Joe Gibbs' Retirement Leaves a Void in Washington

Brandon Kabel

Three days following the Redskins' first round exit from the playoffs, Joe Gibbs announced his retirement as head coach for the Washington Redskins for the second time. Gibbs' decision is multi-faceted, but is due mostly to a family issue, the diagnosis of his grandson Taylor with leukemia last January. Despite the personal crisis, Gibbs maintained enthusiasm throughout the season for returning to fulfill his contract. He even stated last month that he would like to discuss a contract extension so that he would not be a lame-duck coach next year. Despite this, Gibbs felt it necessary to retire from his duties and spend more time with his family, saying "My family situation being what it is right now, I told him I couldn't make the kind of commitment I needed to make."

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder tried to convince Gibbs to stay on, saying "This is something none of us wanted to see happen. But all of us respect it and understand it." Gibbs' most recent run with the Redskins produced a 30-34 regular season record (1-2 in playoffs), and no divisional titles, on first glance in no way comparable to his first run, in which he went 124-60 (16-5 in playoffs), and an impressive 6 division titles and 3 Super Bowls. However, consider that this season he faced perhaps the most daunting challenge of his career: rallying the team to reach the playoffs following the death of their pro-bowl teammate and a 5-7 start. That kind of leadership is the intangeable factor that makes a coach like Gibbs hard to replace. Now Daniel Snyder must face the daunting task of replacing someone with so much knowledge, experience, and respect of the game. Possible candidates are still largely based on speculation, but currently the most likely of these are in house: offensive coordinator Al Saunders, who formerly built an offensive juggernaut as the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs from 2001-2005, and defensive coordinator Greg Williams, who built excellent defenses in both Buffalo and Tennessee. Bill Cowher's name is always in the mix, but he has stated that he intends on staying in his analyst role through next year.


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