- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The Head Hog was back, if only for a day.

Former Washington Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel, who oversaw the famed “Hogs” line in the 1980s, yesterday watched tape of the current Redskins’ first seven games and will write a scouting report to help boost coach Steve Spurrier’s fading offense.

Washington had the NFL’s No.1 offense four weeks ago, but the unit has struggled since as quarterback Patrick Ramsey has absorbed regular beatings. This week the offense ranks 17th, and in Sunday’s loss at Buffalo it generated a season-low 169 yards.

Bugel’s work came free of charge and with no further commitments beyond his forthcoming scouting report. Team officials said he was not hired or even paid a fee and that there are no plans to bring him back for more scouting reports. He returned to his Phoenix-area home after spending about 10 hours at Redskin Park.

On Monday, Redskins personnel consultant Foge Fazio performed similar scouting work to help with Washington’s 22nd-ranked defense — essentially fulfilling the job he was hired to do this offseason. Fazio, a longtime NFL assistant coach, afterward returned to his home in Pittsburgh.

Early yesterday, there was speculation about the underlying significance of Bugel’s visit and Fazio’s work, considering owner Dan Snyder hired Bill Arnsparger as a defensive consultant in 1999 and later fired coordinator Mike Nolan.

But team officials stressed that this week’s consultant work was different. Arnsparger joined Washington’s defensive staff, sat in on meetings and attended practice. This time, Bugel performed a one-time duty and Fazio only slightly altered his job as an out-of-town consultant to the personnel department.

Neither Bugel nor Fazio had any interaction with the coaching staff. Instead, their recommendations will be relayed in coming days.

Spurrier’s assistants are safe for now, though team sources said there is some frustration among management with the performance of some coaches.

However, if club officials ultimately want to fire any assistants, the moves must be approved by Spurrier. Team sources said the coach’s contract guarantees him control of his staff.

In any case, the thinking this week was to explore every possibility to fix Washington’s problems on the field rather than to send a message, the sources said.

Spurrier signed off on the scouting work by Bugel and Fazio, probably without realizing the speculation it would generate, sources said. Several team officials believed the consultant work wouldn’t have been done without Spurrier’s approval.

Spurrier welcomed Bugel’s contribution and the renewed input from Fazio, who was around the team throughout training camp and talked at times with coaches then.

“Heck, we’re always open to some new ideas, a better way to do things,” Spurrier said. “I’m always open to suggestions. Even when we were winning those championships at Florida, I was open to suggestions. It doesn’t mean you’re struggling.”

Sources said some assistant coaches were irked by the consultant work, which they weren’t informed of ahead of time. But Spurrier said their feelings shouldn’t be hurt.

“If it bothers our assistants, they shouldn’t feel that way,” Spurrier said. “It’s not like we were going up and down the field and stopping everybody. If we can pick up some ideas and suggestions to help the team, shoot, we’ve got to be for that.”

The offensive line has been called for numerous penalties this season, and at times the blocking has been suspect. However, Spurrier’s spread offense leads to a lot of hits on Ramsey, who hasn’t finished the past two games. Also, several independent evaluators on the team said Sunday’s work on the line actually was pretty good.

Offensive line coach Kim Helton spoke briefly in the evening, calling Bugel “one of the best” at his craft and echoing Spurrier’s welcoming tone.

“Any suggestion a man of his caliber could make, even if it was just one thing, that will help this football team,” Helton said.

On defense, Washington has struggled in recent weeks, surrendering a season-high 432 yards to the Bills. Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington has been conspicuous in his blown assignments, and some in the organization say defensive coordinator George Edwards has to assert control over the unit.

Edwards popped out of his office last night but didn’t have much to say about Fazio’s consulting work.

“I haven’t seen it, so I can’t comment,” Edwards said. “Whatever the head coach wants us to, that’s what we’ll do.”

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