- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2004

Joe Gibbs plans to keep the Washington Redskins’ training camp at home in Ashburn, Va., this summer.

The recently rehired coaching legend said yesterday he doesn’t intend to return to Carlisle, Pa., where the team trained during his first coaching stint from 1981 to 1992.

“It would take a miracle for us not to be here,” Gibbs said during an impromptu news conference at Redskin Park.

Meanwhile, Gibbs said he will announce all his coaching hires Monday, ending a tedious two-week process of assembling what figures to be one of the most experienced staffs in the NFL. All but two assistants (a receivers coach and a defensive quality control coach) are in place.

“I’m real excited,” said Gibbs, who also plans to name his offensive coordinator Monday. “I think it’s going to be a coaching staff the fans will really appreciate.”

There was speculation upon Gibbs’ return that he might prefer to move training camp to Carlisle’s Dickinson College, the team’s summer home from 1963 to 1994 and in 2001 and 2002. But after analyzing the Redskins’ facilities in Ashburn as well as the nearby National Conference Center (where the team was housed last year), Gibbs decided it was best to maintain the status quo.

“I like being away a little bit. I like being far enough that you don’t pick up all the home problems,” Gibbs said. “But we’ll have that here a little bit, too, because they’ll stay at the [NCC]. I like this from a standpoint that you don’t have to move your doctors, you don’t have to move your film. I like this because I think this complex is secure and you can have practices that are closed. I felt like in Carlisle, you’re kind of out in the open, and it was kind of scary sometimes. I didn’t like that.”

Last summer’s camp under Steve Spurrier was generally considered a success, a stark contrast to the first time training camp was held at Redskin Park in 2000. That year the team charged fans $10 for admission and $10 for parking and created a carnival atmosphere at the complex. The club offered free admission and parking last year, when the emphasis was entirely on football.

Gibbs said he might adjust some aspects of Spurrier’s camp, such as daily scheduling (he seems to prefer having early morning and late afternoon practices, with rest in between). But it does not appear as if much else will change.

“I’m sure right now we’ll be here,” he said.

The site of this year’s training camp may be the same as last year’s, but the makeup of the coaching staff will be entirely different. Gibbs has managed to hire a host of veteran assistants, none of them holdovers from Spurrier’s staff.

Among Gibbs’ top assistants are two former NFL coaches (assistant head coach/offensive line Joe Bugel and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) and four former NFL coordinators (offensive coaches Jack Burns and Ernie Zampese, defensive line coach Greg Blache and linebackers coach Dale Lindsey).

Don Breaux, running backs coach and possible co-offensive coordinator with Gibbs, and Rennie Simmons, likely assistant offensive line or tight ends coach, were members of Gibbs’ staff during his previous stint in Washington.

Rounding out the group are defensive backs coaches DeWayne Walker and Steve Jackson, special teams coach Danny Smith and offensive quality control coaches Bill Lazor and Coy Gibbs (the coach’s son).

“Almost everyone we’re going to have has a ton of NFL experience,” Joe Gibbs said. “We’ve got a number of guys who’ve been coordinators and head coaches. And then I think we have a good mix. We have some young guys that are very, very good at what they do. When we announce it, I think you’ll see that there’s a good cross-section of people. The best thing is I think our players will really enjoy working with these guys.”

The assemblage of the coaching staff proved to be a demanding task. One of Gibbs’ first acts was a list of eight to 10 coaches he wanted. He presented the list to owner Dan Snyder, then set out to sign as many as he could.

Gibbs declined to say exactly how many names from his original list he was able to get, but it appears to be almost all. He met a few roadblocks along the way, most notably in the form of NFL rules that restrict access to assistant coaches still under contract with other clubs, but adjusted his list the last two weeks and is pleased with his final staff.

“I just couldn’t have asked for more support from everybody around here,” Gibbs said. “Really, what you’re doing is trying to recruit people who in many cases have five, six, seven, eight job offers. It was a tough year from the standpoint that there were a lot of job openings.”

Gibbs did not offer jobs to members of Spurrier’s staff, including popular offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, though he said that was not a reflection of the previous administration’s abilities.

“I’m sure they had excellent coaches on the other staff,” he said. “It’s just that I was fixed on trying to get certain guys, and none of those guys seemed to fit in with what I was trying to get.”

The coaching search has occupied the bulk of Gibbs’ time since he took over two weeks ago, and thus he has had little opportunity to evaluate his players. He has watched film of the offense and said he will start looking at the defense Monday. But he rather would see the players in person and said he hopes to schedule a pre-draft minicamp as soon as possible.

“I want to try to get a look in a minicamp,” Gibbs said. “Because many times, getting a chance to spend three days with the guys is totally different than looking at them on film.”


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