- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003


Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier’s frustration with penalties boiled over during his postgame news conference.

In a 27-25 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, a bumbling Redskins team drew another torrent of penalties, getting flagged 11 times. Washington now has 55 penalties in five games, still on pace to break the NFL record of 158.

Spurrier has grown progressively more exasperated. Last night he was particularly piqued by the seven false starts, and he seemed to be reacting to criticism that his frequent audibles are leading to linemen jumping.

“I’m frustrated with all of these guys and they’re probably frustrated with me,” Spurrier said. “I guess I called bad plays. Everytime we tried to audible when they were blitzing, I guess you’re not supposed to.

“You do have audibles in this game,” he added. “For some reason, when Patrick [Ramsey] starts talking, someone starts flinching. We’ll keep working on it. That’s all I know how to do.”

Later, Spurrier facetiously said he might abandon all audibles.

“It’s possible,” Spurrier said. “If you have a play called and they’re rushing eight guys, you can just get sacked and say at least we didn’t jump offside.”

After the news conference, the coach denied that he was reacting to anything said to him specifically on the sideline. Players and other coaches also knew of no specific incident. Spurrier added that he has no intention of trimming his audibles.

But it’s true that several players and members of the organization privately have said Spurrier’s frequent audibles play a key role in the frequent false starts. Last night, several people familiar with the situation said the criticism must have filtered back to Spurrier through his assistant coaches.

Players and other coaches did seem a bit surprised that Spurrier reacted the way he did. Tackle Jon Jansen wasn’t sure what to say when reporters began launching questions about audibles.

“I really don’t know what to say right now,” Jansen said. “It’s really better if I don’t say anything. Obviously we need to fix the problem. We need to communicate. That entails a lot of things. I know that’s being pretty vague. But we need to communicate better.”

Bruce one closer

Defensive end Bruce Smith now trails Reggie White by 1 sacks after recording his first full sack of the season, a second-and-6 takedown of Donovan McNabb with just under four minutes left in the first half.

Smith’s sack was one of three by Washington as a suspect pass rush stepped up. Players argued in recent weeks that they were applying pressure but that quarterbacks were releasing the ball too quickly for them to record sacks. Right or not, the Redskins had just six sacks in the first four games.

Smith declined comment about his individual performance.

Nice return for Trotter

Jeremiah Trotter insisted he carried no extra motivation into yesterday’s game, his first in Philadelphia since leaving the Eagles.

He sure played like it, though.

The middle linebacker, who signed with the Redskins last year after four seasons in Philadelphia, made one of the plays of the game — an interception of Donovan McNabb that set up the Redskins’ second-quarter touchdown.

While rushing the passer on third-and-8 from the 22, Trotter caught a glimpse of McNabb reaching back to pass. He backed off his blocker, reached up and caught the ball just beyond the line and took off for the end zone. He was tackled at the 1.

“I was rushing, dropped back a little bit and tried to jump up and knock the ball down,” said Trotter, who also was credited with five tackles and two defended passes. “I was just fortunate enough to make the play.”

He insisted there was nothing special about playing in Philadelphia in a Redskins uniform, though he admitted he was greeted to a slightly different reception than the last time he was here.

“It was kind of funny to have the fans the whole game talking bad about me,” Trotter said. “But it’s all good, you expect that.”

No ground game

Until yesterday, the Redskins’ version of a ground game — running backs by committee, i.e. Trung Canidate and Ladell Betts — worked surprisingly well, averaging 131.3 yards a game through the first four games.

With quarterback Patrick Ramsey struggling, the Redskins tried to challenge the league’s best run defense and failed. They ran 21 times for 49 yards with a long run of 9 yards.

“They’re the No. 1 rush defense in the league, but we’re all a bunch of grown men, we put our clothes on the same way. Had we attacked them a little bit more who knows how it would have come out, you never know,” Canidate said. “You have to go back and look at the film to see where we went wrong. Obviously, we went wrong in a couple of areas.”

The Eagles’ white jerseys filled the gaps and the Redskins couldn’t move them.

Despite a injury-depleted secondary, the Redskins were unable to throw the ball against the Eagles to set up a ground game. Canidate gained only 17 yards on eight attempts and Betts carried the ball five times for 11 yards.

The Redskins’ offensive line was part of the problem — seven false start penalties put the Redskins offense in long-yardage situations.

“We had a game plan coming in where we wanted to be pretty even, I don’t know what happened,” right tackle Jon Jansen said. “Obviously, we were behind a little bit and had to go down the field and score.”

Don’t touch the QB

Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington was flagged for roughing the passer in the first quarter. Replays showed Arrington tried to pull back and barely touched Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

“I guess [the refs are] cracking down on protecting quarterbacks,” Arrington said. “I’m out there playing my heart out. At what point do you draw the line from playing you’re heart out and the way [the refs] want you to play the game. I asked the ref after they threw the flag, ‘How am I supposed to hit him if he still has the ball.’”

Jacobs joins in

Second-round draft pick Taylor Jacobs finally hauled in his first career reception. The former Florida wide receiver picked up 4 yards on a screen pass from Patrick Ramsey on the Redskins’ first drive of the second half.

Jacobs, who sat out the first three games with a bruised pancreas, worked his way into the huddle for only a handful of plays. One other pass, an incompletion, was thrown his way.

Injury update

Linebacker Jessie Armstead sat out the game’s last few defensive plays with a thumb injury and was replaced by Antonio Pierce. Armstead said he would have gone back in if the game had gone to overtime, but his injury probably will be one to watch this week. Also, running back Ladell Betts suffered a sprained shoulder.


As expected, left guard Dave Fiore was unable to play. Fiore underwent an MRI Thursday which revealed no structural damage, but he still appeared to be in rough shape last week. After the game, he said he would return to the practice field this week.

The Redskins’ other inactives were running back Sultan McCullough, linebacker Lemar Marshall, linebacker Orantes Grant, offensive line Brad Bedell, defensive end Ladairis Jackson and defensive tackle Lional Dalton. Wide receiver Cliff Russell was designated the third quarterback.

Jody Foldesy, Ken Wright, Mark Zuckerman

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