- Special teams coach Danny Smith reportedly is a candidate for the same position with the Denver Broncos, but Redskins players hope their longest-tenured assistant remains in Washington. (Photo: Heather Farrell)
The Denver Broncos announced yesterday that they had hired John Fox, formerly of the Carolina Panthers, as their next head coach. And soon after that news broke, NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora reported that there’s a chance Fox will try to lure Washington Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith to Denver with him.
Fox reportedly asked the Redskins for permission to interview Smith last year for the same position in Carolina, but Washington blocked the move. La Canfora also reported that Smith declined to sign an extension beyond the 2010 season, so he would be a free agent this offseason.
Upon hearing the news of Smith’s possible departure, Redskins’ players took to Twitter to express their hopes that the coach chooses to return to Washington.
“To lose Danny Smith would suck. One of the best special team coaches I have been involved with,” tweeted defensive end/special teams contributor Phillip Daniels.
“If I lose Danny smith as my special coach I'm gonna go crazy and that's a fact!!!!!” punt/kick returner Brandon Banks tweeted. “Danny smith gave me my opportunity!!!! He went to battle for me when it came to a decision!”
Backup defensive end/special teams contributor Jeremy Jarmon tweeted: “No way Danny leaves us. He's too well liked and an excellent coach.”
Indeed, Smith has been not only the most well-respected coach in the Redskins’ ranks, but also the longest-tenured. He came to Washington when Joe Gibbs made his comeback in 2004, and he served as special teams coach for four seasons under the Hall of Fame coach. He then remained in that capacity for two seasons under Jim Zorn, and this year retained his job despite Mike Shanahan’s takeover.
The Redskins this season ranked third in the league in kick returns yardage and had the 14th-best average of 23.0 yards a runback. They ranked 10th in punt returns with a 10.8-yard average. Meanwhile, the Redskins held opponents to the fifth-lowest average on kick returns (19.0 yards a return), but they were 29th against punt returns with a 12.6-yard-per-return average.
Lorenzo Alexander, who broke in with the Redskins as a special teams player in 2006 and now is special teams captain in addition to Washington’s starting left outside linebacker, shared his teammates sentiments on Smith.
“Danny Smith is one of the best coaches we have,” Alexander said via text message this morning. “He is passionate about the game and the daily grind, possesses great attention to detail and his ability to communicate what he needs from you is great. But his greatest quality is that he genuinely cares about his players and fights for them. I wouldn’t be who I am without Danny Smith. Gave me a chance to play.”
Like Jarmon, Alexander said he’s he surprised if Smith wanted to move on, or if the Redskins didn’t work something out to ensure he remained in Washington. He added, however, that in the NFL, nothing is out of the question, though.
“I would say yes [it would be a surprise] because he has a great core group in place, but if the offer from Denver is awesome, you have to take it,” Alexander said. “Family comes first in this league. The longer I’m around, I realize the NFL is truly a business.”