- The Washington Times - Monday, December 31, 2001

NEW ORLEANS This is a town made for men like me. After all, they call it "The Big Easy," and I'm big, and I'm easy.
You can't walk 10 feet in the French Quarter without stumbling over a place to listen to music or have a drink. I'm sorry, but they should have the Super Bowl down here every year. Washington? You can't walk 10 feet without bumping into a concrete barrier or a metal detector. Maybe a Super Bowl for policy wonks or government bureaucrats, but not football.
This place is so much fun that I had a great time even though my pocket got picked and my wallet got lifted while I was standing in line, waiting to get on a trolley car. I'm not sure, but I think I saw Albert Connell running from the scene.
Speaking of stealing, speculation has been running rampant leading up to last night's game against the New Orleans Saints about the future of Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer. The issue is whether or not owner Dan Snyder would be willing to fire Marty at the end of this year and take the hit for the three remaining years of the coach's $10 million contract.
Talk about getting your pocket picked. Maybe Marty and Deion could start their own sports talk show, and call it "The Best Damned Sports Show Dan Snyder's Money Could Buy."
But if we are talking reason here, there is no way Marty the coach should be fired. After last night's strong showing a 40-10 win over the Saints on the road there is a good chance Washington could wind up 8-8 after they face the Cardinals at home in the season finale on Sunday.
You can't fire a guy who starts out 0-5 and finishes 8-8 in his first year (Joe Gibbs, 1981), particularly when it's likely that the Redskins got off to that poor start because of one of the few concessions that Marty probably made to the owner living with Jeff George as the starting quarterback going into the season. I don't believe that was Marty's decision, despite all the hoopla about control. I think Jeff George were the last fingerprints Snyder had on this team.
All you can judge Marty on is the time in which George's replacement, Tony Banks a quarterback who was not even in Camp Marty when they opened in Carlisle whose record is 7-6 today and could be 8-6 by the end of the season. Any coach who can go 8-6 with Tony Banks as his quarterback deserves a contract extension, not a firing.
Ironically, Banks a quarterback with a great arm is having his greatest NFL success in Marty's ball control system. Last night against New Orleans was a perfect example of a great night for Banks. He completed nine of 15 passes for 94 yards, with no touchdown passes, one touchdown on the ground, and one interception.
But in Marty's offense, at least when it is working right, there is little chance for the mistake-prone Banks to turn the ball over. He didn't mess up enough last night to set his team up for a loss although it seemed he was on his way after his first quarter interception to Kevin Mathis that led to a John Carney field goal, and gave the Saints a 10-0 lead. The game had the smell of disaster at that point.
But the formula that everyone had been hoping for all year kicked in after that. That formula has Banks handing off to Stephen Davis and the defense playing with Marty-like toughness. That effort held the Saints to those 10 points they had scored in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, it was Davis off left tackle for three yards. Davis off the right end for two yards. A pass completion thrown in to Zeron Flemister for 12 yards. Davis off right guard for 11 yards, and after nearly seven minutes of ball control, Davis crossed the goal line from six yards out for a touchdown.
That scoring drive seemed to give the defense what it needed, because they went on to turn in an impressive performance, particularly in light of their linebacker issues.
Lavar Arrington's sore knee kept him out of the game, and the Redskins had a rookie, Antonio Pierce, at one linebacker, and a special teams player, Eddie Mason, at another. They rose to the occasion, and the defense kept the Saints on their heels the rest of the night, creating four turnovers to set up Marty's ball control offense. The offense scored a remarkable 40 points, behind Davis' 111 yards on 21 carries. It was Schottenheimer poetry in motion, and Marty the coach should remain.
So should Marty the general manager. If you can lay the blame for Jeff George at the feet of the owner and I have then his track record is hardly a failure. The first two picks in Marty's first draft for Washington, Rod Gardner and Fred Smoot, are both starters, and both seem to be NFL players. How many times over the years has this team been able to say that after a draft?
Marty took over a team that Dan Snyder had nearly ruined. They had become the laughingstock of the NFL. Even when the Redskins lost their first five games this year, they had never lost respect around the league. That was because Marty Schottenheimer commands respect. He still does. Snyder invested in that respect, and he should see that investment through. It would be good protection from getting his pocket picked again.

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