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Redskins Close to More Hires
Falcons' Simmons To Join Gibbs's Staff
By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 10, 2004; Page D01
Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Rennie Simmons -- an assistant who held various positions with Joe Gibbs through three Super Bowl championships -- has agreed to rejoin the Washington Redskins, according to two NFL sources. Simmons's title hasn't yet been defined but he will coach the tight ends or assist Joe Bugel, the Redskins' offensive line coach and assistant head coach.
Simmons is among the coaches Gibbs is furiously gathering to fill his remaining staff openings. But first Gibbs, whose return to the Redskins was announced Wednesday, must overcome a hurdle that didn't exist 11 years ago, the last time he was in the NFL: league rules stifling the movement of assistants.
"You've got a lot of hoops you've got to jump through," Gibbs said last night before jumping into a limousine to have dinner with Bugel and former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. "We're fighting our guts out with the guys we're trying to get. We're making some progress, but probably three of them are still up in the air."
NFL rules pertaining to assistants have become increasingly stringent in past seasons. Now, teams are prohibited from interviewing an assistant under contract without receiving permission from his club. An exception is made for an assistant who wants to interview for a higher position, such as a coordinator or head coach, according to Greg Aiello, the NFL's vice president of public relations.
Simmons became available yesterday when Jim Mora was named coach of the Falcons, replacing Dan Reeves, who was fired late last season.
Two other assistants likely to join the Redskins are Buffalo Bills special teams coach Danny Smith and safeties/third-down coach Steve Jackson. Smith and Jackson were on the staff of Gregg Williams, who was hired by Gibbs as the Redskins' defensive coordinator after being fired as the Bills' head coach.
According to a source, Williams wants to hire his former defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, defensive line coach Tim Krumrie and linebackers coach Don Blackmon. But those coaches remain under contract with the Bills, who so far have given the Redskins permission to talk only with Jackson and Smith.
"The league rules on this are really, I think, hurting some guys," Gibbs groused, "because really what they're basically saying is, 'If you've got a contract, we're not going to promise you that you can work here, but you can't go look anywhere' -- which, to me, doesn't add up."
Gibbs's other assistants are Don Breaux, the running backs coach; Jack Burns, the quarterbacks coach; and Gibbs's son, Coy, who will deal with quality control of the offense.
Many of Gibbs's assistants were part of his staff when he coached from 1981 to 1992. Simmons, 60, was a tight ends coach under Gibbs from 1981 to '89, then offensive line coach in 1990-91 and receivers coach in 1992-93. Simmons coached the "Hogs" line, including Joe Jacoby and Mark May. (During the 1991 season, the unit allowed the fewest sacks, nine, in the NFL.) Simmons played center at San Diego State under Don Coryell, and was a teammate of Gibbs's.
According to a source, the Redskins expressed interest in Falcons defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas. But Thomas -- the secondary coach under Gibbs from 1987 to '94 -- is expected to join the Arizona Cardinals under new coach Dennis Green. Thomas was the defensive coordinator for the Vikings under Green in 2000 and '01.
Russ Grimm, the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been linked to Gibbs's incomplete staff. But Grimm, a former Hog, isn't likely to land with the Redskins. Grimm is highly regarded in Pittsburgh and has a chance to become the offensive coordinator if Mike Mularkey is named as Williams's replacement in Buffalo.
"I think Russ has a very good job," said Gibbs, when asked about Grimm. "And my experience is right now, if somebody is under contract and is a good coach, you're going to have a tough time getting him out of there. It's going to take a stick of dynamite, particularly some place where the coach is very solid."
If Smith doesn't reach an agreement with the Redskins, another assistant they are likely to consider is Pete Rodriguez, whose contract with the Seahawks expires in February. Rodriguez, who won't be retained by Seattle, is a former Redskins special teams coach and was once considered among the league's best.
Another familiar face returning to Redskins Park is Bubba Tyer, who served 33 years in the organization before retiring after last season. Tyer -- inducted into the Ring of Honor at FedEx Field last month -- was a trainer for 25 years. His title is expected to announced Monday.
Gibbs said he plans to speak to some of former coach Steve Spurrier's assistants but they are not likely to be retained. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, defensive coordinator George Edwards, defensive line coach Robert Nunn and quarterbacks coach Noah Brindise are the only assistants whose contract extends beyond February.
RIP Kevin Mitchell 1971-2007
RIP Justin Skaggs 1979-2007
RIP Sammy Baugh 1914-2008
#60 Chris Samuels: 6-time 6-time 6-time 6-time 6-time 6-time Pro Bowl left tackle!
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