The Offensive Guru
Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls and had a 124-60 overall record while coaching the Washington Redskins from 1981 to 1992.
By Don Banks
Joe Gibbs' Redskins won't catch the Eagles and Cowboys this season, but Washington's revival will out-pace the one being attempted in New York by Tom Coughlin and his new-look Giants.
There has been no shortage of chaos in Washington since the start of the 2000 season, so returning these Redskins to respectability will provide the Hall of Fame coach his greatest challenge.
Gibbs is the fifth Redskins head coach in that dizzying span, and instability is the single biggest reason Washington hasn't cracked the .500 mark since making the playoffs in 1999.
All that change for the sake of change has ruined the Redskins' chances in the past, and the roster rolled over once again this year. But in hiring Gibbs, Washington has at long last made a move that could lead to real improvement. The Redskins possessed sufficient talent as they remade themselves the last four offseasons, spending wildly on a collection of big-name free agents.
What they've lacked has been direction and leadership at the top, as well as commitment to a plan. That's where Gibbs will be worth his gaudy contract and conquering hero's welcome. Gibbs the master motivator will put an end to the listless, rudderless Redskins that tanked away the 2003 season at 5-11, despite starting 3-1.
And you can bet that Gibbs the shrewd tactician and workaholic will give his high-priced players their best possible chance to win each Sunday. Lastly, and maybe most important, Gibbs won't panic and change his approach overnight every time Washington loses a game, a la the overmatched Steve Spurrier.
After his 11-year hiatus from NFL coaching, it may take Gibbs every bit of his three-year plan to put the Redskins in position to challenge for the NFC East title. The salary cap has changed the way you build and sustain a team, and the league is more balanced than ever, making every win something to savor.
But while Redskins fans probably can't count on anything better than an 8-8, third-place finish in the NFC East this season, they will be able to bank on a few things that have been sorely lacking in Washington: consistent effort, solid personnel decisions, and a resolve that doesn't disappear when the first sign of adversity sets in.
Week 2 should provide Gibbs an early measuring stick of how his renovation project is progressing compared to Coughlin's in New York. The Redskins travels to Giants Stadium in mid-September.
As they say in Washington, in Gibbs we trust.