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Joe Gibbs allows team to go home for Offseason workout

Howard Bryant reported at the Post last week that Coach Gibbs will allow players to workout away from Redskins park. I commented in December that a number of Redskins players were not keen on Joe Gibbs year-round workout. Some of the criticisms I thought were founded, namely that Defensive Linemen were doing the same workouts as Wide Receivers -- that doesn't make sense.

Ben pointed out that the old Joe Gibbs wouldn't have stood for this nonsense complaining. He would've demanded they show up anyways, and in all likelihood he might've just won a Superbowl to spite the whiners.

Your philosophy on such matters will likely hinge on how you feel about incredibly high paid men complaining about anything. A part of me wants to tell them to stop being crybaby prima donnas and show up. Anectodes abound of old school NFL coaches who asked players to put up or shut up and went on to win, thus cementing that attitude as prevailing wisdom to many Football fans for eternity.

Yet another part of me says 5 win teams are operating near disaster territory, and change might be just what the doctor ordered.

First, the relevant info from the Post:

Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said Friday he will allow players to hold their offseason workouts away from Redskins Park, a key concession to veterans who in the last three years had been asked to conduct their conditioning regimen at the team training facility in Ashburn.

"A lot of the guys that I trust, the ones that are real leaders on our team, felt like they would like to be more on their own from a conditioning standpoint, so we're going to do that," Gibbs said. "What I said to them was they would be on their own, and we're counting on them. It's what they wanted. They said, 'Leave it up to us,' and I trust them."

On the other hand, Gibbs said, he will require his players to report to training camp earlier this year, possibly by as much as a week. Last season, which ended with a 5-11 record, the Redskins were the last team in the NFL to begin training camp.

What I see here (and I respectfully disagree ever so slightly with Ben) is a willingness to compromise from a Coach who has just suffered a very poor season. Joe Gibbs expressed repeatedly after the season was over that he was open to change. And while change didn't happen in the places I had hoped (such as with the addition of a General Manager), I am encouraged to see some change if only as an indication that Joe Gibbs meant what he said.

Change for the sake of change is never good, so I should qualify that position. I want to repeat that I thought part of the players' criticisms were founded. Rock Cartwright and Mike Sellers (among others) said they had to do additional work because the program didn't suit their needs. That's a complaint with the program-in-practice, which is fixable without having to do away with the entire program.

The complaint with the program in general, and why Gibbs uncharacteristically capitulated, was that the Veterans had simply decided that the offseason workout wasn't for them. The part of me that demands greatness of well paid athletes finds this absolutely ridiculous and I understand Ben's concerns completely. While I trust that some/many/hopefully most Redskins will treat their bodies as temples this offseason, I am certain that many/some/at least one will not. And, all things equal, I'd rather not leave anything to chance and just have the teams at Redskins Park.

The problem is that all things are not equal. The complaints with the program are fairly widespread, and I haven't heard any players defending it. And while Ben correctly points out that the 'Skins did just fine without Stan Humphries in 1991 (Superbowl!), I doubt the 2007 'Skins would be fine without Antwaan Randle-El, Phillip Daniels, Santana Moss, Mike Sellers, Rock Cartwright, and Clinton Portis; all players that have expressed complaint with Gibbs' program.

I think Coach was put between a rock and a hard place, and I accept the decision he made. Rather than risk losing the entire team, he perhaps compromised his own Coaching principles and decided on the (apparent) lesser of two evils.

Whether it is actually the case that Coach Gibbs made the right decision will not be decided by my or Ben's Football Philosophy; Football Games will settle the matter in 2007. I will grant to Ben that the Joe Gibbs system worked fine for two decades and remarkably well in 2005 when our late season surge (perhaps due to additional conditioning?) to make the playoffs. I will also grant what all Redskins can see; that Joe Gibbs 2.0 is a very different Coach than the first version. As an example (used by Ben as well) I present Al Saunders being given the play calling duties in 2006.

Sometimes change can be positive. We'll find out if the players show up fit or fat to training camp and I'll note as a final point that although the in"voluntary" offseason program is now kaput, Gibbs will start training camp earlier this year. If he made a drastic mistake in giving some players just enough rope to hange themselves, at least we'll have some additional time to iron out the kinks. I hope.

Post your own thoughts below.