WASHINGTON (AP) -Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz became the first person to interview for the Washington Redskins' coaching vacancy Thursday as the team stepped up its search for a successor to Joe Gibbs.
Schwartz met with owner Dan Snyder in the Washington area and was the only candidate scheduled to have an interview on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the selection process. The person also said the decision to start the interview process with Schwartz was not an indication that he is the front-runner but instead was merely a function of scheduling. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Redskins have not publicly stated the names of any candidates.
Schwartz has also been mentioned as a candidate for the openings in Atlanta, Baltimore and Miami. He became a hot commodity after the Titans finished the season ranked No. 5 in total defense, a remarkable rise from No. 32 in 2006.
Schwartz's only previous interview for a head coaching job came in 2005, when he met with San Francisco the year the 49ers hired Mike Nolan.
Schwartz, 41, has many ties to the Washington area. He's a native of Baltimore and was a four-year letterman linebacker at Georgetown, where he was team captain as a senior and graduated with a degree in economics. He was a graduate assistant on the Maryland coaching staff for one year and later spent three seasons as a defensive assistant with the Baltimore Ravens.
In 1999, Schwartz joined the Titans defensive staff. In 2001, he was promoted to defensive coordinator to replace Gregg Williams, who ironically is now one of his competitors for the opening in Washington. Williams left the Titans to become head coach of the Buffalo Bills and is now an assistant with the Redskins.
Williams is the leader among the in-house candidates to replace Gibbs, who resigned Tuesday after four seasons.
Schwartz fits the profile of the type of coach Snyder is expected to pursue. After previously hiring some of the top names available - Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Gibbs - the owner is expanding his pool of candidates this time around. The main exception could be former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, although Cowher has given no indication that he's willing to come out of retirement.
A second candidate, also an assistant from another team, will be interviewed Friday. The interviews are being conducted by Snyder and vice president for football operations Vinny Cerrato.
Gibbs, who will remain an adviser to Snyder, is not meeting with the candidates. Snyder, Gibbs, Cerrato were joined by former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann for pizza at Redskins Park on Wednesday night during preparations for the interviews, but Theismann is not an adviser during the search, the person familiar with the process said.
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