Not that I'm writing a Bandwagon column, mind you, because I'm not. But if I were writing a Bandwagon column (which I'm not), I would begin with Joe Gibbs. Because Gibbs is the story. And I would continue with Joe Gibbs. And continue some more with Joe Gibbs. And then end with Joe Gibbs.
Oh, sure, I would mention Clinton Portis. And I would mention Matt Bowen. Naturally, I would mention Joe Bugel and Gregg Williams, and some of those other graybeards Gibbs keeps around him like guard dogs. And somewhere in there I would mention Mark Brunell and the comic relief (and I can say that now because of the final score) that was provided by his faulty exchanges with whoever was at center.
But I would concentrate on Joe Gibbs.
Because if there is a Bandwagon this season -- and believe me you have to get four or five games down the road, and play better every game for me to even think about it -- but if there is a Bandwagon this season, it'll be because of Joe Gibbs. He is The Story.
I watched with some amusement after the game as Gibbs said, "Maybe now the focus can be on the players where it belongs." Hahaha! That Gibbs. He's such a kidder. Who's writing his material, Morty Gunty?
Coach "Joe" (oops, there I go slipping into Bandwagon-speak already!) may actually believe that nonsense. But the rest of us know it is foolishness. The focus is on where it belongs. The focus is on Joe Gibbs.
Let me tell you something, my friends: Half the people in this town don't even know Mark Brunell is the starting quarterback; they think Patrick Ramsey is. And half the people in this town don't know who Clinton Portis is; they wouldn't know him if he walked into their homes wearing a "Portis" jersey. Half the people in this town think Champ Bailey is still starting at cornerback, and half the people in this town wouldn't know Antonio Pierce from Franklin Pierce. But everybody in this town knows Joe Gibbs. Not that I'm writing a Bandwagon column, because I'm not. But if I were, I'd get one of those caricatures drawn where Gibbs isn't just leaning over the prow, guiding the path of The Bandwagon. Nope, I'd get one of those caricatures where Joe Gibbs is The Bandwagon -- and all the players and coaches are up on his shoulders, and he's carrying them. Because that's how everybody in this town is looking at this team right now. Clinton Portis would have to run for 300 yards, and Antonio Pierce would have to make five interceptions to change that.
Last week I told you that ever since Gibbs announced he was coming back to coach, not a single day went by when somebody didn't ask me if I was going to bring back The Bandwagon. Well, the question always went like this: "Now that Coach Gibbs is back, are you gonna bring back The Bandwagon?" You'll notice nobody said, "Now that Ledell Betts is back . . . " Or, "Now that Renaldo Wynn is back . . ." Or, "Now that Trung Canidate is gone . . . " No, the question was always dependent on Gibbs. He is the one people believe in. He is the way up and out.
We saw it last year in Dallas with Bill Parcells. Parcells showed up with his new Billy Idol bleached hairdo and his old resume, and the people went wild. Because when you get Parcells, here's what you know you're not getting: Chan Gailey or Dave Campo. And immediately Parcells delivered. He took a team that went 5-11 two years running and turned them into a playoff team. That's what a Hall of Fame coach can do.
Now you take the excitement that bubbled up in Dallas when The Tuna arrived, and you have to double it here. Because Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs isn't going to a new city -- Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs is coming home! In Dallas, some folks were skeptical of Parcells. And they had someone really good and fairly recent to compare him to, Jimmy Johnson. In Washington, nobody is skeptical of Joe Gibbs. And nobody since Gibbs left did anything to remember fondly. This town has been longing for Joe Gibbs for over a decade. Gibbs coming back overshadows every player and every coach. If Gibbs wins 10 games, The Danny won't have to worry about selling his new obstructed view seats, he'll be able to build 25,000 new additional seats outside the ballpark, with no view at all, and sell them.
Now, Listen Up (starting next Monday at 8:30 on CBS; gotcha!): nobody should get carried away with beating Tampa Bay in a home opener. The Bucs aren't a good team. They have cratered, like that Genesis thing, since the Super Bowl. Many of their best defensive players have left, and they never were very good on offense. Washington should have won that game. All the emotional factors were on Washington's side. Next week the Redskins go to the Meadowlands, where the emotional factors should be on the Giants' side -- provided Crazy Tom Coughlin doesn't put his entire defense on waivers and torch the locker room. (Did you see Coughlin raving on the sideline against the Eagles? He looked like he belonged in a rubber suit.) Not that I'm writing a Bandwagon column, because I'm not. But if I were, I'd point out that the Redskins have a pretty fair chance to win that game. The Giants aren't very good (if the Giants had left Terrell Owens any more uncovered he could have violated public decency laws), and Giants fans will unload on Kurt Warner the moment he fumbles -- which he always does. Giants fans don't want Warner. They think he's a fossil. (As opposed to Jim Fassel, who already has been unloaded.) They're willing to throw away this season right now, and they would eagerly throw in Eli Manning and get him lumped up to get ready for next season. The Giants were a road game Gibbs always had trouble with when Parcells was on the opposite sideline. But Parcells is in Dallas. So it's a road game that a good team, a prepared team, a disciplined team, a smart team, a Gibbs team, a Bandwagon team, would win.
Not that I'm writing a Bandwagon column, because I'm not.
Not yet anyway.