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By Mark Solway | January 30th, 2008

1) First, in keeping with the Danny-fueled spirit of “Change Without Purpose” I am dropping the we I previously relied on in this column. So there you have it. Secondly, thirdly. 2) OK, to clear up some old business. I had said that if Joe Gibbs demonstrated that my assessment of his skills (i.e. my assertion that he should step down as head coach and into a GM role) was incorrect, I would admit it. Before I get to the question of my judgment, I want to say (belatedly) that Gibbs’ character and leadership over the final weeks of the season were remarkable and inspirational. I even admire his decision to step away from the game, though I regret he did it so completely. My notion of his taking the reigns as a de facto (though not de jure) GM was somewhat fueled by wishful thinking. However, not only do I admire his choice to step down, I agree with it. 3) You read that correctly. I’ll explain why: as remarkable (and it truly was remarkable) as the team’s final surge to reach the playoffs was, it was fueled as much by the totally unexpected (a player’s death and the emergence Todd Collins, among many other things) as it was by coaching. I’m not suggesting that replacing Gibbs in that scenario with another coach would have resulted in the team making the post-season. In fact, I am convinced it would not. Stick with me, what follows are some snippets from the column in which I initially expressed my concerns about Coach Gibbs (written following the loss to the Patriots): “We’re NOT suggesting players lack respect for the head coach, we just question whether, at this stage in his life and his career, he WANTS to be the alarm. We see that type of respect as something more befitting a grandfather and less an NFL head coach. “We do not for a second think he is being facetious or disingenuous when he talks about how much he loves his players and how much the losses hurt him. We question whether that bond is preventing him from, for lack of a better phrase, becoming a pain in the ass when it is necessary. We don’t think Gibbs is a bad coach per se, we just question whether he still wants to be a coach period.” 4) As much as Joe Gibbs the man impressed me in those final weeks, and that grandfatherly distinction served him very well, I didn’t see anything that would substantially shift my beliefs about Joe Gibbs, the coach. I know the players love him, beyond a shadow of a doubt, but I still saw a guy who lacked the fire he once had and you need some of that to make it as an NFL coach. I told my father during the season that it seemed to me that Joe would be much happier being a wealthy grandfather than a head coach. Turns out I was right. That’s not to say I wasn’t stunned by his decision to retire, make no mistake about it, I was stunned. But it’s difficult for me to look at everything that happened last season and conclude Joe would have been the best man for the job in the future. Oddly enough, that all being said, I would have preferred that he stayed next season. I was then, and am now, an advocate for continuity. 5) So much for that. As many others have said, there may be some very good reasons behind the decisions to fire Al Saunders and Greg Williams. But, in January, after what this team (and, by extension, the fans) went through last season, I am having a great deal of difficulty seeing any wisdom in the decisions being made by Snyder and (I REFUSE to use his title) Vinny Cerrato. I’m not as panicked by the Vinny thing, I had no hopes of his ever being dismissed (or a GM being hired), so that was expected, in a way. I’m not passionate about how Vinny handles the cap but (assuming he was the one making the decisions) his track record the past few seasons in player acquisition is filled with many more wins than losses. 6) The coaches on the other hand … well, there simply is no wisdom in sinking that much money into a coaching philosophy with a proven track record and then scrapping it before it could realize its full potential. It’s certainly par-for-the-course with Snyder but a small (and obviously naive) portion of me hoped the course had changed. So it’s (yet another) off-season of upheaval for the Redskins. Maybe/hopefully I’ll be admitting how wrong I was about the need for change in 9 or 10 months. But I have a lot of trouble believing that…

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