The Washington Redskins have announced that they will not retain four assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Others let go include defensive line coach Robb Akey, defensive backs coach Perry Fewell and head strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark.
This will be met with mostly cheers from Redskins fans who had decided that Barry was the root of the Redskins’ defensive problems this season. Fair or not, sentiment had turned against him as the defense ranked 28th in yards allowed and 19th in points allowed in 2016.
The Redskins will be entering what is a flashpoint for Jay Gruden and his team that finished a game out of the postseason after pretty much controlling their fate entering Week 17. With Barry gone and offensive coordinator Sean McVay — viewed as a prodigy by many — interviewing for head-coaching openings, the team might have to make vast changes to the coaching staff. Plus, there’s the whole Kirk Cousins situation to contend with.
Firing Barry was Gruden’s call — he said as much on Monday. We assume that Redskins owner Dan Snyder, president Bruce Allen and general manager Scot McCloughan all weighed in on the Barry decision, but Gruden said it would be his final say in moving on to the team’s third coordinator in four years. “I was the main reason we brought him in here,” Gruden said of Barry on Monday. “Ultimately, I would think it’s my call. I will have a lot of pull on that one.”
But was the problem the schemes he ran or the talent they lack? The answer on the surface would appear to be both, but clearly the Redskins feel they can find a better coordinator to run the unit and coach a few of the positions in 2017. The upbeat and energetic Barry was a favorite among some players, and Gruden supported him through most of the season, but the team clearly wasn’t satisfied enough with the results.
Expect a lot of changes on defense, where nine of the team’s 15 unrestricted free agents line up. Other players on that side of the ball due to make big money — including safety DeAngelo Hall and defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois — might need to restructure their contracts or could be cut. And after drafting more heavily on the offensive side of the ball, you can bet McCloughan will look to reinforce the defense more with higher picks.
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It will be interesting to see who the Redskins bring in to run the units. X’s and O’s are nice and all that, but personnel matters. The Redskins didn’t dominate enough along the defensive line this season, and when they left their secondary with less help the results were not great when the pressure didn’t get home. Even with McCloughan’s best-player-available approach to the draft, the Redskins should be able to address their myriad needs (DL, safety, inside linebacker) to fit whatever schemes they run under a new coordinator.
They’ll run things differently next season. But they clearly also need more talent on that side of the ball.
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