In his most recent column "Unhappy Ending", Peter King bloviates on the possibility that two NFC East coaching greats might be on their way towards happier trails. The subjects? Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells.
Quick question Pete:
It is my understanding that the Cowboys lost to Carolina in the first round of the playoffs in 2003, Parcells' first year. That makes Parcells 0-1. It is my understanding that Gibbs beat Tampa Bay and lost to Seattle last year, making him 1-1 in the post season. 0-1 + 1-1 = 1-2. Right, readers?
Not important, moving on. He gets all the important things correct: Parcells and Gibbs are both long in the tooth (65 years old each), have had less than impressive returns to NFL (the aforementioned 46-47 regular season record), and both are struggling this year, though Gibbs significantly more so.
I don't have any magic Brain Reading device to reach into the souls of these men and nor does Peter King. I don't want to speculate as to whether Gibbs will throw in the towel for 2007 because I just don't know.
But I know what I want and that is for Joe Gibbs to remain a Redskin, at least through 2007. Here is why:
1) Nostalgia. Let me qualify that. It is not merely nostalgia but the belief, given what Hall of Fame Gibbs has done in the past, that future success is imminent. Although success this season slips further away with each passing week, I have to believe that Gibbs is a good enough coach to turn things around, if only because he's done so in the past. After losing his first 5 games as Coach of the Redskins, Gibbs would finish 8-8 in '81 and win the Superbowl in '82. They would take home an NFC Championship the following year.
2) What he's done thus far. Joe Gibbs inherited a 5 win team with heaps of problems. Admittedly our 6 wins the following year shouldn't be considered a big turnaround, but he took stock of the team and made the necessary changes to get us 10 wins. Swapping Coles for Santana Moss could very well become the trade of the century, and Gibbs should be credited with that.
3) Betting against the future. Thus far this year I've seen nothing in either Gregg Williams or Al Saunders to instill great confidence in their ability to head coach this team. I know that Gibbs is, essentially, a quality control guy on the sideline, but at least he has proven success as a head coach. Neither of his assistants have excelled in that capacity and I'd just as soon keep Gibbs around. If not Saunders and Williams then who knows where Snyder will go for a head coach.
4) Joe Gibbs is the only person who can earn any continuity as a Coach in this city. Joe Gibbs is a Redskin icon and, as such, is much more immune from Snyder's tendency to freak out and switch coaches (like Marty Schottenheimer) prematurely. One of the main things lacking in the Snyder Era is coaching continuity; as Brandon at Curly R pointed out, Snyder has gone through 4 coaches in his 7 years of ownership. This affects team chemistry (moreso than we already do by changing our entire lineup once every few years) which goes a long ways towards achieving and sustaining long term success.
The second Joe Gibbs experiment has unquestionably been a disappointment, especially considering the unrealistic expectations Redskins fans had with the great return of St. Joe. Regardless, I hope that Peter King is wrong and will continue to support Joe through thick and thin up until that moment where he decides that coaching isn't for him anymore. I still haven't reached that point where enough is enough, and Joe Gibbs has done enough for the Redskins in his lifetime where it's likely I never will.
This is not to say that I will refrain from questioning his coaching decisions. Pssst, Jason Campbell.