- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

It’s good to be a Redskins fan again. Winning is better than losing, and 4-5 is better than 3-6. There’s a spring in everyone’s step. The food tastes better, the air smells better, the sun shines brighter. As Grace Slick would say, it’s a new dawn.

Then again, Grace probably was delusional when she made that declaration at Woodstock. And speaking of delusional …

It’s Day2 of the new Redskins era. You know, the one in which Steve Spurrier finally has learned his lesson and figured out how to coach in the NFL and all that stuff.

What about all those other new Redskins eras the past two seasons, the ones that began when those with much of their credibility and egos invested in the success of the Ball Coach declared Spurrier had learned his lesson?

Oh, this one is different. This is nothing so basic as figuring out that a running game is important or that special teams can win games in the NFL. Those were past lessons that the genius has learned in his $5 million-a-year work-study program.

This one is priceless. Before the Redskins’ 27-20 win over Seattle on Sunday, Spurrier came to this conclusion: He was not going to call the plays. He would let his offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, do that.

The strategy has been deemed successful, and Spurrier has received nothing but praise for handing off the responsibility to one of his assistants — even though his coaching staff had been under fire the week before the game for being inexperienced and less than NFL caliber.

“If I have to bench the play caller, I can do that,” Spurrier said.

It’s not clear whether this trend will continue, but if it does, then the question is: What the heck will Spurrier be doing to earn his $5 million salary? He doesn’t even know his players on defense. He’s not a personnel guy or an organizational genius. If he’s not calling the plays, then what will he be doing? Carrying the clipboard for Jackson?

Granted, he is far from the only coach in the league to hand off the play calling. He found out about the novel concept from Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, which, of course, puts to question why it was a revelation to Spurrier in the first place.

But isn’t this why Dan Snyder brought Spurrier here, for his genius play calling? If Hue Jackson is calling the plays, then what do you need Spurrier for? Heck, Snyder can go ahead and coach the team himself if the assistants are going to run the show.

Spurrier likely won’t stay out of calling the plays for long. But what happens if he is more involved in the play calling this week against Carolina and the Redskins go back to being a national embarrassment? And that, given the play of the Panthers lately and the big game likely to come from former Redskins running back Stephen Davis, is a distinct possibility.

Then the debate will rage about who should be calling the plays. By crediting the win over Seattle to Spurrier’s willingness to defer to Jackson, they made play calling an issue. The howls of criticism of Spurrier, Snyder and the Redskins will return if the games are perceived as the ones Spurrier called and the ones his coordinator called.

Speaking of those criticisms, Snyder’s boys have suggested all of the attacks on the Redskins owner over the past few weeks came perhaps as a result of jealousy because he is young and rich. There could be no other explanation why people would not like such a wonderful guy — a self-declared man’s man.

Most people don’t have to shop at Kids ‘R’ Us for clothes, though, so the jealousy factor evens out a little there. Maybe people who are not blinded by aura of the owner of the Washington Redskins just can sense that, whether Dan Snyder was 35 and rich or 65 and poor, they wouldn’t like him, period.

Then again, maybe he just needs someone to call the plays for him as well — a personality coordinator, if you will. That would give Spurrier something to do to earn his hefty salary.

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