Adam Schein at Fox Sports recently made a list of nine players/coaches under scrutiny in 2007 (hat tip: Blogging the Boys). Nine is a fairly arbitrary number (why not 10?) so I have to believe that he chose these nine and excluded Mr. 10 for good reason. Among the nine, scrutiny can mean a lot of things. For instance, as regards Mike Vick (listed), we're talking about legal scrutiny. The scrutiny Chris Henry will weather relates specifically to disciplinary action taken against him earlier this season. In Joe Gibbs' case, we're speaking strictly to the Washington Redskins disappointing 5-11 season in 2006, for which he is not singularly to blame though he is ultimately accountable.
Before we get to his evaluation of Coach Gibbs, let me just say that I think the level of scrutiny that Mike Vick and Chris Henry are under as of this moment are far beyond anything Joe Gibbs deserves, by a matter of degree. Also of interest are the omissions: Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson are among players untouched by scrutiny, per Schein. But Coach Gibbs...
Could this be the final year for the Hall of Fame coach on the Washington sidelines? It is possible, especially if we are looking at another sub .500 season. Gibbs needs to eliminate the bickering and negativity that infiltrated the Redskins last season. You must believe the defense, so awful last year in creating turnovers and pressuring the quarterback, will improve in the back 7 with London Fletcher and LaRon Landry. But questions still remain on the front 4. I love Jason Campbell's upside, but will it click fast enough to equal wins, and keep the omnipresent Bill Cowher rumors away?
However, I do not think Snyder would force Gibbs to leave Washington prior to his contract's natural death, which expires in 2008.
Let's also keep perspective on Coach Gibbs as a head coach in Washington. Since 1992, the Redskins have had heaps of unsuccessful HCs: Richie Pettibon, Norv Turner, Terry Robiskie (briefly), Marty Schottenheimer, and Steve Spurrier. Only Norv Turner has taken the team to the postseason among that group, and he had 7 opportunities to do so (and successfully did so once, after 6 of those years). Joe Gibbs inherited the losingest team in Washington since Norv Turner's 1994 team, and took them to the playoffs within two years. Admitting that 2006 was a huge disappointment, Coach Gibbs is still the best coach we've had since... Joe Gibbs in 1992. Without the 2007 results in just yet, I'm far from willing to consider Joe Gibbs' 2nd tenure with the team an absolute failure, especially relative to his predecessors.
So to sum up, though I agree with Schein's analysis of the troubles in Washington and how they might affect Coach's future with the Redskins, I still think it's irresponsible to list him as comparably scrutinized with the likes of Mike Vick and Chris Henry. I also think it's unfair to mention only Gibbs and Norv Turner among scrutinized coaches when there are others very deserving of that anti-honor. For instance, what has Romeo Crennel done to stave off criticism in Cleveland thus far? Rod Marinelli isn't sweating the results of 2007? Isn't Jon Gruden in the same situation as Coach Gibbs, with one good season sandwiched between two or three very disappointing ones (incidentally, his good 2005 was ended by Your Washington Redskins)? What about all the new head coaches in the league?