Q&A With: Coach Gibbs

The Redskins coach tried to once again calm the storms surrounding their offseason. In an opening statement that lasted nearly 13 minutes, he used the word important 11 times. It was important for him to address the team losing Fred Smoot and Antonio Pierce. Not that anyone should feel better after hearing him talk because there's one basic fact: they lost them.

Q: Did Fred Smoot outprice himself?

A: What happened was, we started early with Fred and tried make a substantial offer, something that fit for us. It was one of those things where Fred didn't think it was something he was comfortable with. We worked on that all the way through free agency.

Q: Are you paying for mistakes made in the past?

A: There were tough decisions in there. We made the right decisions and we handled it in the best way. Our cap situation, we could make substantial offer. That didn't cut us short on making a substantial offers to players. We've got dead money, but we made good offers.

Q: How do you replace AP and Smoot?

A: You look at everything, from moving a player to play that position. Micheal Barrow, he's ahead of schedule on his rehab. That would be important. Obviously there's the draft. In Fred's case, we made the decision last year at the time and it was a risky decision, on Walt Harris. It was risky whether or not he'd come back from surgery. But we felt it was worth the risk. Thankfully it worked out great. We have a veteran proven starter at corner for us. And we have other excellent young players like Garnell Wilds. And we have the draft.

Q: Did you think about spending on others to replace them?

A: Could we? Yeah. But we laid out a plan so we head down that path. Do we have money? Yeah, we do have it.

Q: What are your personal feelings on losing two core players?

A: My personal feeling is this is your life. If you make a commitment to do your absolute best to win games -- you want to win games. That's what we're doing and why we're here. For me, I think the last couple of days have been two of the toughest I've ever faced. When there are tough situations in an organization, the easy thing to do is not to deal with it. But you can't do that because it hurts the team.

Q: Were you over optimistic last year when you talked about keeping all your free agents?

A: Last year we added 16 guys and lost one. This year we reached deals with 14 guys and lost two. To me that's keeping guys together. My hope is that it never happens again. But I still think we'll keep the main structure together.

Q: But of your top three priorities -- re-doing Samuels' contract and keeping AP and Smoot -- you missed out on two.

A: Yeah, we got one done and got Chris signed but lost two and I don't like it. In the future I would like to keep our team together. My goal is to be better and be 100 percent in this, but this year we weren't.

Q: Why did you change your mind on LC and trade him?

A: Right now there are still things that need to be down there. I want to make sure that's consumated before I talked about it.

Q: Do you look at these situations as isolated or does one impact on another?

A: I not know in Fred's case, players lived here through a year and they see the way you go about things. They lived there through a year with our offense and defense and they had a chance to live with us for a full year. Players can quickly figure out what you can and can't do. They go off what you do and what you say and how much you put into it.

Q: No one could have foreseen this summer that AP would get a deal worth $26 million, so how do you plan for that?

A: I tried to be persuasive with him. I told him to think back to last year and we said in your situation -- and he had offers last year -- we said we want you here. We didn't have a chance to coach you and we said we'll give you a chance and we stepped out as an organization. We guaranteed your money. We want you to stay here and we have real confidence in you. We felt like in his case we did what we said we would do. So we tried to use that: we were here for you. The most important thing for a player should be: where can I play the longest. I tried to use all those things.

Q: What have the player conversations you've had since AP left been like?

A: I was trying to explain what happened and it's the first thing I'll address when they come back. It's important to know why it happened.

Q: Do you look to draft differently based on what's happened?

A: You're constantly evaluating what your needs are. Now we'll swing to the draft and see what happens, if anything develops in the league.

Q: Do you feel you're just putting out fires this offseason?

A: Yeah, putting out fires is probably a lot of what I do. . . . I know fans are sitting out there and they want to know and this gives me a chance to get to them. That doesn't mean they'll always agree but at least they know the passion and the emphasis we had on it.

Q: Do you have any other free agent visits planned?

A: We'll keep an open mind. We won't rule anything out.


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