Redskins Post-Game
Emotional Game Lost On Field Goal Aided By Gibbs's Gaffe

Cindy Boren
Washington Post NFL Editor
Monday, December 3, 2007 2:00 PM

Post NFL Editor Cindy Boren will be online Monday, Dec. 3, at 3 p.m. ET to discuss Sunday's loss against the Buffalo Bills and the funeral service today in Florida for safety Sean Taylor.

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Sean Teezee and the Next Safety: Cindy,

You do a phenomenal job at The Post. Question: The defense seems built around the unique ability of the two safeties. Now that Taylor has died, from a football standpoint, will the Redskins try and address this in the offseason, or is the fact that there will never be a transcendent safety like Taylor again just cause the team to move on? I say this in part because Miami has another safety, Kenny Phillips, who is pretty nasty, but he still isn't Sean Taylor and never will be.


Cindy Boren: Thanks. I blush. That is now the big question confronting the team, isn't it? In Gibbs' fourth year, they were getting some of the key players in place and now they go back to the drawing board on defense. A big question will be how well Carlos Rogers recovers. If he's fully back, maybe they continue with this scheme. If he isn't, maybe they change.


New York City: Cindy - Dan Snyder was listed in the program as a lector, but didn't speak. Can you shed light on the last-minute change?

Thanks for your continuing coverage.

Cindy Boren: I can't tell you why Daniel Snyder didn't speak. It's possible it was a typo in the program (some names were misspelled). It may be as simple as that.


Will from Rockville: Is Joe Gibbs fired if the Redskins lose another disappointing game this Thursday?

Cindy Boren: Joe Gibbs will not be fired.

In a season in which the defensive pillar of the team dies tragically at the age of 24, Joe Gibbs will not be fired.


Alexandria, Va.: Hi Cindy, I'm sure your inbox is full today so thanks for taking my question. I believe an established coach faced with a critical decision quickly processes his options. As an arm chair coach, I know that the option to call a second time out comes with a penalty. How could a Hall of Fame coach not eliminate that option immediately? If the rule is obscure, why haven't other coaches been guilty of the same infraction?

Cindy Boren: I'm just an ink-stained wretch and I knew that. I literally gasped when he called the second timeout. All I can say is that Joe Gibbs went through a week from hell. You have to chalk it up to that. Still, you'd think some coaching muscle-memory would have kicked in.


Centreville, Va.: Lets say Sean Taylor wasn't murdered. Let's also say that the Redskins played the Buffalo Bills and a certain Hall of Fame coach calls back-to-back time-outs, (that makes the game winning kick a chip shot). Again, another instance where as a Redskin fan you just have to shake your head in disbelief. What would the media be saying about Joe Gibbs then?

Cindy Boren: There would be a feeding frenzy. We'd be dissecting game-management decisions like they were high school biology pigs. I'm not sure that won't still happen.


Arizona Cardinals Game Strategy Part II:

Do the Redskins coaches think that hoping the opponent's field goal kicker misses is a better NFL strategy than trying to get a first down and run out the clock? If so, shouldn't they not be coaching?

Cindy Boren: I'm a big fan of getting the first down and running out the clock. That, to me, is smart strategy 'cause, you know, it works. I'm not ready to fire the coaches yet, although I always reserve the right to do so.


Timeoutville, Md.: Okay, currently the Redskins are in the 11th position for the NFC playoffs. (If they had won, they would be in 6th position in control of their own destiny, as people like to say.)

What needs to happen for the Redskins to get into the 6th position next week: Obviously a Redskins win over Chicago. Then, Arizona, New Orleans, Carolina, Minnesota, Detroit, and Philadelphia need to lose. (Obviously, Chicago needs to lose too.)

Amazingly, this can happen. Detroit plays Dallas at home; I pick Dallas. Philly plays the Giants at home; I pick New York. The rest (Arizona, New Orleans, Carolina, Minnesota) play on the road (at Seattle, Atlanta, Jacksonville, San Francisco). And the Redskins play at home.


There's only one problem with this...the Redskins have to win. I think Chicago will win this Thursday game because they have been getting better offensively week-to-week unlike the Redskins. The Redskins have faded in the fourth quarter of most games this year. This includes letting the Jets and Miami tie to get to overtime - Two teams that have a combined 3 wins this year...and two of those three are because the Jets beat Miami twice!

Cindy Boren: You're flagged for calling that timeout! But, yes, let's note that the playoffs aren't out of reach. However, there do have to be some victories. As devoted readers (heaven help them) will know, I had said all along that I figured the team to be 7-8 going into the finale with a berth on the line. It's still possible, but I think they have to win out and I'm just not sure that will happen. I don't think they can beat the Bears now.


East Village, New York: Hi Cindy,

Thanks for doing this.

It's clear that Joe Gibbs has endured one of the most stressful weeks of any NFL coach ever. It's also clear that his double timeout almost certainly cost the Skins a much-needed W yesterday. In spite of Mike Wise's assertion today that they probably wouldn't have made the playoffs anyway, the fact is that 6-6 looks a hell of a lot better than 5-7 in the lowly NFC. Now, they probably are out of the wildcard hunt.

From what I could tell, the national TV outlets almost entirely glossed over both Gibbs' gaffe and its ramifications. The Fox post-game highlight show only talked about the 36 yard winning kick, I don't think NBC's halftime show said anything about it, and Linda Cohn on SportCenter only made passing mention of it.

Clearly, a week like this brings some perspective on the "tragedy" of losing a football game (and perhaps a season) vs. the "Tragedy" of losing a person, but the fact is that if Joe Gibbs had made the same mistake under different circumstances (and perhaps it's fair to say that that wouldn't have happened; that the circumstances led into the decisions), don't you think he would have been pilloried by both national and local media?

Thanks again...

Cindy Boren: Thanks for checking, Village person. I think that, if there had not been this tragedy, there would been microscopic attention to Gibbs' gaffe. I cannot imagine what his week has been like, but my goodness that was atrocious, particularly since he isn't calling plays. He has one thing to do....


Virginia: Can the season get any worse?

Cindy Boren: A second consecutive 5-11 would do it.


Philadelphia, Pa.: What a somber couple of days. May we not see the likes of this for a very long time. As in all things, life continues. This is a hard to ask, especially from someone who grew up in the '80s and '90s. Has the game passed Gibbs by or is he just not getting it anymore? Halftime adjustments -- gone. Killer instinct -- gone. Smart play -- gone. I fear it is time for him to resign. Thoughts?

Cindy Boren: The only way Gibbs leaves is on his own terms. We'll have to see what he reveals about his thought process (in light of Sean Taylor's death and that loss) over the next couple of weeks. I don't think he'll resign, though. I think he'll be even more determined to lead the team next year.


Silver Spring, Md.: Did you edit the Wilbon and Shapiro columns last week in which both said they weren't surprised by the Taylor murder? If you did please explain how you allowed something so heartless and ultimately wrong to be published.

Cindy Boren: I did not edit Wilbon's column, which came in on deadline along with about four other pieces that editors divvied up. Nor did I edit Shapiro's column. That's a website-only production.


Carrboro, N.C.: Hi Cindy --

For those of us who were not able to go to FedEx for the game yesterday, does the team have any plans to make available for purchase the #21 commemorative towels, and perhaps to have the proceeds benefit the scholarship funds that his family is creating in Miami?

I'd really like to have one of the towels, but I don't want to buy one from eBay or something if there's a way to have the money benefit his family or a worthy cause. Thanks.

Cindy Boren: It's a great idea and maybe someone at Redskins Park see your suggestion. They're pretty good at marketing; I'd be surprised if they didn't have bigger plans in mind for honoring Sean Taylor's memory and allowing fans to participate.


D.C.: "It's also clear that his double timeout almost certainly cost the Skins a much-needed W yesterday.": Uh, that Buffalo kicker made the field goal the first time! He'd made a bunch all day, and he plays for frozen Buffalo, and I don't think they hire kickers in Buffalo who can't kick in bad weather.

So, I'm not sure the timeout penalty lost the game.

Cindy Boren: The Buffalo kicker probably could have made it twice from 51 yards out. But getting 15 yards was certainly helpful.


Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.: I was surprised that Joe Gibbs called timeout. I knew it was against rules (didn't know it was 15-yard penalty though) and figured someone on the field had made a mistake.

Joe said he asked official before making the decision. Are the officials supposed to be making rule interpretations for coaches? I would have thought Joe would have double-checked with his assistant coach for rules.

Cindy Boren: We need more details on that and we'll be asking Joe Gibbs about that when he holds his usual press conference tomorrow afternoon. The postgame yesterday was pretty crazy, given the way the game ended; the whole day was pretty surreal and sad; and everyone was in a hurry to get out to get to Miami. We need to know exactly what the role of the official was.


washingtonpost.com: Wilbon: Dying Young, Black ( Post, Nov. 28)


washingtonpost.com: Shapiro: Taylor's Death Is Tragic but Not Surprising ( Post, Nov. 27)


Portland, Ore.: Everybody's on Gibbs -- yet, few could pull off the job he did last week. The 2nd timeout definitely made a difficult field goal an easier field goal, but let's not forget the guy made it from 51 yards easily -- who's to say he wouldn't have stuck it again? I agree there's no way they would fire him this year. What do you think might be the direction of staff changes next year -- too many cooks in the kitchen! Thanks.

Cindy Boren: I'd be surprised if the staff changes at all, if you're speaking of Al Saunders and Gregg Williams. I take your point about the cooks and agree, if only because it seems to take the head coach's head out of the game. There's a reason why workaholic control freaks are successful coaches....


Frederick, Md.: Can everyone stop blaming Gibbs for the loss? If the offense would learn how to punch it in from the red zone instead of FGs or turnovers...we would be dealing with a 9-2 or 10-1 team right now and be talking about coach of the year candidate. Yes, his decision was not perfect but the kick was long enough and straight in anyways. The blame goes on the WHOLE team.

Cindy Boren: I can't disagree with you, other than to say the team could easily be 2-10, also.


Double timeout: I really think he would have made the field goal, since he did make it before the first time out. So the Redskins still would have lost.

Cindy Boren: He'd have made it. That whole icing the kicker thing that is such a hot trend this year hasn't been a real spectacular success for coaches.


Annandale, Va.: I really thought the Skins had Buffalo beaten yesterday when score was 16-5.

The Bills just kept coming. Is this an example of parity in the NFL? The Skins can talk about the games they almost won, but a couple of the wins are almost losses. The Detroit game was the only one where this team played particularly well.

I like Jason Campbell but wonder if the team is going to look at this season and make another run at big time free agents? (hopefully not)

Tribute to Sean was great.

Cindy Boren: I don't think the team would give up on Jason Campbell, particularly with important defensive personnel issues now unfortunately demanding attention.


Brunswick, Md.: Sad and touching day for Redskin Nation.

Gibbs is getting hammered for the timeout blunder at the end of game, as he should. But what about the decision to run the ball on 3rd and 8 with under 2 minutes to go? I know the Bills were out of timeouts, but a first down ices the game.

It feels like the coaching staff is afraid to try certain things because they really don't believe they will succeed. And they are getting the appropriate results.

Cindy Boren: There've been several comments about the offensive play-calling and I agree it was pretty mystifying. It seems the Redskins run the ball counter-intuitively. I'm not sure if that's by clever design, sheer cussedness or just inattention to detail (like remembering what works when). It's painful to watch the team in the red zone and on third down.


Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Am I the only one not bent over the field goal? The guy NAILED it from 51 and that wimpy last-second time out is a crummy way to do things. He could have nailed it again.

The problem was the big pay that set it up.

The problems were also a line that gave Portis NO creases and had Jason running for his life for much of the game (the tragedy on their minds and little prep time could have been big issues... nothing can be done there)

The field goal was going to be made, regardless...and if they could block, Buffalo doesnt even get the ball back.

Cindy Boren: A lot of problems were exposed there at the end and they tie in with what we're discussing. Another issue the Redskins must address is the offensive line. And, overall, their depth. If they lose one guy at any position, they're really hampered. We knew that back in training camp. Everyone crosses their fingers, but injuries are a fact of life in the NFL.


Frederick, Md.: I fully agree with the 2-10 mark. But to defend my point...I just want people to realize that the players play the game. Yes, Gibbs made a dumb error and he'll be the first to admit it but he can't make it in the endzone for them. Still believe they have a chance at the playoffs. They look good except for that TD stuff...

Cindy Boren: And...THEY PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! Sorry about that; Herm Edwards keeps making guest appearances here. There were plenty of poor performances. For one thing, Jason Campbell has to stop turning over the ball.


Rockville, Md.: Well, it had to happen sooner or later, meaning the close games the 'Skins barely won against the Cards, Fins and Jets would finally turn the other way. How much impact do you think emotion had on this loss and how much was it a yin-yang thing balancing out the other way?

Cindy Boren:50-50! Even Steven! Six of one, half a dozen of the other! It's the old line about how, when you win some you shouldn't, beware because you're going to lose some you shouldn't. Boz has crunched the numbers and will tell you that everything levels off. I can't tell you much more, because the notion made my hair hurt and I tuned him out. But I do believe in the idea and parity is running amok in the NFC. I'd go more with that theory.

As for emotion, I would chalk it up more to its side effect -- utter and complete fatigue.


Silver Spring, Md.: The Chicago game should still be moved to Saturday? Why didn't the media ask Gibbs if he wanted to move it? Or ask the NFL if the they would allow it? I've yet to hear those questions asked by anyone. (Instead they ask Gibbs if he requested the game be moved and the response has been that he didn't know that he could and was just thinking about the current game.) It's probably too late now. At least I'll see this game this week. Chicago and Redskins is a match to see who can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!

BTW, saw the video online with you, Wilbon and Mr. Korny (yes, he is). How can you honestly call yourself Cindy and not be blond?

washingtonpost.com: Talking Points ( washingtonpost.com, Nov. 29)

Cindy Boren: I actually am blonde, but I dye my hair because a blonde Cindy is such a hideous cliche. I think they should have asked to move the game. Maybe they thought they could get by on adrenaline. Sometimes, Gibbs gives answers like that because he's too polite to just tell the media to go away. I'm thinking he'll be hit with that question again tomorrow.


Richmond, Va.: I've been following the Redskins for 40 years. The successful teams under George Allen and Joe Gibbs I had a distinctive feel to them. You just knew they'd find a way to win. The teams under Joe Gibbs II feel hapless, like the losing teams of the late 1960s. The current team has so many needs. Would it be fair to say that the Redskins are years away from being a contender? Isn't a heavy dose of realism needed here?

Cindy Boren: Gee, I hate realism, unless you'll serve chocolate with it. Fairly quick turnarounds are possible in the NFL, especially given parity. But I don't see that happening with this team for a few years. Particularly with the loss of Sean Taylor.


Columbia, Md.: I don't have a question. I just wanted to state that as a black woman, I hope and pray that Sean's death is not in vain. And that somehow the black community comes together to stamp out this black on black crime that the young black males are taking part in. It has to stop. I am very saddened by the loss of yet another young black man. My heart weeps for Sean and the numerous other young black men whose lives were stamped out way too soon.

Cindy Boren: Well said, Columbia. My hope is that, just as there's a fund to educate little Jackie Taylor, there'll be a fund to help the next young men who have no hope and feel they must rob a rich NFL star.


Anonymous: Redskins, 6-10 at best? Losses to Chicago, NYG, and Dallas with (maybe) a win against MN?

Cindy Boren: Only problem is that I don't think they win in Minny. Maybe Dallas rests everyone against the Redskins in that last game...


Maryland: Cindy,

You just said you think part of the problem yesterday was just overall fatigue. If that was the case yesterday, then do you expect Thursday night to be more of the same and possibly even worse? They have to win out now to have a chance. Luckily, they do have tie-breakers over Arizona and Detroit already at least.

Cindy Boren: I think it was emotional fatigue. Young athletes can bounce back pretty quickly from that. My worry is that the gameplan won't be there, that they won't be mentally prepared. They need to start winning Thursday.


Herndon, Va.: I'd just like to point out one thing rather than dwelling on some questionable calls: in my opinion, the Redskins lost in large part because the Bills stopped their running game cold. The game was lost on the line of scrimmage. If the Redskins were able to advance on the ground, they would have won easily, and other mistakes would be irrelevant.

Cindy Boren: The offensive line has been decimated by injuries, no question. Tough to getthe running game going.


Gainesville, Va.: Cindy,

The bottom line is that the Redskins aren't good enough. They lost to a team near the bottom in offense and defense playing with a rookie QB and a third-string running back. Buffalo showed great heart and won a game they should have lost (they lost a game to Dallas they should have won). The O-line is now a disaster, and Portis looks ordinary. Sellers being hurt makes a big difference in the running game; and the defense is now 20% weaker without Sean Taylor. They could still make the playoffs given how pathertic everyone else is, but they are a mediocre team at best.

Cindy Boren: I think that's a pretty accurate assessment. My original prediction was 8-8 with a shot at the playoffs. That equals mediocre.


Maryland: Theres a problem at the RB position, yes? Portis just isn't what he used to be -- a speed back who depended on cutting. With the knee injury, it's unlikely he'll return to form. I envisioned much more of a platoon situation with Betts and Portis but Betts appears to be in the doghouse now. What do they need to do going forward into next season?

Cindy Boren: They never seemed to dedicated themselves to the platoon, did they? Practically every other team in the NFL, including the Colts and Bears in the last Supe, had a 1-2 punch, big RB-small RB, and it worked. I think you might be right about Portis.


Washington, D.C.: Any chance after they get back from Miami tonight the Redskins talk to Commissioner's office (or maybe they did down there after the funeral) and ask him to switch the game to Saturday night to accomodate an emotionally drained team?

Cindy Boren: I think it's too late now.


Cindy Boren: My time, unfortunately, is up. It's always a pleasure to visit with you. I'll be back Friday, to discuss the Thursday game, and will skip next Monday, unless you march on The Post and demand my return.


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