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The case for Gregg Williams to pick the Redskins over the Jets

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USA TODAY Sports

The case for Gregg Williams to pick the Redskins over the Jets

Things looked like a done deal with Gregg Williams taking over as defensive coordinator of the New York Jets. 

Until they weren't

New Jets head coach Adam Gase held a 20-minute press conference on Monday, and there was no discussion of the future defensive coordinator. 

It appears contract discussions between Williams and the Jets hit a snag, and in the meantime, the Redskins are working to bring him down to Ashburn for a meeting, sources told NBC Sports Washington. 

That prospect is quite exciting for a number of Redskins fans. Of the last 20 years, Williams was here for the best seasons in Burgundy and Gold. He served as Joe Gibbs' defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2007, and the team twice made the playoffs. 

Yes, the 'Skins currently have Greg Manusky as defensive coordinator, but Williams is much more accomplished in that same position. 

The question in this process isn't why the Redskins would want Williams. That's obvious.

It's why would Williams want the Redskins?

Despite a seemingly endless series of calamities since the mid-November signing of Reuben Foster, the Redskins job should appeal to Williams. To start with, the Redskins are strong up front with Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis. Ryan Kerrigan is a perennial Pro Bowler on the edge. 

For a defensive coordinator that prides himself on aggressive schemes and running a 4-3 base defense, Williams would have some excellent tools in those four players. Add in Tim Settle and Ryan Anderson, and there are young developmental pieces in place as well along the defensive front. 

Beyond personnel, Williams might like the Redskins opportunity for the exact reason a number of other defensive coordinator candidates did not. 

In 2019, Jay Gruden will be coaching in the sixth-year of a seven year contract. Few coaches work on the last year of their deals, so in the pressure-packed world of NFL coaching, it's easy to look at next season and as make or break for Gruden.

For many coordinators, they'd rather sign up to work with a head coach that has lots of job security, armed with at least a four-year contract.

Williams might not mind a spot with a potential change on the horizon. 

In 2007, Williams was considered the heir apparent to Gibbs. Only when Gibbs retired, Williams did not get the top job, and he quickly moved on. There was talk of ill will between Williams and the organization, but the word around Ashburn is all of that has been smoothed over.

Now, if Williams believed he could come back to Washington and possibly be first in line for a head coaching opportunity if things go poorly for Gruden next season? That might be appealing. And knowing that the Redskins offense has major question marks at quarterback for 2019? Even moreso. 

That situation might be a better spot than the Jets, where Gase has the full support of ownership to develop young QB Sam Darnold.

Gase will get at least three years in New York. Gruden only has two years left on his contract. 

That kind of math is pretty simple for a 60-year-old coach that might want one last shot at being the boss. 

Something else could be afoot too.

Whatever the contractual holdup is with the Jets, leverage could help Williams get what he wants. A meeting with the Redskins represents that leverage. 

Williams could be meeting with the Redskins as soon as Tuesday. The team has already met with Steve Wilks and Todd Bowles, a pair of other highly regarded defensive coordinator candidates that took jobs elsewhere. 

In a lot of ways, Williams is the Redskins' last hope for a new, big-name coordinator in this coaching cycle. And he's certainly the name that will excite the fan base most. 

It's been a tough offseason in Washington, and it's only mid-January. Getting Williams in the building, and his name on a contract, would be a big win for the Redskins.

But for Williams, coming back to Washington more than a decade after his first successful stint as defensive coordinator, might offer a lot to like too.

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Redskins QB Colt McCoy’s status still uncertain as he misses practice again

Redskins QB Colt McCoy’s status still uncertain as he misses practice again

Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy again did not participate in practice on Sunday and his status for the start of the regular season remains unclear, according to coach Jay Gruden. 

McCoy, in a quarterback competition with Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins, has yet to play in a preseason game. He remained confident that his recovery from a broken right leg last Dec. 4 is on track despite setbacks during the offseason and a recurrence of pain during training camp. 

“Sooner rather than later,” McCoy told reporters in the locker room after practice when asked his assessment of a return.  

But that might be wishful thinking. McCoy admitted he went to see renowned foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson while the Redskins were in Richmond for training camp. There is no sign he’s about to return to practice this week before a Thursday preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. 

“It might not be the end of camp, it might be two or three weeks into the season,” Gruden said. “We don't know yet. Like I said, there's no timetable for him until he feels like he's 100 percent to push off that leg. Until that time comes, he's going to be rehabbing.”  

Gruden admitted surprise that the broken leg hasn’t healed completely almost months after McCoy went down in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, but cast no blame on the training or medical staff and called it “a fluke-type thing.” 

Gruden said that McCoy did not re-aggravate the injury at all during training camp in Richmond. It’s the same injury he’s been trying to heal from for months. He also wasn’t ready to say if the Redskins would pursue another quarterback. 

That can wait until after the third preseason game and when they have a better idea of McCoy’s status and whether they absolutely need one on the roster. For now, Gruden believes McCoy is on a path to return. It shouldn’t be too long. Maybe. But when, exactly, has left everyone frustrated. 

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For an unfamiliar Redskins linebacking group, working together is everything

For an unfamiliar Redskins linebacking group, working together is everything

Though it can sometimes be muffled by crowd noise or distance, there's one thing you can guarantee will happen on a majority of the Redskins defensive plays. If Jon Bostic is in the huddle, his voice will be heard.

“That’s how I’ve always been. When I’m on the field, the thing about me is that I'm always talking, I’m always communicating," Bostic said. "People always tell me I never shut up.”

Even if once and awhile people may mention that he talks a lot, it's usually mentioned as a positive. Though he's only been a member of the Redskins for a few months now, the 28-year-old linebacker's vocalness has been a welcome addition to the huddle.

"Bostic is such a great communicator. We didn’t really know that until we got him here," head coach Jay Gruden said. "How he communicates with the linebackers, and the secondary. He makes it easy for everybody that plays with him.”

Bostic's ability to be a voice on the defense is crucial, specifically for his position group. Just a few months prior at OTAs and minicamp, the linebacking core had some veteran, experienced members in Rueben Foster and Mason Foster. That's no longer the case

A season-ending injury to Rueben Foster and the release of Mason Foster has things looking a lot different in the middle of the defense. With the veteran and familiar players out of the picture, it's about new faces stepping up.

Bostic is part of that group, and seems to have embraced the challenge so far. The six-year veteran has bounced around the league, but looks comfortable with the Redskins. He's impressed since he signed following Foster's injury, and has worked his way into earning first-team reps. 

Alongside Bostic will most likely be Shaun Dion Hamilton. The second-year pro came on strong toward the end of the 2018 season, and with a shakeup in the roster he's primed to take on a bigger role during his sophomore campaign. Initially slowed down by some injuries in the preseason, he's back on the practice field, which has the likes of Bostic incredibly excited.

“It’s big," Bostic said about getting the opportunity to take reps with Dion Hamilton. "Another guy that’s smart, has played football.”

While both Bostic and Dion Hamilton are both talented individuals, the success in the middle of the defense will only come if the two mesh together. The two have some familiarity due to playing in similar systems in college, but their time on the field together has been limited to a smaller sample size.

So throughout the remainder of the preseason, a primary goal is to get more comfortable alongside one another. A task that could require Bostic to keep his lips sealed at times.

“When I’m out there, sometimes I’ll be quiet. Like at practice I’ll be quiet because I want to learn the guys next to me," Bostic said. "I want to learn how he thinks. I think that’s important, especially for me.”

Talking or listening, communication will play a big part in preparing the linebacking group for the chaos that is a snap in the NFL. The intensity that comes with each down is something rookie linebacker Cole Holcomb, another new face with new responsibilities, has quickly picked up during his first taste of pro action. 

“You gotta be fast. You’re thinking out loud," Holcomb said. “Just talking about what you’re seeing, and together we'll create a picture.”

The picture is slowly starting to come together for the fifth-round pick. Continuing to pick up new things as he goes along and keeping his head buried in the playbook and tape, he's been able to make the difficult transition less of a bumpy ride.

“Cole is very smart, that’s part of the reason why we were attracted to him in the draft," Gruden said. "He’s a very, very smart player. Instinctual player. He’s picked it up very smoothly, very effortlessly.”

In addition to studying on his own, Holcomb is another member of the linebacking corps that has made communicating a major priority. Constantly talking and listening to all the voices he can, including Bostic and Dion Hamilton, things have started to slow down. 

For a position group clouded with some question marks and uncertainty, all members are in the midst of their own personal learning experiences. Conquering those will be important, but it starts with building off one another through something as simple as talking.

At the end of the day, they're all in this together.

“We gotta grow together, keep growing together as a defense," Bostic said.  "We gotta keep learning each other, we gotta keep understanding the defense. We’re only as strong as our weakest link.”

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