JOE GIBBS, HEAD COACH, WASHINGTON REDSKINS (1981-1992, 2004-2007)
After spending two seasons as offensive coordinator for the high-flying San Diego Chargers, 1981 marked a new challenge for Joe Gibbs.
The former San Diego State University quarterback arrived in Washington as the new head coach of a franchise that lacked a significant identity since George Allen’s “Over the Hill Gang” of the early 1970s.
By the time he departed Washington following the ’92 season, Gibbs left his imprint on the franchise as one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history.
Gibbs led Washington to three Super Bowl victories during his impressive run as the head coach of the Washington Redskins. Under the leadership of the Don Coryell disciple, Washington reached the Super Bowl four times from 1981 to 1992.
While Washington’s lack of stability at quarterback and Super Sunday success contradicts today’s formula of winning, the true star of the Redskin Super Bowl winners was its bruising mass of humanity known as the Hogs.
Washington’s all-world offensive line, featuring mainstays Russ Grimm and Joe Jacoby, proved to be main offensive piece in their title runs.
The group of behemoths victimized legendary pass rushers like Philadelphia’s Reggie White to Buffalo’s Bruce Smith along the way to becoming one of the best offensive line units in NFL history.
Their play proved to be one of the significant reasons why Gibbs had a rotating door of quarterbacks and running backs during the team’s championship runs.
The ’82 Super Bowl champ had hard-charging running back John Riggins as its backbone; receivers Art Monk (who missed Super Bowl XVII with a leg injury), Alvin Garrett, and Charlie Brown comprising a part of “The Fun Bunch”; and quarterback Joe Theismann, who guided Washington to averaging 27 points per game in the postseason.
Perhaps the weirdest outfit of the three proved to be the ’87 Redskins, whom along with the ’82 Skins won Super Bowls during a pair of NFL strike-shortened seasons.
Jay Schroeder lost the starting quarterback job to Doug Williams, who appeared to be past his prime after departing Tampa Bay; George Rogers and Kelvin Bryant handled most of the regular season rushing duties but injuries allowed some fella named Timmy Smith to set Super Bowl rushing records against a bewildered Broncos club; and the receiving corps, Gary Clark, Rick Sanders, and Art Monk, the receiving corps best known as “The Posse.”
While the ’82 and ‘87 teams took advantage of strike-altered seasons, the best of the Gibbs Super Bowl winners came with his last championship.
The 1991 Redskins started out 11-0 before finishing the regular season at 14-2. Once again, an assortment of grab bag skill players paced the league’s highest scoring offense.
While “The Posse” returned intact, the running game was led by a pair of aging runners, Gerald Riggs and Earnest Byner, who was still seeking redemption follow “The Fumble” during the 1987 AFC title game. Washington’s trigger man, Mark Rypien, enjoyed a career season that culminated with Super Bowl XXVI MVP honors after the ‘Skins thrashed Buffalo 37-24 to win the franchise’s third Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The success of the Joe Gibbs regime was not solely entrenched with the offense.
Redskins defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon comprised the brain behind Washington’s unheralded defensive brawn. During their Super Bowl years, Washington finished first, sixth, and second respectively in points allowed.
Names like Charles Mann, Darrell Green, Dexter Manley, Wilbur Marshall, Darryl Grant, and Dave Butz played critical roles to the team’s defensive success and gave his rduring the Gibbs era, perhaps our newest inductee does not enjoy three Super Bowl rings.
Nonetheless, despite personnel changes on both sides of the ball, Gibbs and his steady hand remained a constant in Washington from 1981 until the end of the 1992 season.
Even though his second stint as Redskins head coach for four seasons was not quite as bountiful as his first tenure, the legacy of Joe Gibbs will not be forgotten.
Only the greatest of NFL coaches could nab three Super Bowl trophies with three different quarterbacks.