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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins.
January 8, 2005
What Player Has Lenny Been Watching?
I rarely rip players here and only occasionally do I take journalists to task. Here goes with both:
In an article on ESPN.com, Len Pasquarelli presents the not-so-shocking news that Rod Gardner is on the trading block.
He has been the subject of trade rumors for the past two seasons and it appears that, for Redskins wide receiver Rod Gardner, the rumblings might finally become a reality this offseason. Several sources have apprised ESPN.com that Gardner definitely will be offered up in trade talks after a 2004 campaign in which his numbers dipped for a second consecutive season.So far, so good. Gardner's performance has steadily declined over the past two years from a peak (1006 yards) that wasn't all that high to begin with. He's supposed to be reaching his prime in the third and fourth years of his NFL career, not sliding backwards.
Well, that's my view anyway. According to Lenny:
Gardner is an excellent No. 2 receiver and, while the Washington coaches have no complaints about his work ethic or demeanor, it seems there has been a mutual understanding that it is time for him to move on. The Redskins feel they can get a middle-round choice for Gardner, who should have a pretty decent market, given the number of franchises seeking to upgrade at the position.Excellent? Reggie Wayne is excellent. Donald Driver is excellent. Issac Bruce is excellent. I could go on through a few more excellents, some very goods, then to the OK's and adequates. Then we'd come to Rod Gardner.
And if the coaches don't have a complaint about his work ethic, fine. But there is something wrong with the consistency of effort given by a player who has a knack for making a spectacular play on one chance and then dropping the next easy one, one who has a great game and instead of that being his breakout game he absolutely disappears for weeks on end.
If the Redskins can get mid-rounder for him, great. Perhaps some team will look at the films and decide that Gardner's struggles aren't all his fault and take a flyer on him for a fifth-round pick. There may be some truth to that given the Redskins quarterback instability and Steve Spurrier's failed offensive schemes. If I was an NFL personnel guy looking to deal for him, however, I'd have to wonder why a guy who can get it done some of the time can't get it done all of the time.
As for Lenny, he would have been OK had he just let it go with the "excellent" evaluation of Gardner. However, as he is prone to do, he had to go on and show his distaste for and bias against the Redskins organization in discussing the hiring of former Jacksonville offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave as quarterbacks coach (at the time of the posting of Pasquarelli's article, the deal had not yet been confirmed; it has since been announced).
The team paid lip service this week to getting more vertical in its passing game next season. But if the Redskins hire deposed Jacksonville offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave as quarterbacks coach, which is anticipated, one has to question the resolve to stretch the field. Musgrave is a West Coast offense proponent and the chief gripe about him from Jaguars players was that he was predictable in his play-calling and rarely challenged secondaries deep.Excuse me, Len, but what exactly does Musgrave's play calling have to do with his position with the Redskins? About a half dozen guys would have to be in the hospital on game day for Musgrave to ever call a single play for the team. He will prepare the quarterbacks each week exactly as Joe Gibbs instructs him to. Now, Len, you know that but you write tripe like that anyway. Why?
The Scene at Redskins Park
Joe Gibbs became head coach of the Redskins on January 7, 2004. The coronation came the next day at the press conference nobody ever thought would happen. I was determined not to miss it. Although the Redskins do not recognize Internet bloggers and authors such as me as "working writers", I still managed to wangle my way in to the auditorium. Here is the article I wrote for WarpathInsiders.com about my experience there:
I've never witnessed the arrival of royalty or a head of state or the return of a conquering hero before, but it must have looked something like the five stretch limos that pulled up to the entrance to Redskins Park a few minutes after I got there. Gibbs and his extended family emerged to cheers from a couple of dozen fans who had managed to wangle their way in and to the awe of the assembled media.
Gibbs went over to the fans and thanked them and shook some hands before making his way into Redskins Park for, as he revealed during his media session, the first time (the facility where Gibbs often spent the night was about 10 miles away in Herndon).
When I went inside, I noticed that the three Lombardi Trophies that are usually in a case in the lobby were gone. I was relieved to see that they had been placed in front of the podium where Gibbs would soon be speaking.
There were, of course, the usual suspects from the media present in the jammed auditorium. John Keim and some other beat reporters were smart enough to arrive early and get some decent seats; others, like Mark Maske and the rest of the Post beat staff and myself, had to line up along the wall and crane our necks to look around TV cameras and lights to see the stage.
About 10 minutes before it got started, Darrell Green came in and chatted with a few media members before finding his way to his reserved seat. I then looked around and saw Charles Mann, Mark Moseley and Don Warren. More were to follow.
At 5:00, the room started buzzing as the local TV reporters launched into their intros for the press conference. I was situated next to the Fox 5 news crew. I don't know who the anchor was, but Trevor Matich was the "color" man. When Snyder took the podium, the room got very quiet.
I'm assuming that most of you either saw or heard Gibbs' comments, and they'll be well covered elsewhere if you didn't so I'm not going to go into them in great detail. A few things struck me, though:
--Gibbs seemed to be very, very happy to be there. From his comments, one could gather that his wife had been the one to say no to some of the more recent attempts to get him back into coaching. It appears that when Pat finally gave her OK, Joe felt like he'd hit the lottery. He was just as giddy as any Redskins fan around.
--He continually talked about the huge job he had ahead of him. He also said several times that the fact that one of the reasons he got back into it was because creating a winning NFL team is such an incredibly difficult thing to do. Make no mistake about it, the mild-mannered Gibbs is a fierce competitor.
--You might have seen the clip where Gibbs talked about money not coming up in his conversation with Snyder until the last five minutes. The funny thing was that question asked had nothing to do with money. It's apparent that he wanted to get that out and, when the subject didn't come up after about a half dozen questions.
--Gibbs was totally sincere and straight forward during the entire session, except when the question of when this whole deal started to come together came up. On a few occasions he said he couldn't remember when he had initiated talks with the Redskins about coming back. It seems likely that there were very serious talks before Steve Spurrier went South and stayed there just a week before the news about the return of Gibbs started to spread.
I didn't get to ask Gibbs a question. I tried to pipe in on a few occasions, but I was continually beaten to the punch.
After it ended, the Gibbs-era Skins started to appear out of the woodwork. In addition to those mentioned above, Gary Clark, Doc Walker, Raleigh McKenzie, Ken Coffey, Neal Olkewicz, Joe Jacoby, andDarryl Grant were there getting interviewed by the assembled press.
I walked around and got in on some interview sessions with Clark and Joe Bugel. As I was heading out, I bumped into a small group of reporters around Art Monk. I listened in to the session. After it broke up I passed by Monk, smiled, said hi, and stuck my hand out. He smiled back and said hi, we shook hands, and that was that.
It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.