Adam Schefter of ESPN recently reported that the Washington Redskins have expressed interest in Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin. According to the report, the Redskins have put in a request to interview the Commodores head coach.
Franklin fits the mold of the kind of coach the Redskins want, but not necessarily what they need. He’s an offensive-minded coach that specializes in quarterbacks. He can come in and help make Robert Griffin III better. As we’ve seen on their list of current candidates that includes a number of offensive-minded coaches, that’s exactly what Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen want.
Through three seasons with the Commodores, he’s turned them from the doormat of the SEC to a team on the doorstep of being legitimate contenders. In his first year as head coach, Vanderbilt finished 6-7 and lost in the Liberty Bowl. 2012 and 2013 saw very different results. Franklin’s squad defeated Tennessee twice over those two seasons, and 2013 saw victories over then 15th-ranked Georgia and a convincing win on the road over a floundering Florida team.
His squad finished with nine wins in both 2012 and 2013 with victories in the Music City Bowl and BBVA Compass Bowl. Following the 2012 season, Vanderbilt finished the season ranked for the first time since 1948. Recruiting-wise, Franklin has greatly improved the Commodores’ competitiveness. In 2011, they had the 50th-ranked recruiting class according to Scout.com. In 2013, their recruiting class was ranked 19th.
The way that Franklin has improved the play on the field as well as on the recruiting trail points to him being able to get players to buy in and be motivated. The turnaround that he is currently accomplishing with that program is promising, and you’d hope he’d be able to motivate a young NFL team like the Redskins.
One drawback to Franklin could be his inexperience as a head coach. He’s only spent three seasons at the helm, and it hasn’t exactly been with one of the nation’s top programs. One NFL expert I spoke to, whose opinion I greatly respect, said that Franklin may be two years away from being NFL-ready.
For the Redskins, they don’t have that kind of time. They are looking for a coach now and if Franklin is the man they want, then they are going to get him now.