You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsdiers@comcast.net
At just two minutes and 52 seconds, it really wasn’t much of
a sound bite. It was more like a nibble--one that was delivered with very sharp
Joe Gibbs’ postgame press conference after Saturday night’s 27-14
loss to the Jets in a preseason game at FedEx Field was one of the shortest
such sessions that anyone can remember him giving. One of the reasons that it
was so brief was that it wasn’t necessary for those of us there to ask any
questions about what he thought of the team’s performance. He was, as he made
perfectly clear, concerned.
"I'm concerned all the way across the board,"
Gibbs said. "That's where I am right now. When we show up and do that kind
of stuff at home, I take it real serious. I think our players, do, too. We have
to do something about it."
"I'm really concerned -- let's put it that way,"
he continued. "We need to take a serious, hard look at all of this and I
know I have to from my standpoint. I'm sure I haven't done my job."
Anything positive to take out it, coach?
"There will be some positives and I'm sure some guys
did some good things -- you can analyze it that way," Gibbs said.
"But I'm concerned about the team,” he continued, with
an emphasis on the team. We have to play
good and we're not."
This had virtually everyone who was observing this somewhat
stunned. This wasn’t the sarcastic Bill Parcells here or the blunt Tom
Coughlin. This was the mild-mannered Gibbs, who generally praises in public and
criticizes in private. Fretting is Gibbs’ nature, anger is not. And, make no
mistake about it, Gibbs was angry.
Since Gibbs doesn’t tend to get mad every often, it
generally has a great effect on his players when he does. Just days before his
first Super Bowl appearance in January of 1983 some players and coaches were
late to a pre-practice meeting because they drove to the facility rather than
taking the team bus. Gibbs was livid and immediately laid down the law—taking
the bus to practice was mandatory.
“He chewed us out good,” said linebacker Neal Olkewicz, who
was not one of the players who was late.
“It’s no problem,” said Dave Btuz. “It’s been pointed out to
us quite verbally by Coach Gibbs.
There were no tardiness issues the rest of the week and the
Redskins earned their first Lombardi Trophy that Sunday.
Perhaps Gibbs’ most famous tirade came at halftime of the
last game of the 1986 regular season. The game had only slightly more meaning
than Saturday’s meeting with the Jets had. Washington
was locked in to the top Wild Card playoff spot regardless of the outcome of
the game against the Eagles at Veterans Stadium. After sleepwalking through the
first half the Redskins went into the locker room trailing 14-0.
Chairs were flipped. The coach’s arms were waving. His voice
went several octaves higher than his normal, calm tone.
“Screechy,” was the way linebacker Neal Olkewicz described
Gibbs’ voice. “Definitely screechy.”
“I thought maybe Coach Gibbs had been fired, and Mike Ditka
(coach of the Chicago Bears) had been hired at halftime,” free safety Curtis
But, no, it was Gibbs, riled by his team’s lack of intensity
in the first half. “There were veins sticking out of his neck,” said linebacker
There was evidence that this was a very controlled rage. “He
never used any four-letter words,” said Milot.
Planned or not, controlled or not, the tirade apparently
worked. The Redskins scored 21 fourth-quarter points and went into the playoffs
on a winning note with a 21-14 victory.
We will see if his anger following Saturday night’s events
has similar benefits.
Rich Tandler is the author of The
Redskins From A to Z, Volume One: The Games. This unique book has an account
of every game the Redskins played from when the moved to Washington
in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com