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'Boss Hog' Bugel Answers Gibbs' Call


Last October, Joe Bugel stood alone, deep in thought, at a rear window of Redskin Park, overlooking the Redskins during a practice.

The retired coach had been invited by team officials to review game tape and try to help pinpoint why the offensive line was struggling in pass protection schemes.

Later, Bugel declined's request for an interview, emphasizing that he was serving as a consultant only.

He was retired from football, he said.

Bugel had said there was only one way he would ever return to coaching. That would be as an assistant for Joe Gibbs should the coaching legend return to the NFL

The unthinkable happened.

Gibbs is back in Washington, and so is Bugel, the Redskins' offensive line coach from 1981-89.

One of his nicknames: "Boss Hog."

Bugel, of course, is credited with helping to develop "The Hogs," the Redskins famous offensive line of the 1980s that included stalwarts Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Mark May, Jeff Bostic, George Starke and others.

Washington had three Super Bowl appearances during that span, winning twice due in part to the dominating offensive line.

Gibbs convinced the 63-year-old Bugel to come out of retirement as the team's assistant head coach-offense. Bugel will oversee the offensive line, of course.

His hiring was announced at Thursday's press conference for Gibbs, along with the expected hiring of former Redskin coaches Don Breaux and Jack Burns to the offensive staff. Breaux and Burns also coached under Gibbs in the 1980s.

Their task? To get the most out of the current crop of players while finding others who fit their offensive system.

During the 1980s, it was mostly a running attack that controlled the line of scrimmage and won the time of possession battle.

"We always go out and get smart, tough people to play our brand of football," Bugel said on Thursday after Gibbs' introductory press conference. "We had a premium on tough guys--we didn't want prima-donnas. We wanted guys that wanted to practice and loved to hit.

"We were also lucky to have very talented players--especially at quarterback and running back, as well as the very, very tough offensive and defensive lines."

Bugel left Washington to become head coach of the Phoenix Cardinals from 1990-93. The Cardinals struggled during his tenure, going 20-44 in four seasons.

After a two-year stint from 1995-96 as an assistant coach with Oakland, he became head coach of the Raiders in 1997 but lasted only one season due to a dismal 4-12 record.

Bugel returned to his roots as offensive line coach in 1998 when he was named to the post for the San Diego Chargers. He retired following the 2001 season when new Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer brought in a new coaching staff.

Then Gibbs called.

Said Bugel, who referred to himself as one of Gibbs's lieutenants: "He called me at 1:45 in the morning and said, 'You got your Redskins helmet on?' I said I could get it on right now and he said, 'Get it on, we're going back home.'

"I jumped out of bed and my wife told me that the expectations in Washington are real high and you're not going to any old place--you're going to the Redskins."

Regarding his two bookend tackles, Pro Bowler Chris Samuels and five-year veteran Jon Jansen, Bugel said: "Oh, I love 'em. I saw them play in college and I scouted them.

"Jon Jansen--I love Michigan players. And Chris Samuels was the premiere tackle coming out after his senior year at Alabama. That's a great start and I'm looking forward to coaching them."

Even though Bugel has been away from the NFL for three years and Gibbs has not coached since 1992, Bugel knows the coaching staff will have the players' respect.

"Oh, they'll listen," he said. "Joe Gibbs will make them listen. Just his presence in the room is enough. It's up to us to be enthusiastic with our players. If you're upbeat, if you're a hard worker, it's infectious.

"It starts at the top and we have the leaders to do it."

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