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Let's All Take A Deep Breath Together

Aaah, doesn't that feel better?

After another 18-hour day talking to as many people as I can, I spent some time thinking about the entire process on the drive home and I think we all need to relax. All of us, me included. Got swamped with emails and amid all my reporting I could not answer them all as quickly as I would like. So, I'll say it here: We've just started this process. It's the first interview of many. We need to slow down. It's impossible to see the entire picture right now. It's a fluid situation and this isn't free agency - you don't hire every guy you bring into town, (even if Snyder wanted to), and a lot of this is getting to know people, gathering info on other organizations and building bridges for the future.

It doesn't come off as a great sign that they bring in Williams's former assistant, obviously, and people around the league noted that early yesterday when I began to contact execs and agents about it. Certainly looks best to folks to interview guys like Williams and Saunders for the gig first, and you can't blame anyone for drawing their own conclusions when the owner makes no explicit statements and just begins interviewing people.

This is yet another exampke of how his vow of silnece fails him. Not sure how it would have hurt anything to put out a statement saying "Gregg Williams (and or Al Saunders) will interview for the head coaching position at some point as the team begins interviewing candidates." Assuming they plan to do so as most would expect.

It would relieve a lot of angst in the fanbase and help Snyder's image. It would be the easy thing to do. (It would keep my email from overflowing). But this is the Snyder Redskins where you must guess about all that is left unsaid.

We know the Redskins are going to talk to a bunch of people and only hire one. And as I continued to talk to more and more agents, execs, former coaches, analysts, and as morning turned to afternoon turned to night, my reporting kept leading me to two things:

1) A Big Fish

2) Gregg Williams

Let's not over-think this too much. The name guys are not there. They just aren't. At first I thought Cowher might be posturing but I've heard it from too many people now. He knows the kind of $$$ Snyder spends and he is not wavering in his stance and the bus is leaving without him (pun intended). The party has started. They haven't made a move for Marty or Carroll.. Guys like Fassel and Green were trumped in 2004 and their stature has plummeted since then. Few fit the bill.

The big fish isn't there.

So then you think, okay, they bring in Jim Schwartz to get this started, viable enough candidate. And there are some other up-and-comers who they will meet with, too. But man, that would be a tough sell - wouldn't it? - hiring the pupil when the mentor has already done the job for you. Judging by the mounds of irate emails I received based on the mere fact the owner was chatting with Schwartz - we're talking sharing some steak; not making contract offers - I think there would be some backlash.

Also, so many players on both sides of the ball have come out in favor of an inhouse candidate, it's kind of overwhelming. Phillip Daniels, Andre Carter, Khary Campbell and Carlos Rogers were all saying it again and again yesterday as they strolled through. The agents and execs I spoke to thought it would be sending a definite message to everyone associated with the Redskins to actually conclude this entire process without interviewing Williams or Saunders. Wouldn't be pretty.

Now, it's certainly a smarter PR move to interview them first, but Snyder's record has never been great in that regard. And as I have noted, I thought he and Gibbs could have sent a much stronger message about the validity of their in house people as candidates at the press conference, while still respecting the Rooney Rule and the process teams must follow.

But Snyder is nothing if not a businessman and marketer. Hell, he bought a message board and radio station for goodness sake. It's impossible to completely miss the pulse of this town. Would he be so brazen as to talk so openly and passionately about all that he's learned from Gibbs, and the need for continuity and tell his players at the season-ending meeting about how much he likes this staff and then completely ignore Williams from the process?

Man, that might be the move that finally triggers a Peter-Angelos style backlash, no? Can you even imagine the columns and stories and sports-talk venom that might trigger, to say nothing of player animosity (go back a few days to the blog where I talked from a popular former Redskin about his thoughts on what might happen if they don't give Williams a real good shot).

Wouldn't it be an indictment of this entire Joe Gibbs 2.0 era if Snyder went through the process then handed it over to someone with little-to-no head coaching experience - without at least talking to the in-house guys first - knowing the outside guy would naturally want to overhaul the staff and roster? Now, if you're talking Cowher, I can see going through the rebuild. But he's off the market, at least for now. If Grimm was the guy from the outside they would have courted him right away, I believe, and they have not reached out to Marty, either (I think Baltimore could be his destination).

So bottom line is this thing is going to have to play out a little. They still need to comply with the Rooney Rule and they could look at guys like Mora and Caldwell next week should their teams lose this weekend. Everyone from Joe Thiesmann to people around the league have told me it would be hard to imagine a Cowboy coaching the Redskins - would Joe Gibbs hand-off to Jason Garrett? And would the Skins potentially be willing to wait until Feb to interviews should Dallas keep winning?

Again, after taking a deep breath and letting my reporting wash over me - in reality I need warm water and soap in a bad way - too many people have told me in the last several hours that it would be crazy not to interview anyone off Gibbs's staff at some point for me not to believe them.

Somebody in the interviewing process could blow them away and sweep them off their feet. Certainly. But the word I kept getting around the league yesterday was Cowher or Williams, and it would really be something to have none of Gibbs's guys even get an interview. I could be wrong and so could all the people I spoke to who have been through this process before, but it would not be without ramifications, as I scroll the the ol inbox.

See ya in the AM.


By Jason La Canfora  |  January 10, 2008; 11:31 PM ET
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