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Gibbs Fires Himself

Gibbs Fires Himself

According to reports on ESPN.com and elsewhere, Joe Gibbs will hand the play calling duties over to new offensive coordinator Al Saunders next season. This is not a particularly shocking development. Everybody knew that Daniel Snyder was not going to cut Saunders checks worth $2 million a year to be one of those quality control assistants. Calling the plays is a duty suitable for Saunders’ pay grade.

The real news here, of course, is not that Saunders is getting the keys to the car, but that Joe Gibbs is handing them over to him voluntarily. He decided on his own that running the offense and calling the plays was something that would be best done by someone else. He got on the plane, went to Kansas City and, in getting the deal with Saunders done, he fired himself as offensive coordinator.

It’s extremely rare for a head coach to relinquish control like that. Most of them have to have the headset that transmits into the quarterback’s earpiece pried from their cold, dead fingers.

Most other coaches, of course, don’t already have busts in the Hall of Fame. While Gibbs doesn’t have the massive ego that many in his profession possess, don’t think that things like his legacy and reputation aren’t important to him. And it seems as though it was apparent to him that his legacy was not going to be enhanced by him continuing to run the offense.

The question is, can Saunders do it any better?

If you believe that resumes are important, you’d have to think that he can. Saunders learned offense under Don Coryell, the Chargers coach that Gibbs was serving under when he became the Redskins’ coach in 1981. Both took that offense and put their personal stamps on it. Gibbs’ shaping of the schemes, however, took an 11-year hiatus while Saunders’ offense has continually evolved. In the four years that he’s been the Chiefs offensive coordinator the team has scored more points than any other team in the NFL, an accomplishment that has come without the benefit of a dominating defense that consistently gave KC tons of turnovers and great field position.

Still, Gibbs himself sounded a cautionary note that should give pause to those ready to order a bigger trophy case for the lobby at Redskins Park, one that can accommodate the fourth Lombardi that is sure to be there one year and a couple of weeks from today. Talking after the Redskins’ Week 16 win over the Giants, a game in which Gibbs’ play calling was good enough to muster up 35 points, he said, “We don't win with X's and O's.”

It is the players, according to Gibbs, that make the difference. For example, if Mark Brunell is indeed over the hill and Jason Campbell is not yet ready to climb the hill, it won’t matter who is talking into the QB’s helmet, the offense will still sputter when the team needs it to hum.

It will be interesting to see exactly what Gibbs’ role with the team evolves in to. Will he stay in The Submarine at Redskins Park until the wee hours virtually every night? I mean, wouldn’t it be kind of awkward for him to be sitting there, looking over the shoulder of Saunders, the guy he hired to replace him? (I’d like to see somebody diagram that organizational chart.) Will he be able to truly let go?  He’ll be on the sidelines at games, but doing what? Will he be strolling alongside the field, chatting with sideline reporters like Bobby Bowden?

OK, that last one is going too far, but you see the point. In his role as CEO, Joe Gibbs, the master of details, will be leaving the details to others. How well he evolves into that role will go a long way towards determining the success of the Redskins for the next several years.
Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book chronicles every game the Redskins played from 1937 through 2001. It is available at www.RedskinsGames.com





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Redskins promote CB Phillips from practice squad, waive Bruton Jr. and Clausell

Redskins promote CB Phillips from practice squad, waive Bruton Jr. and Clausell

The Redskins made a couple of roster moves just before departing for Arizona to play the Cardinals.

They signed cornerback Dashaun Phillips from the practice squad and cut offensive tackle Blaine Clausell. The Redskins also waived safety David Bruton Jr. off of injured reserve.

Phillips was the Redskins’ nickel corner for the first three games of the season, and he made four tackles and recovered a fumble. But they moved rookie Kendall Fuller up into the slot corner role in Week 4 and Phillips spent several weeks on the inactive list before being waived on November 12 and added to the practice squad three days later.

The moves became known after Redskins coach Jay Gruden had spoken to the media for the day so we can only speculate as to the reasoning behind them. Actually, the release of Clausell isn’t hard to figure out. He was signed after Trent Williams started his four-game suspension and with Williams set to return on Monday and the other options at backup tackle healthy there was no point in keeping him around.

Phillips is likely going to Arizona as an insurance policy. The Cardinals like to spread the field with a lot of wide receivers. They will want to have five cornerbacks active. They do have Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, and Greg Toler. But Breeland is listed as questionable with an ankle injury and they Redskins don’t want to take any chance of being caught short-handed at cornerback if he suffers a setback. That’s especially true when they don’t need to bring an extra tackle along.

Depending on how things shake out injury-wise against the Cardinals there is a good chance that we could see Phillips on the waiver wire once again as a roster spot will be needed for Williams.

Bruton started the first four games of the season at safety before going on injured reserve with a concussion. This past offseason he signed a three-year, $9 million free agent contract with $3.4 million full guaranteed. There will be a deal cap hit of approximately $1.7 million in 2017 to account for the prorated bonus. 

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Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins

Out

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.

T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.

RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.

Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)

Cardinals

Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.