Q&A With: Joe Gibbs

The Redskins' coach talks about Champ Bailey, Patrick Ramsey and Vinny Cerrato.

Q: Any updated with the Champ Bailey situation? The problem is you guys want a scoop and there isn't one. This stuff is a work in progress with all the free agents. We can't do anything until March 2. We're trying to work our way through things. It'll be a while until we actually consummate something. Some of the stuff is so up in the air.

Q: Jevon Kearse is out there, does he pique your interest?

I think everyone in the league will have an interest in Jevon. What happens most of the time like that is you figure everyone in the league is talking about him so we'll see who wins out.

Q: You've made cuts and got more room under the cap, is it enough or do you need more room?

A: I think what happens is that obviously everyone knows you have a certain amount of money to work with so you're trying to free up any way you can other ways to try and move money so it gives you more freedom this year. We have things we'd like to try and do. But the question is are the players and agents going to let us do it, we'll just have to see.

Q: You mean renegotiating other contracts?

A: Yes, doing things like that.

Q: With Jessie, is it what you saw of him on film or what you saw in his backups?

A: Those things are always so hard because we didn't get a chance to work with him. But after all of us went through the film . . . I think he'll wind up playing next year and probably doing well. Good guy and everything. We have a lot of respect for him. We felt like in our situation, we needed to go in a different direction to get something else done.

Q: Did you see something in the younger guys?

A: No, I think it was just more of where we thought we were going. It's hard right now because there are a lot of free agency guys we're looking at.

Q: What are your thoughts on the combine?

A: The combine to a large extent is a waste. You go there and you want everyone to work out and they're not going to work out. I shouldn't say that because some of the good players did work out. Now we'll travel around the country and see guys work out. But it does serve a purpose. You get a chance to meet the guys which is important. They do the medicals. That all gets accomplished. Then some of the guys actually work out. I think there are plusses to it.

Q: How much do you take from the interviews? A: I think you get a chance to get some feeling for the way they communicate. You ask them questions that are revealing. I think it's valuable. In the past we always tried to meet with the players we were going to take anyway. It's different.

Q: If the Champ deal goes through it would leave you with only two draft picks. Would you be comfortable with that?

A: No. We're not comfortable with it. What you'd like to do, this is a good draft, but in each of those situations you're trying to evaluate what would be best for the team. In some cases you felt like the best way to help the team would be giving up a draft choice.

Q: Will there be any consideration of trading down to get more picks?

A: That's always a consideration. What you do now is evaluate what's there, how important that would be for you and the team, what would happen if you did backup, how many players would you add. A lot of times that comes down to draft day. There will be some real good players there.

Q: Any possibility of LaVar playing Jessie's old spot?

A: Right now we're still going through a process of what he would play. So yeah that's a possibility. What you'd like to do with him, any time you get LaVar on a back in pass protection, you'll win. And get him isolated on a tackle. There will be creative things to do with him to put him in the best situation. He's one guy who would play all over for you.

Q: What have you and Gregg talked about on defense?

A: We have a plan on defense. We have everything laid out. We know what we're going to do. There's a whole plan in place. I know the first two moves that everyone is talking about have been on offense. But we have the whole plan laid out for the defensive coaches. We know what the numbers are, people we want to try and get. We've picked out the people we want to try and get. We normally have three at that position. Special teams, offense and defense, we have a scheme for what we're going to try and do. The question is what can we get. If you get one player it might cost you getting others. It's a tough balancing act. You make one decision here and a few days later you make another one.

Q: So Redskins fans shouldn't worry about the defense?

A: Believe me I'm the first guy in the world who wants defense. We got to stop them, so we have a whole plan in place on how to get that done.

Q: Do you expect such a fast start to free agency?

A: I hope. I hope. Each one of those is a process we're going through now, trying to negotiate with the players or get it laid out and you're trying to say where are the critical areas. This is a huge opportunity because you're looking at this as the first place to solve problems. Hopefully we'll solve a lot of problems in free agency.

Q: Does it matter what type of back you have in your system?

A: Actually, we just want a real good running back. We had the big guy in John Riggins. We had Joe Washington. To me, running backs come in all packages. Earnest Byner was in the middle of those two. I think what you're looking for is just a real good running back, someone you feel who can make yards and do what you want to do. Each one of those [former backs] would be a little different in package. We'd love to get the complete guy, but it remains to be seen where we'll wind up.

Q: Do you plan on seeing the Passion of Christ?

A: Yeah I plan on seeing it at some point.

Q: Does it feel good that you targeted someone like Brunell and he decided to come here?

A: What we're trying to do is each one of those positions is solidfy those positions and say if we're going into the season do we feel good about running back, do we feel good at defensive end or quarterback. All those things. We probably feel differently about each of those positions.

Q: With Patrick Ramsey, was it a matter of his inexperience or something you saw on tape that made you think you had to have someone else here?

A: What I've said, which kind of goes by the board here, the reason why we did what we did was because of Patrick Ramsey and what we saw. Big guy, strong, very bright. Has a heck of an arm. Can throw fadeaways. He gets hit and shown he's very resilient. As a coach you say very, very good young quarterback. You can make plans because a good young guy will be here for a long time. Then if we're going to look for a quarterback, would you get a young guy in the draft, would you do that? No. We have a good young guy. It freed us up to do other things. We think so much of Patrick that it gave us the freedom to do other things. Do I think one quarterback is enough? No I don't. You need depth. You need to make sure it's a situation that is very sound and solid. I think Patrick understands that, too.

Q: Talk about Vinny Cerrato and what it's been like to work with him.

A: That's a good question. We've gone through free agency [evaluations] and now we're going through the draft. The way Vinny likes to work fits in with what I like. I described it in there one day, we're trying to do it as a team. The coaching staff and the scouts all working together. So what we do is take every player, for instance in free agency. If we're considering a defensive end, the scout has a telestory tape where he tries to show everything about that player in a tape of about 25 plays. He tries to show the good things and the bad things. We all look at it together and then the scout gives his rundown on what he thought about the player. Then the coach has done the same thing, evaluated the player. He reads off what he has on the player. Then we all look at the film together until we're comfortable. At the end of that we all stop and put a grade on 20 different areas on that player. Smart, tough, how quick is he, phsyical. The bottom line in what I'm saying is that I'm real comfortable with that process. It's great. We're all together. What you want is someone there busting himself to try and help you. He's done all of that. And you see Dan in that process, the fact that he's aggressive and trying to help. We're all trying to solve problems. Our owner is one who's willing to be aggressive and do things and that makes me feel good. Vinny's right in there and I feel the coaching staff is heavily involved. I feel when we take a player in free agency or the draft, what I'll feel good about is our guy. It's been a good process for me. It's the first time I've had a chance to go through it and I feel great about it. So far we see eye to eye on things. It's been fun.

Q: No offseason in this sport anymore.

A: My favorite question used to be, what do you do in the offseason. I just go to the beach and roll that ball out there. It's a great job. Six months off, man. It doesn't happen.

Q: Can you talk about your vision for the team?

A: It's funny. A question was asked about running back. The player you wind up getting dictates a lot about the running game and some of the things you can do. The way that fits together is the offensive line. If you switch to defense, your style of play will be determined by your corners and what kind of pass rush you'll have. To me it's like a big puzzle. In different times, in some of those years, we had three real good wide receivers and we probably threw the ball more. Other times we pounded it because we felt it fit good with our team. In general what you want to do is be good all the way across the board. You can't throw the football you'll get in trouble. If you can't stop the run on defense you've got problems. There are some basic principles you want to do. And different years your team takes on different personalities based off your players. Good coaches adjust to their players. For me it's hard to answer that question because the players lots of time dictate what you want to do. If you wind up with two good press corners you feel good about getting after somebody then chances are you'll be very aggressive team on defense. If you're worried about that or if you're strong enough to get to the quarterback you may sit back a little more. I think the players will dictate what kind of personality we have here. For me it's your basic principles. We definitely feel we have to run the ball and have to be able to stop it. Then you have to have an excellent passing game in the NFL. You're not getting anywhere without that. And you have to play pass defense. The good teams do it all. Special teams is super important to me. You have to have a great snapper, a great punter, a great field goal. That's a basis. Without the kicking game . . . I've never been more miserable in my life when I'd go in there and worry about the holder or the snapper. You have to solve those things. You could be the best team in the world and lose it in those areas. I've found the farther you go in the playoffs, if you're missing something it shows up. They'll find it. We want to be everything but sometimes you can't do everything.

Q: Is there a team you want to mirror?

A: No. I don't sense that. Obviously there are some teams you admire and we're looking at that. We've looked at the best defensive teams, special teams, the best passing teams, the best running teams. You know the way we're going to look will have a lot to say about the way and quality of our players and what we're able to do.


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