Source:The New Democrat
“Lombardi’s Redskins | The Story of 1969 “The Forgotten Year”
When I think of the Redskins from the late 60s and 1970s, the expression what if comes to mind real fast.
What if, Vince Lombardi hadn’t died and lived to coach the Redskins for even 5-10 years; how many Super Bowls would they have won, let alone winning a Super Bowl and beating the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl 7 with Lombardi as their head coach/general manager and Sonny Jurgensen as their QB. Even if Lombardi dies the way he did, what if their new head coach and GM George Allen, doesn’t name veteran journeyman and mediocre QB Billy Kilmer as his starting QB and he instead let Sonny finish his career as the starting QB of the Redskins and Allen kept the Redskins offense in place, instead of playing a lot more conservatively on offense, how many Super Bowls would have the Redskins won with Lombardi or Allen as their head coach and GM.
But to get back to Lombardi and his impact on the Redskins, you have to know what kind of franchise they were in Washington the previous 13 seasons, before you get to 1969: pre-Lombardi, a good season for the Redskins even with Sonny Jurgensen as their QB, a good season for the Redskins was 6-8 or 7-7. The Redskins of the 1960s, were very similar to the San Diego Chargers of the mid and late 80s: they scored a lot of points mostly with their passing game, but gave up just as much if not more. One of the top offenses in the NFL, to go along with one of the worst defenses. From 1956-68. 13 straight non-winning seasons for the Redskins where again a good season 6-8 or 7-7. Not 10-4 and just missing the playoffs.
Also to understand Vince Lombardi’s impact on the Redskins, you have to know what he brought to the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s as well: Lombardi, believed that the way you win in the NFL, was to control the line of scrimmage, very similar to Bill Parcells and another great Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs. You win in the NFL by running the ball, stopping the run, protecting your QB and attacking the other QB. And then go to play action in the passing the game, to move the ball down the field, but to also keep the defense off balance so they can’t concentrate so much on your running game.
The Redskins of the 1960s pre-Lombardi, passed the ball 30-35 times or more a game with Sonny Jurgenson and whatever running game they had came after long passes from the passing game. Lombardi, kept the explosive passing game with Sonny, WR’s Charley Taylor, Jerry Smith, and Roy Jefferson, but added RB Larry Brown and improved the offensive line and now the Redskins had a good running game, with one of the best passing games in the NFL. So Lombardi, brought balance to an already explosive Redskins passing game.
The Redskins go from 5-6 in 1967 and 5-9 in 1968, to 7-5 in 1969. Now you might say that winning an extra 2 games from the previous season in 1969 is not a big deal, especially since the Redskins already had a good offense, but again Vince Lombardi’s first season in Washington and the Redskins first winning season of any kind since 1955. Lombardi’s first season in Green Bay, he was 7-5 and the Packers get to the NFL Championship in his second season in 1960 and win the Championship in 1962. Lombardi, brought discipline to Washington and taught a young Redskins team how to win and not settle for being OK, but that instead you need to be as good as you possibly can be, so you can be as successful as you can be. Something that they hadn’t had since the Ray Flaherty era in the 1930s and 40s, which was Vince Lombardi’s impact on the Redskins.