- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2002

Steve Spurrier can put 10 Florida quarterbacks on the payroll for all I care. He can trade for Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews. He can talk John Reaves, the ex-Gator who was his QB in the USFL, into making a comeback. Heck, he can even activate himself if it makes him happy.
I'm just anxious to see what his Plan B is. I just want to know what he's going to do if one of his former proteges isn't the answer for the Redskins at quarterback. Because who starts at QB is the most important decision he'll make in his first year as an NFL coach. Nothing else comes close.
It was certainly the most important decision Marty Schottenheimer made in his first and only year here. And Marty, of course, blew it. He failed to bring in a veteran alternative to Jeff George during the offseason, and by the time training camp got under way it was too late. Only short-term rentals like Tony Banks and Kent Graham were available.
Schottenheimer would probably still be around if he'd addressed his obvious quarterback problem last spring. But Marty's vanity got in the way. He was convinced he could fit a square-peg QB (George) into a round-hole offense. He was convinced that by sheer force of personality, he, Martin Edward Schottenheimer, could make it all work. By the time he realized the error of his ways, the Redskins were 0-2 going on 0-5 and he was halfway to San Diego.
And now we're seeing Spurrier head down the same blind alley. Neither of the two quarterbacks he's angling to acquire has made much of a dent in the NFL. Wuerffel hasn't started a game in three years and hasn't thrown a pass in two. The Redskins would be his fourth NFL team. Matthews' career, meanwhile, is reminiscent of Trent Green's. In his first six seasons he barely set foot on the field, but in the last three he's gotten to play a little for the Bears. You may have noticed him in the postseason against the Eagles, filling in for the injured Jim Miller. It wasn't one of his finest hours.
But none of that matters because Wuerffel and Matthews are Spurrier's boys. More importantly, they know his system and presumably have the smarts to handle all the checking off that's required at the line. If Steve brings two of his former quarterbacks to Washington, there's probably a good chance one of them will wind up being the starter. And maybe I'm wrong about this, but I don't consider the Redskins a Danny Wuerffel or a Shane Matthews away from the playoffs.
For openers, neither has the kind of arm that, as the Mel Kipers of the world like to say, stretches the field. They're not particularly mobile either. In fact, their principal attraction might be that they remind Spurrier of the kind of quarterback he used to be one who relied on toughness, brains and effort more than pure ability.
But Steve's in the big leagues now, and in the big leagues you can't get by with any Tom, Shane or Danny at QB. You don't necessarily need Joe Montana calling the signals for you, but you need a guy who, at the very least, is in the upper-third at his position. Look at the four quarterbacks in the conference title games last year: Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb, Tom Brady and Kordell Stewart. Three of them went to the Pro Bowl, and the one who didn't (McNabb) easily could have.
Is Steve Spurrier going to turn Wuerffel and/or Matthews into that kind of player? Because if he isn't, the Redskins likely aren't going to get where they want to go. This isn't like Joe Gibbs saying, "I think we can win with Mark Rypien." Ryp stepped into an offense that already had three terrific receivers (Art Monk, Gary Clark, Ricky Sanders), a versatile, 1,000-yard back (Earnest Byner) and an all-world line. Whoever takes the snaps for the Redskins next season won't have nearly as much talent around him.
That's why Spurrier needs to hedge his bets by sweet-talking somebody like Chris Chandler into joining Team Snyder. Drew Bledsoe, it's becoming increasingly clear, is out of the Redskins' price range. They were thought to be $11million under the cap heading into the signing period, but as a recent story by colleague Jody Foldesy startlingly revealed, the figure is actually closer to $3million because of incentives and escalators earned by various players last season. As it stands now, the Redskins will have trouble hanging onto their own free agents Kenard Lang, Shawn Barber, Stephen Alexander, etc. never mind juggling the books to take on a big salary like Bledsoe's.
Chandler, just let go by the Falcons, would be a more affordable option. He's got some mileage on him he'll be 37 in October but he's hardly ancient. Indeed, he's a much more fearsome downfield thrower than Wuerffel or Matthews. He's also coming off a season in which he completed 61.1 percent of his passes (his best effort since '95), threw for 2,847 yards (second most in his career) and had a 432-yard game (in Week 16 against Buffalo).
Everywhere Chandler has gone in recent years Arizona, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta he has produced right away. Check out his stats sometime. His ability to adjust on the fly has been truly amazing (and tells you what kind of head he's got on his shoulders).
There's one teeny problem: He went to Washington, not Florida. But perhaps Spurrier would be willing to work around that. He does, after all, need a Plan B.

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