Friday, January 09, 2004

Phase Transistion

Apparently, when he wants to, Dan Snyder can ask really, really nicely.

On Thursday, the front, Style and Sports section of the Washington Post all lead with stories on the return of Joe Gibbs to the Redskins. There were columns by Tom Boswell, Tony Kornheiser, and Michael Wilbon. Today, the sports section five out of twelve pages devoted to Gibbs, including a full page of pictures, a timeline of the Snyder-Gibbs negotiations, and columns by Boswell, Wilbon, and George Solomon. Boswell hasn't worked two days in a row since -- well, I don't remember when he did.

So this is a Really Big Deal. Joe Gibbs will return the Washington Redskins to the Glory that Was in the -- well, in the Joe Gibbs era, because when you come right down to it, though George Allen was a good coach, he only took the team to one SuperBowl, where they would have been shut out except for an errant pass thrown by an Armenian tie-maker.

Joe Gibbs and I moved to Washington in the same year. That first year, the Redskins started the season 0-5 and were as bad as you think the Detriot Lions are now. Worse, in fact. But Gibbs quickly turned it around, finished 8-8, and the next year was in the SuperBowl. Having just come from the New York area, which featured the pre-Tuna Giants, I was ready for a team to love, and this was it.

And then Gibbs left, and everything about the team fell apart. So we've now been through three owners and five coaches, and what do you know, Joe is back again. He'll turn it all around again, won't he? Sure he will.

In my cynical heart of hearts, I'm afraid he won't. Dan Snyder ran a good coach, Marty Schottenhiemer, out of town because it looked like he was going to start winning (he went 0-5, then 8-8, remember), but not in the way Snyder wanted. We got Spurrier, who turned out to be a college coach who ran the third best program in his state. So what can possibly go wrong?

Well, the team is saddled with enough long term, cap-busting contracts that an implosion is almost inevitable in the next few years. And Joe is 63 and hasn't coached in years. He's rounding up his old staff, like in Children of the Lens when Kinnison rounds up all his old buddies to save the Universe one more time. And one of his sons is going to help with the offense. As his sons worked with him in NASCAR, I assume that means that all the plays will go to the left. I see bad things happening.

But this is Joe Gibbs, who won in strike shortened seasons, won with replacement players, won with Jay Schoeder and Mark Ripen as his quarterbacks. Joe Gibbs who built a NASCAR team from scratch, and won two Winston Cup titles. Joe Gibbs who was smart enough to walk away from the Redskins before everything fell apart. Surely he knows what to do?

I hope so. I might not be ready to drink the kool-aid, but I think he's got a good shot at it. So pull out the old Redskins sweatshirts, the ones that say "Superbowl Champions", and lets do this one more time.

Go for it Joe. And thanks, Daniel.