Gibbs's Rant Draws Raves, But Will It Deliver Results?

Coach Joe Gibbs finally gave his players a piece of his mind, but it may not give him any peace of mind if the 3-7 Redskins continue to stumble.
Coach Joe Gibbs finally gave his players a piece of his mind, but it may not give him any peace of mind if the 3-7 Redskins continue to stumble. (By Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)

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By Michael Wilbon
Friday, November 24, 2006

Appropriately, if belatedly, Thanksgiving Eve might have brought the Redskins something to be thankful for.

Joe Gibbs had a tirade.

Okay, maybe it wasn't a full-fledged tirade in the spirit of, say, Bob Knight; nobody reports that Gibbs threw anything, or "quickly lifted" anyone's chin. But it was a whole lot more than a lecture. Those within earshot of Gibbs during Wednesday's team meeting say he was irate. He was loud . . . loud enough to be heard in the nearby hallways at Redskins Park. He said words Joe Gibbs doesn't normally say. As my more proper relatives who live in the South would say, "He blessed them out."

He didn't love 'em up, didn't spend a lot of time telling them how they were fighting their guts out. From all accounts, he indicated to his players that he wanted to see better effort, better preparation and very different results. Gibbs said he wants to get back to playing "Redskin football," which for those who have been around here awhile suggests he wants to see more running, better run defense, and more all-around toughness. He indicated they are fighting, individually, for their jobs . . . and if the highly paid lieutenants didn't like the message or the tone, then too bad for them, too.

In all likelihood, this would be a typical mid-week message at average volume from Bill Cowher or Bill Parcells, who are just as likely to deliver a rant after a victory as a defeat.

But it's a radical departure from Gibbs's season-long position of, "If you've got to go through tough times, there's no group of guys I'd rather be with . . . "

There's only one problem with Gibbs's soliloquy: It's a month too late . . . at least.

About four weeks or so ago, Hall of Famer and former Redskins running back John Riggins said on his radio show, "It's time for Joe Gibbs to go to the whip."

But he didn't. Gibbs talked about making a major announcement one day, only to apologize to fans for not signing enough autographs.

He apparently said all the right things Wednesday, with the appropriate tone. But it's definitely too late for this season. And it's fair to wonder now if he said it too late for this core group of players and, yes, coaches.

Gibbs should have ripped them a month ago.

He should have gotten Jason Campbell some work earlier.


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