- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 1999

I don’t know. Call me crazy, but if I were in charge of a group of people who were performing poorly and my boss asked me if I thought it was a good idea if he or she spoke to them, I’d be punching up my resume.
Then again, if I worked for Dan Snyder, I’d have a resume hanging around my neck like one of those medical alert necklaces, with the following inscription: “If you find this body, please forward resume to all NFL teams with coaching vacancies.”
Before yesterday’s Washington Redskins-Arizona Cardinals game at FedEx Field, Fox Sports reported that Snyder met privately with a number of Redskins players last week, telling them to play for themselves and not for Norv Turner. The tone of the report suggested that Snyder was telling his players their coach’s days are numbered.
After yesterday’s game, Turner said he knew about the meetings and that he even suggested players with whom Snyder should meet. His spin was one of an owner’s support for his coach.
In between, the Redskins played perhaps their best all-around game of the season, dominating the Cardinals 28-3 to stay in first place in the NFC East with an 8-5 record.
This is what the 33-17 debacle at Detroit last week set off. Meetings all over the place, and, as the season comes to a close, increased speculation about Turner’s future.
“Once you have a meeting, you open the door for anyone to speculate on what was being said,” Turner said. “I’ve got a pretty good handle on what was being said. I had conversations with the same players.”
This is a remarkable position for a first-place team, but Turner’s six-year tenure has conditioned all to expect the worst: expect defeat instead of victory, expect collapse instead of triumph.
That’s why these final four games of the season yesterday against Arizona, and the next three against Indianapolis, San Francisco and Miami could change those expectations.
The fact is that if Washington wins its next three games, the Redskins are in the playoffs. It won’t matter who else wins or loses or what formula will be used. Despite all the disappointments and frustrations of this season, the Redskins still control their own destiny.
“I feel good about where our team is,” Turner said. “We’re not the first team to go into Detroit and have a bad game. St. Louis did it. Seattle did it. Tampa Bay did it. Minnesota did it. They all have playoff aspirations, went to Detroit and got beat, just like we did. It’s just one game. Put it behind you and move on to next week. We did that and beat Arizona. Now we have an opportunity to go play Indianapolis and find a way to win.”
No one thinks they can beat the Colts perhaps the best team in the NFL especially in another dome. Historically, Turner’s teams don’t beat the ones they aren’t supposed to beat. A three-win run here would change that perception, and it might cut down on the owner-player meetings as well.
Turner said there was no clandestine effort by Snyder to meet with players. “Dan and I talked during the week, and we talked about where we were, and he asked if it would help if he talked to a couple of the players individually,” Turner said. “I said, sure it would. I told him three or four guys I thought it would be good for him to visit with.”
He is believed to have “visited” with six, including defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, offensive lineman Tre Johnson, wide receiver Irving Fryar and defensive end Marco Coleman. Now, when asked after yesterday’s game about the Fox report whether Snyder indeed told the players not to play for the coach, but just play for themselves Stubblefield replied, “Yes.”
This, of course, could be interpreted two ways: Don’t worry about Turner, his job is safe, or don’t worry about Turner, he is gone.
Snyder’s individual meetings set off a players-only meeting Saturday night. “We took time out to say we believe in one another and are counting on one another to reach our goals,” said Darrell Green. “I think that set the tone for today’s game.”
If so, it is a tone the Redskins should listen for the rest of the season. They dominated the Cardinals in nearly every area and played perhaps their best defensive game of the season, with five sacks and four takeaways. They held Arizona to 173 net yards and accumulated 406. Six receivers caught a total of 17 passes, led by Michael Westbrook and Larry Centers with four each. And Stephen Davis continued his John Riggins impersonation, gaining 189 yards on 37 carries.
But was it the players-only meeting or the owner-players meetings that set the tone?
If it was the latter, I think Norv Turner would rather be tone deaf.

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