Q&A With: Joe Gibbs

As the Redskins' first minicamp approaches under Joe Gibbs -- and Warpath will file reports from each practice -- the old/new coach met with the local media.

Q: How many players have you had a chance to meet?

A: I've probably seen or talked to 20 percent.

Q: Does that surprise you?

A: No. When I came in I was going to try and go down the list and call everybody and I got to the fifth name and I didn't have anybody and I had four cell phone disconnects and finally I said that's ridiculous, I'm not going to do that. I think it's normal for a group like this that they want to get away for a while and they don't want to get hooked up to some coach and say why aren't you in here meeting with the assistant coaches. I understand that. This is our first chance for a minicamp. I thought it was good to get everyone together so they can hear the plans for the offseason and chart the course for what we're going to do for the year. They've gone through a lot of changes. I was talking to one of them who said, `I'm sick and tired of us changing coaches all the time.' And I said, `I am too. Let's don't change anymore coaches.'

Q: Starting Friday at the minicamp, what do you do?

A: Thursday night we'll have a team meeting and a team dinner and introduce everybody. We have quite a few new guys. Then Thursday night after that I'll lay out -- I'm not a big rules guy -- but give them the general, this is what we're going to be looking for. I'll talk a lot about one of the things when I first thought about getting back in everyone said you can't establish a core group of players and keep them with you. I don't think that's true. I've done the homework and you can. I'll tell them what I'm going to look for. If someone wants to be a core group Redskins guy and be part of our team for a long time and lay out the basic principles. I have two rules: common sense and don't embarrass the Redskins. That's it and you'll get along good with me. I'm sure they'll be looking at me like what's this guy going to be expecting from us. Then what we'll do is special teams, offense and defense, is start round one. We'll start with base offense and start a real teaching deal on offense, special teams and defense. When we start practice it'll be special teams so we start with that off the bat. The difference is today we used to have longer in camp and we don't know. They have to be in shape -- we'll monitor that for 12 weeks. And we have a different way of weight training and checking their conditioning. And we'll start the long process of working on football.

Q: Are the principles you'll be teaching Friday the same you taught in 1992?

A: When you look at things we've done technically there are changes. There are things we've changed in the running game and passing game. When you look at the structure of what people have been doing some of it is similar. We've gone through all that. There have been changes in the passing game, defense. Gregg and those guys have been together so they're current. Offensively there have been a lot that we've changed so it will be different than it was back in those days. The defensive schemes have changed some. That's why we've been in meetings for the last two months. But the teaching principles are the same.

Q: It sounds like you'll be doing more teaching since your first year. You're used to having guys who have been in your system and none of these guys have been.

A: That's a good point because after a while what we had is a core group of players. I felt like the young guys when they came in were like what does it take to be a Redskin. And they'd look at Art Monk who was taking explicit notes and was a real student of the game. They see a real serious approach and see him make 52 of 55 voluntary workouts. And the young guys would go, `Oh, I see. If I want to stay here 12 years that's what it takes.' There's a real carryover so it makes it easier as a coach. Now we'll try to re-create all that. I will say that in free agency in almost every case we had a coach work with the player or had been around the player. In that group we'd take guys who we thought could be real Redskins.

Q: How about from a strategic standpoint?

A: Right. And we'll miss all that. That's why I'm nervous right now. How far are we going to be. I may get real nervous and say we have to come to training camp earlier. But you're right we had a core group. If I had a meeting I'd meet with those guys. We'll miss that now and we have to reconstruct that.

Q: Any thoughts about walking out there Friday?

A: I think you'd be more excited about that than if you were in the middle of a five or six year run. I feel right at home here now. Knowing football you can't sit back away from it and say here's what I'll face and here's how different it was. I had no clue. You just dive into it. . . . It's like free agency, you dive into that. I feel confident. Matter of fact we made some mistakes that we won't make next year, but also think we were very, very, very good at what we did. I appreciate Dan's aggressive style. There are some things we'd do differently and learn from it and not make that mistake again. Those were learning curves. Now we're getting ready for the draft, even though we'll have limited picks. Now I'll have minicamp and I'll be nervous. We'll have to have a much slower pace because we'll be real short at some positions so we'll have to go real easy.

Q: Will Patrick Ramsey participate this weekend?

A: He's coming along much better than what we thought. He's made great progress. He'll probably not take any team work, but he can do some limited stuff when he's in individual workouts.

Q: Will LaVar participate and have you talked to him about his contract situation?

A: I expect LaVar. I don't think there's anything there about him not participating. As far as the contract thing goes, I don't deal with that. I'm not afraid of talking about it. But that's going through a process. LaVar even said he agrees that it doesn't have anything to do with football.

Q: What about matching Bryan Johnson's offer?

A: We're working hard on it now. We're trying to decide what we're going to do.

Q: Do you find this process similar to Plan B free agency?

A: I like this process better. Any way you can acquire talent you have to find it and be good at it. I appreciate how aggressive Dan was and Vinny. We laid out all the things we felt we could add to the team. We went after it hard. It was good that we had free agency because we got to add a bunch of guys we think could add a team. I get excited any time you can do that. I was happy with the way we came out of it.

Q: Do you still think there are holes?

A: We'll be looking at the team. We'll have a better feeling where we are. We have a lot of guys who won't be ready to go this time but will for the second one. I don't think you ever say you have everything solved. Any chance to add a player, hopefully we'll be good at it and be poised and ready to try and add a player any way we can. But we'll also have some undrafted guys. In the past that's not something we had crossed off. Half our teams were free agents. I remember us hitting on a bunch of guys. I'm excited about that.

Q: You like to start training camp late. Why is that?

A: I've always felt that any toll you take on them early will show up late. I always felt we were stronger toward the end and wound up poised. I felt that if you took more out of them early it would cost you late.

Q: Have you identified guys you hope will be team leaders?

A: Kirk Olivadotti was a holdover from the last staff and you could ask him what do you think. Most of the coaches here, when we talk about free agents, would say I think this guy could be a real Redskin. But it's too early to be picking out people. And real leaders from your team comes from hard work. It's going to be who's here in the offfseason and leading the deal. Who's working out and getting ready. And then playing.

Q: Are you still as excited as the day you were hired?

A: As long as we don't have to play a game I'm fired up. As we get closer to playing games I'll get real nervous. Then you have to earn your way. I would say I was a little embarrassed with the attention coming back. There have been guys in this league who have been doing it and winning Super Bowls. Those are the guys who have really done it. I look at this as I have to prove myself again. I was talking to Belichick and he's dominating right now. I have a lot of respect for that. . . . Once you start playing the other stuff goes out the window. In this deal you have to win or there will be a lot of criticism. I'm ready for that.

Q: You said you made some mistakes in free agency. What in general were you talking about?

A: We did some things that were great. I won't say what it was because then we'd be tipping people off. Then we did some things that next year my recommendation would be to do the following because we got burned. This never works out the way you want to because you're going to lose some guys. So why? I've learned a lot by going through this. This whole thing is a learning deal. You have to be a good student of it. The good thing is I have a real veteran coaching staff.


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