Joe Gibbs, who has avoided making predictions about the 1981 season and criticizing the former staff since being named the Redskin head coach in January, dared tread into both areas yesterday during an appearance at the National Press Club.
Gibbs said he thought it was "absolutely essential" that the Redskins win all their home games next year: "I guess that means we should win at least eight games," he said about the 6-10 team he is inheriting from Jack Pardee.
"We want to play super tough at home. We want opponents fighting for their lives when they come in here. We have to beat Philadelphia and Dallas here."
And when asked about the Redskins' high penalty total last season (they were second in the NFL), he responded: "We will do a good job in correcting that. That is coaching," an uncomplimentary allusion to the previous staff's efforts.
He then hesitated slightly. "Maybe I shouldn't say that," he said before continuing. "If that (lots of penalties) happens again, you can blame it on the coaches. We will play hard and aggressively and we'll be extremely tough. But you also have to play smart. You have to have controlled smartness."
Gibb also said:
The Redskins will have what he calls a "creative draft." That means, he said, the club will have to come up with imaginative ways to obtain one or more of the second-, third- and fourth-round picks they are missing for the draft April 28 and 29.
"I would feel confident in taking an offensive lineman, defensive lineman, running back or even a linebacker in the first round. You take the super player, the best guy.
"I'd like to see us get four players (from the draft) before next season."
Unlike Pardee, he and his staff worked out individualized weightlifting programs for every Redskin. "I don't believe in just having one program that everyone on the team must follow," he said.
He told John Riggins during their face-to-face meeting last week in Lawrence, Kan., "that he shouldn't come back unless he was 100 percent sure he wanted to play again." Later, he said he felt sure Riggins wanted to play this season, but didn't know if the veteran fullback would be back or not.
He will signal all plays to his quarterbacks this season, eliminating the need for messengers.
"We want to call the signals for three reasons," he said. "It keeps the coaches in the game, it enables us to keep the offense much more detailed and it allows the quarterback to relax and execute and not worry about game situations."
This was Gibb's first major speaking engagement since being named Redskin coach and he handled the chore well, mixing humor with detailed answers in his hour-long appearance.
"I don't have a five-year plan or a three-year plan or anything like that," he told his audience.
Gibbs will have his first face-to-face meeting with his players next week when the Redskins conduct a camp at Redskin Park Thursday through Saturday.