Monday, October 20, 2003
Spurrier backtracks on Sunday comments, still searches for answers
ASHBURN, Va. -- A day after he questioned his players'
competitiveness and threatened to "go out on the street to pick up
guys who will play hard," Steve Spurrier backtracked to his same
"I don't have a lot of answers for you," the Washington
Redskins coach said. "We should be much better than that
Spurrier appeared ready to shake things up when he all but
accused of players of quitting immediately after Sunday's 24-7 loss
to Buffalo. On Monday, however, he was again at a loss to explain
what happened and how he planned to fix it.
"Maybe that was an on-the-moment thought to get our guys'
attention," said Spurrier, reflecting on his Sunday comments. "We
need to change some people, but there's not a lot of changing we
can do right now, to tell you the truth. If there is a spot or two,
we possibly could do that.
"But this is our team. Somehow or other, we've got to get our
guys excited to play again. That's the challenge we've got to do."
The Redskins (3-4) have lost three straight and four of five.
Undisciplined play runs through the team like a disease, from Pro
Bowl linebackers who overpursue to 73 penalties committed to the
league-high 25 sacks allowed to the disintegrating chemistry from a
group that was so harmonious during training camp.
"What's frustrating is we have so much talent this year,"
right tackle Jon Jansen said. "In years before, you could say they
didn't have players at this position or this position. It's not
true this year."
Yet, other than the usual "we've got to play our assignments
much, much better," Spurrier offered only a couple of concrete
changes that might be made.
First, in the latest effort to preserve Patrick Ramsey's health,
Spurrier wants to eliminate protection schemes that have tight ends
mismatched against defensive ends. Ramsey was hit at least 10 times
Sunday and he had to leave the game early with a bruised hand.
Secondly, Spurrier really did bring in some guys off the street,
at least in the NFL sense. Seven players had workouts Monday, but
none could be expected to have any immediate impact.
"If there's one or two somewhere, or maybe one or two on our
team, that need to play more, then that's something we're still
looking at," Spurrier said.
There are signs that Spurrier isn't even on the same page as his
offensive coaches. Spurrier hoped to give struggling rookie guard
Derrick Dockery an occasional break Sunday, only to realize after
the game Dockery had played nearly every down. It was Dockery's
worst game as he committed two penalties and caused a turnover by
knocking the ball from Ramsey's hands inside Buffalo's 5-yard line.
The defense, meanwhile, was fooled again by plays that involved
a fake or misdirection: screens, draws and bootlegs. It was another
sign of undisciplined play.
"We haven't been preaching it very well, so we're going to keep
preaching," Spurrier said. "In college, it's easy to bench a guy
for a quarter or half or something, then bring him back. I don't
know if you can do that in the pros. Maybe that's an idea."
It's fortunate the Redskins have their bye this week. Ramsey is
going to miss some practice time, while cornerback Fred Smoot and
running backs Ladell Betts and Trung Canidate all need at least
another week to heal from various injuries.
After that, the schedule is a horror movie. The next three
opponents (Dallas, Seattle, Carolina) each are 5-1.
"We've got to take this week that we have off and try to
improve on the things that have plagued us all year," Jansen said.
"If we don't get better at them, it's going to bite us all year
Added an antsy Spurrier: "We're open for suggestions. We don't
have all the answers."