- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier isn’t ready to roll over on his assistants. Not yet, at least.

Spurrier yesterday reiterated that he has no immediate plans to part with anyone on his staff. A local report suggesting Spurrier might soon fire some assistants prompted his statement.

“I’ve never mentioned anything about us changing coaches,” Spurrier said. “All I said was, we have to do something different around here. We have to restructure, reorganize, regroup — whatever you want to call it. Obviously, we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing. But I’ve not talked to anyone about firing a bunch of coaches.”

Spurrier’s staff remains the key point of contention as the Redskins look ahead to 2004. Management is convinced that Spurrier needs to add some assistants with more NFL experience, while he has made several public statements — yesterday’s the latest — in support of his staff.

The issue could prove crucial following the season. If Spurrier is unwilling to fire any assistants, owner Dan Snyder could threaten to fire Spurrier. Management sources have said for weeks that Spurrier is safe, but it remains unclear how a showdown over his assistants might play out. And if Washington (5-9) sputters in its final games, the landscape could change.

The assistants whose jobs are mentioned most frequently are defensive coordinator George Edwards and offensive line coach Kim Helton. But some in management also would like to see the departure of the assistants with virtually no pro experience, like receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr., tight ends coach Lawson Holland and outside linebackers coach Jim Collins.

“Assistant coaches are responsible for their players, how they play,” Spurrier said. “If they play their assignment and play with effort, that’s all you can ask out of your assistant coaches. The head coach, he gets the record. If it’s good, he’s pretty good. If it’s bad, he’s pretty bad. I’m pretty bad right now. If you want to blame somebody, blame me.”

Good old days

Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman hasn’t been in the league long — less than a year. But he remains convinced that the offense that attracted him to and made him a star at Florida can work in the NFL.

Grossman played under Spurrier from 1999 to 2001 — finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting as a sophomore in 2001 — then spent a year under Ron Zook before jumping to the pros. He retains vivid memories of Spurrier’s offense confusing college defenses and getting receivers wide open in the deep secondary.

“I’d love to see him stick it out, because I know that offense can work in this league,” said Grossman, who won his first NFL start last weekend and will start Sunday against the Redskins. “It just needs to have everyone on the same page.”

The Fun ‘n’ Gun clicked, Grossman recalled, when the quarterback and receivers all knew exactly how Spurrier wanted his routes run and passes thrown.

“I think Coach Spurrier takes some calculated risks, which a lot of quarterbacks aren’t used to,” Grossman said in a conference call with Washington area reporters. “He’s got a lot of creative ways of getting people open. You’ve got to do it exactly his way or it doesn’t really work.”

It’s hard to imagine Spurrier having that type of continuity these days, with backup quarterback Tim Hasselbeck behind center and two straight games under wintry conditions. The coach, however, shrugged off Grossman’s comments.

“It’s a lot of stuff [that has gone wrong],” Spurrier said. “I don’t want to get into that. It just hasn’t jibed together, obviously. Hopefully, it will someday.”

Extra points

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey, in his first interview regarding Monday’s surgery, said he already has lost the “constant discomfort” in his foot and that he doesn’t expect any problems once it rehabilitates. According to Ramsey, doctors “feel very confident that it’s not going to be an issue after this.” …

Left tackle Chris Samuels (knee) participated in parts of practice, a good sign as he tries to return from a three-game absence. Officially, he is questionable. … The Redskins expect to start Chad Morton or Rock Cartwright at tailback; Trung Canidate (foot) and Ladell Betts (forearm) are expected to remain sidelined. … Safety David Terrell (knee) probably won’t play at Chicago. … The Redskins worked out at Dulles SportsPlex for the second time in a week as a rainstorm mixing with melting snow again flooded the artificial turf field at Redskin Park. …

Not dissuaded by the $30,000 fine New Orleans receiver Joe Horn received for pretending to make a cell phone call after a touchdown, Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot looks forward to one day putting on his own unique celebration. “Just wait until I touch the end zone,” Smoot said. “I’m going to be fined, too. I’m going to get my fine papers ready.”

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