Former Washington Redskins Coach Joe Bugel passed away June 28, 2020, at the age of 80. Bugel, often hailed as one of the best offensive line coaches in the history of the league, coached in the NFL for 32 years.
Bugel was born March 10, 1940, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A two-way football star at Munhall High School, he was later inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. He began his NFL coaching career as an assistant on the Detroit Lions’ staff in 1975. He then moved on to the Houston Oilers’ staff in 1977. Bugel joined the Redskins’ staff under the Hall of Fame Redskins Head Coach Joe Gibbs as Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach in 1981. He was promoted to Assistant Head Coach in 1983, a title he held until 1990 when he left DC to become the head coach of the then-Phoenix Cardinals. Bugel then returned to the nation’s capital in 2004 for the 2nd Joe Gibbs era, serving as an assistant head coach for the Redskins until his retirement in 2009.
“Joe had an incredible passion for the game of football. He came to work every day with such great excitement and his players had tremendous respect for him. The strength of our coaching staff on both sides of the ball was a key reason we had so much success. Bugel was such a big part of that and his impact was felt not only by those Redskins’ teams but truly across the entire League. I will miss his friendship and I will always cherish our late-night arguments putting together the game plan each week. Pat and I will be praying for his wife Brenda, his girls, and their entire family,” said Joe Gibbs.
Bugel was the architect of the Redskins’ dominant “Hogs” offensive line that paved the way to two Super Bowl titles (1982, 1987) and 3 total trips in the 1980s. He was also responsible for the development of Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Mark May, Jeff Bostic, and George Starke. These “Hogs” anchors appeared in a combined 10 Pro Bowls including 4 each by Grimm and Jacoby.
From 1981-1989, Bugel helped lead a Redskins offense that produced 9-1,000 yard receivers, 4-1,000 yard rushers, and a 4,000-yard passer. In 1983, the year he was promoted to Assistant Head Coach, the Redskins scored a then-NFL record 541 points. During his first tenure in DC, the Redskins were 92-48 in the regular season and 11-3 in the playoffs.
Bugel was hired by the then-Phoenix Cardinals to be their head coach in 1990. He would head the Cardinals for four seasons before joining the Oakland Raiders as assistant head coach/offense from 1995-96 and head coach in 1997. He also coached the San Diego Chargers’ O-Line from 1998-2001.
While Bugel’s second stint in DC, was not as successful from a championship perspective, he was still influential in the development of OT Chris Samuels. The eventual 6-time Pro Bowler went to four consecutive under Bugel’s tutelage. The Redskins O-Line also paved the way for 1,000-yard rushers for 5 consecutive seasons. In 2006, Washington only allowed 19 sacks, which was third-best in the NFL.
“I am absolutely devastated by the news of Joe’s passing. Joe was a larger than life figure and a true legend of his profession. He exemplified what it meant to be a Redskin with his character and ability to connect with his players along with a work ethic that was unmatched. We shared a special bond and he was a great friend. He was a man who not only gave me a better understanding of the game of football but who also gave me perspective on what is truly important in life. I absolutely adored him and will miss him terribly. Tanya and I would like to extend our deepest condolences to Brenda and the entire Bugel family during this time,” said Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.
Bugel is survived by his wife, Brenda, and daughters Angie and Jennifer. He was proceeded in death by his daughter, Holly.