Guest Blog - Chris W
Got another submission for a guest blog, so hope you guys enjoy it.
I'll be out at the Park today for the walkthroughs - no more OTAs - and will post some stuff later, assuming anything actually happens out here. Well, either way, I'll come up with something.
Okay, the guest blog follows:
Chris W. - Glass Half Full? sent the following message:
Joe Gibbs returned to the Redskins in 2004 with team officials promising a return to glory. Unfortunately, going into his fourth season in his second stint with the Skins, those promises are unfulfilled. So, what is the verdict on Joe Gibbs 2.0? Is this man capable of leading the Redskins Return to Glory? Personally, I think the pieces are in place to get pretty close.
Let's review. Coach Gibbs first season back was in many ways a disaster. The offense featured slow developing running plays, the inability to gain one yard when it mattered most, a malcontented wide receiver, and bad QB play. Needless to say, the offense sputtered badly. On the other hand, Gregg Williams succeeded in turning around the defense with a mix of solid CB (Springs, Smoot, Harris), DL (Griffin) and LB (Pierce, Washington) play. The result of our bad offense and great defense was a 6-10 record.
Year two appeared to be the year Coach Gibbs would finally return this team to glory. Well, sort of. At least he did return us to the playoffs. The offense, relying on a very similar system to Gibbs' first year back, became a smash-mouth-man-to-man-kick-your-butt-and-take-names version of the great 80's teams. Gibbs successfully relied on a still solid defense and running game while barely getting by with an aging QB. However, as the year ended, lack of depth at WR and bad QB play turned our smash mouth offense into a lethargic mess. Similarly, even with a still highly rated D, cracks began to surface. Injuries to Springs, Griffin and Salave'a, the aging Daniels/Wynn combination and the loss of Pierce resulted in a less effective defense than the 2004 version.
The confluence of events that resulted in a 5-11 record in 2006 is well documented. Signing Archuletta for a lot when we could have kept our solid safety for a little, drafting but not playing Mcintosh after spending two 2nd round draft picks, and relying on the likes of Mike Rumph, Kenny Wright and Ade Jimoh to be major contributors resulted in a major drop-off in the play of the back 7. This drop-off cannot be overstated. The front office did not hedge their gamble on Springs' health with depth, and they made major mistakes on AA and Kenny Wright. Still, the FO did appear to "get it" at least a little bit when it came to the front four. They signed Andre Carter and they also drafted Golston and Montgomery. Unfortunately, our "influx" of new talent was incapable of holding their own with Carter's slow start and the very predictable injuries to Griffin and Salave'a. The result was one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
The offense, of course, had it's own back story. Saunders was brought in to invigorate the offense and, due to a win now mentality, Brunell opened the season as the starter. Additionally, Lloyd and Randle-El were brought in to add some life. Unfortunately, under Brunell, the offense continued to sputter through the first half of the season. With the defense incapable of keeping us in games as it had in years past, the 2006 Skins were out of it by the season's mid point. On the bright side, Campbell took over, we returned to smash-mouth football and the offense showed signs of hitting its stride.
After that long, but probably not long enough, recap, we enter the 2007 season still wondering whether Coach Gibbs can return the Skins to glory. Well, many of you do at least. I, for one, am very confident in Coach Gibbs. The issues in year one can be summed up in a rusty coach and poor offensive personnel. In year two, the coach was no longer rusty but his personnel were still pretty poor. Despite that fact, the team finished 10-6 and won a playoff game. In year three, Coach Gibbs had to integrate a new offense with the same tired QB play, but he also faced new personnel challenges on the defensive side of the ball that, I'd argue, dwarf any issues he's faced with the offense to date.
So what does 2007 hold for the Skins? Well, on offense, the talent is there, the system is in place, and Coach Gibbs seemed to gain a nice balance with Saunders' offensive philosophy. On defense, we cannot argue about the new talent and depth in the secondary and LB corps. The back 7 should not resemble anything we saw in 2006 even if Springs does go down. (Heck, maybe Rogers has even learned to catch this off season...nah) So, even if our front four continues to be sub par, I expect our defense to improve to about 15th in the league. However, if we're also lucky enough to have a healthy Griffin, a productive Carter and an infusion of life from Golston and/or Montgomery, I expect the defense to be in the top 10 again. My friends, in the NFC, that combination spells playoffs. If we get there, do any other NFC teams make you afraid?
So, to answer my earlier questions, the verdict on Coach Gibbs 2.0 is clearly still out but 2007 may be the year that the Hall of Famer shows us all just how great he is. Does that mean I'm predicting a Return to Glory? With this talent, not yet; but a return to prominence is on the horizon. Keep hope alive Skins fans!
Jason La Canfora
June 12, 2007; 6:00 AM ET
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