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Can Joe Point the Way Back?

By Tony Kornheiser
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Norv Turner is 1-0 against Joe Gibbs in Gibbs's second go-round. Marty Schottenheimer is 1-0 against Gibbs as well. And through 27 games this time, Gibbs is 11-16 -- that's the exact record Steve Spurrier had.

Which brings us, reluctantly, to the one question we never thought we'd ask: Is Joe Gibbs going to turn this bus around?

Gibbs's Redskins have now lost six of their last eight games. They have lost three in a row in the last seconds (or in overtime) after holding the lead. So spare us the talk about how good their defense is. Lately, it's been good enough to lose.

The Redskins' problem on offense is not having a home-run hitter who frightens the opposition when it's his turn to hit, a player who will regularly get what you need when you need it. Clinton Portis is very generously paid to do that. LaDainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James and Tiki Barber are pricey backs who deliver more. Santana Moss is a game-breaker. But the Redskins have no receivers threatening enough by themselves to keep defenses from keying on Moss.

This is a collection of pretty good players. That's Gibbs's style. The last time around, he won with pretty good players who maxed out every week. But last time around, Gibbs's teams never got caught and passed in the second half. This time around, take away the 49ers game and how many points do they produce?

People who thought the Redskins would be real good this year based it on the presence of one man -- Joe Gibbs. All their expectations, wild as they may have been, were because of what Gibbs had done before. (And they continue even today, because nobody owns December like Gibbs; he's 35-14 in December!)

But Gibbs has come back to a new NFL and his record so far is nowhere near what everybody hoped for. They'll never take down his bust in Canton. But about now Gibbs might be wondering: Am I going to be a bust here?

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