- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2002

The Redskins were 20 minutes into the Steve Spurrier era, 20 minutes into their first minicamp practice, before a forward pass was flung yesterday. For the record, it was a short flip from Dameyune Craig to Bryan Johnson, and it went for a "touchdown" (there being no defender).
Before this momentous occasion, the offense had actually been working on the running game, if you can believe that specifically pitch plays right and left to Stephen Davis (among others). So Spurrier probably won't throw the ball on every down this season. Once or twice a quarter he'll hand off to Davis, just to give the opposition something else to think about.
Still, it wasn't long yesterday morning before footballs were filling the air. After all, Dan Snyder isn't paying Spurrier $25million to perfect the line buck. He wants razzle. He wants dazzle. He wants Joe Gibbs meets Robert Oppenheimer meets Dr. Frankenstein.
"It was a typical Spurrier practice," said Jacquez Green. "He's not one of these guys who's going to grind you all day long except if you're receiver. As you can see, he likes to throw a lot of deep routes."
Green would know. He's one of the growing number of Florida alumni who have flocked to Ashburn to take part in their old coach's grand experiment. There's him, Reidel Anthony, Chris Doering wideouts all plus quarterback Danny Wuerffel (with more, no doubt, to follow).
Yesterday's workouts weren't exactly held in laboratory conditions. It was cold and damp, the ball was slick and the grass was slippery. But that's something Spurrier is going to have to get used to. He's not in Gainesville, Fla., anymore; he's in the infinitely more inhospitable NFC East. Wait 'til he gets a load of Giants Stadium in December.
If there was one thing on Day1 that stood out, it was the sight of Spurrier in shorts and Wuerffel in gloves. Maybe, after so many years in Florida, the new coach doesn't own any long pants. Or maybe he was just trying to send a message, something along the lines of: I might like to pitch the ball, but this is no wussy offense and I'm no wuss.
"It wasn't all that cold," he insisted. "… Sorta like playing golf in Ireland."
Wuerffel in Isotoners seemed like a bit much, though. I mean, this wasn't the CFL championship game, merely March going out like the MGM lion. "[Doug] Flutie wears 'em from time to time," he said. "I've got a pair that gives me a good grip." Whatever works for you, buddy. Heck, you can wrap yourself in a down comforter for all I care as long as you complete 60 percent of your passes.
Spurrier, it's clear, couldn't be any farther from Marty Schottenheimer on the coaching spectrum. It's not just his passion for passing; it's his decidedly unmilitary mindset. Darrell Green, for instance, has been issued a Get Out of Minicamp Free card because he had a trip already planned with his family. (Contrast this with Schottenheimer assigning Green to punt return duty last summer.)
Spurrier was obliging, too, when some of his players asked to wear different jersey numbers vanity numbers, you might call them in practice (e.g. LaVar Arrington, who swapped his 56 for his old Penn State number, 11). To Spurrier, it was no big deal, no great breach of discipline. One-Way Marty, of course, would have broken out in hives at such a prospect. He's the guy, after all, who treated the team to milkshakes one day after practice all of them chocolate.
Wuerffel, by the way, is wearing as he did in college jersey No.7, last seen on Joe Theismann. (In fact, it was last seen the night Theismann suffered a career-ending broken leg in 1985.) Spurrier has no problem with that, either. "I sorta believe you shouldn't retire numbers," he said. "Jerseys, maybe. Besides, some of those players might like to see their numbers out there [again]."
The real test will be if the Redskins are able to trade for ex-Gator Shane Matthews. Matthews, you see, is partial to No.9 Sonny Jurgensen's number (which has been taken out of circulation, but hasn't been officially retired). Wonder if Dan the Man will OK that.
(My own feelings on the subject: Hey, if the Redskins can give Cliff Battles' No.20 to Alvoid Mays, any number should be fair game.)
At any rate, the Redskins seemed to be happy minicampers yesterday. Doering talked about going from Spurrier's laid-back approach at Florida to Tom Coughlin's boot camp in Jacksonville and how difficult the adjustment was, how "miserable" it made him. Being back in the Fun 'N' Gun offense with the accent on the fun is the answer to his prayers.
"I believe you can have an atmosphere like this and still win," he said.
Steve Spurrier obviously agrees with him. Otherwise, he wouldn't have left the warm embrace of his alma mater and stepped into the uncertain climate of the NFL.


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