Who the Commanders have interviewed for OC vacancy originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Commanders are in search of a new offensive coordinator. The club parted ways with Scott Turner just two days after the 2022 season concluded, marking the biggest staff change under head coach Ron Rivera’s tenure thus far.
During their season-ending press conference, Rivera and general manager Martin Mayhew emphasized a desire to become a run-heavy team. While comments about a 2:1 pass-run ratio were taken out of context, it’s no secret Washington wants to establish its offensive identity by running the football first to set up the play-action passing game.
“We’re all products of our experience in this league,” Mayhew said. “And in my experience here, the most success that I had was playing here and we were a run-first football team. … That’s what I’ve had success with. When we had success in Detroit in 2014, we had a run-first orientation. I know [Rivera] had a pretty good running back when you played too in Chicago. We’re products of that and what we’ve experienced, and that’s where I’ve had the most success.”
At quarterback, the Commanders have reportedly been telling potential offensive coordinators that Sam Howell, a fifth-round pick in 2022, will enter the year as the club’s starter. Washington will continue to explore all their options at the position, but Howell’s debut against Dallas in Week 18 impressed the team’s decision-makers.
How attractive the Commanders’ OC job is, is debatable. Ownership questions surround the franchise as Dan and Tanya Snyder explore a potential sale, which could leave the current coaching staff and any new additions in limbo once it goes final. Plus, while Howell showed promise, it’s far from a guarantee he’ll develop into a franchise quarterback. A lack of stability, both with ownership and at quarterback, could potentially dissuade potential candidates from accepting the job.
Washington does have a good core of talent on offense, though, especially at the skill positions. Terry McLaurin is signed for three more years and made his first Pro Bowl in 2022 after setting a career-high in receiving yards. Jahan Dotson and Brian Robinson shined as rookies and figure to be major building blocks for the future. Curtis Samuel and Antonio Gibson remain explosive players with home-run potential. There is a lot to like.
Here’s a look at who the Commanders are interested in filling the vacancy with…
Who Washington has interviewed
The first candidate the Commanders interviewed was Shurmur, who most recently served as the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator from 2020-2021. Shurmur was not retained by Denver’s new staff and did not coach elsewhere this past season.
Shurmur, 57, has 23 years of NFL coaching experience and has been an offensive coordinator for four different teams. His most success as an OC came with the Vikings in 2017, where a Case Keenum-led Minnesota squad went 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship. Shurmur also served as the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia during Nick Foles’ breakout campaign (27 TDs, 2 INTs) in 2013.
Shurmur’s last stint as an offensive coordinator was largely unsuccessful, however, largely due to Denver having similar quarterback play as the Commanders have had in recent years. In Shurmur’s two years in charge of the Broncos’ offense, the group finished in the bottom third in scoring, red zone efficiency and third down conversion rate. Shurmur also struggled as the Giants’ head coach in 2018-2019.
Rivera has ties to Shurmur, too: the two coaches overlapped in Philadelphia for five years from 1999-2003. The Commanders’ boss has made a habit of bringing former colleagues to Washington, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Shurmur is next.
The Commanders are exploring all options to replace Turner, including taking a look internally. Quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese was interviewed for the OC vacancy, the team announced on Jan. 18.
Zampese, 55, has spent the last three years serving as the Commanders’ quarterbacks coach under Rivera and Turner. Washington has started nine different signal-callers during that span, so it’s difficult to judge Zampese’s work given the instability at the position.
Like Shurmur, Zampese has over two decades of NFL coaching experience. He spent 13 seasons as the quarterbacks coach under Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati from 2003-2015 before being promoted to the Bengals’ offensive coordinator job in 2016. Zampese held that role for a year and some change before he was fired two games into the 2017 campaign.
If the Commanders are going to move forward with Howell as QB1, Zampese has a year under his belt working with the second-year passer — something no other candidate can say.
Next on the list of interviewees is current Falcons quarterbacks coach Charles London, whom the Commanders met with on Jan. 19.
London, 48, spent the past two seasons as Atlanta’s quarterbacks coach. In just two years, London worked with a long-time starter in Matt Ryan, a veteran in Marcus Mariota and a rookie in Desmond Ridder. His experience working with multiple quarterbacks at different stages in their respective careers could be seen as a plus in Washington, as the Commanders are likely to add at least one veteran to the QB room to join second-year pro Sam Howell.
Before his time in Atlanta, London served as the running backs coach in Chicago for three seasons. Prior to that, London held the same role in Houston for four years. London coached multiple 1,000-yard rushers during that span, highlighted by peak Arian Foster and David Montgomery. The Commanders want to be a run-first team, so London’s background with running backs is definitely a plus.
The Commanders’ search for a new offensive coordinator is now in its second week. The latest candidate that’s officially interviewed for the gig is Miami’s Eric Studesville.
Studesville, 55, has spent the last six years on the Dolphins’ staff, serving in a variety of roles. Most recently, Studesville was the Dolphins assistant head coach and running backs coach. Studesville was the Dolphins’ co-offensive coordinator in 2021 and the run game coordinator before that.
Studesville has 26 years of NFL experience; 22 of those years have come as a running backs coach. The Commanders’ want to be a run-first team, so interviewing a coach with two-decades of coaching experience at the position makes a ton of sense.
The fifth candidate the Commanders have officially interviewed for the offensive coordinator position is Thomas Brown, who’s most recently served as the Los Angeles Rams’ assistant head coach and tight ends coach.
Brown, 36, is by far the youngest candidate the Commanders have interviewed thus far. A sixth-round draft pick in 2008, Brown played in the NFL for three seasons before transitioning to the coaching world in 2011.
Brown’s coaching career began at Georgia, his alma mater, where he was the team’s strength and conditioning coach. He then coached four different programs in four years as a running backs coach before being hired as the University of Miami’s offensive coordinator in 2016. Brown held that role for three seasons before heading to South Carolina to be the Gamecocks’ running backs coach in 2019. He made the leap to the NFL with the Rams in 2020 and was promoted to his current role one year later.
Names to keep an eye on
Byron Leftwich, former Buccaneers offensive coordinator
Frank Reich, former Colts head coach
Jim Caldwell, former Lions head coach
Greg Roman, former Ravens offensive coordinator