A few Redskins players were hanging out the day after the Monday night debacle in Green Bay, and it didn't take long before the subject of Jeff George was on the docket. I have been made privy to the conversation.
"Plays like he's scared."
Jeff George has seldom inspired confidence from his teammates. Man, that's huge. Last week, it was so revealing when George said that leadership was overrated.
Sound familiar? It does to me. Less than 24 hours later, George was an ex-teammate as coach Marty Schottenheimer cut loose the veteran quarterback after the team's 0-2 start.
George produced zero points against the Chargers and Packers. Washington's only points this season came on a third-quarter field goal in Week 1 against the Chargers after Tony Banks relieved George.
Schottenheimer told me Wednesday what he told the rest of the Redskins' world: "The bottom line is, I did not think the Washington Redskins could win with Jeff George as our quarterback."
No surprise here. The only surprising part is that Schottenheimer thought he could win with George in the first place.
One of the first major decisions Schottenheimer had to make was whether he wanted George to be his quarterback in 2001. It had to be a quick decision prior to March 1 because the Redskins had some salary-cap adjustments to make. The team got George to restructure his contract, but in essence guaranteed him $3.75 million this year.
It was weird. George was not a Schottenheimer guy. Never was. George was once a free agent with designs for the Kansas City Chiefs when Schottenheimer was the coach there. Marty didn't want anything to do with him.
On the surface, it appeared Schottenheimer had options. There has never been an offseason stretch like 2001, when so many quarterbacks were available. And almost any of them would have embraced a chance to play in a Redskins uniform. Doug Flutie was in that group.
|Some coaches say Jeff George too often got caught unprepared.|
Problem was, Schottenheimer was handcuffed by owner Daniel Snyder's spending. There was no room left under the salary cap to make a run for one of the other quarterbacks, and the coach fell into the trap most coaches fall into: He thought he could make a difference with George.
In fact, Schottenheimer believes he worked as hard with George as any quarterback he has ever coached. He wanted it to work.
Schottenheimer knew the situation was probably doomed when the Redskins opened the season with an embarrassing 31-3 loss in San Diego.
Redskins' sources say the coach personally broke down the game tape with the quarterback. When they were finished assessing the Chargers game, George told the coach that he played as well as he can possibly play.
Schottenheimer probably would have pulled the plug on the spot, the sources said, except that so many other players performed poorly. George got one more chance. His last chance. Tony Banks is the new starter, Kent Graham is the new veteran and rookie Sage Rosenfels is the quarterback of the future -- at least for now.
Now everyone is asking whether George will end up somewhere. I don't know. I doubt it. Is there an NFL coach out there who values his job that really wants Jeff George standing on his sidelines as a backup?
Here's what I can't stand about Jeff George discussions: Wow, he's got the best arm in football ... nobody throws a better ball ... what talent! George had some talent. He does not have the best arm in football. Brett Favre, Daunte Culpepper and a healthy Drew Bledsoe have better arms. Kerry Collins, Trent Dilfer and Chris Chandler might have equal or better arms.
George is capable of throwing a pretty ball, but he is a disaster mechanically and he is too old and stubborn to change. He has regressed as the years have worn on. There also is the issue of whether his shoulder or rotator cuff is injured, although sources close to the quarterback and team say there's no damage.
What bothers you about Jeff George goes well beyond the debate over his physical skills. George has never looked comfortable in the heat of a game. Just as he did Monday night in Green Bay, he often has displayed the deer-in-the-headlights look.
He also has gone through bouts in his NFL career where he looks ill-prepared. Oh, I think he thinks he works at his craft, but he doesn't understand the depth of the work that is required. Many coaches who have worked with him complain that he lacks attention to detail.
He has seldom inspired confidence from his teammates. Man, that's huge. Last week, it was so revealing when George said that leadership was overrated. Even if George believed it, it takes a lot of ignorance or stupidity to say it. Many Redskins coaches and players were aghast at the comment. It's true that leadership is not necessarily vocal, but leadership is mandated from the quarterback.
When I first started covering the NFL on a full-time basis almost 20 years ago, I wanted to know about the essentials that were demanded of a great NFL quarterback. I called a number of executives and coaches to build a profile. I'll never forget what then-New York Giants general manager George Young told me.
||There are quite a few things you need in a quarterback, but you start with courage. ”
||— Ex-Giants GM George Young
"There are quite a few things you need in a quarterback, but you start with courage," said Young. "The quarterback has to be the toughest guy on your team, mentally and physically. And the guys who play around him have to know that."
George often has been portrayed as a bad guy. I don't think he's a bad guy. I know enough good guys like ex-Falcons coach June Jones and ex-Vikings offensive coordinator Ray Sherman (now with the Packers) who speak well of George the person. They even had bouts of success with George at quarterback.
There are character flaws, though. He has always been too self-centered. He has been so consumed with his own being that he never bothered to acquaint himself with his teammates. Perhaps there is a deeper psychological issue. Maybe he's just not a people person. Aloof also comes to mind.
Monday night, after the 37-0 defeat to the Packers, George actually made an attempt to apologize to his teammates for his performance. "Sorry" was the only part they related to -- as in sorry quarterback. But not too sorry to see him depart on Wednesday.