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Jan. 5: Earnest Byner

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From painfulyetloyal

Mr. Byner- First I'd like to thank you in joining us, the fans, for this chat. Also, thanks for helping us to our Super Bowl title, we couldn't have done it without you.

Two questions. First, give me your honest opinion on how far you think this year’s skins can go into the playoffs and why. Second, You played for a few different teams in your career but only won a championship in Washington. What gives Coach Gibbs an edge when it comes to coaching in the post season?

Thanks again for your time, I’m a huge fan.

Earnest Byner

I think the thing that really has made us the type of team that we have become is the fact that Coach really leans on his assistants to give him different insights about the players, about, you know, some of the things that might be going on within the team. And he uses the information to serve the team, to serve him in his leadership role. I think that’s the mark of a great leader is someone that’s willing to not feel like he knows it all. To say ‘hey fella’s, everybody, tell me what your opinion is? Give me some insights about how you feel? What do you think will work in this situation? How have you all dealt with this situation in other organizations?’. But also, just different scenarios and different points in our career. So, he’s a great leader, and I think that’s the thing that really, if anything, gives him an edge is the fact that he is a great leader. He is a people person.

And as far as the first question, in reality, we could go all the way. We feel good about what we’ve been able to get done. The players feel really good about themselves, about the chemistry on this team. You know, the trust between player-coach, coach-coach, player-player, is really really good. I guess what I’m saying, the overall chemistry is great. But also, the execution, the game plan, the guys taking to heart some of the things that have been taught, but also some of the things that have contributed to our wins and losses. The reality is, we have been our own worst enemies in the losses that we’ve incurred. The guys have seemed to take to heart the fact that they can control those situations. So I feel like if we continue to go on the path that we’ve started, you know, get a new string going because this is a new season, you know start on Sunday and go on a 4 game winning streak, we are as capable as anybody else to go all the way.

Follow-up from Extremeskins Staff

So we can quote you as guaranteeing a Super Bowl, right?

Earnest Byner

(laughs) Hey, I’m leaning towards it heavily, the fact that we CAN get there (laughs)

From H-O-G

Coach Byner,

I'll go ahead and open this big question up, what have you done to help Clinton become more successful in his running game?

Thanks

Earnest Byner

Well, one of the things that I think that I’ve done the most of is try and paint a big picture with Clinton. First of all, this guy is very proud. He came in with a lot of history, doing a lot of good things as far as gaining yards all throughout the league. He came in and probably had some ideas about how things flowed in Denver and how he would like to see them flow here. And what I guess the biggest thing I’ve helped him to see is that he could take his talents and turn them into skills by understanding a little bit more about the overall game plan, the overall system, and the overall way his particular actions affect the rest of the people that are working with him. His linemen, the tightend, the H-backs. Everything that he does reflects on them, and what they do reflects on him. So, he’s become more of a corporate runner instead of, perhaps, cutting back a little bit early, or thinking that the hole might be at a certain spot. Now he understands or has gained an understanding because of his willingness to learn that there’s more to the game than just me running. It’s the fact that these guys up here in front of me have a particular role, they have strengths and weaknesses, I understand them, they understand me, and we work mentally together.

From altair4

Coach,

We are in the playoffs! Thank you and the team for all of your hard work. My question is this: Clinton said that once he got over the idea that he knew it all, he started studying and allowing you to coach him, and become a better player.

How did you and the staff get him over that hump? How long did it take?

Thanks,

Earnest Byner

Well, first of all I think more than anything, it’s about growth. It’s about people developing trust with each other. I think I heard it on Doc Walker’s show today, Clinton probably felt like he knew it, we felt like we knew it, we had ways that we wanted to get it done, he had ways that he thought….you know, so we’re going back and forth. In reality, what happened, was that we started just having more of a discourse. Talking about ‘what ifs’. Lets say if you wanted to do this…. how about us trying this….trust me on this…try me on this…okay, lets try it your way, lets see if we can go that way. So there’s been some give-give in the relationship. I’ve come to him some, and he’s come to me some. Its been really a corporate effort. He’s given me a lot of credit, but this guy deserves a lot of the credit because he has decided that he wants to be more of a student of the game and understand more and more about it, and he loves it. He’s really really proud, whether he makes a mistake or he doesn’t quite get it right, he’s really a proud individual and I love that about him. So I’m just feeding the hunger that he has for more and more understanding of the game.

From santanamoss89

Hey,

How proud are you of Clinton Portis?

Earnest Byner

Oh, tremendously proud of him. This guy is….I’m proud to be associated with him, proud to be his coach. He’s probably one of the all-time toughest guys that I’ve been around. He’s genuinely a good guy. You know, he comes across to probably some of the people as somewhat of a troublemaker, but he’s really a fun-loving, good character individual. And a guy that’s maturing, and he’s really growing into the type of leader that we needed on this football team.

From Vegas-Born

Mr. Byner,

When will we see you dressed up with Clinton Portis?

Earnest Byner

(laughs) He hasn’t asked me about that (laughs). I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that one. Hey, I tell you what…if we go to the Super Bowl I’ll dress up with him!

From Monkart

Hi Earnest,

Thanks for taking questions, Do you think our depth at running back will remain the same next year or is there a chance we lose Ladell or Rock?

Earnest Byner

Ladell’s under contract, so he’s kind of an indentured servant right now, he’s still on his rookie contract – he has one more year, so we’ve kind of got him. But Rock will be a free agent, and with the things that he’s done on the field in the backfield, and also on special teams, there is the likelihood that someone could see him and like him, unless we decide to try and lay down some things for him on the management side. But we could lose Rock. We have another guy that’s backing up all of them, Nemo, that’s really grown a lot this year as well. We haven’t had the chance to see him on the field, but he’s going to be a guy that you’ll find, God-willing with health, that will be able to contribute to the success of the organization as well. But, I feel good about the guys that we have. The possibility is we’re probably going to lose Ladell after this year, and we stand to lose Rock this year because of their production.

Follow-up from Extremeskins Staff

At one point you said about Nemo, when he ran you could feel the ground move - does it still move?

Earnest Byner

Oh absolutely. Yes sir, he’s got some hooves on him, I’ll put it that way. Feels like a horse running by you. He’s strong, he’s learning some running techniques, he works on these running techniques that I’ve been teaching him as the year progresses. He’s one of the guys that really really works. He’s going to be hell to deal with, I’m telling you. Whenever he gets on the field, it’s going to be something that we’ll love to see.

From SonnyRules

Coach,

If we lose Betts or Rock next year, do you think Jamal Lewis ( you were his coach for awhile) would be a good fit for the Redskins as a short yardage back or change of pace back for Clinton?

Earnest Byner

Well, I think Jamal is going to be a frontline runner – he sees himself as that. I think it would have to be a situation where we’re the last choice for him to have to come and be somewhat of a situational back. He is still strong. Jamal will come at you. Looking at the way he progressed throughout the year, but also knowing him from the inside/out – I don’t see him as a backup or situational back. He’s going to be a frontline guy for somebody, he’s going to be really nice for.

From redman

Coach,

I've been a fan of yours ever since you were running the ball for us back during Coach Gibbs' first tenure here, and I of course have especially fond memories of your contributions to the Super Bowl victory back in January 1992.

I want to ask you a question about your career, and it may strike you as an odd question because it deals with adversity in your career rather than a high point. Relatively early on, you had a moment which could have been the defining moment in your career, which was your fumble of the football in the 1987 AFC Championship Game when it appeared you were headed to the end zone to score the go-ahead TD against the Broncos. This was of course the year following Elway's infamous "Drive", so it was obviously a painful game to lose. One of the reasons I've admired you even before you became a Redskin was the way that you continued to fight hard and compete.

My question is, who and what was it that most helped you to overcome what had to be a terrible let down for you, and made you continue to perform at a high level as a pro?

Thank you again for your willingness to answer our questions during an important week, and also for your playing and coaching contributions to the Redskins.

Earnest Byner

Well, I think…I don’t know if you’ve seen the series ‘The 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame Earnest Byner For The Loss In Denver’, but in that series I told the guy that was doing the interview that I had a very good support staff. If it wasn’t for Marty Schottenheimer, if it wasn’t for my teammates Brian Brennan, Bernie Kosar, Herman Fontenot, Kevin Mack, Ozzie Newsome, Carl Hairston….if it wasn’t for those guys and how they supported me, I don’t know how I would’ve made it. Because I really took it to heart that I let everybody down. That was just how I performed. When I went out there to perform, it was all or nothing, it was for all the people, all the fans, I mean, I’d have totally given it up for all that. And I felt really responsible for that game. So those guys and that support system really really helped me out. And the one person who stood by me undauntingly was my wife. She was definitely there for me and supported me – I can’t say she cried with me because I didn’t cry around her, I had to cry away from her, I had to do the man thing (laughs). But yeah, it was a real good supportive system that we had. Marty never did waver on his commitment to me as his frontline runner and the guy that he depended on. That really helped me to continue on. It definitely was a defining moment for me, I can tell you that. It made me into the man that I am today, and it was somewhat of a catalyst to who I’ve become today and probably has helped me to deal with a lot of the situations my guys go through more empathetically. Some guys that were good players or great players have difficulty being coaches. I think that probably helped me be a better coach as well.

From Storm0304

Mr. Byner

you are a legend to us Skins fans and I for one love you and wish you still were here with us carrying the ball. Now the question........ Gas or charcoal? lol

Earnest Byner

Charcoal

Extremeskins Staff

Good – you’re still a legend. You came through unscathed.

From BeradSee

Mr. Byner,

Thanks for everything that you have done for the Redskins. As you probably know, we've been on a streak wearing the White on White uniforms, however, Tampa may wear their White jerseys, forcing us to wear Burgundy. I was wondering, could you maybe mention to Coach Gibbs that the fans(most of them) would love to see Clinton Portis streaking down the sidelines wearing Burgundy on Burgundy?

Thanks for your time. Good luck in the playoffs!

Earnest Byner

I think that might be a possibility. I’ve been meaning to ask the last few days, what they’re planning on wearing, but I think Burgundy on Burgundy might be the thing. I would love to see that too, because I think the solid colors can probably keep the streak alive.

From VintageGold

Now that we're in two year two of the Portis/Bailey trade, do you feel we got the better end of the trade? What skills make Portis' a back worthy of such a trade? What was your role in the trade?

Earnest Byner

Well, first of all, he’s a very talented individual. This guy can do some things that can wow you. Case in point, the run against Philly late in the game. A spin move, darting around the sideline, diving into the end zone – this guy has freakish talent. But also the guy also has such a strong mental game. He has the capability of taking what he is said on the field, and not necessarily working at it in practice, and is able to carry it to the game. He’s a very very talented individual. And yes, the trade was worth it. A lot of teams say we gave up too much, gave up Champ, gave up a 1st rounder, gave too much money. But no, this guy has more than fulfilled his end of the bargain. You can look at the last 5 games and how much he’s contributed as well. And the reality is, this is not the best he is gonna be. He’s going to be a better player. He’s going to be better. We will actually reap the rewards from this 3 or 4 years down the road because this guys going to get better and better because he’s still developing.

From goaldeje

Coach,

Can you compare the coaching you received from Coach Gibbs the first time around with the coaching you receive from him now?

Earnest Byner

I think the thing that really stands out to me more than anything is his overall approach to dealing with issues, or what you might call a problem player. He has a way of dealing with each situation independent of the other. He’s not a leader that says ‘this is the way it’s supposed to be done, this is the way you’ll do it, or you’ll have to hit the road’. No. He’s not that way. This is what I see as the difference from me being a player – because that’s how I thought he was as a player. I thought he was real hard-line, very cut and dry, real black and white. But what I find as a member of his staff is that he deals with each individual just as that. He gives people the capability of being their own person, but he definitely has some things that he believes in, that he’ll pull people in, he’ll pull people aside, he might call them into the office. But I’ve never seen him have a hard-line approach with anybody or be overly angry. Maybe upset, but not angry with somebody. So I’ve learned a lot about leadership and about dealing with different situations from him. I’m kind of a black and white guy, you do what I tell you, because that’s how I played. I did what they told me, I didn’t ask any questions, and I tried to do my best. And that’s the way I deal with it. But some people when you deal with them that way, they can’t handle it. So, its helped me to be a better coach that way. He’s coached me in that regard.

Follow-up from Extremeskins Staff

That’s an interesting dynamic, having a Defensive Staff with more of a hard-line approach. Does having coaches with different approaches help you, does it hurt you guys, or does it cause conflict amongst you guys?

Earnest Byner

No, as a matter of fact it doesn’t. The coach, because of how he is, he allows them to handle situations they way they see fit. But also, he has conversations with them about how he sees it, but doesn’t necessarily say ‘hey, this is the hard-line approach we’re going to take’. So he gives them the capability of being what they need to be.

From Extremeskins Staff

Thanks Coach Byner for a great chat – we’ll be rooting you guys on this weekend.

Go Skins!

Earnest Byner

Thanks a lot.

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