- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2000

Terry Robiskie makes no pretense about his decision-making power as interim coach of the Washington Redskins.

The new coach acknowledged yesterday after holding his first practice that he will consult owner Dan Snyder about off-field decisions and some key on-field decisions, such as who starts at quarterback.

"A lot of people want to separate us from Mr. Snyder," Robiskie said of the team's coaches. "Mr. Snyder owns the football [team]. I know that. It's not a separation deal. I promise you, there are very few things in the building I'm going to say I want to change without calling him and saying I want to change it.

"If I want to change my desk, I'm going to call him and say, 'Can I change my desk?' If I want to change quarterbacks, I'm going to call and say, 'What do you think about me changing quarterbacks?' It's his organization. It's his football team. I know that. To try to separate it, we're wasting our time."

Robiskie replaced fired coach Norv Turner on Monday. He had been the team's passing-game coordinator under Turner.

Mr. Snyder spent a National Football League-record $100 million on player salaries and bonuses this season and expected his team to reach the Super Bowl. Instead, the Redskins, hampered by injuries, quarterback controversies and kicking problems, have slumped to a 7-6 record, lost four of their past five games and are in danger of missing the playoffs.

The quarterbacks issue sparked questions about Robiskie's authority yesterday. Brad Johnson, the No. 1 quarterback at the start of the season, said before practice that he thought his playing time with the team now is being determined by Mr. Snyder, not Robiskie.

Asked if Robiskie had discussed with him Johnson's role for the final three games of the season, Johnson replied: "No, I don't think so. I think that decision is made from up top."

Asked to elaborate, Johnson replied: "I think it's obvious."

Robiskie named Jeff George the starting quarterback Monday, reiterating a decision Turner made Sunday night after a 9-7 loss to the New York Giants. Johnson passed for 126 yards and two interceptions in more than three quarters Sunday; George threw for 143 yards and a touchdown in just two possessions.

When Johnson's comments were relayed to Robiskie, the coach initially joked about whether Mr. Snyder made the decision to start George.

"I can't answer that. There's a lot of decisions that are made above me," Robiskie said. "God makes a lot of them. I don't know who made this one. That's tough to say. We all sat down and talked… . We felt like Brad played pretty good. We did not do things to help him out. We felt like Jeff did a lot of things extremely well, gave us some life."

Robiskie was asked who he referred to when he said, "We."

"I mean me and the organization, me and the coaches, obviously me, the coaches and Mr. Snyder," Robiskie said. "When you've got an organization, whether it be here, whether it be AOL [America Online], when you've got an organization, it's a group of people."

Special teams coach LeCharls McDaniel also was fired Monday, and longtime coach and executive Pepper Rodgers was hired as vice president of football operations. Rodgers will lead the search for a permanent head coach, and he has said Robiskie will be considered regardless of what happens in the final three games.

Mr. Snyder hopes Robiskie can motivate an underachieving, high-priced roster. Robiskie's few changes so far include trimming the practice schedule to eliminate dead time and reducing the playbook to minimize errors.

The 46-year-old Robiskie has been an assistant in the NFL for 19 years, with the Redskins and the Oakland Raiders. Turner required nearly four seasons with the Redskins before he felt comfortable assuming the authority most head coaches demand.

Robiskie says he believes he will be able to get the respect of players. The majority of on-field decisions, he said, will be his own.

"Once we're on the field, once the whistle blows, yeah, I've got the last word," Robiskie said. "Once we walk off the field, I'd like to believe if I've got a word, if I've got something to say, I'd stand firm with it. But like I said, obviously if it's something that I think is a drastic change, something that will drastically affect our organization, I'm going to call Mr. Snyder first."

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