Jansen's Injury Tarnishes Gibbs' Return
It was the night we had all been waiting for. The Hall Of Fame game in Canton, Ohio was just minutes away from kickoff. The Mexican dip and lime Tostitos were open and Ready for consumption. The anticipation was so great; one could feel it pulsating in the air. We were moments away from the start of our beloved Coach Gibbs’ second era with the Washington Redskins. What would come of this great evening? Could the new Redskins beat the new Broncos on the battlefield of Fawcett Stadium? Soon these questions would be answered, but they would be overshadowed by new questions.
The room was silent as the opening kickoff soared through the air to officially start what for many of us, is the most anticipated season since Vince Lombardi roamed the sidelines at D.C. Stadium back in 1969. Shawn Springs ended the Bronco's opening drive with the sprawling interception of Bronco's Quarterback, Jake Plummer. The Redskins first offensive drive sputtered and resulted in a field goal by John Hall to give the Redskins a 3-0 lead. On the next offensive drive however, fate dealt a cruel blow to the Redskins faithful. Michele Tafoya reported that Washington Redskins starting Right Tackle Jon Jansen had been injured and the initial report was that it was his ankle.
Jansen is known to his teammates as the “Rock” because of his durability and his dependability. Only once since he has been a Redskin, has the team looked to the right tackle spot and seen someone else. That one time was in his second game as a Redskin in a blow out 50-21 win over the Giants.
"First of all, when Jon stays down you know it's fairly serious because I've never seen him stay down. I know when I saw him kneeling on the field that we were in trouble,” said Jansen’s best friend and Redskins Quarterback, Patrick Ramsey.
"He'll have to be strong. He'll have to do whatever he needs to do to get better.” Said LaVar Arrington, the teams starting weak-side Linebacker, “It just lets you know that you have to play every game like it's your last one."
Added Quarterback Mark Brunell: "Jon's a guy who's irreplaceable. Obviously he's a great football player and a great leader. The guys all respect him. It's unfortunate to lose him."
As I watched Jansen being helped off the field, the optimistic JansenFan said, “This is Jon Jansen. He doesn’t take games off. He will be back next week. It's nothing but a sprained ankle”. Then the realistic JansenFan took over. “In the last 132 games going all the way back to his freshmen season at the University of Michigan, Jon had never been helped off the field before.”
Unfortunately, the realistic JansenFan’s prophecy was fulfilled, as ABC 7 flashed the bad news at the bottom of the screen “Tim Brandt reports that Washington Redskins starting Right Tackle Jon Jansen has a ruptured left tendon”. To make it worse, the message continued to scroll over and over, maybe in an effort to convert those, like myself, that didn’t want to believe it.
As the game continued, several players had outstanding performances. Tim Hasselbeck, Gari Scott and John Simon put together a nice 2-minute drill and put the Redskins in position for the win. Ola Kimrin came on the field with 3 seconds left and hooked his kick around the right goal post for the first win of the Gibbs II era. Following the game, Coach Gibbs spoke with Jansen before speaking to the media.
“I’ve got to tell you we had a big downer out there with Jon. It happened and I think it took a lot out of us for a while. So we’re just right now meeting with him. We’re going to try to make the best decision we can for him. He’s going to play here forever so I told him the main thing is to get this fixed”. Added Coach Gibbs, Jansen “means a lot to the team as a leader and everything. Now we are really going to have to have some guys step up and play great.”
Jon was visibly distraught during the game. Fellow players tried to console him, and at one point a Redskins trainer covered his head with a towel. After the game, Jansen stood in the locker room on crutches and commented on the injury: “I’ve had friends that it’s happened to before. There wasn’t anybody around me. I just turned to run down field. It just popped. It felt like somebody kicked me right in the back of the ankle and when it happened, I knew what it was.”
In an interview today, Jansen said, "It's just been running through my head. I think anybody will tell you who's had an Achilles injury, it's not a very painful injury, but for me the pain has never been really physical; it was really emotional for me. It's frustrating, because we tread water for three or four years and then things really start to look up and now you've got to watch it from the sidelines. That's the part that hurts the most."
Jansen’s agent, Rick Smith from Priority Sports and Entertainment, stated that he had spoken to Jon and that “he is extremely devastated about this injury. Jon was looking forward to a great season. He will undoubtedly be back next year”. You can count on the fact that thehogs.net will be following Jansen’s rehabilitation closely.
Unfortunately, football is a game of attrition. You cannot concede the whole season for one injury. Coach Joe Bugel, the architect of the original “Hogs” and now of the “Dirtbags”, is faced with the daunting task of replacing “Dirtbag #1”. Kenyatta Jones started 11 games at Right Tackle two years ago, and some say is the favorite to fill in for Jansen this season. Brandon Winey started 3 games in place of the injured Chris Samuels last year. Daryl Terrell filled in last night and did a decent job. Let’s also not forget the two rookies we spent 5th and 6th round draft picks on in this years draft. Mark Wilson and Jim Molinaro are huge. They were good Tackles in college and have looked fairly decent in camp, with Mark Wilson actually listed as Jansen’s backup on the depth chart. Coach Bugel and Coach Gibbs can make this a good offensive line with these options and a lot of Max Protect schemes. The H back can be used to help with Michael Strahan and Javon Kearse. The Tight End will also line up on that side, assuming Mark Brunell win the starting job. Superior coaching ability can almost certainly make up for average talent.
In short, there is no reason to be any less optimistic about this season. The Redskins have great coaching, and that will help them overcome this injury. The Redskins will still be competitive. That being said, the chances of success were certainly greater with the “Rock” manning his post on the right side of the line.
Qoutes courtesy of the Washington Post, Redskins.com, the Washington Times and Rick Smith
This article was released on 2004-08-10.
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