TINSMAN: Making sense of Redskins' Urban Meyer sighting

Brian Tinsman
December 16, 2019 - 11:02 am

The Washington Redskins have reached the predictable portion of the season where the story of the day happens far away from the field – even on game day.

Sure, the Redskins played competitively against a team that could win the NFC East. Two rookie receivers led the way and Dwayne Haskins took another step in his development. If not for some questionable coaching decisions, they might have won the game.

But that was overshadowed by the presence of Urban Meyer in the owner's box at FedEx Field, shown multiple times throughout the FOX broadcast.

After a season away from the football sidelines, Meyer has interest in this year's offseason coaching carousel.

That could be back at the collegiate level, where he has reached legendary status with 12 bowl wins and three national championships. It could also be at the professional level, where Meyer could prove that he's more than just a good amateur recruiter.

If working for and covering the NFL taught me anything, it's a meticulous obsession with optics. Teams show fans what they want them to see, when they want fans to see it. So, what did the prominent Meyer sighting mean? Here are the three most likely theories:

1. Dan Snyder wants Meyer: This is the most obvious reason, given that the Redskins are in the market for a head coach. Bill Callahan is a capable interim option, but has done little to show he is the best long-term option. Snyder has shown an affinity for big-name coaches, including Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Joe Gibbs and Mike Shanahan.

Even as the league has moved towards promoting young, hungry coordinators, Snyder could be more comfortable with a celebrity coach and a track record. It doesn't hurt that Meyer is the last coach to have success with Haskins, and would bolster the team's investment in the youngster. Meyer would give the Redskins instant credibility and give a struggling fanbase something to rally around while they rebuild.

2. Meyer wants extra exposure: He was in Philadelphia on Saturday for the Army-Navy game and needs no excuse for visiting Washington. Keep in mind that Meyer is rumored as a target for Jerry Jones if the Dallas Cowboys move on from Jason Garrett this offseason. It's possible that there will be three coaching vacancies (add New York Giants) in the NFC East, so Meyer is smart to stay close. Even if there isn't mutual interest for Meyer in D.C., the Redskins are happy to make Dallas sweat.

3. Redskins need a win off the field: There may only be 32 head coaching jobs, but they aren't all created equal. Given this franchise's struggles, the roster's overall talent, and that their vacancy is old news, the Redskins are unlikely to be the most coveted job. Bringing in Meyer to sit in the owner's box, even just to drum up speculation, could help the Redskins build a market for the head coaching job. Maybe Snyder is already quietly in negotiations with other candidates and sees Meyer as an opportunity to add leverage.

While these three reasons are speculative, this is how the coaching carousel gets started. The truth likely lies somewhere in the triangle of possibilities.

While it's uncommon to see coaches and teams show such obvious flirtation, it doesn't mean that there is fire behind the smoke. This could be nothing more than a shot across the bow of Jerry Jones' yacht. Or it could be the first step to an introductory press conference in Ashburn.

Only time (and a Brinks truck full of money) will decide the Redskins' head coaching job.

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.

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