Redskins

Arians hires Moore, Bowles, Goodwin as top aides

Arians hires Moore, Bowles, Goodwin as top aides

PHOENIX (AP) New Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has brought in Tom Moore and Harold Goodwin to help him overhaul the worst offense in the NFL.

And as expected, he hired Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator.

The addition of the 74-year-old Moore is intriguing.

He has 34 years of experience as an NFL assistant, 12 as Peyton Manning's offensive coordinator in Indianapolis.

He will serve as Arians' assistant head coach/offense. Goodwin, offensive line coach for the Colts last season and an assistant with Pittsburgh five years before that, will be Arizona's offensive coordinator, although Arians will call the plays.

Bowles comes from Philadelphia, where he was promoted from secondary coach to defensive coordinator with Philadelphia on Oct. 16.

In Arizona, he replaces Ray Horton, who left when Arians was hired and is the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.

Arians, 60, was hired Thursday night to replace Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired after six seasons with the Cardinals.

An NFL assistant for two decades, Arians got his first head coaching gig after going 9-3 as interim coach in Indianapolis when Chuck Pagano was out for treatment for leukemia, helping engineer a stunning turnaround as the team, behind rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, went 11-5 and earned a playoff berth a year after going 2-14.

Such a turnaround would be a blessing in Arizona, where the Cardinals went 5-11 last season, losing 11 of its last 12. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Arians can't bring Luck with him.

Monday's moves came as Arians headed a Cardinals contingent to scout players, presumably a quarterback or two among them, at the Senior Bowl.

Moore's long resume includes three Super Bowl wins - in 2006 as Colts offensive coordinator and as receivers coach for the 1978 and 1979 Steelers.

After 13 seasons as a college football assistant, Moore came to the NFL in 1977 as receivers coach of the Steelers, then was Pittsburgh offensive coordinator from 1983 to 1989. He was assistant head coach at Minnesota from 1990 to 1993, offensive coordinator at Detroit from 1994 to 1996 and running backs coach at New Orleans in 1997.

Moore came to Indianapolis in 1998, the year Manning arrived as a rookie. The two were together through 2011. When the Manning era ended, Moore left the Colts and became an offensive consultant to the New York Jets, then had the same job with the Titans.

Arians worked with Moore and Manning as quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis before leaving in 2001 to become offensive coordinator in Cleveland.

Bowles' connections with Arians go back even further. In 1985, Bowles was a team captain at Temple, where Arians was head coach. Bowles played defensive back for eight NFL seasons with the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers. He was a member of the Redskins team that won the 1988 Super Bowl.

Bowles was secondary coach for Dallas for three seasons, then moved on to the same job with Cleveland and the New York Jets. Bowles, 49, was assistant head coach-secondary coach with the Miami Dolphins from 2008 to 2011, serving briefly as interim head coach when Tony Sparano was fired late in Bowles' final season there.

He joined Andy Reid's staff in Philadelphia as secondary coach a year ago and was promoted to defensive coordinator on Oct. 16 when Juan Castillo was fired.

Bowles will bring a different system than the 3-4 employed by Horton, who in two seasons in Arizona developed a defense that led the league in several categories.

Horton was a candidate for the Arizona job, but there was no chance he was going to stick around when Arians was hired. He took the Cleveland job within hours of the announcement of the Cardinals' hiring.

Goodwin's background with the offensive line will come in handy in Arizona, where the unit was a problem much of the season although rookie tackles Bobbie Massie and Nate Potter did improve as the season progressed.

He came to the NFL as an assistant offensive line coach in Chicago in 2004. Goodwin's brother Jonathan is the starting center for the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers.

No. 1 on the new staff's priority list is finding a quarterback. Kevin Kolb is the only one on the roster who had any success last season, but both of his years in Arizona have been cut short by injury. He's due to make $9 million, plus a $2 million roster bonus, this year so he probably would have to rework his deal in order to return.

The other options are free agency and through the draft. Arizona has the No. 7 overall pick, but most who know about such things doubt that any quarterback is worth that high a pick this year, especially with Arizona's big needs on the offensive line.

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Jay Gruden know the pressure is on him in 2018

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Various sources

Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Jay Gruden know the pressure is on him in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 24, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The heat is on Jay Gruden

Jay Gruden knows that his Redskins need to win in 2018.

“This isn’t a two- or three-year process,” he said last week. “This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away.” 

Jay Gruden gave this answer to a question about Alex Smith, but his words should resonate with the whole team. He’s right. This is no longer a rebuilding team. It’s time for this team to get it together and make a playoff run. 

That puts the pressure on Gruden. 

This is his fifth year as coach of the Redskins. He is well beyond the point where he can credibly point a finger of blame at his predecessor for any problems that are lingering. Only five players who were around in 2013, Mike Shanahan’s last year in Washington. It’s Gruden’s show now. 

His tenure is now the longest for a Redskins head coach since Norv Turner made it nearly seven years, from 1994 through 13 games into the 2000 season. His 49-59-1 run with the Redskins spanned three owners in Jack Kent Cooke, John Kent Cooke, and Dan Snyder. 

It should be noted that Turner’s third and fourth years at the helm closely resembled Gruden’s past two years. Turner’s team went 9-7 in 1996 and 8-7-1 the next year, narrowly missing the playoffs both years. That looks a lot like Gruden’s 8-7-1 and 7-9 records over the past two years. 

Gruden does not want this year’s team to resemble the 1998 Redskins. Turner’s fifth team started out 0-7 before winning four of their last five to finish 6-10. 

Turner kept his job in part because of the team’s uncertain ownership situation after the elder Cooke passed away in 1997. Gruden will not have a similar set of circumstances to help him out if he needs a lifeline in January. 

Gruden wants his fifth year to turn out more like Turner’s sixth season. That team went 10-6, topped the NFC East standings and won a playoff game. 

To get there, he needs a lot of his decisions to go right. While the trade for Smith was not his call, every indication is that he was on board with it. 

Last year, it was his decision to say no, thanks to Wade Phillips, who wanted to be his defensive coordinator and promote Greg Manusky into the job. The results were mixed as the Redskins were sixth in pass defense DVOA but 29thagainst the run. It was viewed as a marginal improvement on defense but the unit still seeme to be more of a liability than an asset. 

This year, the Redskins re-signed inside linebackers Zach Brown and Mason Foster and added defensive lineman Daron Payne with their first-round pick after spending their first-round pick on DE Jonathan Allen in 2017. There will be no excuses for Manusky and, by extension, Gruden if the defense does not improve. 

Joe Barry, Manusky’s predecessor who also was hired by Gruden when Phillips was an option, was out after two years of failing to significantly improve the defense. Any reasonable analysis would have to conclude that Barry did not get an infusion of talent anywhere approaching what Manusky has received in his two seasons. Manusky is getting a second year but he probably won’t get a third if the defense is still considered to be an impediment to the team’s progress. 

And if Manusky has to go, you have to wonder if Gruden will get a chance to hire a third defensive coordinator. 

I’m not sure if there is a certain number of games that the Redskins have to win for Gruden to return in 2019. It feels like he would not survive a 6-10 season or maybe not even another 7-9 finish. On the other end of the spectrum, making the playoffs and winning a game when they get there would certainly punch his ticket for a sixth season. 

Anything in between would leave Gruden in some jeopardy and the call would come down to the vague “moving in the right direction” criteria. 

There are some holes on this team, to be sure. But every team has some and the ones that are well coached figure out how to overcome them. The pressure will be on Gruden to best utilize their strengths and minimize any damage brought about by the weaker points. 

From his statement, it’s apparent that he is well aware of that. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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I put out a tweet correcting the Super Bowl ring count to two.

Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 32
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 60

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 77 days. 

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Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

The Wizards' selection of Troy Brown of the University of Oregon with their first round pick has been met with a strong reaction among fans, many of whom argue he doesn't play a position of need, that it was a luxury pick when other areas could have been addressed, most notably in their frontcourt. Big man Robert Williams of Texas A&M, for example, was still on the board. 

The Wizards, though, did address needs by picking Brown. And really, they arguably filled more pressing needs in the short-term than those at power forward and center.

Though the Wizards clearly need some help at big man in the long-term, as both of their starting bigs are on expiring deals, they need help immediately at both shooting guard and small forward. Brown, though he is only 18 years old and offers no guarantees to contribute right away, can play both of those positions.

Shooting guard is where he can help the most. The Wizards have one backup shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and he is due to miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season while serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Even when Meeks was available this past season, he only helped so much. He shot just 39.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three. Head coach Scott Brooks often chose to rely more on starter Bradley Beal than go to Meeks as his replacement. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any player in the NBA.

More depth at shooting guard will help relieve Beal of some of that workload. That would be great for keeping him fresh throughout the season and help him be at his best when they need him most in the playoffs.

The Wizards also have some urgency at small forward. It is their strongest position in terms of one-two on the depth chart, but they have no logical third option. That was magnified in the playoffs once Otto Porter got injured. They were left with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and had to trot out Tomas Satoransky, who has limited experience at the position.

Brown can play both shooting guard and small forward, giving them much needed depth. If he can play well enough to earn a rotation spot, the emergency situations the Wizards encountered last season could be avoided in 2018-19.

The Wizards still need to find long-term solutions at power forward and center, but they were going to need to find answers at shooting guard and small forward as well. Both Meeks and Oubre have one year left on their deals. Brown helps solidify the long-term outlook at wing.

Now, there's no denying the Wizards already had considerable talent at both shooting guard and small forward with Beal, Porter and Oubre. That begs the question of how much Brown can offer particularly in the first year of his career. But the Wizards would like to play more positionless basketball and to do that requires depth at wing.

The Boston Celtics have helped make positionless basketball famous and their roster shows that the one player-type you can't have enough of is similar to Brown. Boston has Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. All are around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 and offer versatility on both ends of the floor.

The Wizards also now have four players of that size and with positional versatility in Brown, Porter, Oubre and Satoransky. They can roll out different combinations of those guys and possibly have an advantage on defense with the ability to switch seamlessly on screens.

In the age of positionless basketball, players of Brown's ilk have become major assets especially for teams that have many of them. There is such a thing as having too many point guards or centers because they can't coexist on the floor. Versatile wings, in most scenarios, can play together in numbers.

It's different but in a way similar to certain positions in other sports. In baseball, you can have too many catchers but you can't have too many talented pitchers and utility players. In football, you can have too many running backs or tight ends, but you can't have too many defensive linemen. 

Brown gives them options from a roster perspective in the long-term. Oubre has one year left on his contract and if he continues his trejectory with a strong 2018-19 season, he could price himself out of Washington. Brown could move up the depth chart as his replacement one year from now. The Wizards also now have the option to consider trades at the position given their depth.

The problem, one could argue, with drafting Brown over a Williams-type is that it limits their options at center in particular. Drafting Williams would have made it easier to trade Marcin Gortat, for instance, because they would have had depth to deal from. Now, it's more difficult to trade Gortat, whom they have shopped on and off for months, without a plan to replace him. Finding a Gortat substitute in free agency with the limited resource they have would not be easy.

But big man wasn't their only need and in Brown the Wizards may have found a solution at other areas where they clearly needed help.

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