WASHINGTON — The number of candidates for the Washington coaching job more than doubled in a single day, with the team reaching out to as many as five NFL assistant coaches.
The team is also setting up an interview with Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, bringing the total of known candidates to 11 — enough to field a team.
Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said he was contacted by Washington on Monday and several media outlets reported that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, and San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt also were contacted Monday by Washington through their various teams, with the team making the cursory requests for permission for an interview.
None of the five was available last week under NFL rules because their teams were preparing for first-round playoff games. The Bengals were eliminated on Sunday, so Gruden and Zimmer are free to pursue head coaching opportunities immediately. Roman, Fangio and Whisenhunt can be interviewed this week, but they cannot be hired as long their respective teams remain alive in the postseason.
The competition could be intense. Washington is one of five teams seeking a head coach, and several of its candidates have been approached by other teams. Gruden alone has drawn the interest of the Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions.
"They're all different and they're all looking for something unique," said Gruden, who also interviewed for multiple head coaching jobs last year. "They're looking for somebody to come in and bring something different than what they had. But like I said earlier, I think the most important thing when you go to any interview is to be yourself and not try to be somebody you're not."
New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell became at least the fifth known candidate to meet with general manager Bruce Allen. Allen has also interviewed Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell.
Franklin is expected to interview this week, according to John Wooten of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group that monitors coaching searches as part of its effort to encourage the hiring of minorities in the NFL.
Franklin to date is the only candidate from the college ranks. He's been at Vanderbilt for three seasons and was previously an assistant at Maryland. He has spent one season as an assistant in the NFL, as receivers coach for Green Bay Packers in 2005.