Defensive staff tackles challenges

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They came from different backgrounds — one has moved 14 times since 1974, one got his start as a junior college coach in California.

They came with different levels of experience — one has been coaching since 1968, another since 2001 after an NFL playing career.

But they all came to Washington in February 2004 for the same reason: They wanted to work for Joe Gibbs and Gregg Williams.

And so former coordinators Greg Blache (defensive line) and Dale Lindsey (linebackers) returned to their position-coaching roots, Steve Jackson (safeties) followed Williams from Buffalo and DeWayne Walker (cornerbacks) came from the Giants.

With varied skills and myriad experiences to draw upon, the staff proved instantly compatible and effective. Williams and his staff helped the Redskins’ defense finish third in the NFL in yards allowed, including first against the run.

“I have a lot of admiration for what they did last year,” Gibbs said. “They were a new staff and third-best defense in the league, and we didn’t do what we should have done on offense to help them.”

Even with the fine performance on defense, the Redskins were 6-10. This year, the coaches have had to find replacements for free agent defections Antonio Pierce and Fred Smoot, craft a role for LaVar Arrington and continue to foster Sean Taylor’s development.

The staff is prepared for this season’s challenges.

Lindsey, a member of 15 pro football coaching staffs in four leagues, knows a lot about the details that make up a solid staff.

“This is a [darn] good one,” he said. “It has a lot of experience and has guys from a lot of different places, so there is a lot of different outlooks, and they can present information that can make a difference in how a player plays.”

How they came together

The formation of the Redskins’ offensive staff had an old home feel. Gibbs brought back Joe Bugel, Don Breaux, Jack Burns and Rennie Simmons and hired former player Earnest Byner.

On defense, only Blache and Lindsey (Chicago from 1999 to 2001) and Williams and Jackson (1991-99, 2001-03 with Houston/Tennessee and Buffalo) had worked together. The process started when Williams spurned seven other job offers to join the Redskins. Gibbs gave Williams the freedom to hire his own staff.

Williams wanted to bring his Buffalo defensive staff with him to Washington, but the Bills allowed only Jackson (and special teams coach Danny Smith) out of his contract.

“Fortunately for us, they would not let him interview the other coaches, and he started talking around,” Lindsey said.

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