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It could have been worse, Part 2

Aug 17, 2008, 12:34 PM EDT

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The last time the Washington Redskins played the Jets in the preseason was in 2006. If you thought last night was ugly, this might put things in perceptive. The Redskins fell behind 27-7 and looked awful in doing so. Read my live game blog from FedEx Field here. Following is my blog entry dated 06.20.06 about Joe Gibbs’ reaction to the debacle:

Joe Gibbs: Anger Management

At just two minutes and 52 seconds, it really wasn’t much of a sound bite. It was more like a nibble–one that was delivered with very sharp teeth.

Joe Gibbs’ postgame press conference after Saturday night’s 27-14 loss to the Jets in a preseason game at FedEx Field was one of the shortest such sessions that anyone can remember him giving. One of the reasons that it was so brief was that it wasn’t necessary for those of us there to ask any questions about what he thought of the team’s performance. He was, as he made perfectly clear, concerned.

“I’m concerned all the way across the board,” Gibbs said. “That’s where I am right now. When we show up and do that kind of stuff at home, I take it real serious. I think our players, do, too. We have to do something about it.”

“I’m really concerned — let’s put it that way,” he continued. “We need to take a serious, hard look at all of this and I know I have to from my standpoint. I’m sure I haven’t done my job.”

Anything positive to take out it, coach?

“There will be some positives and I’m sure some guys did some good things — you can analyze it that way,” Gibbs said.

“But I’m concerned about the team,” he continued, with an emphasis on the team. We have to play good and we’re not.”

This had virtually everyone who was observing this somewhat stunned. This wasn’t the sarcastic Bill Parcells here or the blunt Tom Coughlin. This was the mild-mannered Gibbs, who generally praises in public and criticizes in private. Fretting is Gibbs’ nature, anger is not. And, make no mistake about it, Gibbs was angry.

Since Gibbs doesn’t tend to get mad every often, it generally has a great effect on his players when he does. Just days before his first Super Bowl appearance in January of 1983 some players and coaches were late to a pre-practice meeting because they drove to the facility rather than taking the team bus. Gibbs was livid and immediately laid down the law—taking the bus to practice was mandatory.

“He chewed us out good,” said linebacker Neal Olkewicz, who was not one of the players who was late.

“It’s no problem,” said Dave Btuz. “It’s been pointed out to us quite verbally by Coach Gibbs.

There were no tardiness issues the rest of the week and the Redskins earned their first Lombardi Trophy that Sunday.

Perhaps Gibbs’ most famous tirade came at halftime of the last game of the 1986 regular season. The game had only slightly more meaning than Saturday’s meeting with the Jets had. Washington was locked in to the top Wild Card playoff spot regardless of the outcome of the game against the Eagles at Veterans Stadium. After sleepwalking through the first half the Redskins went into the locker room trailing 14-0.

Chairs were flipped. The coach’s arms were waving. His voice went several octaves higher than his normal, calm tone.

“Screechy,” was the way linebacker Neal Olkewicz described Gibbs’ voice. “Definitely screechy.”

“I thought maybe Coach Gibbs had been fired, and Mike Ditka (coach of the Chicago Bears) had been hired at halftime,” free safety Curtis Jordan said.

But, no, it was Gibbs, riled by his team’s lack of intensity in the first half. “There were veins sticking out of his neck,” said linebacker Rich Milot.

There was evidence that this was a very controlled rage. “He never used any four-letter words,” said Milot.

Planned or not, controlled or not, the tirade apparently worked. The Redskins scored 21 fourth-quarter points and went into the playoffs on a winning note with a 21-14 victory.

We will see if his anger following Saturday night’s events has similar benefits.

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