- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Marty Schottenheimer couldn't remember who or what the Kansas City Chiefs traded for Joe Montana. (Honest.) Steve Spurrier can remember the final score of a 1983 USFL game between his Tampa Bay Bandits and the Washington Federals at RFK Stadium.
"Beat 'em 30-23," he said yesterday. "Rainy, rainy day."
See, he can even give you a weather report. (And having covered the game, I can verify its accuracy.)
He can also tell you the score of Duke's victory over Clemson in '89 (21-17), the one that propelled the Blue Devils to an improbable ACC title, as well as the number of times Florida's Fred Taylor carried the ball against Penn State in the '97 Citrus Bowl (41). All this, right off the top of his head.
Interviewing Schottenheimer, on the other hand, was like questioning an Iran-Contra witness. ("I have no recollection …") Ask him if the sun was going to come up tomorrow, and he would probably answer: "It's too early to say." Spurrier is more of an open book, which means you might actually get to know him during his time in Washington. He's funnier, he's folksier, he speaks his mind he's a godsend to the Redskins.
And that's just on a personal level. I also understand though this is just a rumor he likes to throw the ball.
Already Spurrier has antagonized sort of the hated Cowboys. "The first game ball I'm going to give [Dan Snyder] is when we play the Dallas Cowboys this season," he said. "Can't make any guarantees, but we'll be ready to play the Dallas Cowboys."
Come to think of it, that's kind of a slap at the previous two coaching staffs, a suggestion that perhaps they didn't get the Redskins ready to play the Cowboys. Of course, he didn't mean it that way, but that's Steve, always shooting from the lip.
Here's why you know this is a good hire for the Redskins: because even a grizzled, old defensive hand like Bruce Smith likes the move. Usually when a defensive-minded coach leaves the offense loves it and the defense hates it. But Bruce is so "excited" about Spurrier coming aboard that he announced yesterday he would return next season.
As everyone is well aware, Smith and Schottenheimer had issues. Chief among them was all the hitting Marty likes to do in training camp, which led to the first preseason injury of Bruce's career. Spurrier's philosophy, however, is that "you should leave it on the game field, not the practice field," Smith said. "But what's most appealing is that he's offensive-oriented. He's trying to put points on the board."
Smith's Buffalo teams scored scads of points, and this created a lot of opportunities to rush the passer. When you can get ahead in a game by a couple of touchdowns, you see, you can make your opponent one-dimensional and force him to go to the air. (Unless he's Marty Schottenheimer, that is.) And for a defensive end, that means … sacks. Aside from a Super Bowl ring, that's all Bruce lives for now the Joy of Sacks. And with Spurrier calling the plays, he has a much better chance of getting the 13 he needs to break Reggie White's career record.
But back to Spurrier. You know, it's funny, there really isn't much of an age difference between him and Schottenheimer. He's 56, and Marty is 58. But he comes across as so much younger, so much less world-weary. Maybe it's because he lives in the future, while Schottenheimer seems to inhabit the past. He's the Buzz Lightyear of offensive football, and his game plan is always the same: To infinity and beyond!
At Florida, Spurrier was seen as an incorrigible score runner-upper. But he offers no apologies. "I believe in letting your players play the [full] 60 minutes, the best they can, and then looking up at the end and seeing how you did," he said. "When we're out there, we're trying to score." He even plans to take preseason games seriously. "I'm a little different from a lot of guys," he said. "We'll try to win those games. My daddy told me a long time ago: 'If they're keeping score, you might as well try to win.'"
It's only natural to wonder how Spurrier will adapt to the pros, whether his offense can be quite as wide open as it was at Florida. His years in the USFL might provide a clue. In his second season in Tampa Bay, for instance, his tight end caught 70 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. In his third season, his running back had 72 receptions and rushed for 1,200 yards. In other words, Spurrier isn't just a guy who goes deep all the time. His real M.O. is making the other team defend every blade of grass on the field.
A few suggestions, Steve. First, sign Jon Jansen to a contract extension as soon as possible. He's your right offensive tackle, in case you haven't met him, and he can become a free agent after next season. Jansen and Chris Samuels might be the best set of tackles in the league and they're absolutely crucial to what you want to do with the offense. If you want to be able to send out five receivers half the time, you've got to have reliable tackles who can control the pass rush, and Jansen and Samuels aren't just willing and able, they're young. They can both play another 10 years, which is as long as you might be here.
Second, give some serious thought to using Champ Bailey at receiver on a more than occasional basis. At the very least, he can help you spread the field. And who knows, he might make a big play or two for you (as he did in the season finale against the Cardinals last season). Let's face it, you need help at wideout. You also have to guard against the possibility that Champ will leave when his contract's up and go to a club that will let him catch some balls.
And finally, and I can't stress this too strongly, try not to listen to the owner too much. Smile indulgently. Pat him on the head every now and then, if need be. But follow your gut instinct. After all, it's gotten you this far.

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