On Pro Football Network’s More Than Football podcast, PFN’s Chief NFL Analyst was joined by former NFL offensive lineman Mark Schlereth to discuss his former coach, Joe Gibbs.
To watch this episode of the More Than Football podcast, tune in to the video player above. You can also listen to the podcast in the player at the end of the article or on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Joe Gibbs knew how to build a team
According to Schlereth, great coaches like Joe Gibbs put their teams in a position to succeed. If they see a weakness in their opponents but know that trying to capitalize on it would put their own team at risk, they wouldn’t take the chance:
“I’ve gotta mitigate potential disasters first before I attack somebody’s weakness.”
Bad coaches, on the other hand, see those weaknesses and can’t resist going after them. They just say their players will need to hold up, and they inadvertently put them in a position to fail.
Gibbs knew exactly the type of players he wanted, and he understood that if you win in the trenches, you’ll find success no matter who is playing quarterback. That’s why Gibbs is the only head coach to win a Super Bowl with three different quarterbacks: Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien. Doing that takes someone who knows how to build a roster and create an identity, and that was Joe Gibbs.
Joe Gibbs had complete respect for the Washington offensive line
According to Wingo, despite being relatively soft-spoken for an NFL head coach, Gibbs was still able to connect with the Washington offensive line, known as the “Hogs.”
Schlereth says Gibbs knew the Hogs were the backbone of the team. He recalls a moment going into Super Bowl XXVI when the Buffalo Bills defensive line coach had gone on a rant insulting the various members of the Hogs.
On the Saturday night before the game, Gibbs addressed the team, and Schlereth recalls him “visibly shaking.” It was the angriest Schlereth ever saw him.
Gibbs had so much reverence for what the Hogs meant to the football team, and he was livid that anyone would insult them.
The Washington organization has fallen a long way since Joe Gibbs’ time
To end the segment, Wingo and Schlereth discuss the decline of the Washington organization that has taken place since Schlereth played there. Wingo points out that, back then, the owner was Jack Kent Cooke. He was “eclectic,” as Wingo puts it, but people were proud to be fans of the team.
Schlereth recalls a speech Gibbs once gave that reflected just how elite the team once was:
“There are twelve teams in the National Football League that legitimately have an opportunity to win a world championship… and we’re one of those twelve teams.”
A lot has changed since then. Under Dan Snyder, the team is mired in controversy and teeter on the brink of total irrelevancy. It pains Schlereth to see a team that means so much to him fall so far, calling it “sad and unacceptable.” He hopes these controversies can have a resolution soon and that the organization can return to its rightful place among the NFL’s upper-echelon franchises.