To the surprise of nobody, the Washington Redskins fired head coach Jay Gruden Monday following an 0-5 start to his sixth season with the team.
Assistant head coach Bill Callahan will take over the sideline in the interim, but owner Daniel Snyder and team president Bruce Allen will surely look elsewhere as they consider a long-term replacement.
According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Snyder already has a high-profile wish list in mind.
Mike Tomlin tops Dan Snyder’s reported wish list
At the top of that list? Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Snyder also has his eyes on Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, according to the report.
Bieniemy and Bowles are intriguing candidates, while Tomlin — well, that equates to wishful thinking.
Would Steelers do that to Tomlin?
While a contingent of frustrated Steelers fans are likely giddy at the prospect, the chances of Tomlin landing in Washington fall somewhere between slim and none.
Tomlin is signed with the Steelers through 2021, meaning that barring Tomlin himself being fired, the Steelers would have to agree to the rare trade of an NFL head coach for Snyder’s reported wish to be granted.
A case can be made that the Rooney family is the most coach-loyal ownership group in professional sports. Since 1969, the Steelers have had a grand total of three head coaches — Chuck Knoll, Bill Cowher and Tomlin.
So no. As badly as Snyder might want to feed his ceaseless urge to make a big splash, landing the Super Bowl-winning coach of the Steelers amounts to a pipe dream. Even if the Rooneys decided it was time to move on, sending Tomlin to the coaching purgatory of working for Snyder and Allen doesn’t fit the franchise’s M.O.
What about Bieniemy, Bowles?
From Snyder’s reported wish list, that leaves Bowles, a former head coach with the New York Jets, and Bieniemy, a former NFL running back and longtime college and NFL assistant coach who’s spent the last six-plus seasons under the tutelage of Chiefs head coach and offensive innovator Andy Reid.
Bieniemy was the running backs coach in Kansas City before taking over as offensive coordinator last season of the unit that exploded during Patrick Mahomes’ first season as starting quarterback. Washington has a young quarterback in need of development in Dwayne Haskins, making Bieniemy an attractive choice.
Bowles struggled to gain traction in four seasons as the head coach of the Jets, but is a respected defensive coordinator in the league.
Whether either of them would want to hinge their coaching careers on the dysfunction that is Washington football under Snyder’s leadership is the more relevant question in this discussion.
It’s a challenge that anyone who considers taking the job will have to consider.
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