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Coaching Staff Still A Work In Progress

Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs returned to Redskin Park on Wednesday and updated the status of his still-developing coaching staff. The recruiting of assistant coaches remains his primary focus right now.

"We'll have some other [potential assistant coaches] flying in and talking to us," he said. "It's still a work in progress."

Gibbs said that long-time offensive guru Ernie Zampese will join the Redskins' offensive coaching staff. Zampese joins Joe Bugel (assistant head coach), Gregg Williams (defensive coordinator), Don Breaux (offensive staff) and Jack Burns (offensive staff) as coaches that Gibbs has announced as members of his staff.

Gibbs aims to formally introduce the entire coaching staff--and their exact titles--in a press conference possibly later this week. He is navigating the NFL's policies on the hiring of assistant coaches from other teams and says the process is "pretty complicated."

His top goal is to establish an experienced coaching staff.

"Obviously, there's a group [of coaches] who I've worked with and I have a lot of confidence in," Gibbs said. "My first thought was that we were going to try and bring in coaches who we had a working knowledge with.

"Then, on the defensive side of the ball, Gregg Williams is a key component there. I think he's going to try and bring some people to the table on that side. So it's kind of working through a process, basically trying to hire people that we know, who are battle-tested, who the players will respect and are Redskins kind of guys. That's our real emphasis."

Gibbs' relationship with Zampese dates back to 1979-80 when both were assistants with the San Diego Chargers under head coach Don Coryell.

While Gibbs went on to a Hall of Fame coaching career with the Redskins, Zampese went on to develop high-powered offenses as offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams (1987-93), Dallas Cowboys (1994-97) and New England Patriots (1998-99).

In 2002, Zampese was an offensive consultant with the St. Louis Rams, but he retired after the season. Until Gibbs called last week, that is.

"I just have this tremendous respect for him," Gibbs said. "He sees things from a defensive side because he was over there; he used to coach the secondary on defense. But then he switched to offense and I remember telling Don Coryell at one point, 'Are you crazy? You're hiring a defensive guy to coach receivers.' Then I told everybody in four days that Ernie knew more about the offense than I did.

"He's very creative. He's very good at evaluating talent and he's good at play selection. So I'm very excited about having him on the staff."

Gibbs indicated that he hadn't decided whether he's going to have an offensive coordinator on staff or whether Zampese or Bugel would serve in that capacity.

Regarding Williams, Gibbs said: "He's someone who stayed in one place [with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise] and really built something. They went to a Super Bowl there in 1999 [with Tennessee] and then he moved on to Buffalo. As tough of a season the Bills had, they wound up with the second-ranked defense. Then you talk to people about him--it's more of that, the people you know and the reputation he has."

Gibbs' first week returning as the Redskins' head coach has been a hectic one--it has included travel to confidential locations to speak with potential assistants.

Gibbs said in his introductory press conference last Thursday that he had a steep learning curve after having been away from the NFL for 11 years.

He said as much again on Wednesday, but added that he's getting up to speed quickly.

"I'd say on the coaches, I'm pretty well caught up because the reality sandwich hits when you start trying to talk to [potential assistant coaches]," he said. "You kind of say, 'Wait a minute, what are the rules?' I think I understand all that now. I've already had a few lessons there."

Gibbs said he and his staff were anxious to "dive into the film" on Thursday and start evaluating the current roster of Redskin players.

Next week, Gibbs is expected to be in Mobile, Ala., for practices leading up to the Senior Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 24. Many NFL coaches and personnel officials go to the Senior Bowl to begin the evaluation process of collegiate players in preparation for the NFL Draft.

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