In 2nd Season, Gibbs Hopes Change Is Good

Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs went 6-10 in his first season back last year.
Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs went 6-10 in his first season back last year. "First years are always tough," Gibbs said. "You don't know anybody. You're uncomfortable in so many ways." (By Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)
By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 11, 2005

After the worst season of his coaching career, Joe Gibbs and his wife, Pat, flew to Aspen, Colo., in January for a three-day skiing trip. Accompanying them were close friends and extended family, including Gibbs's six grandchildren, ranging from 18 months to 7 years.

Because Gibbs isn't the most adventurous skier, sons J.D. and Coy -- a Redskins offensive assistant -- ditched him for one day to snowboard.

"I'm just a cruiser," Gibbs said with a chuckle. "I'm not fast."

Gibbs enjoyed a longer break with family in July, near Myrtle Beach, S.C. Gibbs eagerly prepared toys such as scooters for his grandchildren. He spent considerable time frolicking in the waters, teaching them surfing for the first time.

But in each vacation, his job as coach and team president was never far from his mind. He intermittently received phone calls about problems regarding his club and returned to Redskins Park temporarily to deal with the latest drama. "You can relax, but there's always things going on," he said. "I had the most fun with my grandbabies."

Back at the office, Gibbs faces the burden of trying to improve his offense, which failed him during last season's 6-10 campaign, and reviving a franchise that has reached the postseason once since he retired after the 1992 season. Then there's the matter of his Hall of Fame legacy, which threatens to be sullied.

A winning record, and certainly a postseason appearance, would indicate Gibbs merely needed one year to adjust to the NFL, which has changed dramatically since he initially retired. Conversely, another floundering season would amplify the opinion that the game has evolved too much for the Hall of Fame coach to succeed.

"I think he feels more pressure the second year to get better," Coy Gibbs said. "We definitely don't want to repeat last year."

Coy Gibbs added that his father has internalized the pressure, masking it from virtually everyone.

"He's good at that," Coy Gibbs said. "But I can tell. I'm around him a lot. I couldn't even explain it. But I can feel it. He definitely wants to produce. It's not like he's getting any younger. The time to do it is now."

Last week, Gibbs, entering his second season after an 11-year hiatus, played down the stakes entering the season.

"You always have a burning desire to do well," said Gibbs, 64, whose heart procedure in April hasn't caused him to reduce his lengthy work hours. "It wouldn't matter if it was the first year, second year, third year."

CONTINUED     1                 >

© 2005 The Washington Post Company