Assuming that reports that Ike Hilliard is leaving after one season as the Redskins wide receivers coach to take the same job with the Bills, here are a few thoughts on the change:
—It would be highly unusual for an assistant coach to sign a one-year contract so that means that the Redskins likely could have blocked the move if they had wanted to. The fact that they didn’t doesn’t necessarily mean that they were happy to get rid of him; sometimes if a coach wants to leave it is best to let him go. But if they believed that he was an integral part of their success there is a good chance they would have held Hilliard to his contract.
—We can only guess why Hilliard decided to make a lateral move from a contending team that is set a quarterback to the struggling Bills. The immediately apparent connection is Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who was a quality control coach in Tampa Bay when Hilliard was a player there. Hilliard’s only previous connection on the Redskins staff was on the defensive side. He was the wide receivers coach for the UFL Florida Tuskers when Jim Haslett was the defensive coordinator there. Sometimes coaches believe that their chances for future advancement are enhanced when they work with coaches with whom they have worked before.
—By all accounts the Redskins receivers did enjoy working with Hilliard. As a group they were productive with four of them, Pierre Garçon, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, and Santana Moss, gaining over 500 yards receiving each.
—In 2013 Moss, Hankerson, and Aldrick Robinson will be working for their third position coach in last three years. That is less of a concern for the veteran Moss, of course, than it is for Hankerson and Robinson. Still, it’s not a huge concern as Kyle Shanahan is very hands on with receivers during practice so it’s not as though there will be huge changes in store for the receiving corps.
—It’s very tricky to try to figure out who will replace Hilliard. When they let Keenan McCardell’s a year ago Hilliard was not on the radar. He was plucked from the Dolphins’ staff where he had been the assistant wide receivers coach. Don’t look for the opening to be filled in a hurry, they took their time before naming Hilliard.