Gibbs failed to learn from mistakes of 2004

September 15, 2005|By DAN KAUFFMAN

For more than a year, my official stance on Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs was this: "Give him some time to re-adjust to today's game, and he'll figure it out."

On Monday, my official stance changed.

Of all the things Gibbs should have learned through last year's debacle of a season, at the very least these two should have stood out ...

n Mark Brunell does not have what it takes, physically, to get the job done. At 34, he does not have the arm strength to hurt defenses down the field, and does not have the speed to be a real threat outside the pocket.

Last year, Brunell completed less than 50 percent of his passes. That equals washed up in my book.

n Clinton Portis is not John Riggins or Ernest Byner. He's not a guy who's built to carry the ball 25-plus times between the tackles.


In two seasons with the Denver Broncos, Portis averaged 5.5 yards per carry, most of them coming on off-tackle or sweep plays. Last year, with the vast majority of his carries coming between the hashmarks, Portis averaged a pedestrian 3.8 yards per carry.

So, with 2004 having proven these two things, what has the last five days revealed?

- In Sunday's season-opener against the Chicago Bears, Gibbs ran Portis up the middle repeatedly. Gibbs gets a mulligan on this one since Portis ran for 121 yards on 21 carries, a 5.8 average.

- On Monday, Gibbs inexplicably named Brunell the new starting quarterback.

Yes, Patrick Ramsey is a little dinged up (though his injuries are reportedly minor, and he would be able to play this weekend), and yes, he hasn't really proven himself, either. But he's still only 26, has better physical tools than Brunell, and if the Redskins really want to find out if he can be their man, he deserves a little more leeway than he's getting.

Besides, if Gibbs is convinced Ramsey isn't going to pan out, why not go with Jason Campbell?

This much we know: Going with Brunell will not work. He proved that last year.

As for Portis, I'm sorry, but if Gibbs keeps using him like he used Riggins and Byner, at the end of the year his stats will look almost identical to those from last year (if he doesn't get hurt, that is) ? and Portis has the ability to do so much more, if he's used correctly.

I was expecting a lot more out of the Redskins than I saw on Sunday. They beat a terrible Bears team and looked incredibly mediocre doing it.

But the worst part about it is, it seems Joe Gibbs is poised to make the same mistakes all over again.

Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-791-7520 or by e-mail at

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