Plenty of blame to go around for dreadful Redskins

December 28, 2003|by MARK KELLER

Is the Fun 'n' Gun done in Washington?

It's not looking good for Steve Spurrier right now as the Redskins sputter to the finish line in yet another losing season.

I knew the Redskins had been bad for a while, but I didn't realize how bad.

This season marks the 10th year in the last 11 that the Deadskins have missed the postseason.

It's probably no coincidence that when coach Joe Gibbs left town in 1992, the team's consistency went with him.

There's plenty of blame to go around for the Redskins' problems.

Many want to place the blame on owner Dan Snyder, who certainly is worthy of some responsibility.

After all, it was he who dumped quarterback Brad Johnson in favor of Jeff George in 2000.

Johnson was the winning quarterback in last year's Super Bowl and led the Redskins to that lone playoff berth since 1992.


George was, is and always will be the proverbial "million-dollar arm with a five-cent head."

Snyder couldn't get along with Marty Schottenheimer, ditched him after one year then broke the bank signing Spurrier.

Spurrier was an awful pro quarterback for an awful pro team (Tampa Bay in the 1970s), and he's turned out to be an awful pro coach for another awful pro team.

He made his name by turning his alma mater, Duke, into a respectable program, then cashed that in for his gig at Florida.

Spurrier is as much to blame for the Redskins' recent troubles as is Snyder. He tried to surround himself with as many ex-Gators as possible in his first year, figuring if it worked in Division I it would work in the NFL.

Most of his former players were marginal pros, at best. He thought he could make Danny Wuerrfel into an NFL quarterback - wait, a starting NFL quarterback. He couldn't.

Spurrier thought his rotating QB trick would work on Sundays. It didn't.

He vowed not to be the stereotypical NFL coach - sleeping on a cot in his office through the week - and implied that he would be just as successful as those who did. He hasn't been.

He thought he didn't need a prime NFL running back (Stephen Davis) in his offense, instead choosing to go with third- (Trung Canidate) and fourth-tier (Ladell Betts) options instead.

Davis is in the playoffs with Carolina. Spurrier, Canidate and Betts played out the string Saturday against Philadelphia.

Spurrier was warned that the NFL would not be like the NCAA, where a school like Florida - at least under Spurrier - can get any player it wants and beat even an above-average team on athleticism alone.

His team has lacked discipline and - with the notable exceptions of LaVar Arrington and Champ Bailey - lacked fire.

Chances are good that Spurrier will work a deal to get out of his contract with the Redskins in the off-season. Rumor has it that the Dolphins are interested in bringing Spurrier back to The Sunshine State, and any number of college teams will line up to throw an offer his way.

If Snyder were smart, he'd buy Spurrier out and make a run at a coach who would pump up a once-proud team that has fast fallen to the mediocre middle of the NFL.

Sounds like a job for Joe Gibbs, doesn't it?

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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