Gibbs says he'll take blame if Redskins fail

Team looks to overcome last year's offensive woes and turbulent offseason

Pro Football

August 01, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - If the Washington Redskins fail to succeed this season, coach Joe Gibbs wants everyone to know that blame should not be aimed at owner Daniel Snyder, the coaching staff or the players.

Instead, direct any and all complaints to Joe Gibbs.

"Nobody has done more than what Dan did this offseason," Gibbs said yesterday as a prelude to today's first day of training camp at Redskins Park. "If I don't get it done, it's strictly going to be my responsibility."

Getting it done has been the preseason theme for a Washington organization that has tasted the playoffs just once since 1992. Years of futility were supposed to end when Gibbs, the architect behind the Redskins' Super Bowl victories in the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons, returned as coach and team president last year.

But Gibbs' 11-season hiatus from the NFL produced the league's third least productive offense, and Washington compiled a 6-10 record, the worst in Gibbs' career.

So what can Redskins fans expect this season? It's hard to say, but training camp will at least bring stability to a franchise that experienced one of the more trying offseasons in recent memory.

Gone are middle linebacker Antonio Pierce (signed a free-agent deal with the New York Giants) and cornerback Fred Smoot (free agent to the Minnesota Vikings), two players who contributed to the defense's No. 3 ranking in yards allowed last season.

Lemar Marshall, who has started just three games in three years, has been tabbed to duplicate Pierce's team-high 160 tackles, while Walt Harris will replace Smoot as long as first-round draft choice Carlos Rogers of Auburn remains unsigned.

Wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner were traded away in separate deals (Coles to the New York Jets and Gardner to the Carolina Panthers). Santana Moss, who was part of the Coles deal, and former New England Patriot David Patten are the starters.

Free safety Sean Taylor skipped the team's workouts, did not return Gibbs' phone calls, and was arrested and charged with a single felony count of aggravated assault with a firearm and a misdemeanor count of simple battery stemming from a June 1 confrontation near his Miami home.

Yesterday, Taylor, who boycotted the media last year, actually smiled and interacted with reporters en route to his car and promised to talk today.

Washington traded away three draft picks to select Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell in the first round - even though Gibbs has named Patrick Ramsey as the regular-season starter.

Ramsey, who watched Gibbs give the starting role to Mark Brunell last summer, remained diplomatic about the team's move to draft Campbell, who is also unsigned.

"If I can go out here and play well and lead this team to where we think we can go and where we anticipate going, I think it will take care of itself," Ramsey said. "I need to continue to earn the opportunity to start out here. I have an opportunity to go out there and win games, and you can't ask for more than that in the NFL."

So will the offseason moves pay off for the Redskins? Only time will tell, according to Gibbs.

"We're trying to make good decisions and improve our team in every area," he said. "The question is did we? The good thing about it is we'll find out."

NOTES: Gibbs said that although linebacker LaVar Arrington's surgically repaired right knee is healing nicely, he won't be ready for training camp today. Defensive tackle Brandon Noble (knee) isn't 100 percent, but Pro Bowl linebacker Marcus Washington (tailbone) is, Gibbs said. ... Commenting for the first time on the team's decision to release oft-injured linebacker Mike Barrow, Gibbs said, "Over the last month, month-and-a-half, we tried to keep him signed, to restructure his deal, but I think it became obvious it wouldn't work. So we made that decision." Barrow, who was sidelined last year with acute tendinitis in his left knee, didn't play a down for Washington after signing a six-year, $11.6 million contract a year ago as a free agent from the Giants. ... The team re-signed tight end Brian Kozlowski.

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