- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2002

Marty Schottenheimer kind of laughed not his typical, deep, confident chuckle but a terse sound, the vocal equivalent of a grimace when asked if he spends much time thinking of Washington.
"No," he replied.
Does he believe Washington spends much time thinking of him?
"I don't think so," he said.
Less than six months have passed, and already a collective amnesia has set in concerning Schottenheimer's one season as Washington Redskins coach and director of football operations.
But then Schottenheimer revealed something. Not in his sometimes tearful manner or in his proud, "Would I like to come back? You bet your tail!" tone following 2001's final game. It was a simple, blunt admission that the 8-8 season, already almost a footnote in club annals, is actually quite significant to him.
"I'll tell you what," Schottenheimer said, "it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my whole life."
That feeling, slightly submerged, remains with Schottenheimer in his new role as San Diego Chargers coach. Otherwise he has moved on and is determined to keep moving on. In yesterday's interview from Charlotte, N.C., where he makes his permanent home, Schottenheimer made clear that part of "his way" the way that became such a point of contention last season is to focus on the next challenge.
"I like to look forward," he said. "I really don't like to look back. If you're moving forward and you're looking back, you're more likely to stumble and fall."
On several occasions, Schottenheimer declined to delve into his Redskins past, preferring to focus on the Chargers. But he did seem able to speak more freely than in his last, awkward week with the Redskins, when his uncertain future with the club made for daily coverage of him leaving Redskin Park with no comment.
Schottenheimer, for example, wouldn't discuss that week per se but did dispute that his stay was tainted by the unpleasant ending.
"Perception is not always accurate," Schottenheimer said simply.
Another popular fallacy seems to be what Redskins players thought of his system. It was widely held that because defensive end Bruce Smith disagreed with Schottenheimer's methods and because cornerback Darrell Green and wide receiver Michael Westbrook felt similarly that the entire team didn't "buy in" to Schottenheimer.
But according to players interviewed late last season, most of the team was on board with Schottenheimer in the second half of the year. And several members of his former regime have said this offseason was expected to see the return of most of the unrestricted free agents and the release of Smith. Under the new front office, the opposite has happened.
Schottenheimer, of course, wouldn't comment on any of that yesterday. But he did not buy the idea that the players, on the whole, weren't buying him.
"I don't know that I agree with that," Schottenheimer said. "There were a very, very few that didn't buy in. You don't go 8-3 in the last 11 without people buying in."
The club's 8-3 finish is what makes Schottenheimer proud of the 2001 Redskins.
"There was a lot of adversity that they had to get through to be able to win," he said.
Adversity is sure to be a part of his experience now in San Diego, where he inherited a team that won just six games the past two seasons. But he said he wouldn't have taken the job if he didn't think the Chargers could win immediately.
"I think they have a chance to be successful," he said, making his confident chuckle. "You know, I'm not into rebuilding programs. Now you can make a case that [San Diegos] a rebuilding program, but certainly I didn't view it that way."
Schottenheimer thinks he can win considering the talent at quarterback (veteran Doug Flutie and young Drew Brees, who will compete for the job in camp), running back (young star LaDainian Tomlinson) and on defense (where rookie corner Quentin Jammer and free agent linebacker Donnie Edwards were added to the NFL's No.11 unit).
Joining him in San Diego are two former Redskins, tight end Stephen Alexander and center Cory Raymer. Also signed is a controversial former Kansas City Chief, return man Tamarick Vanover, whom Schottenheimer considered acquiring last season despite Vanover's well-documented legal troubles.
Schottenheimer said that "in Washington the timing wasn't really ideal" to sign Vanover, though he added that potential scrutiny from Washington media did not influence the decision.
Reports out of San Diego indicate that the Chargers have embraced Schottenheimer's system. He might have aided the process by retaining most of the terminology on offense from former Chargers offensive coordinator Norv Turner. When Schottenheimer followed Turner in Washington, he installed a completely new offense, one that turned out to be complicated, inefficient and boring.
"I feel very confident that [the players] understand that what we're trying to do and the way we're trying to do it will pay dividends," Schottenheimer said.
Schottenheimer isn't getting any extra money by returning to coaching so soon. Snyder owed him $2.5million a year for the remainder of his deal, minus whatever a new club might pay. All Schottenheimer got was an extra year at the end of the new contract.
Why not play golf then? "Because I enjoy coaching," Schottenheimer said. "I got a tremendous amount of satisfaction out of our achievement a year ago in Washington."
An achievement. That is how he ultimately views the 2001 Redskins, even if he chooses not to view them often. He still thinks he left the team in good shape, echoing a claim he made at his final Redskins news conference: This team can compete for the NFC East title.
"I think they are a very, very good football team," Schottenheimer said yesterday.
He then added, in a comment about the Redskins that seemed to describe his stay here, "In this league, we've all come to realize that regardless of what people talk about and what they predict, many times it doesn't go that way at all."

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