- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 22, 2017

Just four days after the end of the regular season, the Washington Redskins sent an announcement. Four assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Joe Barry, would not be retained by the team.

Seventeen days later, Washington found a replacement for Barry in its building after being spurned and uninspired during a broad search for his replacement. The Redskins promoted spunky outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator on Sunday, according to multiple reports. He now has the responsibility of making the Redskins‘ defense catch up to their offense.

This will be Manusky’s fourth time in charge of an NFL defense. His first chance came in 2007 with the San Francisco 49ers. That run coincided with the period when Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan was in a decision-making role for the 49ers. McCloughan was vice president of player personnel when Manusky was hired. He then moved to general manager.

Manusky, 50, moved from San Francisco to San Diego for a season, then to the Indianapolis Colts from 2012-15. He also played linebacker in the NFL for 12 seasons, including three for the Redskins, who signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Colgate in 1988.

Washington is also in a search of an offensive coordinator after Sean McVay was hired away by the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams made McVay, who was 30 years old when hired, the youngest coach in NFL history. An internal solution for that opening is reportedly in the works and focused on quarterbacks coach Sean Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh was hired by Redskins coach Jay Gruden in 2015 to assist with developing Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. Cavanaugh has previously served as an offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens.

If the Redskins promote Cavanaugh, they will have to decide who will call the offensive plays. McVay assumed that duty after Gruden determined he was better suited to manage the team as a whole instead of being focused on a play sheet when the defense was off the field. When first hired, Gruden called the offensive plays. He appears to be on a route back to that job if Cavanaugh is hired.

Among the Redskins‘ targets for defensive coordinator was former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley. But, Bradley opted to join the Los Angeles Chargers as their defensive coordinator.

Among other interviewed by the Redskins were former Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine, former Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, former Buffalo Bills assistant head coach/defense Rob Ryan and San Francisco linebackers coach Jason Tarver.

They settled on Manusky, who will oversee a defense that was ranked 28th in the league during each of the two seasons Barry was in charge. The hiring of Manusky at least gives Washington continuity with current players, some of which, like linebacker Will Compton, celebrated the decision on social media.

Manusky brought sarcasm and energy with him when he arrived at Redskins training camp last summer. During one late August practice, Manusky was throwing agility bags at his outside linebackers’ legs.

“I’m your fullback,” he said. “Five bucks every time I cut you down.”

Manusky told his players to hit the blocking sled, then charge at him as if he was the quarterback. The bags were thrown at the rushers’ feet to simulate a low block from a back in pass protection. The challenge was not to break stride.

“This is like taking candy from a baby,” Manusky said after the first two reps. “Cuttin’ ‘em down like lawn dogs today.”

Manusky, 50, ran around practice in preseason and throughout the year. He joked his personal health may be at risk when expending so much energy under the late August sun.

“My heart’s probably going to explode, but I want enthusiasm,” Manusky said then. “The thing is, as a coach or as a teacher, you want them to be involved and have some excitement. The way you coach your players is the way they’re going to act and how they’re going to perform. I like energy and that’s what they’re giving me.”

Manusky’s new position is not one steeped in longevity under Gruden, who is going into the fourth year of his five-year guaranteed contract. He will be the third defensive coordinator since Gruden was hired in 2014. Jim Haslett, a holdover from Mike Shanahan’s staff, was fired following the 2014 season. Barry lasted two seasons.

The internal hiring of Manusky produces another coaching staff hole for the Redskins to fill this offseason. Moving up Manusky means they need an outside linebackers coach, in addition to a defensive line coach and defensive backs coach. Former defensive line coach Robb Akey and defensive backs coach Perry Fewell were both fired along with Barry.

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