Tuesday, November 23, 2021

TUESDAY TIDBITS: "The Gibbs Theory—Aggressive, Consistent, Physical"

By TJ Troup 
My column last week brought about comments and questions; and thanks for those! First off to JHoltgym...was not a "nitpick", and sure appreciate the correction. As for an All-Time team? Over the years have worked on this difficult task, and yes have one, yet depends on the offense, defense, and substitutions. Just might list mine someday, and of course, explain why each man was chosen. 

Brian Wolf—no doubt Derrick Brooks is one of the best outside linebackers ever, but he almost always played "weakside". 

Mr. Gary Najman—Donnie Shell was ready by 1977 to be a starter for the Steelers, and Glen Edwards did not have play as well as years past. Shell maximized his talents on the field, just not sure he is a Hall of Fame player? Mike Wagner was a favorite of mine, and he sure was a vital part of the Steel Curtain defense. 
Keep the questions, and comments coming!

The outcome of the games last weekend just added to where the league is headed this year. Seventeen games, and now seven playoff teams just add to the intrigue. Still relish the old rivalries, and of course division games, and as such this coming weekend we have the Bears at Detroit on Thanksgiving. Once upon a time as far back as the 1930s these two teams clashed. 
My question for all of you; if the Lions earn their first victory is the coffin nailed shut on Matt Nagy? 

Next up are the Steelers on the road at Cincinnati—does the loser of this game still have a chance to earn a playoff berth? 

The Rams head to Lambeau in what promises to be a fascinating game for many reasons and will have my Dr. Pepper's and smokehouse almonds ready. At one point in their rivalry, the Vikings and 49ers had played thirty-four regular-season games, with San Francisco leading 17-16-1—but Minnesota has won six of the last eight, and since both teams are finally playing rock-solid football, this game should be a dandy, and again, does the loser of this game still have a chance to earn a playoff berth? 

Though could spend hours detailing so many of the games between Minnesota and San Francisco—will mention just one. NFL Films game of the week in 1965 did not use the title of "Game of the Week". 

Was called NFL Play by Play Report, and the October 24th game remains a favorite of mine since both teams would score over 400 points during the campaign. Tarkenton and Brodie led their offenses up and down the field as the two teams combined to gain 987 yards! 

The ebb and flow of the game, with both teams moving the ball signaled that though there were some outstanding defensive players on the field...overall the poor play on defense dictated changes for 1966. 

Norm Van Brocklin and Jack Christiansen had some memorable moments when facing each other on the field in the '50s, and now as head coaches trying to stay in the western conference race with a win at Kezar in attempting to keep pace with the Colts and Packers. 

When a man finally gets his chance to be a head coach he focuses on his team, and the job at hand. Doubt if any coach ever began by dreaming of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and after five games in 1981 Joe Gibbs was probably focused on the Bears, and not thinking about Canton.

Washington finished strong in '81, yet there were three teams in the eastern conference in the playoffs, and as such the publications for '82 all had the 'Skins as a fourth-place team. 
When George Allen arrived in 1971 the culture in Washington changed dramatically. Winning games and earning a spot in the playoffs was what my coaching guru was all about. From 1971 through 1977 Allen compiled a record of 39-17 against the rest of the eastern division. 

The next four years Washington broke even at 16-16 against the East, and nary a playoff berth. Can Gibbs beat the east? Street & Smith states "few teams in the National Football League are more anonymous than the group from the Nation's Capital". That certainly changed as they hoisted the silver trophy to become champions for the first time in forty years. My favorite quote from the magazine was prophetic..."Gibbs likes to use all kinds of formations involving runners and receivers, so he is happy to have plenty of depth behind Joe Washington". 

Prolog magazine published by NFL Properties poses a question "Can the fast finish in 1981 carry over"? The first statement in the evaluation is "a team in search of its identity—and a playoff berth". "The offensive line is young; only tackle George Starke had any appreciable experience among the 1981 starters. 
But youngsters Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, and Mark May each flashed potential". Was never a big fan of that word "potential" as a player or as a coach. Joe Bugel understood offensive line play, and Joe Gibbs's background in this area was key, but the NFL rule changes in '78 had brought about more passing. Gibbs played for Coryell at San Diego State, thus he also knew the passing game. 

The opening day win over the Eagles 37-34 in overtime is just what Gibbs needed. Week two also has the 'Skins on the road against a Buccaneer team that is attempting to defend their central division title. This is the day that the offensive line begins to establish its identity and the teams'. First-half fullback John Riggins carries 17 times for 49 yards against the heralded Tampa Bay defense. 

The Buccaneers score a touchdown to cut the Washington lead to 18-13, but the final score of the game is a Mark Moseley field goal. John Riggins gained 87 yards rushing in the second half on 17 carries, and his long run of the day was just 19 yards. Bet you can see where this is going. Rainy, drizzly day and the 'Skins control the clock, the ball, and are now 2-0. 
John Riggins. Art: Merv Corning
The long 57-day strike impacted some teams more than others in a negative way, but in America's Game chapter on the '82 Skins Joe Theismann details how the players stuck together. November 21st, 1982, and Washington is again on the road. This time it is the New York Giants, and their sparkling defense waiting in Meadowlands. The 'Skins lead 21-3 at half-time and leave still in first place with a 27-17 win. Riggins carried the ball 28 times in the game, and the hard-hitting G-men no doubt put some lumps on the veteran fullback. 

The next four weeks Washington scores just 50 points, yet wins three of the four! Mark Moseley made 37 of 63 field goals during 1980 & '81, but he sets a league record for accuracy in '82 by making 20 of 21 field-goal attempts with his prehistoric straight-on kicking style. 

Defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon learned his lessons well from George Allen and has developed his own unique style of substitution for a suddenly strong defense that allowed only 98 yards a game rushing in the teams eight victories. The Redskins allowed only 16 offensive touchdowns in nine games, and with an offense that was versatile and had now found an identity they were ready for the tournament. 

The America's Game chapter on the Champion 'Skins of 1982 is unique, and fun to watch, much like this team. Anyone who watched Washington literally "run" through the tournament to earn the Lombardi Trophy can detail John Riggins and the Hogs, but on November 21st the victory over the Giants was a statement game. 

Next week will go back in time to discuss the "passing of the baton".

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Coach, always like your insights into history. With Shell, Edwards and Wagner the Steelers were definitely set at safety.

    Gibbs was a great coach with Washington and his teams could run or pass, lots of underrated players on his teams. Speaking of the Vikings under Van Brocklin, you wonder how good Tommy Mason's career would have been had he not injured his knee against the Cowboys in 1966 ? He could run or catch but had to settle as a role player for the Rams.

    Nagy may be fired even if the Bears beat the Lions.

    The Ravens are still overrated in my view so the Steelers and Bengals still have a chance but who knows ?