Yesterday, theHogs.net was online live at the Washington Post for a chat. It was very thrilling to be asked, and we are grateful to the Post for both thinking of us and giving us the opportunity.
Mark Solway (BossHog) fielded questions from many Redskin fans and did his best to provide a fan's perspective.
Here is the transcript:
Bel Air, Md.: Hey Boss Hog!
Everybody keeps saying that Siant Gibbs may be out of touch with the game.
They seem to be overlooking that he has conitnued to follow the game as a
part-time owner. Even Joe Bugel stated that Gibbs was still keeping up with
the game. Do you think that this question (has the game passed him by?) is as
big a deal as it is being made out.
Mark Solway: On the contrary, I think what makes Joe Gibbs, Joe Gibbs, is that he is always successful. He is extremely intelligent and it was his cerebral nature that allowed him to be so successful the first time
around. More things to think about and take into consideration will only
further distance him from his peers. It may take a little bit of adjustment
time, but it won't take long for him to figure it out -- all of it.
Jake (Edgewater, Md.): Hey Mark,
Why did Joe Gibbs pick Gregg Williams over the other defensive coordinators
that were available? Was it partly because of the other Bills assistants he
brought along. Thanks for answering my question! JOE IS BACK!
Mark Solway: I think he picked Gregg Williams because Mr. Gibbs
thought that he was the best co-ordinator available. Williams was hugely
successful when he was only the DC, he just didn't fare as well as a head
coach. I also think that Williams will want to try again one day and will take
like a sponge to water getting to learn from one of the game's very best.
Las Cruces, N.M.: Who do you think the Skins will take in the draft?
I'm guessing -- Vince Wilfork, Sean Taylor or Stephen Jackson ...
Nice Web site!
Mark Solway: Thanks.
I think that with months of free agency
to follow, only time will tell. I like Wilfork a lot, and Sean Taylor is a
great safety. I think the defensive line has to be a priority, but whether it
is a FA with a Jevon Kearse or through the draft makes no difference to me.
Last year's offseason by the FO was brilliant, but completely denied
conventionality, so it's really hard to predict.
I do think that if we
go into the draft looking for a DT or DE that it would be smart to drop
slightly, maybe 3-5 positions, and pick up an extra pick. I've seen
suggestions of them dropping further, but I think if they stay top 10 they can
get a guaranteed #1 or #2 DE or DT still, at a slightly lower cap number, and
pick up a solid extra pick from a team really looking to not miss on a player
We do an entire draft section at the website that we'll
be opening in about a week, so you can follow along everything there... top
10s, mock drafts, exclusive articles and more. It's a great way to kill some
time in the offseason for us.
Kingstowne, Va.: Any concern that Gibbs will end up like Bud Grant
did in his second stint with the Vikings? Remember, Grant coached the Vikes to
4 Super Bowls between 1967 and 1982. He quit, citing burnout. In 1983, Les
Steckel took the Vikes to a 3-13 season. Grant returned in 1985. The Vikings
went 7-9, and Grant retired for good, ignominiously. What's to prevent the
same situation from playing out in D.C? Thanks from a lifelong Skins fan.
Mark Solway: Bud Grant had a little more of a mean streak that was
effective with his players, but Gibbs was respected for many more reasons. In
July of 2003 I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Ken Harvey Football
Fan Classic by Mr. Harvey. I got to interview some Redskin alumni like George
Starke, Charles Mann, Darryl Grant, Mark Moseley and Reggie Evans. When I
would inevitably ask them about Joe Gibbs, they all went out of their way to
say how much he had affected their lives, not just their football careers, as
they looked back now. They spoke with such reverement that it was truly
inspiring. When Darryl Grant told us about the infamous Cowboy canmouflage
game and how mad Gibbs got, he was like a son describing the experience with
his dad the first time he came home late for curfew.
While Grant was a
great coach too, I think Gibbs was far more of a fatherly figure to his
players. IMO, that stigma alone will also enable him to just pick up where he
left off in a city as engulfed in tradition as Washington is.
Roanoke, Va.: Mark,
What do you expect the draft and free agent priorities to be in examining
the situation of the team as it stands?
Mark Solway: I think in order they are Defensive End, Defensive
Tackle, Running Back, Safety and then Tight End... though the last three are
I have had a lot of feedback that fans think
Gibbs arrival makes tight end a bigger priority, but I think we are going to
be looking for a blocking tight end or two as much or more than a pass
Obviously if the defensive line has already been
addressed come draft day it will be a very difficult decision between someone
like impact player Sean Taylor or Va Tech's Kevin Jones. But an enviable
decision to get to make regardless.
El Paso, Tex.: I'm really excited that Joe Gibbs is back with the
Redskins. With the success that Joe Gibbs enjoyed in Washington, why is it
that he is so obscure? I beleive he is a better coach than Parcells and
Vermeil, but they receive more accolades. Is it because Gibbs stayed true to
himself and didn't bounce from team to team like Parcells and Vermeil?
Mark Solway: IMO, one word... humility.
He may be a little
bit more obscure outside of D.C than the others but I don't think any of those
men that you mentioned are as revered in any of the cities that they coached
in as Gibbs is in Washington either. But he certainly never was anything but
unassuming, regardless of his level of success and that kind of low brow
demeanor just doesn't get noticed as much.
If you look at the
pandemonium that has been created in the last two days, and the absolute
euphoria, you wouldn't know he was obscure!!!! And the whole NASCAR world
knows how smart he is too.
Newark, Del.: Hey Mark, Venting Hog here.
What was your favorite Gibbs era Redskins moment?
Mark Solway: Probably the second quarter of the 2nd Super Bowl win.
There were so many, but I have never seen such domination. In a game
that started badly, I thought i had only blinked twice and we had buried the
game before half time. I choose that as a favorite Gibbs' moment because I
don't think there is a finer example of just how great a coach he was/is. i
still have to pinch myself when I say or type that.
It's too easy to
answer Riggo's run, but it's also pretty hard not to. It personified
everything I love about football... and the smashmouth, ball control nature
that Joe Gibbs made famous.
Darlington, S.C.: Mark,
Do you think the defense will play a lot better under Gibbs or will he have
to make an example out of someone to get them to play better?
Mark Solway: I think everyone will play better. I'm not trying to
insult Steve Spurrier, I just think that Joe Gibbs will have more control over
this team than Spurrier ever did.
I am not saying that is any fault of
Spurrier's either, just a statement on how special Gibbs is to everything and
everyone to do with the Washington organization. We are talking about a
Gregg Williams is also a much more experienced DC than George
Edwards and it will show in the schemes, the confidence, and the subsequent
level of success.
There are also personnel issues that need to be
addressed in the offseason to facilitate a better showing in 2004 as well. We
have to find a pass rush.
Washington, D.C.: Are the Skins picking up Owens from the
Mark Solway: I don't think he's Gibbs' kind of player, and I don't
think there is any need for receivers in Washinton.
The only WR
transaction that I think is important for the Redskins FO to deal with is
re-signing McCants. But I think Gibbs will really like him, and will bering
him back. He's big, he's tough, he makes the hard catches in the middle and
he's the best red zone receiver we had last year.
I think we're solid
with Laveranues Coles, Darnerien McCants, Rod Gardner and Taylor Jacobs. I
expect Scott Cloman to push hard for a spot again this year at camp as well.
Falls Church, Va.: I have long said that the relationship between
the city of Washington and its football team is unlike anything else in
American sport. Right or wrong, the second coming of Gibbs appears to have
been received with a level of joy I have never seen in a city before. Do you
think at least some of the reason Gibbs is returning is because he understands
this intense relationship between the city and its football team and like the
rest of us, ached over what the Redskins have become over the last decade?
Mark Solway: Completely.
I think that success for the
Washington Redskins will always be a part of Joe Gibbs make-up.
think that's why the confidence and euphoria is so high -- Joe won't rest
until the streets of Washington flow with Burgundy and gold proud tradition
New Carrollton, Md.: I am truly excited! My husband and I have
constantly told our sons about how great of a coach Joe Gibbs was and now they
will get to see him in action themselves! I have been a Redskins' fan for many
years and I have to say that I can't remember being so excited! We finally got
ourselves a real coach again!
Mark Solway: It's fantastic that another generation of Redskin fans
will get to experience arguably the greatest football coach of all time.
Even Cowboy fans on our message board have stated that this was good
for football, not just the Redskins.
Fort Worth, Tex.: So where is training camp going to be held this
year? Will Gibbs go back to Frostburg?
Mark Solway: we actually started talking about this today.
It'd be really nice to see it moved back to Carlisle... there just
isn't a more quaint way to spend a week or two vacation than in close quarters
with your Redskins team and friends.
I think that Camp is an
unbeilievable experience anywhere, and I would strongly urge everyone to try
and make it down. thehogs.net will be down there for the majority of camp with
a bunch of our friends and screaming praises at our players... it's a tough
way to spend a day watching football practice in the sun.
Old Fort, N.C.: Mark, do you believe Russ Grimm is ready to be an
offensive coordinator in the NFL, and will Mr. Gibbs persue Him? Thanks.
Mark Solway: I think there is a good chance of Russ Grimm returning
to the Redskins in some capacity, just because of the reverie that all of his
players feel for Gibbbs as i stated before.
I don't know if it should
be as an OC, but I do know that his presence will always welcome to a hog
lover such as myself. In any capacity. The Hogs are the ispiration for our
website... it would be another happy day.
Delware : Joe Gibbs is a godsend for the Redskins, but let's hope
that Mr. Snyder can stay out of his way ...
Mark Solway: I think the fact that Mr. Gibbs was also designated
team president tells you that mr. Snyder is ready to let Joe do his thing.
Now he will get to concentrate on the things that he's great at as
well like marketing, and schmoozing players.
There are some amazing
days ahead for this franchise.
I don't know how long I will get to
answer questions for, but I wanted to just thank the Post for even giving
theHogs.net the opportunity to do this chat in case my time runs out. It is a
great honor and I am very thankful for the experience.
Hinesville, Ga.: Thanks Mark, Our prayers have been finally
answered. Now will Champ Bailey stay, will the Skins sign Mark Brunell and
Corey Dillon? A glorious day. Hail!
Mark Solway: On Champ - I think that's up to Champ. It's a lot of
cap to give up and since he will inevitably be 'franchised', it will also be
very hard to ignore first round draft picks if anyone is interested in paying
the required compensation.
Mark Brunell - I definitely can't see
coming in here.. more for cap reasons than anything else. The Redskins are
sitting with about 9 million available cap dollars, but they'll need it for
the draft and to address the offensive line.
Corey Dillon - great
player, great skill, wrong attitude for this situation IMO. There are no I in
team on Joe's team. He's also about a $7 million cap figure next year I
Tysons, Va.: This is an odd question.
All my brother wants for his February birthday now is an autographed pic of
Gibbs. I told him that it would be easier to get Super Bowl tickets.
Any suggestions of who to go through?
Mark Solway: Go to camp, hang out for a week and wait for your
opportunity. It will undoubtedly happen if you go on Fan Appreciation Day as
they sit at a table for an hour and just sign autographs. i know it'll be the
first table that i'm lining up for.
If you can get me a super bowl
ticket that easily, just let me know. :-)
Columbia, Md.: Forgive me Joe for I have sinned. It has been 12
years since my last confession.
In that time I have forgotten what victory tastes like. I have been seduced
by flashy dreams of vertical offenses, by the glitz of high-priced free
agents, by the arm of a Shuler, a Banks, and even (whimper) Jeff George. I
have forgotten that coaching is impossible and yet simple. I have strayed into
the fields of task-masters and old ball coaches only to return to your feet
humbly asking for your salvation.
The apostles (Jacoby, Monk, Walton, Clark, Warren, Lachey, etc. ...) all
speak of your incredible grace and subtle motivation. I long to feel that
again. The city of Washington, your wayward son, has actually returned to you
and not the other way around. We have all repented and are ready to march
toward the promise land with you at the front.
Sunday is again holy in the heart of our beloved nation and may the
infidels from New York, Philadelphia and Dallas fear the battle we will wage!
Mark Solway: The NFC East is back.
With Parcells, Coughlin
and Reid to contend with... the rivalries are all going to return to glory and
the division will once again rise to former heights.
There's going to
be a lot of black and blue division games next year... what could be more
exciting than that?
Crofton, Md.: hi Mark
Great site and great chat. Thanks.
Is there any way to recapture the old magic of RFK? I know FedEx will never
rock like the old stadium but do you think that this will energize the fans
enough to become a place like RFK, a place that opposing teams hated to come
Mark Solway: Fed Ex has never seen the level of ssuccess that RFK
did, and success has a funny way of intensifying things.
only ever be one RFK and Fed Ex could probably never bounce, but we will be
cramming nearly 90,000 Redskins faithful into a stadium to watch playoff
football in no time and I think that we will be going back down the road to
intimidating teams with our fan base very soon.
Warner, N.H. 03278: Why can't out-of-state Redskin fans hear "Sonny,
Sam, and Frank" do the game broadcasts over the Internet?
Mark Solway: Infinity broadcast has the rights and they do not
stream any of their content. I believe I heard rumor of that perhaps changing
(infinity having the rights), but I'm afraid I don't know any of the details.
If you drop me a line at Bosshog@thehogs.net I can find out for you and get
back to you.
Harrisonburg, Va.: There are two names that leap out at me on the
free agent market -- Corey Dillion and Jevon Kerse ... do you think the Skins
would be inclined to make a hard push for them with the cap room and a glaring
need at safety and TE?
Mark Solway: Kearse is hard to not at least look at. I think pass
rush is our greatest need, and he is a good fit.
He's also going to
get a lot of money.
But I think john Abrahams would be great too, and
I think pass rush should trump anything else. There are some good pass rushers
in the draft, but no absolute studs. Will Smith and Marcus Spears might be
good choices if we moved down to below # 10 in the draft. Although pass
rushers have a tendency to look a lot sexier on draft day which may push them
up the board.
Columbus, Ohio: Hi Mark, I'm a huge fan of the skins, and am looking
forward to seeing Gibbs coach for the first time in my adult life! One
question, do you think Darrell Green will be offered some position with the
orginization? If there is one person who defines the Redskins more that Joe
Gibbs, it is Green, and I would love to see him involved, even just as a face
for the orginization!
Mark Solway: I don't think anyone personifies the Redskins like Joe
Gibbs myself... look at this reaction. Not even DG himself could create this
I think Mr. Green has enough on with his various projects
and charities and has little desire to return to Redskin football in an
official capacity at the present time. But who knows... it seems everyone else
Venting Hog (Newark, Del.): Mark:
One of the most frustrating things for fans (and players) is the influx of
opposing teams' fan watching the game in D.C., cheering for the opposing team.
All you hear are their chants instead of "Hail to the Redskins!"
Do you think this will end in the Gibbs era, with season ticket holders
once again keeping their tickets and proudly attending the games instead of
giving them up to Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles fans?
Mark Solway: Season ticket holders haven't had much success to go
along with their season ticket bills lately.
That's all going to
I'm sure the waiting list added more names in the last 48
hours than in all of the 2003 season.
I sure hope so... it's really
tough seeing all those foreign colors at home. Folks, i implore you, if you do
have to sell your tickets, make sure they go to Redskin fans. there's always a
frothing mad fan floating around theHogs.net that's probably interested in
taking them off your hands.
Washington, D.C.: Hey Head Hog,
When are Washingtonians going to give Snyder the credit he deserves instead
of ragging on the guy every time something goes wrong? I know at least 10
other franchises in the NFL that would love to have as active and concerned an
owner as Mr. Snyder is.
Plus, if you were given the ability to OWN the team of your dreams,
wouldn't most people meddle a lot as well?
Mark Solway: when you have a franchise as proud as the Redskins, i
guess nothing less than the ultimate success is acceptable.
has made some mistakes along the way, but has always made them for the right
reasons... he just wants to win. Giving control to someone like joe Gibbs is
proof positive that he now understands the importance of concentrating on what
he's good at and leaving the football to one of it's greatest minds.
The partnership has the potential to be devastating.
DE: Hey Boss, DEHog here.
There's been much talk about the relationship of Dan Snyder and his past
coaches. How do you see the Gibbs/Snyder relationship playing out?
Mark Solway: I think even Dan Snyder grew up adoring Joe Gibbs...
and you can't say that about any of the others.
That alone will change
the whole dynamic IMO. As I said, I think Snyder will now set about proving
just how good he is at what he's good at, leave the football to joe, and I
can't see how that relatinship can be anything but harmonious as long as it is
allowed to exist.
Greenville, N.C.: I too am excited as everyone else about Saint Joe
returning. But, in all the confusion and emotion not a lot has surfaced on
Gregg Williams yet. He too is a wonderful aquisition as defensive coordinator.
How soon do you expect the defense to turn things around?
Mark Solway: With the correct personnel moves in the offaseason --
very quickly. I think that we saw far too much zone coverage last year and we
have to allow our LBs to play closer to the line and react.
If we can
get some pass rush, there's no reason to believe that we can't almost
imediately return to a top 5-10 defense like Marvin Lewis accomplished (with
some of the same pieces of the puzzle).
Springfield, Va.: Hey there,
Now that we have the coaching fixed, let's turn our attention to game day
antics of FedEx Field. Is there any way we can get the announcer to not
glorify a tackle after at 12 yard run, the same music pumped up way to loud
too to stimulate fan excitement. I think we'll be able to generate that one
the field and not fake it with DMX being played over and over again. And I'll
pay money to never see the funky bunch do the same exact dance for the 4th
year in a row.
Mark Solway: I think as success mounts, the football will become the
focus at Fed Ex.
They can't ever let the Funky bunch change their
dance... come on! It's as Redskin as the Hogettes, Hogs and Hail to the
Redskins are. maybe we'll all be happier doing the dance if we're winning.
Kennesaw, Ga.: An observation: Organizationally, it sounds like
Gibbs will have with the Redskins a role most like Mike Sherman has with the
Packers. Sherman is nominally coach and GM, but in practice he delegates most
of the GM stuff during the season to Mark Hatley and Reggie McKenzie. Also
Sherman is very Gibbs-like as far as work habits are concerned.
Also, you should know that a lot of people here in the Atlanta area are
murmuring about how Falcons owner Arthur Blank may really have blown it by not
pursuing Gibbs after Dan Reeves was fired. Gibbs owns a piece of the Falcons,
and Blank knew before almost anyone else that Gibbs wanted to coach again --
weeks before Spurrier left.
Mark Solway: I've had discussions with Redskin fans about Atlanta
too... it is a testament to the schmoozing ability of Dan Snyder that the
Falcons, who could have used a coach, didn't get to pull off such a colossal
If you doubt Mr. Snyder's ability to bring in pretty much
anyone he wants, surely this should at least have you questioning your logic.
This is the single biggest explosion I've ever seen for a coach in sports...
let alone in football.
And in one fell swoop, Mr. Snyder restored
faith, restored respectability, and left us all licking our chops for the
start of the 2004 season.
Mark Solway: Well folks. My time is up. I just wanted to thank
everyone who participated and once again thank the Washington post,
specifically Mr. Fisch, for allowing me to do this. It has been a thrill, and
I look forward to seeing you all over at theHogs.net. We have a lot of
exciting things planned for the offseason, and we hope that you will pop by
the boards and say hello any time. We're always there to talk football and