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PRO FOOTBALL: Coach-less ’Skins start lining up the candidates

Mere days after dismissing head coach Mike Shanahan, the Washington Redskins have begun in earnest a search to find his replacement.

Three initial candidates have emerged, according to several media reports. The search may likely continue, however, as other candidates whose teams have NFL wild-card playoff games this weekend or college bowl games this week are currently unable to interview with the team.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported the Redskins will interview current Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell next week.

Also on Wednesday, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera confirmed to the Associated Press defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will interview with the Redskins this week.

The Charlotte Observer, quoting two sources, said the interview will take place Saturday in Charlotte.

Rivera says the Redskins called Tuesday to ask permission to speak with McDermott.

NFL rules mandate interviews with assistant coaches on a bye week must be conducted before the conclusion of the wild-card games. The Panthers (12–4) have a first-round bye.

Late Tuesday night, the Post and ESPN, both attributing anonymous sources, reported Redskins officials traveled to Seattle and conducted an initial interview with Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. As with McDermott, Bevell was available to interview this week as the NFC West champion Seahawks have a bye this week.

In announcing Shanahan’s firing Monday and the start of the coach search, Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen didn’t specify the type of coach the franchise would look for, only that he be the type of coach that can “inspire this football team.”

Of the initial three candiates, only the 58-year-old Caldwell has head coaching experience. He led the Indianapolis Colts for three seasons, reaching Super Bowl XLIV where the Colts fell to the Saints, 31–17. He also coached Wake Forest for eight seasons in the 1990s.

Last year, then-Ravens quarterbacks coach Caldwell was thrust into the offensive coordinator’s post when head coach John Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron. Caldwell directed quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense as the Ravens surged into Super Bowl XLVII, where they beat the San Francisco 49ers, 34–31.

McDermott, 39, joined the Panthers in 2011. His defense allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL and had a league-high 60 sacks.

Rivera says McDermott “has done a great job as coordinator, and his body of work speaks for itself.”

Prior to his Charlotte stint, McDermott, who played college ball at William & Mary, spent more than a decade in the Philadelphia Eagles’ organization. The son of a Division II coach in Pennsylvania, McDermott started as a scouting administrator, then coached several defensive positions on Andy Reid’s staff while working his way up the ladder.

McDermott took over as defensive coordinator when Jim Johnson died before the 2009 season. The Eagles led the league in takeaways during McDermott’s two seasons as coordinator and finished 12th in total defense in 2010.

Fired by Reid after the Eagles were bounced out early from the 2010 playoffs, McDermott headed to Charlotte to work for Rivera, who had once been on Reid’s staff.

McDermott told the Observer earlier this week he was ready to become a head coach when the time is right. That time might be now.

“I’m not going to rush it. I’m a guy that believes in faith and whenever that’s meant to be, that’s going to happen. And so be it,” McDermott said.

Bevell, 43, has directed the Seahawks offense the past two seasons and has been widely credited with the development of quarterback Russell Wilson. He previously worked with Brett Favre in Green Bay and when Favre joined Bevell in Minnesota in 2009, the Vikings went 12–4 and reached the NFC championship game.

Whomever the Redskins select, the team hopes he can improve on Shanahan’s mark. The Redskins went

3–13 this season and were 24–40 in Shanahan’s four seasons.