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Chicago Sun-Times Article on Spurrier


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Spurrier lighting up D.C.

August 13, 2002


When Jerry Angelo became the Bears' director of football operations last summer, the safest bet in town was that Dick Jauron would be looking for work before the snow flew. Then Jauron unbalanced the equation by masterminding a 13-3 season, and the next thing you knew, he and Angelo were kissing each other on both cheeks and pledging eternal harmony.

I bring this up because although one exhibition game means nothing--even a game when your team accumulates negative yardage in the first half--you have to wonder what the Bears would be doing these days under a different coach.

Steve Spurrier, say.

Now, this is idle dreaming of the most outrageous kind. Spurrier's five-year, $25-million contract with the Washington Redskins is not something the Bears would have contemplated for a second, but with the Redskins scoring 75 points in their first two exhibition games, you have to wonder what a Spurrier-coached Bears team would have looked like in Champaign on Saturday.

For all the talk about how Bears offensive coordinator John Shoop has learned his lesson, it is clear that he continues to view the downfield pass as the football equivalent of a root canal. In Washington, meanwhile, Spurrier has the fans of a team that went 8-8 and missed the playoffs over the moon with excitement.

"We had 47 passes,'' Spurrier said after Washington beat Carolina 37-30 Saturday. "So we got to chuck it around a little bit.''

The quarterbacks who did the chucking are what really hurts. Shane Matthews started and played well in the first half--17-of-27 for 195 yards and two touchdowns--and Danny Wuerffel came off the bench in the fourth quarter and completed 8 of 11 passes for 102 yards, 79 of them on a drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown pass with 1:55 left to play.

In two games, Wuerffel, who didn't throw a single pass last season with the Bears, is 24-of-36 for 371 yards and four touchdowns--and just like that, he is the favorite to open the season as the Redskins starter. Not bad for a guy playing for his fourth NFL team who hasn't started a game since 1998.

"For me, it's the best situation I've ever been in,'' said Wuerffel, who won the Heisman Trophy under Spurrier at Florida in 1996. No kidding.

Matthews, who spent five years with the Bears, is a happy camper, too. "For the last nine years, I've been a programmed robot,'' he told reporters after the Redskins' latest win. "There could be nine guys at the line of scrimmage, and I'd still run up the middle if that's [the play that] was called.''

Think he was talking about anybody in particular?


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