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Thursday, December 17, 2009
Lewis should consider calling Gibbs

By James Walker

NFC East blogger Matt Mosley is familiar with what the Cincinnati Bengals are going through following the passing of receiver Chris Henry. Two years ago, Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor also died during the season.

Mosley provided the AFC North blog great insight on how the Redskins handled their loss and how the Bengals can learn from those experiences.

Matt Mosley: I remember the Redskins being in a state of shock after Sean Taylor's death. It was similar in the fact that Taylor was away from his teammates in Miami because of an injury that he was recovering from. I think the fact that he hadn't been around his teammates as much made it harder for them to accept what had happened. Players such as former University of Miami stars Clinton Portis and Santana Moss took it harder than anyone. I know Moss had already been having a difficult season and he was almost despondent after Taylor's death.

Taylor was a more accomplished player than Henry and he didn't have a particularly troubled past -- as some people portrayed it to be at the time. One of the most important things that former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs did was allow his players time to grieve. He encouraged everyone to talk about Taylor. I recall hearing that safety coach Steve Jackson could barely make it through a meeting. But the grief and all the tears definitely brought those players closer together.

After a gut-wrenching loss to the Bills, the team flew to attend Taylor's funeral. Todd Collins had become the quarterback because of an injury to Jason Campbell. The Redskins went on an improbable winning streak and somehow made the playoffs. I know they used their pain and their love for Taylor to drive them during those weeks. I always think it seems trite when we immediately start talking about how teams are going to rally around a tragic situation. I don't look it at that way. But I do think the Redskins played with more passion the rest of the way in order to honor their fallen teammate.

I thought it was one of Gibbs' finest moments in a Hall of Fame career. He let players see him grieving -- and that was important. It let them know that it was OK to open up to each other and put a voice to what they were feeling. With the death of Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's wife and now this awful tragedy, the Bengals are a team that has seen a ridiculous amount of adversity. I think this is a team that performs at a high level no matter what the circumstances. But I do think that the Bengals will face a lot of things this week and next that are nearly impossible to prepare for. I think coach Marvin Lewis would be wise to give Gibbs a call. He's one of the few coaches out there who could relate to how Lewis is feeling right now.