DC search: Between Lombardi and Landry

Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff calls this candidate ‘top drawer.' Which experienced coach are we talking about? Read more in this Packer Report exclusive.

Mike Nolan, Jim Haslett, Romeo Crennel, Gregg Williams, Rod Marinelli. Those five all have experience as NFL defensive coordinators and head coaches.

Today, Packer Report introduces you to some of the position coaches who could be darkhorse candidates in Green Bay to replace the ousted Bob Sanders. We continue with Washington Redskins secondary coach Jerry Gray.

"He's damned good. He's head coach material," legendary Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff, a color commentator for the Redskins' radio broadcast team, said in an interview with Packer Report on Tuesday evening.

The 46-year-old Gray, who interviewed for the Packers' defensive coordinator job in 2006 before coach Mike McCarthy settled on continuity by promoting Sanders, just completed his third season with the Redskins.

Before that, he spent five mostly successful seasons in Buffalo as the Bills' defensive coordinator. In 2003, Gray's defense ranked second in the league in yards and fifth in points. In 2004, Gray's defense led the NFL with 39 turnovers, finished in the top five in touchdowns allowed, yards allowed per game and sacks, and ranked eighth in points.

In 2005, however, the Bills went from 9-7 to 5-11, costing Williams his job as head coach. Williams landed in Washington as defensive coordinator, and brought Gray with as his secondary coach.

Gray interviewed recently for Detroit's head coaching vacancy. He's also a top candidate to be the Houston Texans' defensive coordinator. Gray was born in Lubbock, Texas, and played collegiately at the University of Texas. During a nine-year NFL career, Gray was a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback for the Los Angeles Rams and spent one year with the Houston Oilers.

Huff wasn't sure if Gray would leave Washington — the Redskins finished fourth in the league in yards and sixth in points.

"I'll tell you one thing: I highly recommend him," Huff said. "Jerry Gray is top drawer. I couldn't give him any better grade than that. He'd make a great coordinator."

Asked what kind of coach Gray is — enthusiastic, fiery or stoic — Huff said Gray's demeanor was somewhere between Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry.

"Lombardi swore all the time while Landry would say ‘dadgumit'," Huff said.

Huff wasn't sure if Gray, whose fondness for physical cornerbacks would seem to make Green Bay an attractive destination, would accept an offer from the Packers. It's hard to tell, however, if that was just Huff's anti-Green Bay bias showing.

"Green Bay's a good city if you like the cold," said Huff, whose Giants lost to the Lombardi-led Packers in the 1961 and 1962 NFL championship games. "I've never had a good day in Green Bay. Every time we came up there, they kicked the hell out of us when Lombardi was there. Every time I played against guys like Jim Taylor and Max McGee, it was no pleasure. One time, I thought they were chasing us onto the bus. I told the bus driver to get us the hell out of here."

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com.

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