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Did We Have Gibbs II Backwards?

Dec 9, 2007, 10:16 PM EST

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Maybe we had this Gibbs II thing all wrong.

When Joe Gibbs came back in 2004 with what amounted to total control of football operations, the conventional wisdom was that this was good and bad. It was good because Gibbs was without peer when it came to matters of preparation, game planning, and in-game strategy. The down side was that his ability as an evaluator of personnel was not thought to be nearly as strong as his ability to prepare players for a trip to Dallas. Redskins loyalists fervently hoped that Gibbs the coach would be able to overcome the missteps of Gibbs the personnel guy.

Three years and 13 games into Gibbs’ return it looks like the conventional wisdom had it exactly backwards.

In general, when you’re watching a game unfold, the Redskins don’t seem to have any particular edge over their opponents in the coaching department. In fact, they generally seem to be a step or two behind the opposition. The play calling has been unimaginative, both before and after the addition of Al Saunders. The Redskins always seem to make more dumb mistakes than the other team. The game management, including clock management, has been unimpressive at best, horrid at worst. If you’re reading this, you don’t need a list of particulars here.

The whole tenor taken by the team is beyond conservative, it’s cautious. Maybe he’ll change and become more aggressive. We’ve seen flashes like we saw on that last TD drive against the Bears. But it’s unlikely that this leopard will change his spots.

Coach Gibbs II has been, and is likely to remain, a major disappointment.

General Manager Gibbs, however, is another story.

Gibbs has collected a pretty good array of talent. Start with one of his more controversial acquisitions, Jason Campbell. He has a lot of developing yet to do but he has a chance at being very good. Gibbs traded for Clinton Portis and Santana Moss and they now hold the team records for rushing yardage in a season and receiving yardage in a season respectively. Antwaan Randle El is developing into a solid receiver. Chris Cooley is one of the league’s best tight ends.

On the defensive side, LaRon Landry and Rocky McIntosh could end up playing in multiple Pro Bowls. Carlos Rogers seemed to have figured out how to be a solid corner before he got injured. Andre Carter should have a few top prime seasons left and he’s become a one-man wrecking crew. Kedric Golston and Anthony Montgomery should develop into solid starters.

Of course, the one who could have been the best of them all, the crown jewel of Gibbs II, Sean Taylor, was taken from the team and its fans (not to mention his family and friends) way too early.

Have there been mistakes? Certainly there is heavy buyer’s remorse over the Brandon Lloyd trade and contract. Other draft picks have been flat-out wasted (cough, Duckett, cough). There has been the good, the bad, and the Adam Archuleta. A whole chapter in the history book of Gibbs will revolve around Mark Brunell. But there have been some pretty impressive hits along with the misses.

When Gibbs left the Redskins in 1992 the core of talent that had won him multiple Super Bowls had grown old and the replacements weren’t nearly as good. Or maybe they were and Gibbs wasn’t around to get the most out of their talent and put them in situations where they could succeed. In any case, the team has been in an extended funk ever since that day.

Looking at the roster now, it’s possible to conclude that Gibbs has assembled the core of his fourth Super Bowl championship team. The ultimate irony is that it’s likely that someone else will have to take over to coach the players that Gibbs selected for them to get the most out of their ability.

 

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