.NET: Washington head coach Joe Gibbs is in Year Two of his second go-round with the Redskins. In his initial 12-year campaign (from 1981 through 1992), Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different starting quarterbacks - an astonishing feat – and comprised a 124-60 regular-season record. However, Gibbs’ Redskins went 6-10 last year. Is this representative of a rebuild after the Spurrier era, or is there concern that the game may have passed Gibbs by? To what do you attribute last season’s disappointments? Are fans and pundits of the belief that Gibbs has what it takes to make this team elite again?
Warpath: Last year's record was the result of both the turmoil that the team has undergone in the past five years, not just the Spurrier era and, to an extent, Gibbs not yet having caught up with the changes in the game that happened during his 12-year absence. He has since brought himself up to speed both strategically and in terms of dealing with today's players. By and large people think that Gibbs can get the job done (although you could find very few of those in the middle of the fourth quarter a week ago Monday!).
.NET: Team owner Daniel Snyder is known for…shall we say…”mercurial” behavior. Has he cooled it a bit, a la Jerry Jones in Big D upon Parcells’ arrival, now that he has his marquee coach? Who runs the show in D.C. and how effective is the braintrust?
Warpath: Joe Gibbs runs the show, period. Snyder signs the checks and runs the business side of the operation and loans out his private jet to wow potential free agents.Vinny Cerrato offers advice from a sort of super-scout perspective. But at Redskins Park no player is acquired or disposed of without Gibbs' signing off on it. Player personnel wasn't exactly one of Gibbs' strong points during his first run here. As his success grew so did his power and, among other missteps were his pushing for the team to give up some high draft picks for an aging Gerald Riggs and for trading up in 1992 to draft Desmond Howard. In this go-around the early results look good with Portis, Marcus Washington, Shawn Springs, Sean Taylor, and Cornelius Griffin coming on board last year. Time will tell, however, on how effective he has become in building a contending team.
.NET: The quarterback situation in Washington reads as follows to this outsider: Patrick Ramsey is done in D.C., and Mark Brunell is keeping the pilot’s chair warm until Jason Campbell, their second first-round pick in 2005, is ready to fly the plane. True? Does Ramsey have any lives left? What does Brunell bring to the table at this point in his career, and what’s your take on Campbell?
Warpath: Pretty accurate read, although Ramsey isn't going anywhere in 2005 unless someone makes just a stupid offer for him. Should Brunell get injured, his replacement would be Ramsey at least as long as the team is even on the fringes of contention. After the season, though, Ramsey is probably gone. Brunell brings experience, good game management skills and, as we saw on Monday, an arm that still has some good throws left in it. Campbell could be good, very good. He has size, smarts, and a very lively arm. He's probably not going to be ready until 2007, anything he could contribute before then would be a bonus.
.NET: With the QB situation in flux as it seems to be, the Redskins would seem to base their offensive success on the running game and a strong offensive line – just like the days of yore. Is the current line at all comparable to the “Hogs” of old? Does franchise running back Clinton Portis run most effectively behind Gibbs’ blocking schemes, or has Gibbs altered his plan to take specific advantage of Portis’ specific skills?
Warpath: The current line can be a darn good one, perhaps even an elite unit. LT Chris Samuels has been to multiple Pro Bowls and bookend RT Jon Jansen should have been to at least one or two. RG Randy Thomas is a solid pro as is C Casey Rabach. LG Derrick Dockery could be the best of the bunch as he possess massive size and great athletic ability, but his technique needs to improve in this, his third year, if he's going to reach his potential. They're not the Hogs yet as they have yet to throw a block in a single postseason game, but they can be darn good.
Gibbs has tinkered with the blocking schemes and play calls to try to spring Portis on some more long runs, but it's simple, really. When the line gets a good surge, Portis often has a chance to get a good gain, perhaps even bust off a long one. If they're defeated at the line, Portis goes nowhere.
.NET: What, specifically, makes Gregg Williams such an effective defensive coordinator? What should the Seahawks be looking out for when Williams unleashes his sets and schemes?
Warpath: As departed cornerback Fred Smoot said last year, "We preperate better than anyone else." How preperated, er, prepared are they? According to Williams every linebacker needs to know how to play the Mike, or middle, position which entails knowing how to call the defenses. In his defensive packages, he says, any linebacker could end up having to play the Mike so, no matter how remote the odds that a player will have to use the knowledge, they have to have it. This attention to every detail is what makes Williams so effective. What made the performance of last year's defense so amazing was that four starters were out for the season before the midway point and the replacements didn't miss a beat.
As far as what Seattle should be looking for, your guess is as good as anyone else's. It was expected that he was going to blitz Dallas' immobile QB Drew Bledsoe about 80% of the time last Monday. As it turned out Williams crossed them up, callingblitzes maybe 10% of the plays, challenging Bledsoe to find an open receiver and making sure that the YAC was limited when the receivers did catch the ball. So none of us really knows what to expect until they line up on Sunday afternoon.
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to e-mail him at email@example.com.
Rich Tandler is the Managing Editor of Warpath Insiders, Scout.com's comprehensive Redskins website. You can e-mail Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org.