- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier is back running the Fun’n’ Gun, reassuming much of the featured role held by offensive coordinator Hue Jackson the past two weeks.

Spurrier will wear the headset and call plays Sunday at Miami, he said yesterday. And team sources said the coach has retaken a more prominent role with the offense during practice and is overseeing the majority of the game plan, duties Jackson handled during his stint as play-caller.

“I just need to be more involved,” Spurrier said. “I sort of stepped back a little bit and watched awhile. Hue’s done an excellent job. But I need to be talking to the quarterback.”

The move answers critics who wondered how Spurrier was earning his $25million pay if not calling plays. But it also erases the promise of Spurrier getting more involved as an overall coach of the team, and it threatens a return to the offensive struggles of the five games that preceded Jackson taking a more involved role.

From the Sept.28 win over New England to the Nov.2 loss at Dallas, the Redskins lost four of five and averaged 243.4 yards. Defenses increasingly blitzed Washington, which was unable to protect quarterback Patrick Ramsey.

During Jackson’s stint, Washington focused on shorter, more high-percentage plays. The plan worked in the Nov.9 win over Seattle, when the Redskins generated 379 yards. But it floundered in the first half of last weekend’s loss at Carolina, when the unit had 41 yards. In the second half, Washington rallied to take a late four-point lead before losing. The Redskins finished with 181 yards, an average of 280 for two games.

Did Spurrier benefit from the hiatus? The coach, who had been criticized for not countering the way defenses were attacking his offense, shrugged off a question about what he might have learned.

“I don’t have the answer to all that,” Spurrier said. “We’ll try to call our game plan the way we’ve always done.”

Jackson, interviewed before Spurrier’s decision became official, said he was “not concerned” with whatever might happen and reiterated that he accomplished his primary goal against the Panthers of putting Washington in position to win.

“We had an opportunity to win last week,” Jackson said. “We didn’t. That’s the way it goes sometimes. But I feel good about what I’ve been able to do for the organization, given the opportunity by Coach.”

Spurrier said Jackson will remain on the sideline “to provide some enthusiasm, energy and encouragement” and will remain “very involved.”

Canidate to start

Embattled running back Trung Canidate is in line to start against the Dolphins, in large part because of injuries. Ladell Betts, the potential feature back of the future, still has a fracture in his forearm, and Rock Cartwright, Washington’s most effective back, isn’t expected to practice until tomorrow because of a sprained ankle.

Spurrier raised the possibility Monday of giving recently acquired journeyman John Simon a more prominent role but backed off yesterday when asked if Simon might start.

“No, I doubt it,” Spurrier said. “I’d say Trung would be starting in all likelihood.”

Canidate has struggled the past two games, averaging 2.1 yards a carry. Far more effective has been Cartwright, who showed the ability to break tackles while averaging 5.1 yards. However, Cartwright also fumbled at the goal line at Carolina, and he remained in a walking boot yesterday while nursing the ankle.

“I’m probable,” said Cartwright, who officially was listed questionable. “I’m just trying to get all the swelling out. I’m going to do a little running around tomorrow. I know for sure I’ll go on Sunday.”

Betts had an X-ray Tuesday to see if his forearm healed during his three-game absence. It did but not enough for him to return.

“They said it’s healing up more so than what it was,” Betts said. “In the past, I guess they really hadn’t seen a lot of signs of healing. But they said it’s probably too much of a risk this week. So we’ll have to wait and see how it looks on Monday.”

Among other injuries, No. 3 cornerback Rashad Bauman participated in parts of practice after missing the past three games. He is questionable. Center Larry Moore (foot) is expected to miss a third straight game. Kick returner Chad Morton (ankle) and cornerback Fred Smoot (chest) both sat out practice but will play at Miami.


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