First, I guess I should stipulate that Sunday's Redskins-Bills game was far less important than the death of Sean Taylor. But it did make me a little sad yesterday that a team which so desperately wanted to honor their teammate with a win didn't seem to play any differently than it had all season--they settled for field goals when they should have had touchdowns, committed dumb penalties like a false start on fourth and goal near the goal line, and gave up big plays at the most inopportune times. That's really why they lost Sunday. While everyone seems to be pinning this loss on Joe Gibbs' error of calling two consecutive timeouts, considering the Buffalo kicker made a 51-yarder easily on the play that got cancelled out by the first timeout, he seemed a pretty good bet to make it from 51 again. (It's kind of like the Eagles game a few weeks ago, when everyone went crazy about Gibbs using up all his timeouts with four minutes left. Yes, it was an error, but the Redskins could have had all three timeouts with four minutes left and I didn't see any evidence that they were going to win that game once the Eagles went up on the Westbrook pass. But I digress.)
My aim, though, isn't to absolve Joe Gibbs of blame. The end of Sunday's game made me realize that perhaps Joe should think seriously about whether he should return next year. Because on Sunday, Joe Gibbs reminded me of Martha Dumptruck.
For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Martha Dumptruck was a character in the classic movie Heathers. That's a movie about a teenager, played by Winona Ryder, who is part of the most popular clique in her high school (three girls who all happen to be named Heather.) She starts dating a guy played by Christian Slater who's a little crazy. And when she tells him that she really hates her friends, Slater's character begins to kill the Heathers and other popular people in school--but makes the murders look like suicides. All of a sudden, suicide becomes the "in" thing to do, culminating in the fat, unattractive girl Martha Dumptruck taping a suicide note to her chest and walking into traffic. She ends up alive and in the hospital, leading the only Heather left, Heather #3 (played by Shannen Doherty in a pre-90210 role) to tell Ryder's character that Martha is another example of "a geek trying to act like the popular people and failing miserably."
Throughout this season, Joe Gibbs has been treated like the Martha Dumptruck of the NFL. They say he's too old, his game management is confused, his offense is too old school, he insists on using the Jumbo package in short yardage when all the cool coaches are running the spread. So Sunday, Joe Gibbs seemed to say, "Hey, I can be cool, too. All the cool coaches this year are calling timeout to ice the kicker right before he's ready to kick the ball, and sometimes it's working. So I'll do that too." So he did, and it apparently worked--since a successful 51 yard field goal didn't count. So Joe figured, "I like this being cool thing" and tried it again--and it blew up in his face. Like Martha Dumptruck, it failed miserably.
As someone who grew up with Joe Gibbs as coach of the Redskins and was thrilled when he returned, making this analogy is incredibly upsetting. But it's hard for me to deny. Having said all that, I always hold out hope--because he's Joe Gibbs--that he will figure it out and turn it all around at any time. But, and I never thought I'd say this, I don't think it would be the worst thing if he decided not to tarnish his legacy anymore and step down at the end of this year. It should be his decision, though. And one other thing--these fans who are chanting "Joe Must Go" at FedEx Field make me sick. For all he did for the Redskins, Joe deserves more respect than that. And if they really think Joe Gibbs is the only reason this team is underachieving, they're crazy, and dumber than Kurt and Ram. (And if you don't know who Kurt and Ram are, you really need to rent the movie.)
Labels: Joe Gibbs, Redskins