Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer downplayed speculation yesterday about his probable dismissal, telling players and coaches only to worry about today’s season-ender against the Arizona Cardinals.
“Marty’s like, ‘I’m here now. I plan on being here. That’s the way it’s going to be. I can control what I can control,’” guard Dave Szott said. “I don’t think it’s going to rattle him much. … He loves this game. He loves preparing for games. I think he’ll be fine.”
Schottenheimer may be released Tuesday while Redskins owner Dan Snyder pursues former Florida coach Steve Spurrier. Snyder is also talking to former Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard about rejoining the team, according to NFL sources.
Snyder’s pursuit of both a coach and general manager has indicated to many Schottenheimer assistants that they soon will be released. Several already have begun searching for new jobs.
Schottenheimer declined comment on his status after previously saying he had a job as late as Friday. Beating Arizona to finish 8-8 is his main thrust.
“All I want to do is focus on the Arizona Cardinals,” Schottenheimer said. “I talked about speculation [with the team]. I said, ‘We all sign on.’ Our objective is to win a game [today].”
A front office change would be expensive. Schottenheimer is due $7.5 million over three years, and team sources said he won’t resign or settle for less. Spurrier wants more than $5 million a year after rejecting a $3 million offer from Snyder last year that included another $3 million in incentives. Spurrier rejected Snyder’s offer before Schottenheimer was hired. Snyder also tried to contact Spurrier in September during the team’s 0-5 start, but Spurrier told NFL sources he didn’t return the calls.
Spurrier appears headed for the Carolina Panthers, but Tampa Bay and Washington are options. While Snyder likely won’t be outbid, Spurrier’s desire to remain in the south to play golf daily is important. Carolina coach George Seifert is expected to be fired tomorrow, and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is a close friend of Spurrier’s. Tampa Bay may release coach Tony Dungy if the Bucs lose early in the playoffs. However, Spurrier might not wait until at least Jan. 13 to determine Tampa Bay’s interest.
Schottenheimer’s release might be averted if he were to dismiss Raye and make a greater effort to include Snyder in daily management. However, Schottenheimer was given complete power by Snyder when he was hired in January 2001 and doesn’t want to include others heavily in his “one voice” management system. Team sources said Schottenheimer sees the pending move as Snyder wanting to regain daily involvement vs. his failure to get the Redskins into the playoffs.
Players felt reports of the staff’s ouster were a limited distraction. Few players thought it would bother Schottenheimer, who left Redskin Park following the morning meetings.
“If there’s anybody in the league I’ve ever met that stays the course, it’s Marty,” Szott said. “He doesn’t change if it’s good or bad.”
Said Coleman: “We got all our work in before the news of what happened hit us. We’re already ready to go.”
Potentially changing coaches for the third time in 13 months has some of the team’s 17 unrestricted free agents rethinking whether they’ll return. Defensive tackle Kenard Lang said the Redskins change coaches like some people change underwear.
“You know, one day they’re going to wear Fruit of the Loom, next day they’re wearing Jockey,” Lang said.
Knowing whether they’ll mesh with the staff is a major consideration of free agents when signing with a team.
“If I don’t like the change I can control what I can do,” Coleman said. “[Snyder] could bring in someone that maybe I don’t get along with, and that honestly happens. If guys are going to clash with a certain type of personality or scheme, that’s something they’ll look at hard. But if you’re comfortable with the scheme, it’s an easy decision.”
Staff reporter Jody Foldesy contributed to this story.