The Redskins, and the entire football community lost an icon last week when longtime Washington assistant Joe Bugel passed away at the age of 80.
Bugel is considered one of the best offensive line coaches in NFL history and served under Joe Gibbs from 1981-89 and then again for the Redskins from 2004-09, winning two Super Bowls in 1982 and 1987.
What made Bugel so great was his ability to teach and reach different personalities in order to achieve his group's potential year after year. As assistant general manager at the time, Charley Casserly told The Sports Junkies Monday, his aptitude for teaching allowed him to get more out of players than anyone else.
"I go in there to watch [Joe Jacoby] and the guy's got a free-agent grade on him," Casserly said. "So I watch him and he's playing against some top-rated players and he shut them out. So I come back and say, 'This guy might have something to him.' We went down on a Saturday morning and [Bugel] loved him. Couldn't get him drafted but [Bugel] wanted to sign him and all of a sudden he's our starting left tackle."
Not only did Jacoby become the starter, but he ended up making four Pro Bowls to go along with three First-Team All-Pro selections and three Super Bowl titles. Jacoby was only one member of the legendary "Hogs" offensive line that Bugel helped construct.
Russ Grimm, Mark May, Jeff Bostic and Jacoby combined for 10 Pro Bowl selections with the Redskins and anchored the offense for the better part of a decade. For how great they were, only May was drafted in the first round. Grimm was a third-round selection and Bostic and Jacoby weren't drafted at all. May wasn't an absolute hit either. After an underwhelming rookie year, Bugel had to put in extra work with him to make sure he earned his draft position.
"Mark May had a disappointing rookie year and [Bugel] really pushed hard to draft him," Casserly said. "So the season's over and [Bugel] comes in and says, 'Hey, I'm gonna have that guy out in February in the snow and I'm gonna make him a player.'"
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Bugel's relationship with his players and his ability to find hidden gems garnered the respect of Gibbs and helped four different Redskins running backs reach 1,000 yards during his tenure.
"Attention to detail with the players, I think the ability to communicate and to figure out how a guy learned and how a guy would adjust, and he was very patient," Casserly said. "He would work with [players] forever."
They simply don't make many coaches like Bugel anymore.
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