Redskins begin interviews with Tennessee assistant Schwartz

WASHINGTON -- Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz became the first person to interview for the Washington Redskins head 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 person scheduled to have an interview on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the selection process. 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. But Snyder's decision to grant the first interview to someone outside the organization appears to indicate that Williams is not the top name on the owner's list.

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.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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