornerback Shawn Springs, who turns 33 next month, will stay despite his high $7.5 million salary cap number for 2008.


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