- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2003

Steve Spurrier was supposed to be the coaching star of the Washington Redskins, but the Ball Coach seems to shrink with each passing week. Soon all that will be left on the sideline is a visor and a clipboard.

The coaches getting all the attention the past few weeks have been the supporting cast.

Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was deemed the Redskins’ savior several weeks ago when Spurrier gave him the keys to the kingdom and let him run the offense. It became a national story when, with Jackson calling the plays, the Redskins snapped a four-game losing streak and beat Seattle 27-20. Jackson became the answer, and Spurrier appeared to be the highest-paid clipboard holder in history.

Then the Redskins lost to Carolina and Jackson was no longer the answer, though what Spurrier was going to do to earn his $5million salary remained a question.

The Ball Coach talked about sticking his head into the meetings of his other assistants — defense, special teams and those other bothersome components of a successful football team.

In the end he decided to take back the play-calling, for the most part, last week against Miami. But Jackson already has become the best-known offensive coordinator at Redskin Park in years, and now he is a candidate to be the head coach at Spurrier’s old stomping grounds, Duke University.

His competition could be the another member of the Redskins staff: defensive coordinator George Edwards, whose profile has risen recently for all the wrong reasons. Edwards, the fifth defensive coordinator in five years under the ownership of Danny Snyder, is under fire for the Redskins’ erratic defensive play, and his head may be on the chopping block.

But, as another former Dukie, Edwards (who is from Siler City, N.C., where Andy and Barney would sometimes go when they got out of Mayberry) also could be a candidate for the Blue Devils job.

You would think Redskin Park was a Duke satellite campus lately. Carl Franks, fired as the Blue Devils coach in October, came to Washington two weeks ago to watch practice and visit with Spurrier, his old coach. And Spurrier has consulted with Duke athletic director Joe Alleva, though Spurrier is not interested in the job. Then again, he doesn’t seem too interested in the job he has now, either.

“He’s just talking to me about if I know this guy or that guy,” Spurrier told reporters of his conversations with Alleva. “He’ll make a good decision.”

Where the man finds the time to run two football operations, we’ll never know.

Another assistant, offensive line coach Kim Helton, also has taken blame for the Redskins’ woes. Helton has nothing to do with Duke. He is a former Gator, though, and we know how the Ball Coach loves them Gators.

A few days ago, Spurrier gave a vote of confidence to his coaching staff.

“Our assistant coaches are an excellent group,” he said. “I can assure you they put in as much time and effort trying to put our players in position to make plays as I think any staff in the NFL. … I think all of our coaches — all of them — have done an excellent job and have tried their best to put our players in position to make plays.”

The coaching staff likely will continue to make news into the offseason, becoming a battleground for Spurrier and Snyder. If the owner wants Spurrier to fire some of his assistants, it will be interesting to see how the Ball Coach reacts. (The Redskins rank 21st in the league in receiving. I wonder if the receivers coach will lose his job. In case you don’t know, he is Steve Spurrier Jr.).

If the star coach can’t pick his own staff, he will have shrunk to such a small size that he will have to stand on a stool to listen to the owner tell him how to run the team.

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