- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2003

A tumultuous week for the Washington Redskins that featured an embarrassing loss on the road, accusations from coaches and players, advice from outside consultants and a couple of minor roster changes ended yesterday with nearly the same words coming out of everybody’s mouth,

“I gotta a plane to catch. See you Monday.”

Taking advantage of their bye date, the Redskins broke camp and turned themselves loose for the weekend. Players wasted little time showering, dressing and leaving following morning practice.

“We’ll come back Monday and hope to start fresh, regroup and try to get ready to play Dallas,” coach Steve Spurrier said.

Considering the week they’ve been through, it’s not surprising the Redskins need some quality time.

“Obviously, we’re not winning right now,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. “So maybe it’s a good time for us to kind of look back and figure out how we can get this back together.”

Washington’s players left town as a shaken, battered, emotionally charged bunch after a difficult week that featured enough intrigue to last a full season for most NFL teams.

It started with Sunday’s 24-7 loss to Buffalo, a lifeless performance from the Redskins (3-4) that caused Spurrier to question his players’ effort and insist he would “go out on the street and pick up guys” if things didn’t improve.

The coach eased off his comments the following day at Redskin Park, but the groundwork had been laid for a turbulent week.

Players publicly refuted Spurrier’s claims and privately questioned the team’s confidence in the coaching staff.

Owner Dan Snyder, with Spurrier’s approval, called in former Redskins coaches Joe Bugel and Foge Fazio to analyze films and recommend changes for the team’s struggling offense and defense, respectively.

Snyder’s “hiring” of the two consultants drew plenty of attention but turned out to be little more than a one-day attempt to seek some outside advice and prove to the public that the organization was trying.

As it turned out, the only changes made to the roster involved three reserves. Defensive end Ladairis Jackson and offensive lineman Brad Bedell were released Tuesday and replaced by a couple of NFL journeymen, defensive end Ron Warner and offensive lineman Mitch White.

The following day, Spurrier cut No.2 quarterback Rob Johnson (who never seemed fully comfortable in the Fun’n’Gun offense) and signed Tim Hasselbeck (a 25-year-old former undrafted free agent who never has taken an NFL snap) to back up Patrick Ramsey.

“We thought potentially he could play a little bit better than Rob, simple as that,” Spurrier said.

Meanwhile, one of the Redskins’ most vocal veterans sounded off in a wide-ranging rant about the team. Linebacker LaVar Arrington criticized teammates for “laughing and joking” on the bus following Sunday’s loss, disputed that he and his fellow linebackers are playing undisciplined defense and then closed by insisting it’s not too late to turn this season around.

“Everybody can focus on these other issues that they want to focus on and say it’s this and say it’s that,” Arrington said. “The bottom line is, if we go into Dallas and play the way we’re supposed to play, we’re right back on track.”

While all this was going on, the Redskins did manage some time on the playing field. They practiced the last three days, going full contact with pads only Wednesday.

“Nobody likes putting on pads, but at the same time, we went out there with good attitudes and were flying around, almost like in training camp,” Bailey said. “It felt good to go out and practice.”

For the ever-growing list of injured players, a weekend off will feel even better. Ten starters are battling injuries. Some, like Ramsey (bruised shoulder, hip) and nose tackle Jermaine Haley (fractured thumb) were not hurt seriously enough to miss practice. Others like running backs Trung Canidate (high ankle sprain), Ladell Betts (fractured forearm) and cornerback Fred Smoot (bruised sternum) need the week off and would not be available if the Redskins were playing Sunday.

For some, the bye date has come at an advantageous time.

“I think so,” Ramsey said. “For me, selfishly, I feel better just being able to rest and be able to recoup and be able to come back with a fresh start.”

Other, healthier players hope to have accomplished other things during their week off.

“Get your feet back under you, reflect on what you’ve done during the season, try to go back and correct things,” Bailey said. “Hopefully, we can bring something positive out of this.”

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