Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Gibbs' Critics Stiff-Armed

Joe Gibbs is now in the second year of his second stint as head coach of the Washington Redskins. Successful NASCAR team-owner Gibbs won three Super Bowls, retired in 1993, and was subsequently inducted into the NFL’s Hall of Fame in 1996. Upon his return to Redskins Park last season, many observers asserted he was woefully out of touch with modern pro football. Then the team finished with a 6-10 record, which didn't help much. However, this year the retooled and resurgent Redskins seem to be developing into contenders.

The improvement can be seen on both sides of the line of scrimmage. After six games the Redskins are 4-2 and tied for the lead in the NFC East with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. Is it a fluke?

The numbers say “no.” Excluding the 1-5 just-beaten doormat, the San Francisco 49ers, the combined record of the other five opponents the ‘Skins have met is 21-12. So the schedule has not been all that easy. In offensive yards gained Washington currently ranks 2nd among the league’s 32 outfits. In defensive yards allowed it ranks 4th. In points scored it is 17th, and in points allowed it is 7th. Although Gibbs was widely criticized for benching his strong-armed starting quarterback in the course of this season’s first game, young Patrick Ramsey’s replacement -- the veteran Mark Brunell -- has played well and is statistically rated as the NFC’s top signal-caller. Brunell and Gibbs seem to be on the same philosophical page.

On Sunday the Redskins will travel to the Meadowlands to meet the New York Giants at 1 p.m. (FOX). At this writing the home-standing Giants are seen by the bettors as a 2.5-point favorite. It says here -- take the 'Skins and the points.

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