Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Mystery Candidate Is Jim Fassel? Really?

No wonder it was a secret

Prior to today there were four candidates confirmed as having interviewed for the Redskins head coaching job. Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator and Gregg Williams protege Jim Schwartz on 10 January, Gregg Williams four times, on 12 14 15 January and one other date, maybe the 13th, former Falcons head coach and Seahawks assistant head coach and defensive backs coach Jim Mora on 16 January and Colts defensive coordinator Ron Meeks on 17 January.

There was a fifth candidate, an unnamed candidate that interviewed after Jim Schwartz on 11 January (op. cit.).

With a hat tip to Skin Patrol and Jason La Canfora scooping his own story, that candidate was Jim Fassel. And it gets better, he has interviewed again, yesterday 21 January.

So I won't hop on the same anti Jim Fassel bandwagon as Jason La Canfora's readers at Redskins Insider (op. cit.), I will just say it is odd. We know Jim wants another shot at a head coaching job and that Jim was a finalist for the Redskins job in 2004 before Dan Snyder miraculously reconstituted Joe Gibbs.

Jim has some bona fides. In 1997 he brought the Giants back to the playoffs in his first year after a three year lapse, with Dave Brown and Danny Kanell splitting quarterback and Charles Way (Wahoowa!), Tyrone Wheatley and Tiki Barber (Wahoowa!) in the backfield, none of those guys got 700 yards rushing.

Three years later he took the Giants to Super Bowl 35, all told the Giants made three playoff trips in seven seasons under Jim Fassel. Check your history sports fans, that would be one more trip than in any seven year stretch for the Redskins going back to 1991.

The thing that gives me pause on Jim Fassel would be that in the first place he did not get another head coaching job immediately after taking a team to the Super Bowl and then openly declaring he wanted another job before he got fired, then three years later in 2004. No jobs were forthcoming.

His buddy Brian Billick hired him before the 2004 season to run the Ravens offense then six games into the 2006 season Brian had to fire Jim because the Ravens offense was a hah hah hahribble number 28 in the league.

I would not be surprised if Jim Fassel and Jim Schwartz are both really coordinator interviews, that if they do not get head coaching jobs this season and Dan Snyder does not pull a rabbit or a Cowher out of his hat that Gregg Williams gets the job, Jim Schwartz is named defensive coordinator and if Al Saunders who has been in the dark since Joe Gibbs stepped down is to be fired that Jim Fassel is named offensive coordinator.

The quick problem I see there is not simply that Jim's offenses in Baltimore from 2004 to 2006 were bad but rather that Jim openly talks of wanting to be a head coach. Like Gregg Williams he has been a head coach. Unlike Gregg Williams Jim Fassel has been to a Super Bowl as a head coach.

Would Jim seek actively to undermine Gregg? Probably not but he would be content to be the guy in the corner rubbing his whiskers while Dan Snyder berates Gregg for another three game losing streak? Just sitting there, waiting for the owner to ask him for his two cents? Yeah, I can see that.

Jim Fassel, AP photo from here.