- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2001

Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer doesn't see it coming.
The losses are mounting, the owner is scouting first-round draft picks, and the fans are itching for a lynching. But it doesn't register with Schottenheimer. His predecessor, Norv Turner, knew he was doomed six months before his two-year grind toward unemployment ended last December. Schottenheimer, however, fully believes he'll return next season. But barring a dramatic turnaround, Schottenheimer is a lame duck awaiting a January ouster.
Quarterback Jeff George told a friend recently that he was shocked when he was released by the Redskins on Sept. 25. Half the town wanted him cut before the season and the other half after the 0-2 start and George still didn't have a clue.
The same goes for Schottenheimer. Fifteen years of success steeled him against criticism. He doesn't care about naysayers, thinking they'll come around once the team starts winning. Schottenheimer is a classic football coach: He spends his weeks thinking solely about the game on Sunday. He doesn't look ahead two weeks. He doesn't read the papers or listen to talk radio. That's why Schottenheimer simply dismisses reports that his job is in jeopardy.
"I am not motivated by job security at all. Never have been," he said. "I'm motivated by preparing, teaching and winning. Things of that nature [pressure] have no impact whatsoever on me."
Schottenheimer resembles an old-style businessman who went broke wondering why his long-time methods didn't keep pace in the new economy. Just because his system was successful for 15 seasons doesn't mean it works today. Vince Lombardi scrapped his entire offense after the 1969 training camp when he realized it wouldn't work in Washington as it did in Green Bay, but Schottenheimer refuses to budge.
Players wanted changes after an 0-3 start. Schottenheimer responded by letting some veterans lift weights in the afternoon instead of in the morning.
Schottenheimer didn't lose his players when he made them run the rugged "Oklahoma Drill" on the first day of training camp, as some uninformed critics suggest. However, they're no longer "buying into the system," one they realize is likely to be gone come January. Players will work hard if it means success, but they won't sacrifice at 0-5.
Owner Dan Snyder already is working on a list of successors to Schottenheimer, according to NFL and team sources. Team sources said minority owner Fred Drasner expressed doubts about Schottenheimer after the second preseason loss and wanted to fire the coach after the Redskins lost 37-0 to Green Bay on Sept. 24.
University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier is the front-runner. However, Snyder practically offered him a blank check in January to coach the Redskins, and Spurrier declined. Snyder wants a college coach and a general manager who will let the owner remain involved in player personnel. That means forget the inevitable Bill Parcells rumors.
According to team sources, Drasner said the owners have three months to figure out a way to fire Schottenheimer without having to pay the remaining $7.5 million he is owed over the remaining three years of his contract. The key may be the pending case between Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson and former coach Wade Phillips. Wilson fired Phillips for insubordination when Phillips refused to dismiss an assistant coach. Wilson believed Phillips quit and isn't owed the remaining $700,000.
The case is in arbitration, but if Wilson wins, it clearly would give Snyder the freedom to tell Schottenheimer to fire his staff, knowing it would be hard for the coach to pink slip son Brian (quarterbacks) and brother Kurt (defensive coordinator). At worst, Snyder would simply pay Schottenheimer over the next three years and sign an unknown coach at a bargain rate.
Is there still a chance Schottenheimer won't be one season and out like Richie Petitbon in 1993? Only if the Redskins pull a stunning reverse like 1998, when they finished 6-3 after an 0-7 start. Given that the Redskins have upcoming games against playoff contenders Denver, New York Giants, New Orleans, Seattle, Chicago and Philadelphia (twice), Washington will probably end with only a few victories. That won't be enough to save Schottenheimer.
Meanwhile, Schottenheimer and staff are continuing onward. There are 11 games remaining, but the ending seems so clear.

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