ASHBURN, Va. (Dec. 2, 2004) -- As a coach, Joe Gibbs is in the Hall of Fame. As a team president, he's a mere rookie. Like most rookies, he has mixed
results to show for his work.
"My assessing myself comes down to wins and losses," the Washington Redskins coach said. "Not real good, right now."
Two weighty issues have dominated the talking points at Redskins Park this week as Gibbs struggles with a 3-8 record: Would the coach be better off
with a general manager, restoring the checks-and-balances dynamic that helped him win three Super Bowls, and will he guarantee that he will coach next
The second question stems from a report that Gibbs, a 64-year-old diabetic, would possibly step down as coach at the end of the season for health
reasons. Gibbs is so tired of denying the report that by midweek he was questioning the professionalism of the reporting involved.
"If I would have worried about that (report), I'd probably be in the nuthouse," Gibbs said. "I don't think you can spend anytime worrying about stuff
like that. It's ironic. You'd think there'd be more professionalism in the reporting of things."
Even so, Gibbs has declined to be definitive about his return, always adding the caveat it is his "intention" to do so.
"My intentions are to be right here," Gibbs said. "That's my intentions, Lord willing. There's a lot of things that can happen."
Gibbs says his health is good, and he looks fine, showing little more than the usual fatigue associated with repeated 20-hour days. The only time this
season he has looked thoroughly exhausted -- and perhaps in need of a rocking chair -- was the week before the first game. Gibbs later attributed that
worn look to nervousness about returning to the sidelines for the first time in 12 years.
Gibbs, who has a five-year contract, did say he would quit if he ever felt he couldn't turn the team around.
"If I ever reached the feeling that I was holding things back, then I'd fix it," he said.
The GM question is more intriguing. During his first run, from 1981-92, Gibbs had Bobby Beathard and later Charley Casserly as sounding boards who had
the credentials to tell the coach no, if necessary. There were disagreements, but no one could disagree with the results.
In this go-round, Gibbs has final authority over player selection and works with owner Dan Snyder and vice president of football operations Vinny
Cerrato, whose spotty track record over the past five years hardly gives them the clout to dispute whatever Gibbs wants.
"I think we have a great relationship here," Gibbs said. "We kind of do everything together. I don't think I jump out and make a bunch of decisions;
we all kind of do it together. Dan's only in there to say financially how's it working, how it can work with the (salary) cap. But all the coaches and
all of us, when we make a mistake, we all make a mistake. There's nobody working on an island by himself."
The acquisitions under the most scrutiny are Mark Brunell, Clinton Portis, Micheal Barrow and Sean Taylor -- who were given big, cap-stretching
contracts in Gibbs' first attempt to deal with financial restraints that were not in place 12 years ago.
Quarterback Brunell is now benched with the worst stats in the league. Running back Portis has been a difficult fit for Gibbs' system, and his carries
have diminished in recent weeks. Middle linebacker Barrow hasn't played because of a knee injury.
Taylor, the No. 5 overall draft pick, has played well, but his off-the-field troubles hardly fit the profile of the "true Redskin" of character that
Gibbs is seeking. Gibbs once called Taylor the most researched pick in history, but the research did not pay dividends.
"You get some bitter disappointments when you pick people," Gibbs said. "What they appear to be on the surface sometimes it's hard to judge. ... We
know every single thing about them, but it's hard to pick people. That's the bottom line."
There have been some successes from the offseason haul. Defensive lineman Cornelius Griffin would be a Pro Bowl candidate if the team's record were
better. Third-round pick Chris Cooley is the perfect H-back for Gibbs' system. Linebacker Marcus Washington has been solid.
"When you analyze what we did in the offseason, the free agents and draft choices, I think it's darn good," Gibbs said. "Do we have a core group of
guys here? Yeah."
Snyder is not expected to ask Gibbs to take on a general manager in the offseason, but Gibbs said he wouldn't object to it.
"I have no problem with that. I worked with GMs before. They're really good," Gibbs said. "I don't know if it's as much titles and everything as it is
the working relationship."
"We're 11, 12, 13 games in?" the coach added. "It's pretty quick to pull the trigger right now. Like I said, we're not doing real well right now, but
we'll see. In the end, that'll be the proof."