Gibbs revises "1992 offense'' as Redskins open camp
[url="http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050728/APS/507280930&cachetime=3&template=dateline"]After difficult first year, Gibbs revises ``1992 offense'' as Redskins open camp[/url]
[size=2]By MATT MOORE
AP Business Writer[/size]
[font=Arial]ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Ouch! What a stinger Joe Gibbs got when he looked up at the television during the NFL draft. There was one of his most trusted players, tackle Jon Jansen, telling a national audience that the Washington Redskins last year had a ``1992 offense.''
``Oh, I had a reaction to it,'' said Gibbs, letting out one of his trademark high-pitched chuckles. ``I never said anything to Jon, but if he winds up second-string, he'll know why.''
Gibbs didn't need anyone to remind him that his first season back in the NFL after a 12-year retirement was a flop, that the offense ranked 30th and the record was a career-worst 6-10 for Gibbs. He has spent the offseason meticulously adjusting - not overhauling, mind you - the offense, looking to add 21st century excitement worthy of his Hall of Fame legacy.
``That stung all of us who work on it, the fact that we were unproductive,'' Gibbs said. ``You can't kid the facts. We were at the bottom of the league on offense. And, as much as anybody, I'm responsible for that.''
The public gets its first look at Gibbs' tinkerings when the Redskins open training camp on Monday, the welcome start of real football after a drama-filled and sometimes embarrassing offseason. For the first time since Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999, there is little hype about the team and even less expectation of contending for the NFC East title.
Instead, everyone wants to know about Sean Taylor's legal troubles, LaVar Arrington's state of mind, how ``core Redskins'' Fred Smoot and Antonio Pierce were allowed to get away in free agency, the health of first-round draft pick Carlos Rogers, Gibbs' apparent undermining of his starting quarterback and whether the 64-year-old coach can still rally players like the savior he was billed to be.
As for the last question, the players have no choice right now but to say, ``Yes.''
``Coach Gibbs took that personally, to have our offense ranked as low as it was,'' running back Clinton Portis said. ``He knew he was a much better strategizer than that, a much better planner than that. He wanted to put this thing together structurally to suit him and us, so I think we're going to be much more exciting.''
Gibbs' comeback last year was an eye opener for those who had only seen him from afar. He operates in a very narrow circle. He treats like gold those inside that circle - close friends, assistant coaches and family members - but can be oblivious and even unintentionally disrespectful to everyone else.
Fans, reporters and even Redskins Park employees learned the hard way that snubs from Gibbs are just part of the package from a man who is so narrowly focused.
``I'll come into the house, and there'd be something like that on the wall,'' said Gibbs, pointing to a large decorative rug hanging in his office. ``And I'll go for a day, and (wife) Pat'll go 'I don't believe this. You didn't even notice that.'
``To a certain extent I am that way. Sometimes I think I'm simple minded, but I guess different people are different ways. I think I probably have a way of getting stuck on one thing, I guess you could say.''
To that end, Gibbs hasn't been swayed by the talk that the game has passed him by. He is determined to stay for the long haul, or at least until he gets the Redskins back to the winning tradition they enjoyed when he was the coach in the 1980s and early 1990s.
His stock response to the offseason controversies is that every team has them. What's slipped below the radar, he points out, is that an overwhelming majority of his players have regularly attended offseason workouts and have bought into his system.
``In today's football, you're going to have some things that are going to crop up every offseason,'' Gibbs said. ``The thing that's going to make you most successful is how you handle the problems.''
Still, Taylor's every move next week, assuming he shows up, will be overshadowed by the possibility of a three-year prison sentence for two felony gun charges the second-year safety is facing in Florida. Arrington's words, assuming he speaks, will be scrutinized following his offseason tirade at Gibbs over the way the linebacker's knee injury was handled.
No. 9 overall pick Rogers won't be able to practice much early on because he hurt his ankle recently working out at Auburn. Anointed quarterback Patrick Ramsey will be looking over his shoulder at another first-round pick, quarterback Jason Campbell, even though Gibbs claims Campbell's presence ``does not affect Patrick in any way.''
``Patrick's been up here for a while now. ... I would say that he needs to take this thing and go with it now,'' Gibbs said.
But what about the offense? That's supposed to be where Gibbs really shines. Gibbs says the changes will be subtle. He will still focus first on protecting the quarterback, but he hopes to complete more downfield passes with a new receiving corps that includes speedsters Santana Moss, David Patten and Antonio Brown.
Running plays have been redesigned to give Portis more room to run, treating him as the agile back he is rather than a bruiser. Gibbs also will use the shotgun for the first time.
But Gibbs said the ``1992 offense'' comparison isn't fair. He said other teams, such as New England, employ a more conservative offensive philosophy - it's just that no one complains because the Patriots win all the time.
Gibbs even remembered a big argument he once had with former owner Jack Kent Cooke after a loss against the Giants. Gibbs had to get out the tapes to prove to Cooke that the Redskins' attack was actually the more creative one - and that the Giants simply played better.
``I think it's more if you're not productive on offense, it's just doesn't look good,'' Gibbs said. ``And people will say, 'Gosh, that looks so bland, so plain' and whatever.''
As for Jansen, he actually was trying to say something positive when the ``1992'' comment slipped out during his draft-day appearance as an analyst for ESPN. But no one's letting him forget it.
``I've never pulled any punches when I talk,'' Jansen said. ``All I'm going to say now is that we've made a lot of changes that aren't major changes, but we've tweaked things here and there that are going to be very beneficial for our team and our personnel.''
Small changes? Maybe, but a Hall of Fame coach's reputation is riding on them.
``We weren't very good last year, that's a fact,'' Gibbs said. ``We've tried to address those things.''[/font]
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