- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2008

It appears Jim Fassel’s hiring as the Washington Redskins’ coach is a matter of when, not if.

And it has become apparent that owner Dan Snyder is going in the opposite direction of the continuity approach he talked about 16 days ago at Joe Gibbs’ retirement press conference.

The wild, crazy days that marked Snyder’s first five seasons as owner could return with the hiring of Fassel — perhaps as soon as today — and two new coordinators.

Seattle quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn interviewed at Snyder’s Potomac mansion yesterday for the offensive coordinator spot soon to be vacated by Al Saunders, and Fassel has targeted Baltimore’s Rex Ryan to be his defensive coordinator.

A league source confirmed Ryan remains under contract with Baltimore and the Ravens want to keep him. The Redskins would have to gain permission to speak with Ryan because the move is a lateral one.

Fassel and Ryan worked on the same Ravens staff for 2½years.

One veteran Redskins player was semi-resigned to Williams not getting the job once Vinny Cerrato was elevated to executive vice president/football operations Tuesday.

“Vinny has been Dan’s right-hand man so long,” the player said. “Now that he has this new power, there’s no way Gregg will handle that. I just hope the whole staff doesn’t change over.”

But that widespread staff change is likely to happen. All but two of the Redskins’ assistants are under contract for next year, so there will be plenty of buyouts.

Although there certainly will be uproar from fans who wanted Williams to get the job and disappointment expressed by players who endorsed Williams to get the job, Fassel’s credentials suggest he could be a good fit.

That Fassel even was a candidate surprised a lot of people earlier in the week.

“Are you sure about that?” an NFL executive said when told Fassel was the mystery coaching candidate Tuesday. “For the head coach or offensive coordinator? I’m not sure what the tie-in is there.”

Fassel was out of coaching this season. He was 58-53-1 as the New York Giants’ coach from 1997 to 2003 and led the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV. He had a 2-3 mark in the playoffs.

Following his departure from the Giants after a 4-12 season, he joined close friend Brian Billick on Baltimore’s staff as offensive coordinator. But the Ravens’ offense never produced under Fassel, and Billick fired his friend in October 2006. Fassel spent this season as an analyst for Westwood One Radio.

Fassel’s arrival will have an impact on the roster. The Redskins traditionally ask several starters each offseason to restructure their contracts to create salary cap space. Running back Clinton Portis, for example, has reworked his the last three years. Some players, chiefly cornerback Shawn Springs, might prefer to be released.

Bringing in an established coordinator like Ryan could smooth the tension.

Ryan interviewed for the Baltimore job that ultimately went to John Harbaugh, who had never been an NFL coordinator. The Ravens’ players want Ryan to return, but the source said the front office perception of Ryan last season was that he wasn’t harsh enough with some of his underperforming players. Only a pay raise, the source said, would have Ryan interested in staying.

Ryan is the son of former NFL coach Buddy Ryan and brother of Oakland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

In Rex Ryan’s three years running the Ravens’ defense, Baltimore ranked fifth, first and sixth in fewest yards allowed.

Zorn is in his second stint as a Seahawks assistant. Zorn started 100 games as Seattle’s quarterback and served on the staff in 1997, followed by three years with Detroit. He just completed his seventh season back in Seattle.

Fassel and Zorn would introduce a new offensive system, which would be Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell’s third in four NFL seasons.

Staff writer David Elfin contributed to this article.



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