Advertisement

Could 2005 be year of redemption for 'Skins?

August 21, 2005|By Martin Cole

As the Redskins staggered through a 6-10 campaign last season, the ordeal became visibly etched on the face of the head coach. Joe Gibbs took it personally. After all, this was a franchise and a team that "are very dear" to Gibbs, as he explained at a news conference announcing his return on Jan. 7, 2004. The man who has compiled a .661 winning percentage and three Super Bowl titles came back for one reason: To make the Redskins a perennial playoff team again.

A Redskins playoff run would have made a nice story in 2004, but that never happened. Not close. And Gibbs' reputation as an offensive innovator took a serious hit, too. The numbers don't lie. The Redskins ranked 30th out of 32 teams in total offense. Worse yet, they ranked 21st in rushing offense - considered the staple of a Gibbs team. The passing attack was, to be kind, inconsistent. Mark Brunell, the veteran quarterback brought in to run the show, looked just as confused as his young understudy, Patrick Ramsey. When your team is next to last in points scored, consider yourself fortunate to win six games. A solid defense is all that kept them from complete disaster.

Advertisement

By the midpoint of the 2004 season many of the "Joe's Back!" diehards had revised their expectations for a Redskin revival. Media skeptics were quick to point out that Gibbs had been out of the game for 11 seasons, and just maybe his offensive scheme was a bit outdated. The chief complaint was that Gibbs' offense could not stop the blitzing tactics that many teams now regularly employ. The opposition sent more defenders than the Redskins could block and they did so in every situation. A midseason game with Cincinnati seemed to prove the critics right. The Bengals sacked Brunell and Ramsey five times and intercepted three passes in a 17-10 Redskins loss at home. Had the game passed Joe Gibbs by?

That question will most likely be answered in the 2005 season. For Gibbs, the formula for success, whether on the race track or the football field, has always been preparation and outworking the opposition. Shortly after last season, Gibbs hunkered down with his coaches and scouts at Redskin Park in an effort to right the ship. Even owner Daniel Snyder marveled at the renewed dedication.

Perhaps the Redskins just need to rediscover some of the magic that existed two decades ago. In the early 1980s, quarterback Joe Theismann compared practice sessions at Redskin Park to "Christmas" because of the surprise offensive packages Gibbs had in store for that week's opponent. The 2005 season can become a sort of redemption for Joe Gibbs, and possibly a chance for his team to experience some of that "Christmas" joy.




"A Voice From The Crowd" is a weekly feature in The Herald-Mail which gives sports fans an opportunity to be a sports columnist. This week's guest columnist, Martin Cole, is a resident of Middletown, Md. Comments on his column can be sent to sports@herald-mail.com

If you are interested in becoming a contributor to this column, e-mail Sports Editor Mark Keller at keller@herald-mail.com

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|