- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

An emotional and erratic first season finally complete, Washington Redskins coach and director of football operations Marty Schottenheimer will meet with owner Dan Snyder as soon as tonight to discuss whether he will keep his job.
"Would I like to come back? You bet your tail," Schottenheimer said after yesterday's 20-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. "I love coaching. And you know what? If this is arrogant, so be it: I'm pretty [darn] good at it."
The 2001 Redskins demonstrated resiliency one final time in beating the Cardinals, overcoming an 11-point halftime deficit before the soggy remnants of 61,721 at FedEx Field. After a nearly disastrous 0-5 start to the season, Washington won eight of its final 11 games to finish 8-8 and in second place in the NFC East.
"This team's got a lot of heart," guard Dave Szott said. "They have the ability to put a play behind them and move on to the next play. I had a lot of faith that we were going to come back and win the football game. It's the same ingredient that allowed these guys to go 8-8 after starting 0-5."
Snyder is pursuing former University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier as a replacement for Schottenheimer, and he is in discussions with former Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard to rejoin the club in a general manager role.
The Carolina Panthers are the apparent front-runners to land Spurrier, who abruptly resigned Friday. It is not clear whether the Redskins would pursue another coach to replace Schottenheimer if the Panthers hire Spurrier. Beathard, according to NFL sources, would accept a job only if he could obtain the type of power a general manager usually commands.
That's not currently possible in Washington, where Schottenheimer retains the final say over draft selections and free-agent signings. The personnel chief here would take the less-encompassing title of vice president of football operations.
If Schottenheimer departs, a true general manager might be hired. However, team sources say Schottenheimer won't resign and won't leave without the full $7.5million due him over the final three seasons of his four-year contract. He would receive all the money if he is fired.
"I'm not really going to go down that road right now," Schottenheimer said. "I need to sit down with Dan, and we need to talk about this team. Then we'll have an opportunity to decide what direction we may go."
Several assistant coaches already have begun searching for new jobs.
Schottenheimer will meet with his players as a group this morning and then with each one individually, as is his postseason tradition. Many players said again in the locker room that he deserves a chance to remain coach of a team that almost became the first in NFL history to go to the playoffs after an 0-5 start.
"It's just hard for a team to come together, with a new system and a new staff, and start off just rolling," linebacker Robert Jones said. "How long did Dick Jauron get before Chicago started going? … Once we started playing together, we were a good football team. … In my opinion, I think he deserves another chance."
All season the Redskins' defense provided crucial contributions, and that was the case again against the Cardinals (7-9). Arizona built a 17-6 halftime lead with 163 offensive yards and a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive back Adrian Wilson, but Washington's defense permitted just 24 yards and no points in the second half.
Running back Stephen Davis dominated once again, carrying a career-high 38 times for 148 yards and his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. In the fourth quarter he surpassed the team record for rushing yards he set in 1999 (1,405), finishing the year with 1,432 yards to win the NFC rushing title. His season was particularly impressive because he averaged 13 carries and 54.8 yards in Weeks 1 through 4.
"It's well-deserved. He's going down in the record books," guard Ben Coleman said. "It would be nice if we had another shot at 16 games to see what he could do. I don't know how many yards he would have if he started off averaging 20-some carries a game."
Quarterback Tony Banks hit 13 of 25 passes for 154 yards, one touchdown and one interception before suffering a sprained knee on a blindside hit in the fourth quarter. Kent Graham entered and won the game in the nasty conditions, just as he did in a snowstorm Nov.18 at Denver.
Graham's big play was a left-handed shovel pass to running back Ki-Jana Carter as he was being sacked by defensive tackle Russell Davis. The play converted a third-and-7 with 61/2 minutes remaining; five plays later Davis scored the game-winner on a 2-yard run off-tackle left.
The Redskins had to survive one final possession by Arizona, and they did so on a questionable no-call when safety Keith Lyle collided with wide receiver David Boston on a fourth-and-13 deep throw. The Cardinals were incredulous that there was no pass interference, but Schottenheimer believed the ball was uncatchable and another Redskins defender said Boston did a little acting on the play.
The second-half surge left Washington's players once again wondering what might have been this year if they hadn't started quite so badly. They soon should learn whether Schottenheimer and his system will have a chance to answer that question on the field next season.
"[Continuity] is so important," safety Sam Shade said. "I feel like that's been one of our problems here. This is my third year here, and I've had three defensive coordinators. I've had to learn a new defensive system every year. I don't think that's conducive to putting together a team that's trying to go somewhere."


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