Hail to the chief


Jan. 9, 2004, midnight | By Zach Mellman | 20 years, 5 months ago

Gibbs' future success should help us forget Spurrier's mistakes


Cell phones have reportedly been ringing in Redskins' team meetings all season, and players have gone unpunished.

While this display of just-ousted coach Steve Spurrier's nonchalant and lenient attitude towards his players may not seem like a big deal, it clearly shows the former successful college coach's poor leadership and lack of control and guidance of his once storied franchise.

Thankfully, and that's a big thankfully, the Redskins have hired Joe Gibbs, a man- no a legend- no more like a god, whose mere presence alone should force the players to consider getting rid of those cell phones all together.

Gibbs was given a five year, $28.5 million contract by one of his biggest fans, owner Dan Snyder, after not much more than a hello. Gibbs' numbers speak for themselves. From 1981 to '92, he won three Superbowls, had a .674 winning percentage, only one losing season and a whopping 124 victories.

But Gibbs brings along a lot more than numbers to a team that has only gone to the playoffs once since his departure. He epitomizes everything great in a leader. Gibbs will surely discipline his cell-phone-ridden team. He strives under pressure, is an excellent decision-maker, and has been known to make key in-game adjustments. He consistently gave his all to the Redskins organization and he received the utmost respect from his players, who in turn gave their all on the field.

Steve Spurrier on the other hand was an immediate NFL bust. When he was given a landmark contract two years ago, it did not appear like a poor decision, but his mediocrity has become all too clear. His excellent tenure as head coach of the Florida Gators can mostly be attributed to superior talent and recruiting, which made himself look like the genius he obviously was not. He went 12-20 in two seasons with a team with one of the highest payrolls in professional sports. It seemed like he came into the league with one purpose, not to win, but to see if his pass-happy fun'n'gun offense could succeed. To be honest, it failed miserably.

Ever since he inexplicitly decided to rotate three quarterbacks last season, Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matthews and Patrick Ramsey, it because clear that he was clueless as to how to be a winner in the NFL. This season, the ‘Skins were predicted by many to have a winning season, but partly because of Spurrier, Redskins fans everywhere had to hang their heads in a 5-win disappointment. Not too many of us will feel sad about never having to hear him speak in his annoying southern drawl about his team's mistakes.

Spurrier's coaching staff was the youngest in the league and many were simply transplanted Gator coaches. Gibbs, on the other hand, will bring with him big name coaches including, as defensive coordinator, former Buffalo Bills head coach and defensive mastermind, Gregg Williams. Also, assistant coach Joe Bugel, who coached the offensive line during Gibbs' last reign, might be able to turn the ‘Skins dismal offensive line into the Hogs of old.

Gibbs plans to stress improvement on the running game and offensive line, but the amount of the team's total improvement is still up in the air. Having been out of football for 12 years running a successful NASCAR operation, he may be missing a step upon his return. He is also 62 years old, but hey, if at 73, Jack McKeon can lead his Marlins to a title then age shouldn't be an issue. Steve Spurrier's signing was also hyped up, albeit on a much smaller scale, but if the saying "lightning doesn't strike twice" has any merit, Gibbs may need to add an extension to his trophy case.

Gibbs may understandably be rusty in his second term, but his presence alone should be able to motivate his troops for battle. And seeing those rings on his fingers will surely be enough inspiration in itself.

It may be too soon to jump to conclusions about Gibb's impact, as next year's Redskins' record won't be determinable until the end of the offseason's free agent frenzy. But if Bill Parcells can so dramatically turn the Dallas Cowboys around, then the sky's the limit. With Gibbs manning the wheel, the ‘Skins should return to .500 next season with a playoff appearance at the very least in 2005.



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Zach Mellman. Zach Mellman was born on October 18, 1956 (he was held back once or twice). He has lived in Takoma Park, Maryland his entire life. He is currently a senior at Blair enrolled in honors classes. He is also a member of Blair's golf team, … More »

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