Talk of Fame Network
When you think of the Washington Redskins, you think of Hall-of-Fame coach Joe Gibbs … and for a good reason. He delivered the only Lombardi Trophies – three of them – in the history of the franchise.
But Gibbs got there the hard way. He did it with three different quarterbacks, none of whom was a Hall-of-Famer, and he did it with three different star running backs – including unheralded rookie Timmy Smith, who set a Super Bowl record when he ran for 204 yards in Super Bowl XXII.
The secret? We asked Gibbs on the latest Talk of Fame Network radio broadcast.
“I had three great ones,” he said of his quarterbacks. “All three of those guys (Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien) were at the top of their game, played great for us and were great leaders.”
But it wasn’t until Gibbs hosted a reunion two years ago of his four Super Bowl teams (the 1983 club lost in Super Bowl XVIII to Oakland) that, he said, he understood what made those Redskins work.
“What came out of that was the feeling everyone had for each other,” he said. “I really think for us it was kind of a total team feeling. Everybody loved being a Redskin. It was a great place to play. I think it’s the great sports franchise in the world. Our coaching staff was awesome, and our owner was special. It was just one of those things where I just got in the right place at the right time.”
Of course, it was more than that. Under GM Bobby Beathard, Gibbs assembled one of the finest coaching staffs in modern-era football and introduced the counter-trey that became the signature to his teams and helped backs like Timmy Smith to big games. It was innovative … and, as Gibbs freely admits, it wasn’t his idea.
“We took it from somebody else,” he said. “We were watching film for the draft, and we were trying to watch offensive linemen. And we were watching a college team … if I’m not mistaken, it was Nebraska … and, all of a sudden we see the backside guard and the backside tackle pull. And the guard kicks out on the strong side, the back faked like he was going weak and, of course, out of the I formation … it’s how they ran it … it was a great misdirection. And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, run that back.’ So we copied it down, and then we started making different variations and changes to it.
“I remember we ran it in a game, and we went out to play Seattle the second time we used it. We ran the exact same blocking combination, but we went with a play-action out of it. And I’ve never see it to this day, (but) everybody on the Seattle defense was within three yards of the line of scrimmage. Our receiver, Art Monk, was 30 yards behind everybody, (and) Theismann just lobbed it straight up in the air.”