Joe Gibbs stepped down as coach of the Washington Redskins for a second time Tuesday. This ‘Skins fan says, thank God.
The long, agonizing, tragic, utterly soul-crushing season is finally over. Gibbs’s departure will be the final nail in its coffin. The team will now have to start from scratch next year.
If I sound a little bitter, I am. The Washington Redskins broke my heart for the first time on November 11.
On that day, I was sitting in my nose-bleeder seat at Fed-Ex Field cheering on my team against their NFC East rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. I was surrounded on all sides by Philly fans, who have a well-earned reputation for being the most thuggish in pro-football.
The ‘Skins had silenced their drunken trash-talking by whupping the Eagles, 15-13, by the end of the third quarter. Then everything fell apart. The Eagles scored an amazing 20 points in the fourth quarter. The Skins tried to catch up but couldn’t and ended up losing it, 25-33.
The shock of the loss was compounded by having to listen to the Philly fans open their greasy cheesesteak holes yet again.
THE GAME WAS the season in microcosm. The ‘Skins were not awful. Rather they were just good enough to break your heart. They’d give you enough to feel hopeful, optimistic — and then snatch it away from you in the fourth quarter.
Ordinarily, this season’s 9-7 record and trip to the playoffs would be considered a success. But the presence of Gibbs, already a hall of fame coach, dramatically upped the expectations in Washington.
This is Coach Joe Gibbs, Washingtonians told themselves. Wasn’t he one of the winningest coaches of all time? Didn’t he win the Super Bowl with three different quarterbacks, a feat unmatched in pro-football? Wouldn’t he bring those days back?
Well, that was the 1980s. The reality was the game had changed and Gibbs struggled to keep up. In the four seasons since his return, Gibbs’ record is an underwhelming 31-36.
He also lost a step. He called two consecutive timeouts in a game against the Buffalo Bills, causing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that cost the ‘Skins the game.
Sonny Jurgensen, the Washington quarterback turned broadcaster, was aghast at Gibbs. It was the kind of rookie mistake a seasoned pro should never make.
To be fair, the team had been mediocre for years before Gibbs returned. They have had only 5 winning seasons in the last 16 years and made the playoffs only three times. All of them were on wild cards.
Their best years in that stretch were 1999 and 2005 when they made it to 10-6. Prior to Gibbs’s return, the team management went through coaches and quarterbacks like they were speed dating.
This season promised to be different. And it was. It raised heartbreak to a whole new level.
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Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?