NFL: Gibbs taking the blame

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. — Joe Gibbs isn’t shy about taking the blame when the Washington Redskins struggle. “It starts and ends with me” has been his standard reply following each of this season’s nine losses.

Maybe it’s time to start taking the Hall of Fame coach at his word.

Many of the reasons the Redskins have faltered this season — untimely penalties, poor clock management, embarrassing drives, overconfidence entering training camp, head-scratching trades, questionable free agent signings and a bloated coaching bureaucracy — tie directly to Gibbs’ dual role as head coach and team president.

A key play in Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia came when a player was penalized because he didn’t know a substitution rule. Gibbs faulted himself for not making sure the rule was properly explained.

Simply put, the Redskins have too much talent to be 4-9.

Gibbs is 21-26 since returning from retirement in 2004. He needed time to catch up after 11 years away, but seemed to regain his old form when he willed the Redskins into five straight wins at the end of last season to end the franchise’s playoff drought.

Gibbs said there will be “no experiments” over the final three games, and he won’t sit hobbling starters to save them from further injury. He is prideful and not used to losing, and it shows.

“Losing is not a tonic for him,” assistant coach Joe Bugel said. “He’s here 24 hours a day. I see what he’s going through, but there’s no stopping him. He’s not a pouter; he’s not a complainer. His whole theory is this: ‘Let’s work a little bit harder, Buges. We’ve been working 18 hours. How about working 20 hours?’

“That’s why I love the man, and that’s why I know it’s going to be fixed.”