Gibbs, Redskins Vow to Fix Mistakes
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
On three occasions during the 10 days leading up to Monday's 19-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said the season-opening contest would be one of the "most important games" he'd ever coached.
The reason, Gibbs explained, was in part because of the overwhelming expectations placed on this season, expectations that Gibbs has spent the last few weeks attempting to temper. Another was Gibbs's feeling of personal responsibility to Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who spent heavily in the offseason to provide the talent Gibbs now has at his disposal. More than once, Gibbs has spoken of wanting to win for Snyder.
But a day after Monday's opener, which the Redskins lost after John Hall missed a 48-yard field goal attempt with 17 seconds remaining, Gibbs did not wear the mask of ashen anxiety that illustrated his demeanor as the season approached. Yesterday, he appeared optimistic despite the home loss, which put the Redskins in a winless hole as they travel to Dallas for Sunday night's showdown with the Cowboys.
Gibbs said the breakdowns that contributed to the loss were more the byproduct of correctable inconsistencies in the three major phases of the game than a sign that the Redskins were overwhelmed by their opponent.
He reiterated support for Hall, said he was confident enough in cornerback Carlos Rogers's skills that he was comfortable with defenses attacking him, and added that there were enough moments in the game that gave him cause for optimism.
"I think in general, for all of us, offense, defense and special teams, the best way to characterize everything was that we were just inconsistent," Gibbs said. "We did some good things at times, but in general, what really hurt us was an inconsistent performance. So it was kind of across the board. The good news is that it was all of us, and I include myself in that."
Moreover, Gibbs said he would send two important and controversial officiating decisions to the NFL offices for review. The first was a 15-yard personal foul in the fourth quarter against free safety Sean Taylor that provided a turning point in the game. The second occurred on a similar hit to Redskins wide receiver Brandon Lloyd in the final seconds that was not called on Vikings safety Greg Blue. It would have given Hall a shorter field goal attempt.
But if Gibbs was optimistic about the inconsistencies of his offense (the Redskins were 4 for 13 on third-down conversions), his victimized defensive secondary that allowed five players to catch passes of 20 yards or more, and his wobbly special teams -- all problem spots that existed in the preseason and were again apparent against the Vikings -- there was one area where the Redskins were fatally consistent. And it had nothing to do with the officiating. At almost each crucial moment in the game where a big play needed to be made, the Redskins could not make one.
"We left a couple of plays out there, missed opportunities for a big play, and we definitely need that," middle linebacker Lemar Marshall said. "It's a momentum-shifter. It gets the offense, the crowd, the defense into it."
It was an important concession that Gibbs's players were all too willing to make.
"We had them on third down, had them down a few times," strong-side linebacker Marcus Washington said. "But we didn't stop them. We gave them new life."
On special teams, where the Redskins -- with the exception of Antwaan Randle El -- struggled all night, poor plays thwarted great ones.