- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2000

Sports-talk hosts scream for change. Internet discussion groups demand a benching. Another quarterback controversy surrounds the Washington Redskins.
But inside Redskin Park, any debate is moot. Quarterback Brad Johnson remains the starter over Jeff George against the New York Giants on Sunday.
"I think everybody's paying too much attention to Brad," receiver Irving Fryar said. "Stop trying to cause a quarterback controversy and let us get this thing corrected. I know controversy sells papers but don't build us up to something we're not because we're not what you thought we are so far, are we?"
Team sources close to coach Norv Turner and owner Dan Snyder said the latter has not pressured Turner to start George during their daily talks. While the pair met in Snyder's owner's box at FedEx Field following the 27-21 loss to Dallas on Monday, it was their normal postgame routine. Unlike last year, when Snyder chewed out Turner for 25 minutes following a Dallas loss and conducted several late-night meetings after defeats, the owner is showing more patience in his second season and not yet demanding radical changes.
Turner doesn't want to change quarterbacks for several reasons. First, any current move would be incorrectly interpreted as Snyder's choice, and Turner doesn't want to look like a puppet. Second, Turner knows a change would divide the locker room for the rest of the season. That type of in-house politics is always detrimental. Third, Turner believes Johnson isn't the only reason the offense has struggled and improvement could come against New York, given that the Redskins scored 50 points at Giants Stadium last year. Fourth, George has practiced little over the last month because the backup traditionally gets only one series with the starters each practice.
This doesn't mean Turner won't make a change if the Redskins continue to flounder against a coming schedule filled with seven playoff contenders in the next eight games. However, he has no current plans to swap quarterbacks.
"It's very, very dramatic when you start making that kind of change," Turner said. "You ask the 'if' questions, and they're awfully hard to answer. Brad was awfully close to having a good game. I think there are some plays he needs to execute a little better, and we need to get better with the people around him. I think we're going to be having a big game.
Speculation over a possible change following the disappointing 1-2 start is not surprising. Johnson has felt the pressure since George was signed to a four-year, $18.25 million deal April 10 after reaching the Pro Bowl last season with Minnesota. Johnson bristled yesterday over the possibility of being replaced by George, ending his group interview after what he called the "tenth time" being asked his status.
"That has been the question for the last six months," Johnson said. "When you lose, the quarterback is the goat. Honestly, I haven't made some plays I would like to make. I feel like I can improve, but I can't worry about what people are saying or writing.
"My [job] here is to play quarterback, make some throws, move the chains and win ballgames. Unfortunately, we're not off to the start we would like to be. I don't think the fans are as disappointed as we are. We're the ones who come to work, the ones who have to sleep with it. But it's over. I'm ready to move on and get ready for the Giants."
Teammates were quick to support Johnson. There doesn't seem to be a divided locker room as in 1987, when veterans Doug Williams and Jay Schroeder split the team and town. Mostly, they see the offensive shortcoming as a group problem.
"It's a timing thing," Fryar said. "We have to get open, and he has to put it where it needs to be. We're all off right now, [but] we're not far away."
However, outsiders see Johnson as rattled by George's presence.
"Brad may be looking over his shoulder a little bit after bringing in a veteran quarterback like Jeff George, who has had a lot of success," Giants running back Tiki Barber said. "It could probably rattle your nerves a little bit."
Johnson recently appeared in the Disney television show "The Jersey," in which a youngster dons No. 14 and becomes the Redskins quarterback. After missing a pass, the youngster punches the ground and says, "I can't be messing up. Everybody loves Brad Johnson."
But for how long?

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