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Redskins' Gibbs needs some help from front office

>Q: The Redskins are 5-7. Do you think hiring Joe Gibbs will go down as a mistake?

-- David Clarke, Boston.

A: I don't think hiring Gibbs was a mistake. He hasn't lost all the traits that made him a Hall of Fame coach. However, he was always a coach. Period. He had a general manager in Bobby Beathard who made a ton of great personnel decisions.

The Redskins went 6-10, 10-6 and 5-11 under Gibbs the past three years. His problem is he doesn't have the personnel-department support he used to have and he's struggling to find a star quarterback. He tried to win immediately with an over-the-hill Mark Brunell. Now he's weathering the growing pains of Jason Campbell. In retrospect, he would have been better off starting from scratch with a new quarterback in the 2004 draft (Ben Roethlisberger?) as soon as he arrived. He thought he could win big with Brunell. That was a mistake. The Redskins have traded away six first-day draft picks in the past three years. The 'Skins dealt away picks under Beathard, too, but that doesn't work in the salary cap era, when your young, cheap players must produce. If Campbell is the real thing -- a big if -- Gibbs will win with him next year. If he isn't, all of owner Dan Snyder's money won't overcome that fact. That reminds me of the old line from 'Skins late owner Jack Kent Cooke about George Allen: "I gave him an unlimited budget, and he exceeded it!"

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>Q: What will happen to J.P. Losman after the season?

-- Tim Harrison, Baltimore.

A: Losman's contract runs through 2008, but there is no way he will be back next season. He will either be traded or cut in the offseason because the Bills will go with Trent Edwards. The team will not want to pay Losman starter money to be a backup, and Losman will not want to return knowing he has no chance to start.

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>Q: Should the Bills consider a tight end in the first round of next April's draft? If so, would they consider someone like Missouri's Martin Rucker? I like Michael Gaines and Robert Royal, but I really feel that the Bills have gone about as far as they can with the current tight ends on the roster. What do you think?

-- Dennis J. Richards, Hughesville, Pa.

A: I think there's a good chance they will try to target a tight end on the first day of the draft. I don't know about the first round. That will depend on where they pick and who's available. A wide receiver probably will be a higher priority than tight end. They'll have to consider defensive tackle and cornerback, too. At this early stage, I'd say tight end would not be their first-round choice. The top senior tight end probably is Southern Cal's Fred Davis. Rucker is not too far behind him.

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>Q: The question is NFL rosters -- 53 players get full pay, yet only 47 can dress on game day. Why?

-- Ralph W. Grzedzicki, Buffalo.

A: The league's competition committee thinks that if all 53 players were allowed to dress for the game, it would give an advantage to a team that has been luckier in terms of health. In other words, on a given week, one team may have seven injured players on the 53-man roster who could not take the field. The opponent for that week might have only two out of 53 that are hurt. So that team would have an edge in terms of rotating players and keeping them fresh or for having more special-teamers available. The competition committee has been pretty adamant about this position. It's not going to change.

Bills beat reporter Mark Gaughan answers your football questions every Friday. Send your e-mails to mgaughan@buffnews.com or mail to Question Mark, The Buffalo News Sports Department, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo 14240.

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