- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2003

Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier plans to take approximately a week to determine whether he wants to return for the 2004 season, a source close to Spurrier said before last night’s 31-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Spurrier, who has a 12-20 record as Redskins coach, has said consistently that his plan is to return in 2004. Before last night’s game and again in his postgame news conference, he said he hadn’t altered his thinking.

“My comments are the same,” Spurrier said. “Any change we’ll announce in the coming days or coming weeks or whatever.”

Asked specifically if he is coming back, he replied, “My statement six weeks ago, a month ago, keep using that one.”

Maintaining his “plan” to return left open the possibility of what several team sources said — that his departure is possible but not yet determined. One source portrayed Spurrier’s intentions in the specific terms of mulling his options for a week.

Sources close to owner Dan Snyder, though, emphasized that the club has no plans to buy out Spurrier’s remaining three years and $15million in any significant way. Thus Spurrier could resign or possibly negotiate a small buyout, but his departure will not be eased by Snyder sharing his desire for a split.

Although Spurrier still must sort out several oft-discussed issues with management following the season, several team sources speculated that his decision on whether to stay or go will be made on a more fundamental level.

Spurrier and management are set to debate the futures of his assistant coaches and the sway he and his staff will have in personnel matters. But the biggest question apparently will be his desire to remain Redskins coach. Expected to have heavy input on that decision is Spurrier’s wife, Jerri.

Spurrier is scheduled to leave the Washington area tomorrow after today’s postseason news conference and exit physicals. Thus word of his decision likely will come by phone, rather than in a face-to-face meeting with Snyder.

Players said Spurrier did not address his future in last night’s postgame locker room, saying he would speak to them again in a team meeting today.

Of note last night was Spurrier’s apparent resignation to make changes on his staff if he remains.

“We’ve got to change something,” Spurrier said. “Our coaches know there’s going to be changes. We’ll announce the changes as they occur.”

But he added that he does “not particularly” have a timetable to announce alterations. He did say no announcements would come today.

“We’ll let the dust settle awhile,” Spurrier said.

Early yesterday a report by ESPN, which broadcast last night’s game, said Spurrier was considering resigning. Chris Mortensen reported that Spurrier has discussed the situation with his wife, and that both agreed they are unhappy and don’t feel they should continue to live that way.

A week earlier, Mortensen reported that Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga was considering trying to pry Spurrier and the remainder of his five-year, $25million contract from Washington.

“I guess the same guy [who] started the rumor today that said I was resigning [he] had me going to Miami last week,” Spurrier said. “He had me traded for [Dolphins coach Dave] Wannstedt last week. It’s hard for me to respond to all the rumors that guy starts.”

Before the game, pressed specifically about his wife’s feelings, Spurrier said, “My wife’s very happy. That’s a bad rumor, too.”

Questions about Spurrier’s future overshadowed his plans for his staff. Spurrier’s assistants, particularly defensive coordinator George Edwards and offensive line coach Kim Helton, have been under scrutiny for weeks.

At one point a showdown over Spurrier’s assistants appeared like it might force Snyder to make a decision on Spurrier’s future. But sources close to the owner said Snyder won’t threaten to fire Spurrier, even if Spurrier refuses to fire any assistants.

Spurrier’s mood has varied greatly this season. At times he was so dejected that his departure seemed a foregone conclusion. At others, including the past two weeks, Spurrier appeared invigorated and ready to take on his detractors.

Last night he was predictably glum about the blowout loss.

“We’ve got a ways to go,” Spurrier said. “I think everybody saw that tonight. We couldn’t stay on the field with the Eagles.”

Observers also are watching to see if Spurrier alters his approach if he returns. His offensive play-calling has vacillated tremendously as he has tried to adapt his Fun ‘n’ Gun offense to the NFL. Also, he has seemed unsure of how to treat NFL players. Yesterday he appeared to take a step forward in the latter area, deactivating three players for violating team rules during the week.

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