Joe Gibbs was mad Friday night. He'd rarely been so mad since returning to run and coach the Redskins 19 months ago. But on the podium in the interview room under FedEx Field after the Redskins suffered another preseason loss, 24-17, to the Cincinnati Bengals, Gibbs had that angry glare few have seen since, well, you know when.
"He was mad -- I mean steaming -- and he let the players and everyone else know how he felt," said a staff member in the room after the Redskins plodded through another fruitless 60 minutes of mistake-filled football. That would include two drive-killing interceptions by Patrick Ramsey, a fumble by rookie Nehemiah Broughton that ended a possible game-tying touchdown drive with 1 minute 42 seconds left, and six penalties for 47 yards.
In the old days, mistakes of such magnitude and losing a game Gibbs obviously wanted to win might have caused him to throw chairs against the blackboard. That didn't happen Friday night, I'm told, but we're getting close. Real close.
"We're our own worst enemy," said Gibbs, not giving out any of those high-pitched cackles. "I don't like the way we're playing. We turn the ball over and commit penalties. We're making too many mistakes and need to play smart to win football games we're supposed to win. That's why we're here. To win."
Gibbs knows why his team was a disappointing 6-10 in 2004, and many of those same sloppy traits remain. They include key offensive mistakes at the worst times and not coming up with the big play when needed most. On defense, the first team has generally been good, but I don't yet see comparable replacements for cornerback Fred Smoot or middle linebacker Antonio Pierce.
Solutions: Gibbs watchers know he'll make changes if things don't improve, as he did nearly 20 years ago when he replaced Jay Schroeder with Doug Williams, and Williams with Mark Rypien two years later. Ramsey, gutsy and smart, knows this; so does the older and much-improved Mark Brunell.
Questions for Bidders
While Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig, his deputies and who knows how many committees ponder and ponder which ownership group will have the privilege to buy the Washington Nationals from MLB sometime before the end of the decade for more than $400 million, my friend Zelenko has a question: "Will the new owners change the name of the team, redesign the uniforms and all related paraphernalia?"
Zelenko is concerned that the Nats' pricey hats and shirts "will become outdated and devalued" if the new owners decide to make such a change. What would be the purpose of such a change, Zelenko wonders, if not to make money?
It's the kind of question that might be asked if the eight ownership groups were to be interviewed by the fans (more than 33,000 a game) who actually go to the games at RFK instead of the suits in New York who didn't want the Expos moved here anyway.
* What kind of team payroll are we talking about? If you can't pay, do you really want to play?
* Who stays among Manager Frank Robinson, GM Jim Bowden and President Tony Tavares?
* Are you going to try to renegotiate the one-sided Mid-Atlantic Sports Network television deal that favors by 90-10 Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who for years opposed a team in Washington?
* Will you try to get more games for TV viewers and radio listeners and improve the productions, particularly MASN's fascinating rain-delay picture of a tarp on the field, sans sound?
* Will you spend some of your own money to help the city further improve outdated RFK Stadium until the new stadium opens?
* Will you remind the history-loving commissioner that the baseball season should open in the nation's capital in what used to be called a Presidential Opener? (see photos of Taft, followed by Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, et al).
Old-timers excited about the resumption of the Maryland-Navy college football series (Sept. 3 in Baltimore) that was put on hold 40 years ago. It seems Terp linebacker Jerry Fishman, in the heat of the moment, made an obscene gesture to Mids fans at Byrd Stadium after Maryland's 27-22 victory in 1964. Navy won the following year, 19-7, but that was that until reason recently prevailed. "A lot was made of Fishman," said former teammate George Stem, a onetime Terps linebacker who is putting together a reunion of teams from the Tom Nugent era (1959-65) that will be celebrated at the Maryland-Clemson game Sept. 10.
"I knocked one of the Navy players out of bounds at the end of the game and their fans got on me, so I responded," recalled Fishman, 61, retired from his law practice in Annapolis, of all places, and living in Boca Raton, Fla. (where else?). After the game, Fishman said he went back to the Navy sideline in the "heat of the moment" and made another obscene gesture to Mids fans.
Regrets? "Nah," he said. "It was a long time ago. But it's nice to be remembered."
* What's so great about Six Flags Inc. that has Dan Snyder diverting his attention from running the cash cow that is the Redskins to trying to take control of this outfit? Aren't the Redskins enough of a roller coaster for him? What's with the holding company name, Red Zone LLC? Doesn't Snyder's team have trouble getting out of the red zone and into the end zone? And how did Snyder lure Mark Shapiro, ESPN's executive vice president of programming and production, into joining him after less than two months of my watchdogging Shapiro as ESPN's ombudsman?
Is Sean Taylor involved in this deal? LaVar?
What about Gibbs? His red-hot NASCAR driver, Tony Stewart, could help any company these days.
Where do George Michael and Sonny fit? Vinny?
Does The Post have park tickets that need to be pulled?
Will all 31 Six Flags amusement parks be painted burgundy and gold? Suites? Concessions? Tree status?
So many questions, so few answers.
The Capitals are in the process of actually signing some players, which is positive since the team will be playing soon. Inking Dainius Zubrus to perhaps play on the same line with rookie Alexander Ovechkin is positive and could give the Caps real firepower to go with Jeff Halpern. There's even hope of signing free agent Peter Bondra, who starred for the Capitals for 13-plus seasons before being traded to Ottawa in 2004. Bondra, 37, was one of the most popular Caps ever. The Capitals also are reducing the prices of a number of tickets -- a smart move.
Have a comment or question? Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Accepting orders for Feinstein's new book on the Ravens ("Next Man Up"), which the author will sign and deliver to your home.