The Washington Redskins have fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry and his staff Thursday afternoon, following an abysmal 2016 season on his side of the football. Ranking 28th in yards in back-to-back seasons and bottom of the league in yards per play in rushing and passing. Here’s a recap of the few names that have emerged from media and football insiders since the firing to take over the Redskins vacancy. Greg Manusky, Steve Wilks, Paul Guenther, Gus Bradley, Leslie Frazier, Wade Phillips, Rex Ryan, and Gregg Williams.
The Redskins are in need of a proven and capable coach who can right the ship, as they have a few key pieces to build upon. A defensively focused offseason can help the coordinator who comes in to replace Joe and help build a solid defense. Here’s the list of my Top 5 candidates for the job.
5. Leslie Frazier – Leslie is a firm believer in the cover 2 defense. He’s more conservative in his coverages, where he loves to focus on preventing first downs, something he is great at. He got his style from Lovie Smith, where Lovie did not mind his linebackers and cornerbacks gambling to create turnovers and Leslie prefers more discipline and making the tackle. Redskins fans know about the prevent defense in Joe Barry’s stint here, but this is different. Leslie is a solid teacher and great adapter to personnel. Only coached two top-10 turnover defenses, but five top-16 defense and four top-10 unites along with eight top-16 rush defenses and eight top-10 defenses in yards per attempt. He can fix up a defensive line, something Washington desperately needs.
4. Steve Wilks – Wilks is the young dark horse candidate for the position, whose specialty is the defensive secondary. Wilks has not been a coordinator before, but a student of the 4-3 defense being under Ron Rivera since his Chicago days. Ian Rapoport has listed Wilks as a name to watch in this coaching search, so it is something worth paying close attention to. Wilks has been a big reason for the development in rookie Panther cornerbacks James Bradberry and Daryl Worley, in 2015 was Pro Football Focus’s runner up to secondary coach of the year award. He developed players like Captain Munnerlyn (cornerback), Charles Tillman (cornerback), Josh Norman (cornerback), Danieal Manning (safety), Antonio Cromartie (cornerback), Antoine Cason (cornerback), and Mike Mitchell (Safety). He can do a lot for this young secondary as well.
3. Gus Bradley – Bradley has recently emerged as the top candidate for the job per NFL Network. He has built a solid resume to this point as a defensive coach. He’s a 4-3 guy who’s known for his hybrid elements. He uses a lot of over, under, and bear fronts in his base scheme and sometimes 3-4 defensive looks along the line. He is a cover 3 coverage coach, so mostly zone-under in his system, which requires a lot of communication and chemistry amongst those in the secondary and mike linebacker. He made a name of himself coaching the “Legion of Boom in Seattle,” with solid talent became the 9th and 4th best defense in yards and 7th and 1st defense in points while being 5th in takeaways. If given the talent, he will make a defense very solid.
2. Gregg Williams – Gregg Williams is one of the most popular names that’s out here and has even a stronger resume than Gus Bradley for a few reasons. Williams is known for his motivational skills, holding players accountable in terms of production on the field and knowing their assignments. He is capable of getting the most out of the players he has, if you blow assignments in the run or pass game he will let you know you are messing up by telling you to ride the bench for a bit and will get the next guy in there to do your job better. Williams’s scheme, mostly 4-3, holds multiple fronts, coverages, and pressures. His blitzes are creative and he has an aggressive approach to a gameplan, choosing to dictate the terms to the offense. A former coach for the Washington Redskins under the Gibbs 2.0 era, he’s coached three top-10 defenses in yards, but struggled in the takeaway category. He’s actually struggled in that category for majority of his career ,but is very capable of shutting down opposing offenses.
1.Wade Philips – The big dog, Wade Phillips has been in the NFL since 1976 starting out as a 29-year old linebackers coach. Phillips is a 3-4 defensive coach where he exploits the strengths of every player given to him on the defensive side of the ball. In an interview with the Broncos early last year Phillips stated “We try to fit what the players can do in the defense rather than saying, ‘OK, we’re a 4-3 or we’re a two-gap 3-4, we’re a team where if a guy can stunt and rush the passer, we let him do that. If a guy is a power guy, we try to let him be that. It’s all what individual players can do.”
In terms of assignments, he simplifies the duties of his players, making it easy to adapt to for them. His defense relies on his three defensive lineman to take on the offensive linemen in front of them by attacking one gap and not two. This allows the defensive lineman to attack the passer instead of waiting for the play to unfold, which was the scheme Barry believed in, holding up at the line of scrimmage and then reacting. You need two very solid inside linebackers with him as well to be successful, then the other pieces in his secondary start to fall in place. In terms of his resume, he has been a part of 19 top-10 defensive units in the NFL and has coached 27 pro bowlers. Prior to his Denver job he took a 30th ranked Houston Texan unit to the 2nd best defense his first year on the job averaging 285.7 yards per game. His defenses creates pressure on opposing quarterbacks and forces turnovers as well, solid in both areas. Which is why I feel he is the best candidate for this job. The Redskins had an opportunity to get Wade Phillips here two offseasons ago and will have another shot pending a head coaching hire of Vance Joseph in Denver.