The Washington Redskins have reached the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They did so by winning their last five games after starting the season 5-6.
This year represents another triumph for our Hall Of Fame coach, Joe Gibbs. In his first stint with the Redskins, Gibbs led to the club to three Super Bowl victories. Then he went into the NASCAR circuit where his racing team won three championships. When he returned to the Skins last year, expectations ran high. However, the team managed only a 6-10 record. Worse, the offense (Gibbs’ specialty) was pathetic, and his handpicked quarterback Mark Brunell was horrendous. Gibbs finally benched Brunell, but when he predicted that Brunell would one-day play a big role for the club, fans started to wonder whether football had passed the old coach by.
At the start of this season, with several key defensive players gone, most commentators thought Washington would struggle to match last year’s 6-10 record. Only my faith in Gibbs enabled me to believe that we would go 8-8. But with a resurgent Mark Brunell at the helm, Santana Moss at wide receiver, and a more up-to-date offensive scheme (Gibbs relied on the shotgun offense for the first time in his career), we were able to exceed nearly all expectations.
Next week we head to Tampa Bay, scene of our last playoff game and of a razor thin defeat earlier this year (I’ve seen the replay a dozen times and still can’t tell whether Tampa Bay’s game-winning two-point conversion was legitimate, or whether the ball carrier was stopped short). Our team is banged up and Tampa Bay will be the clear favorite. On the other hand, Gibbs’ post-season record is 16-5. In any case, this season is already a huge success if you’re a Redskins fan.
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