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This is how the detractors explain how Spurrier won: What idiots!


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JUDGE: Spurrier goes ground to win NFL debut



Sep. 8, 2002 6:53 p.m.

LANDOVER, Md. — Shortly after knocking off Arizona 31-23 for his first NFL victory, Washington coach Steve Spurrier pulled the season's first rabbit out from under his visor: He walked out of a postgame news conference.

It wasn't an abrupt departure, and Spurrier wasn't angry. He was tired, weary of answering questions about himself, quarterback Shane Matthews, the no-huddle offense and the runaway expectations of this year's Redskins.

So he walked off the podium and through his stunned audience, answering one question on his way out.

If you needed a glimpse of the Spurrier impatience, here it was. Except it was the day's only sighting, and that's crucial if you're driving that Washington bandwagon. You know as well as I that if the Redskins are going anywhere this season, Spurrier will have to relax, exhale and do some things he's not expected to.

Like run the ball.

I know, I know. He had Fred Taylor at Florida and two 1,000-yard backs in one season in the USFL. But when you think of Steve Spurrier you think of ... what? Uh-huh, wide-open receivers, deep passes and Gatorade showers. That may have to change, and Spurrier just showed us he can do it.

He beat the Cardinals the old-fashioned way: He ran them to death.

Sure, Shane Matthews threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns, but it was running back Stephen Davis who turned this one around. And that's how it should be. Marty Schottenheimer demonstrated it a year ago, winning eight of his last 11 games by relying on Davis and his defense, and Spurrier turned to that strategy in his NFL debut.

He should have. Let's face it: Arizona's weakness is its front four, and the Cards are notoriously weak against the run — ranking 24th in that department a year ago. When you have a Pro Bowl back like Davis, it doesn't take a genius to figure out what had to happen.

"He's not playing with an average back," said Arizona defensive tackle Marcus Bell. "He's playing with a great back. And if something's working why not stay with it? Everybody was talking about their offense and the pass, but we knew that Stephen Davis is too good of a back for him not to touch it."

Now, so does Spurrier. After trying 27 passes in a first half where he trailed 13-10, Spurrier turned to Davis — and the results were predictable. Davis wound up with 26 carries — 16 in the second half — and 104 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown.

"They didn't do anything to surprise us," said Cards defensive coordinator Larry Marmie. "When they came out in the second half they featured him more than they did in the first half. But I don't think that was a surprise. I think it was just good football."

Amen. But that's not how Spurrier is supposed to operate. In fact, when he opened the game by sending Davis over right tackle, he later conceded it was the first time he started a new job by not throwing on the first snap. But then there was a catch.

"We checked out of that first play," he said. "They were in a zone, and we thought we could run it."

They could, and they demonstrated it again and again in the second half when they ran Davis right, left and up the gut for 69 yards. The success they had with him — particularly on weak-side pitches that caught the Cardinals short — opened up the passing game, with Arizona pulling an eighth defender into the box to defend Davis.

That left the Cards in three-deep coverage, which left them vulnerable to the deep ball and — presto, just like that — Washington struck for two second-half touchdown passes, including a 43-yarder to Rod Gardner. Matthews can take a bow — and the Redskins awarded him a game ball afterward — but it was the patience that Spurrier showed with Davis and his offense that made the difference.

"I think what you saw out there today is what I'm familiar with in terms of playing Steve Spurrier," said Marmie, who defended against Spurrier when Marmie was at the University of Tennessee. "At Florida all that talk was about the 'Fun N' Gun,' but they still were pretty good running the football.

"They're well-rounded. They use all their personnel groupings. And when you have a back like Davis, his offense at one time or another is going to test every part of your defense. They spread you out, and they don't spread you out just to throw it; they spread you out to run it."

That's the way it should be. Jimmy Johnson left the University of Miami and didn't win until Emmitt Smith showed up. Butch Davis left the University of Miami and should win now that he has William Green at running back. Then there's Spurrier, and he just learned his first lesson.

"Sometimes you can't believe everything you read," Spurrier said. "You try to win a game, and we thought we could run."

They can. They should. They just did.

Clark Judge can be reached at his e-mail address: cjudge@foxsports.com.

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everything in this article about the strategy and stats is correct, excpet the author's conclusion :)

Spurrier got 327 yards passing and 3 td's from a quarterback that Peter King and Merril Hoge thought wasn't NFL caliber. He also got 100 yards rushing with a back behind a line some commentators thought was the worst in the NFC East.

The results that Spurrier got in this game and the poise his offense showed despite minimal playing time together in the preseason as a unit is the real indication of what kind of coach he is.

Joe Gibbs abandoned his usual MO and ran a no huddle three wide receiver formation in the Super Bowl against the Bills and totally befuddled them.

Bill Parcells used the mobility of Jeff Hostetler in the 1990 playoffs and Super Bowl to compensate for the loss of the passing efficiency of Phil Simms.

Spurrier will run the ball against teams that are weak against the run. Wow. What a discovery by Judge :laugh:

But, let's not ignore that 330 of the 442 yards were gained through the air and two touchdowns against the Cardinals best cornerback in Duane Starks :)

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Y'know, I honestly DO think that the majority of people fully expect Spurrier to throw the ball 50-60 times per game. "Well, that's what he did in preseason"...well..DUH!!!!...Spurrier had to work on the intricate details of his passing game, he KNEW Davis could already run, so he didn't need to practice it. God, there are some STUPID people out there.:rolleyes:

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