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Gibbs Provides the Redskins With Their Best, Last Chance

Wednesday, September 8, 2004; Page H10

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder luring Coach Joe Gibbs back to coaching is intriguing on two fronts.

First, the obvious: The Redskins, once the butt of jokes around the league for dysfunctional management and frivolous spending, must be considered a viable playoff contender. They added, among others, Clinton Portis, Mark Brunell and No. 5 draft pick Sean Taylor. Discipline and a commitment to the run, both high on Gibbs's coaching musts, are hallmarks of most any winning team.

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But what if it doesn't work? What's the recourse? That's the other intriguing possibility and peeking around that corner is an adventure Snyder and the Redskins faithful do not want to experience.

"You're nervous about it," Gibbs said. "You personally want to do well. All the fans are counting on you. Certainly, all of the coaches that we recruited here, their lives and careers are at stake."

So, too, might be the immediate future of the organization. Think about it. Snyder seems out of options should this experiment go awry. "One of those things you worry about is everybody's expectations of what's going to happen," Gibbs said. "There are high expectations, and you realize that those high expectations are good to get everybody excited, but it can be pretty hard to live up to."

Gibbs and his staff encountered their first run-in with adversity early in training camp when starting right tackle Jon Jansen was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Goodness knows how previous regimes -- insert Steve Spurrier joke here -- would have handled such an injury. But the Redskins have Joe Bugel, who may turn out to be as important as any player, to keep the offensive line humming and spirits high.

On defense, assistant head coach Gregg Williams is entrusted with bringing a new purpose to a unit that has been typically soft up the middle and brittle against the run. Taylor could play a role in redefining that mentality.


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