- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2003

Steve Spurrier earns $5million a season to demonstrate his deep well of knowledge on offense, especially when it concerns establishing the 90-yard touchdown pass.

Some coaches believe it is wise to establish the running game. Spurrier believes in establishing the 90-yard touchdown pass.

This is what he is about. You could argue that this is all he is about.

Spurrier certainly did not land a five-year contract from the Redskins because of his attention to detail on defense and with the special teams. He is here because of his mad scientist-like approach to offense.

You either believe in it or you don’t.

If you don’t believe in it, then why are you paying him $5million a season?

Dan Snyder is probably asking himself that question this week after he overrode the objections of Spurrier and released quarterback Danny Wuerffel and running back Kenny Watson.

Snyder would not have made this decision last year at this time, not after Spurrier won the mini-Super Bowl in Osaka, Japan.

Spurrier was the flavor of the moment then, the resident genius destined to bring some much-needed life to the operation. One year later, of course, Spurrier is just another NFL coach who is trying to figure it out, whose potential to become a genius is in doubt.

Snyder has decided that the Redskins will have only two quarterbacks on the active roster going into the season, which goes against Spurrier’s natural inclinations.

As an ex-quarterback, Spurrier is partial to the position, all too aware of its fragilities.

No team wants to dip to its No.3 quarterback. That usually is a signal to call it a season.

But if a team must go there — and it happens in the injury-filled NFL — it is preferable to go there with someone who has a vague idea of what the coach is trying to accomplish. Wuerffel meets this function.

It also is true that Spurrier seemingly has an odd obsession with Wuerffel.

Fans started scratching their heads about the Spurrier-Wuerffel dynamic last season. It never seemed to make a lot of sense, except for the fact that Wuerffel won the Heisman Trophy while he was under the care of Spurrier at Florida.

Bad things routinely would happen after Wuerffel would enter the game.

He either would be sacked or throw an interception, neither circumstance out of design.

Whenever Wuerffel would run the sack play or the interception play, fans could be heard saying to one another: “What does Spurrier see in that guy?”

Spurrier answered that question, of course. He said he saw a guy who knew his system.

Spurrier is big on guys who know his system, which is why the Redskins initially appeared to be a graduate school for Florida. If a guy knew Spurrier’s system, even if the guy was a walk-on who never played at Florida, he had a reasonable chance to stick with the Redskins.

The team’s fans thought they had seen the last of Wuerffel after last season, which they took as a hopeful sign of growth on Spurrier’s part.

Although Wuerffel knew the system, he could not implement it beyond the dump pass. Instead, he perfected the art of throwing interceptions that resembled punts.

Opposing defensive backs did not have to be good cover guys against the Redskins. They just had to be willing to wait on one of Wuerffel’s high pop-ups and resist the urge to call a fair catch. No one really wanted to see that again this season, Snyder included.

Yet in sparing himself that prospect, Snyder again finds himself in the peculiar position of paying a coach not to be who he is and dismissing his judgment in his one area of expertise.

Snyder ended up there with Marty Schottenheimer as well, in the Brad Johnson-Jeff George ordeal, and we know how that turned out.

This Turk-by-committee approach is a fairly telling indictment against Spurrier.

If there is one area where an owner might feel obligated to trust Spurrier’s personnel instincts, it would be with the quarterbacks. If not there, then where?

As it is, this might not be the end of the Wuerffel-Redskins saga.

Wuerffel has a lot of Freddy and Jason in him, after all.

Wuerffel is not necessarily gone, even when you think he is gone.

He possibly is out there right now, lurking somewhere in the Virginia countryside, just waiting for the next Spurrier-inspired sequel.

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