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Need to Know: Is Pettine now the favorite for Redskins defensive coordinator?

Need to Know: Is Pettine now the favorite for Redskins defensive coordinator?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 13, 55 days before NFL free agency starts.


Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 47
NFL draft 104
First Sunday of 2017 season 240

Coaching search update

There is so much going on right now that you can’t go out to dinner, or even sleep, without missing news. Here is a roundup from the last 24 hours or so.

Wade Phillips is not coming to interview with the Redskins on Friday. Instead, the longtime NFL coach, the favorite of many fans to get Washington’s vacant defensive coordinator job, will join Sean McVay in Los Angeles and run the Rams defense.

Why is Phillips going west instead of coming east to Ashburn, where his son Wes works as the Redskins tight ends coach? Chuck Sapienza of Breaking Burgundy reports that it was simply a matter of talent. The Rams are in good shape up front, led by All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and, when healthy, former All-Pro Robert Quinn. Despite getting no help for a miserable offense (ranked 32nd), the Rams were ninth in terms of yards allowed. The Redskins do have a few pieces in place on defense and they could add more in free agency and in the draft but Phillips saw that there is more to work with in Los Angeles.

RELATED: New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Answers, or just more questions?

—Another development in LA could affect another candidate for the Redskins’ defensive coordinator job. There are reports that former Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn is very close to finalizing a deal that would make him the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers (I know I will type San Diego Chargers at some point). Shortly after the season ended, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that wherever Lynn went, Gus Bradley would become the defensive coordinator. Bradley interviewed with the Redskins on Wednesday.

—So does the development with Lynn eliminate Bradley from consideration with the Redskins? That’s possible, but we don’t know for sure. Bradley, the former defensive coordinator of the Seahawks and head coach of the Jaguars, must do what’s best for Bradley. He is not contractually tied to Lynn in any way. He may not want to join a team that is in the process of relocating and is set to play in a 30,000-seat stadium in the next two years. Bradley also might prefer to work with an organization that has Scot McCloughan picking the players. Chargers GM Tom Telesco has been in in charge for four years and the Chargers have gone from playoff contenders to double-digit losses the last two seasons.

—All that being said, there still is a good chance that Bradley will stick with Lynn and join him in Los Angeles. And Steve Wilks, the Panthers’ secondary coach who had obtained permission to interview with Washington, is apparently going to stay in Carolina and replace Sean McDermott, the new Bills head coach, as the defensive coordinator there. So where does that leave the Redskins in their hunt for someone to run the defense?

MORE REDSKINS: If McVay leaves, don't expect Redskins to hire outsider

—Perhaps with Mike Pettine, the first candidate they interviewed for the job. The news of the meeting didn’t excite many but his resume is rock solid. He has overseen five top-10 defenses in seven seasons as either a head coach or as a coordinator. The Redskins could do much worse than to bring in Pettine.

—The search for a new offensive coordinator to replace McVay may not have as much drama attached to it. It seems that the job will go to offensive line coach Bill Callahan if he wants it or to quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. It may not be that simple—things rarely are simple at Redskins Park—but for right now it looks like the first interviews will involve a candidate that already has an office in Ashburn.

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Sorry Redskins fans, it's now officially time to freak out about Trent Williams

Sorry Redskins fans, it's now officially time to freak out about Trent Williams

In some situations, no news is good news. In the Redskins situation with Trent Williams, that's definitely not the case. 

On Monday, Washington coach Jay Gruden was asked if there was any update on the holdout that has kept the seven-time Pro Bowler away from the team for most of 2019, including all of training camp and the team's first two preseason games. 

"There are no updates whatsoever," Gruden said of Williams' holdout. 

That's big trouble. 

For the first few months, it seemed like Williams would come back. He was proving a point, showing the organization just how upset he was about a missed diagnosis on his scalp. But then Williams never showed up for training camp, and multiple sources explained Trent was serious about not coming back.

So why is now the time to really be worried? The Redskins will play their third preseason game on Thursday night in Atlanta. That's the important one, the preseason game where coaches really try to play their guys and simulate live action. 

Trent won't be there. 

"We’re preparing with the guys we have right now. That’s all we can do," Gruden said. 

At left tackle, that means second-year pro Geron Christian or newly signed veteran Donald Penn. Neither player comes close to Williams, but barely any NFL tackles do. Williams is elite, his replacements aren't, and that will become more clear than ever in Atlanta. 

But beyond Thursday's preseason game, Gruden's body language on Monday revealed a reluctant acceptance that Williams is nowhere close to suiting up in Burgundy and Gold. Early in training camp, Gruden sounded upbeat and optimistic that Williams would return. On Monday, the coach seemed defeated when talking about his left tackle (watch the video above).

"It is what it is right now," Gruden said. "He’s not here so we just have to talk about the people that we have."

In May and June, Trent's holdout seemed abstract. It was happening, but didn't really matter. Real football was so far away. 

In July, it became real. Williams never took the field in Richmond, and that was a real sign about the severity of the situation. 

On August 20th, with the dress rehearsal third preseason game two days away, Williams is not part of the game plan. He's not even a real thought for the offensive staff.

At the team's practice facility in Ashburn, Williams is a ghost. Unopened boxes sit stacked in front of his locker. There's no music being played, no jerseys being washed, and no big smile creeping out from his prime spot in the corner. 

Real football starts in less than a month, and for the Redskins, Trent Williams is not part of the plan. That's a huge problem, and now more than ever, it doesn't seem like it's changing. 


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Jonathan Allen is experimenting with a new helmet and may wear it in 2019, which would be awesome

Jonathan Allen is experimenting with a new helmet and may wear it in 2019, which would be awesome

One thing stood out on an otherwise quiet August Monday at Redskins Park, and that was Jonathan Allen. More specifically, what Jonathan Allen was wearing on his head.

In fact, if you focused solely on the defensive lineman, you might've gotten confused over what decade you were in.

Usually, Allen suits up in a fairly standard helmet and facemask combo. But on Monday, No. 93 experimented with both a dark visor and a totally different facemask that featured a single, vertical bar down the middle of it, the kind of thing you saw on legends like Deacon Jones or Bruce Smith.

To put it simply, he looked awesome. Soooo awesome:

While walking out of the locker room following practice, Allen explained that he was recently watching NFL Network and felt inspired to try it out after seeing throwback footage on his TV. When asked if he plans on actually bringing it on the field with him for regular season action, he answered: "I'm planning on it."

As you — and the Raiders, especially — are aware of by now, the NFL has specific regulations regarding helmets and facemasks, but Allen seemed to believe he'll have no problem rocking his vintage setup.

Daron Payne, on the other hand, does have a problem with it.

"It's terrible," Payne said, while also shaking his head like a slightly disappointed parent. "It's terrible."

Payne is a smart and reasonable guy most of the time, but here, he's wrong. That look is the exact opposite of terrible. It's sick and it needs to be shared for every one of Washington's 16 games in 2019.

In fact, Allen should probably receive a Pro Bowl nomination strictly for even thinking about making that his new helmet. Bringing back the single bar would be truly epic.