- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2001

Over at Redskin Park, Marty Schottenheimer has begun the time-honored practice of Cleaning House. It's one of the primary responsibilities of any new coach, and Marty is going about it with particular gusto. Since the end of last season, 27 names have been stricken from the roster. No wonder he and Dan "Hacksaw" Snyder feel like they have a lot in common.

There's no telling what the body count will be by the time the team finally tees it up in September. Thirty? Thirty-five? Forty even? This much is clear, though: You won't be able to tell the players without a scorecard.

The saying used to be: You can't fire the team, so you fire the coach. But with free agency and increased player availability, the situation has changed a bit. You still can't fire the team, but when you fire the coach, his replacement is likely to get rid of half of it for you, anyway. At least, that's how it works in pro football, which is happily unencumbered by the guaranteed contracts that stagnate other sports.

Some of Schottenheimer's deletions (e.g. Dana Stubblefield) can be attributed to the salary cap mess created by Snyder. But when Larry Centers was axed recently, it made you realize how intent Marty is on doing things his way. Centers is one of the best receivers out of the backfield in the NFL and caught 150 balls for the Redskins the past two years. He also was a regular Boy Scout off the field. But because the new coach wants everybody to march to his tune in the offseason even an 11-year veteran whose fitness has never been an issue Centers is gone. And the Redskins, I suspect, are the poorer for it.

But, hey, that's the NFL. When Norv Turner took over the Redskins in '94, he brought in 30 new faces and didn't retain such icons as Art Monk and Charles Mann. When Joe Gibbs was hired in '81, he added 28 new players (and this was before free agency). You don't have anywhere near that kind of turnover in, say, basketball. And that's because, in addition to being our most fluid professional sport, football is also the most paranoid. Coaches want Their Own People working under them players and staffers both. It's a wonder they don't make the entire organization submit to an annual polygraph.

What's interesting about Schottenheimer's purge is this: The Redskins weren't that bad a team last season. Turner (3-13) and Gibbs (6-10) both inherited losing clubs that required major makeovers, but Marty has been handed one that went 8-8 and probably would have gone 11-5 if it had had a decent kicker. Does the building really need to be razed?

Schottenheimer apparently thinks so. Why else would he select a quarterback in the fourth round of the draft when he already had Todd Husak, last year's sixth-rounder, on the roster? As Marty explained it, you should never pass up a QB that interests you, but seriously, folks, what's so fascinating about Sage Rosenfels? One draft publication called him an "overachiever" who "lacks a powerful arm" and "projects more as a backup than [as an] eventual starter." Also, Schottenheimer never had much luck picking quarterbacks after the first round in Kansas City. Mike Elkins (second round, '89), Matt Blundin (second, '92), Steve Stenstrom (fourth, '95) and Pat Barnes ('97) all washed out.

But Marty took Rosenfels, anyway, because it gave him an opportunity to get one of His Guys at the quarterback spot. Jeff George is Snyder's Guy and Husak is Norv's Guy, but Rosenfels is His Guy. I hope they're both very happy together.

I know what some of you are thinking: It's only a fourth-round pick. What's the big deal? Let me just remind you that Stephen Davis was a fourth-round pick. So was Shawn Barber. And the Redskins' fourth-round pick last year, Mookie Moore, has been penciled in as the starter at left guard. Seems to me Schottenheimer could have done more with the pick than select a superfluous quarterback.

Especially with so many holes in his lineup. The depth chart on the Redskins' Web site, you'll be pleased to know, lists no starter at three positions and no backup at several others. At the moment, Schottenheimer has Who at fullback, What at right guard and I Don't Know at right defensive tackle (instead of Centers, Tre Johnson and Stubblefield). And there may be more vacancies by the time training camp opens. In Month 4 of Marty Schottenheimer's reign of terror, the heads are just beginning to roll.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide