- The Washington Times - Monday, December 18, 2000

The Washington Redskins are finished. Coach Terry Robiskie hopes he isn't.

Robiskie made a case to keep his job for next season yesterday, one day after the Redskins were officially eliminated from playoff contention with an ugly 24-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"If you go on wins and losses there are a lot of guys that can't coach. I don't know if Joe Gibbs would have made it past Week 5," Robiskie said. "… Gibbs had the entire preseason to get ready and he lost his first five games, but he ended up with a tremendous career.

"In San Diego, [coach Mike Riley] had two years to put together a staff and players, and he's only won one game [this season]."

Gibbs, who coached the Redskins from 1981 to 1992, began his first season 0-5 but went on to win three Super Bowls. Robiskie wants to keep his job and use next season to show whether he's truly capable, rather than be judged on the final three games of this season.

Robiskie's chances of remaining the coach are slim after back-to-back, blowout losses to Dallas (32-13) on Dec. 10 and Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Redskins are actively reviewing college coaches as a replacement.

The Redskins (7-8) will miss the playoffs despite the offseason addition of several marquee players and a record $100 million payroll. The NFL's oldest team started 6-2 but pulled a fast fade that cost coach Norv Turner his job on Dec. 4. The Redskins' 1-6 slide has amazed even their critics. The last two games, lopsided losses, prompted charges from fans, players and coaches that the team had quit.

Robiskie knew it wouldn't be an easy finish, especially after the Redskins were virtually eliminated by the 9-7 loss to the New York Giants on Dec. 3. That prompted Turner's ouster and players pledged to renew their efforts for the popular assistant coach, but they instead have looked lifeless in losing twice to underdogs.

"I didn't get the job in the best of conditions, but if the conditions were best I wouldn't get the job," Robiskie said. "I don't know if I would have asked to start the first game in Dallas, where we hadn't won [since 1995]. I definitely wouldn't have wanted to start on the 6-yard line. I wouldn't have wanted to come back five days later and close Three Rivers Stadium with all that emotional stuff.

"I probably would have asked to play Centreville High, but they won a state championship so we probably don't want to play them."

Can Robiskie at least go out a winner against the Arizona Cardinals in the Redskins' first meaningless game since the 1995 finale? Robiskie essentially has threatened players with their futures if they don't play well now.

"Forget about the hope of if we go to the playoffs," he said. "Before you shut it down this season and get ready for next season, you better start preparing for where you're playing next season. You better look at it like the first preseason game and you're fighting for a job.

"We have to start showing people we want to play in the league. There will be a lot of people watching that game film evaluating personnel."

But Robiskie said he expects next year to end differently, if he does return.

"I believe the nucleus of this football team is pretty good," Robiskie said. "There's a handful of guys that we need to perform better and a handful to improve on, but the base is good enough to go to the playoffs."

Robiskie said his two-week taste as interim head coach has him hungry for the personal matchups of the job.

Sounding like former Redskins coach George Allen, who once offered to fight Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry at midfield for the victory, Robiskie admitted he likes talking trash with opposing coaches.

"I liked standing across the field from Bill Cowher," Robiskie said of the Pittsburgh Steelers coach. "I just want to go over there and kick him. I like looking at [Tampa Bay coach] Tony Dungy, and after the game I want to laugh at him. It's me against him."

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