- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Joe Gibbs will be back. Al Saunders will be back. Gregg Williams will be back. Those three decisions evidently have been finalized even though the Washington Redskins are a dreadful 4-9 and rank 17th offensively and 23rd defensively.

But as we crack open the mailbag, a topic du jour — besides the coaching staff’s future — is the structure of the front office. Redskins fans, judging by e-mails, want a general manager who can serve as the spokesperson for the personnel decisions.

Q: Were you surprised that Coach Joe committed to his top assistants for next season? Why didn’t he wait until the offseason to evaluate the situation? — John R.

A: It wasn’t that surprising. If Gibbs had wavered when asked to clarify Saunders’ and Williams’ status, he would have created a distraction that wouldn’t have gone away until he a) committed to bringing both coaches back or b) made a change.

Bringing back Saunders makes perfect sense. The franchise right now is quarterback Jason Campbell, and his development would be stunted if another play-caller brought another system — it would be Campbell’s seventh in as many seasons, counting college — to the Redskins.

Bringing back Williams is interesting. The defense obviously has been bad this year and is unable to create turnovers or sacks with any consistency. If I’m Gibbs, I wouldn’t rule out making some staff changes below Saunders and Williams to give the players a different voice.

Q: Don’t you think the Redskins could benefit by having a general manager? I think going on a fire sale every year to acquire players is diametrically opposed to being able to help build cohesiveness on a team. — Mel S.

A: The Redskins would be wise to hire a general manager, but it would be tough to find somebody qualified who would want the job under the current setup.

If Gibbs and Dan Snyder did hand over the personnel side to a GM, they would have to get rid of most of the front office staff and let the new guy pick his people. That isn’t likely to happen.

Q: What are the Redskins going to do about the defense and the field goal kicking situation next year? — Jim S.

A: The Redskins can’t possibly solve all of their problems on defense because there are so many of them. Among their needs: a pass-rushing defensive end, linebacker depth, a cover cornerback and any player who can catch an interception or rush the passer.

As for the kicker, Shaun Suisham is 4-for-5 in his audition. If he finishes the season well, he will be brought back to training camp. But keep two names in mind: John Hall and Mike Vanderjagt. Hall is on injured reserve and wants a shot next year, and the Redskins may give him one. Vanderjagt is a free agent after his release from Dallas.

Q: I have been a Joe Gibbs fan since his first season as the Redskins’ coach, but I think he is losing what he had. Will this result in a serious loss of respect for Joe and a continual decline in team morale? — Jim C.

A: I think the players, by and large, respect Gibbs because they walk by three Super Bowl trophies every time they enter Redskin Park. Plenty of players the last two years questioned his play calling and offensive philosophy, but he doesn’t call the plays anymore.

The morale on offense appears to be fine because they’re playing hard to help the young quarterback. Defensively, there’s at least one player — the unnamed ESPN.com source — who is unhappy.



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