Changes? Like Vernon Dean for Anthony Washington at the right corner?
"I never like to change people," Gibbs said. "I like to change the way we play. It's my general philosophy. They burned us deep. They took us out of our game plan. I really thought Riggins was going to have a big day, one of the biggest he ever had, but they got us in a situation we don't like. I wish we could've stayed with the run, but those deep shots of theirs changed all that. They kept going deep and making it work. They didn't turn the ball over. Give them credit."
At the end of the game Gibbs did an unusual thing. He went across the field and shook Shula's hand. Gibbs isn't a handshaking coach. He doesn't like to get caught up in sideline traffic. A wave will generally do it for him. But this was different. A payback maybe, because the Skins had beaten the Dolphins in the '83 Super Bowl? C'mon now, get serious. There's only one place to square that account. No, this was something else, a tribute to a superior coaching job.
"It was just something between Don and me," Gibbs said. "I felt he deserved it. If you win you're not worried so much about shaking hands."
For historians, the game followed a familiar pattern. The Redskins under Gibbs have always given up a lot of points in their opener—26 to Dallas in '81,31 to Dallas last year, even 34 to the Eagles in the Redskins' triumphant Super Bowl year of '82, the only opener in Gibbs's four seasons that Washington has won. Green, a breathtakingly fast cornerback, was slowed by the bad leg. The Redskins' right defensive tackle, Darryl Grant, who'd had a terrific preseason rushing the passer, was out with a bad knee, and the Skins' whole rush collapsed. Anthony Washington is sure to be a target for the 49ers on Monday night, but he'll be getting help.
Of course, it's unlikely Joe Montana will have the kind of day against Washington that Marino had. It's unlikely anybody will. How often does a young quarterback break the bank at Elias?