Zorn top candidate as O coordinator but no Fassel deal yet

Updated: January 23, 2008, 11:15 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli and Chris Mortensen | ESPN.com

Former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel remains under strong consideration to fill the Washington head coach vacancy, but a Redskins' source said late Wednesday he has not yet been offered the position and that club officials might still decide to wait until after Super Bowl XLII to interview one or more assistants from the franchises involved in the championship game.

Team and league sources also insisted that Washington defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was considered the heir apparent to Joe Gibbs and who has interviewed four times with owner Daniel Snyder and executive vice president Vinny Cerrato in the past 10 days, is still a candidate for the position.

It has been rumored that the Redskins might be interested in meeting with Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who has vast experience in the NFC East. Before being named as the Giants' coordinator, Spagnuolo was the Philadelphia Eagles' linebackers coach for eight seasons. A Washington source acknowledged Thursday that Spagnuolo is "on the radar screen" of Redskins' officials.

League rules prohibit the Redskins from interviewing Spagnuolo or any other assistants from the Giants or the New England Patriots until after the Super Bowl.

Snyder may take a few days to consider his options. If he decides not to wait until after the Super Bowl to expand his list of candidates, the job could very well go to Fassel, who compiled a 60-56-1 record in seven seasons as the Giants' head coach (1997-2003), and who led the club to a Super Bowl XXXV appearance. Fassel, who most recently served as the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator before being dismissed from that job midway through the 2006 season, was also a head coach candidate in Washington in 2004 before Snyder coaxed Gibbs out of retirement.

Fassel, 58, on Monday interviewed with Snyder and Cerrato for a second time in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, the Redskins met with Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, and he has emerged as the top choice to be their new offensive coordinator, no matter who is hired as head coach. It appears that the Redskins will part ways with assistant head coach/offense Al Saunders, who joined the staff in 2006 as one of the NFL's highest paid assistants.

Zorn, Seattle's quarterbacks coach for the past seven years, met with Snyder at Snyder's home, a person familiar with the coaching selection process told The Associated Press.

Zorn is a longtime local favorite in Seattle. He was the franchise's original starting quarterback in 1976 and played nine seasons with the team. He returned as an offensive assistant from 1997-98 and again as quarterbacks coach in 2001.

The hiring of Zorn or any new offensive coordinator would represent yet another scheme change for Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell, who has played in six different offensive systems over his last seven years of college and professional football.

The Redskins also want to hire Rex Ryan as the team's new defensive coordinator, sources said. Ryan has been the defensive coordinator for the Ravens for the past three seasons. But the Redskins have been stymied in their attempts to hire him because the Ravens still retain contractual rights that allow them to block Ryan from taking another defensive coordinator job.

Last week, as first reported by ESPN.com, the Redskins arranged an interview with Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, whose contract with the Bucs had expired. But just hours before he was to board a plane for the meeting with the Redskins, Kiffin agreed to a mutiyear contract extension with Tampa Bay on a deal believed to be worth about $2 million per year.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Chris Mortensen covers the NFL for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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