Joe Gibbs no longer is the Washington Redskins‘ coach, but he still is coaching. The Hall of Famer said his son, J.D., “volunteered” him to work with the Sharks, the team on which his 10-year-old grandson, Jackson, plays in Davidson, N.C.
“I’m more nervous about that than what I did [before],” Gibbs said Thursday.
He was in town with members of Joe Gibbs Racing team, including J.D., the president, and Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin, working a shift in the kitchen at Food and Friends, which provides meals for people with life-threatening illnesses.
“J.D. said, ‘You’re gonna help coach,’” Gibbs said. “I went, ‘What?’ I went out the first day with these 10-year-olds and I said, ‘OK, now, get your split and take your stance.’ They all went like this [Gibbs simulates a 10-year-old wearing an expression of disbelief]. They went, ‘Huh?’ ‘Oh my gosh,’ I said. ‘I’m used to messing up 30-year-olds, not 10-year-olds.’”
Retirement from pro football has agreed with Gibbs, who joked with reporters and displayed his familiar high-pitched cackle. He left the Redskins in January after four years of his second term with the team, mainly citing family reasons.
“I felt like it was a good time for me,” he said. “It was a good transition. I’ve got so much going on with the racing and everything. I’ve got a full plate.”
Gibbs saw only the last part of the Redskins’ Week 1 loss to the New York Giants and none of their win over New Orleans on Sunday, the first victory for new coach Jim Zorn. But he was kept informed.
“Everybody called me up and told me what happened,” he said. “It was great for the team, great for [quarterback Jason Campbell].”
There are those who consider Campbell, drafted in 2005 with Gibbs’ approval, unfit for Zorn’s West Coast offense. But Gibbs disagrees.
“I think Jason’s the right guy for Washington,” Gibbs said. “He’s the right kind of person. I think you put him in whatever offense you want and he’s gonna do well. I think he can move around, so he’s athletic enough. He’s got an arm. He’s a student. He studies. This year, he knows quarterbacks are judged on wins and losses, and I think he stepped up last week and really answered a lot of questions and played well in the fourth quarter from my understanding.”
Noting how he lost his first five games as Redskins coach in 1981, Gibbs said he had “a lot harder time” at the start than Zorn. The two had breakfast last month before a preseason game in Charlotte, N.C. Gibbs said he had no words of wisdom for Zorn “and he didn’t ask a lot of specific things. We talked about numerous things as far as the head coach going through things. But he’s been in the league a ton. He’s been a great player in the league. I don’t think he’s gonna need much help.”
The Redskins’ division, the NFC East, “is gonna be black and blue before you get out of there,” Gibbs said. “Whoever wins that division I would think would be the odds-on favorite to really do something well in the playoffs.”