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Spurrier's New Approach


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Spurrier's new approach

Coach learns from rookie mistakes

By Warner Hessler

Daily Press

Published July 28, 2003

ASHBURN -- One of the things Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier learned in his rookie season of 2002 was that he couldn't win with a bunch of his former players from the University of Florida.

He brought in seven of them, including two quarterbacks, and none will be around this morning when the team begins training camp at Redskin Park.

"It didn't work out last year for a lot of players that we thought would be here for a while and lead us to division (titles) and championships," Spurrier said Sunday afternoon. "A lot of Florida players I brought in didn't work out as well as we hoped. We were sort of finding out who our players were last year."

After finding out who they were, Spurrier and owner Dan Snyder went on a whirlwind recruiting and signing binge that netted 16 free agents, including seven projected starters, a kicker and a returner.

"We all learned, and thankfully Mr. Snyder agreed, that what we needed to do was go out and get better players at a few positions," Spurrier said. "We struggled (last season). Certainly 7-9 is struggling. In that case, you either go out and try to get better coaches, or you get better players. Mr. Snyder said we needed to go out and get better players. He did his part."

Another thing Spurrier said he learned last year is that the NFL isn't that much different from any other level where he had coached or played.

"What I learned is you lose in the NFL the same way you lose in college, high school and Pop Warner," he said. "You can't win if you have more turnovers, can't punt or get it off, you can't kick field goals, and you juggle quarterbacks. We had no continuity (at quarterback). We didn't realize that (rookie) Patrick Ramsey was our best quarterback until late in the season."

Spurrier said he might have been fooled into thinking the team was better than it really was during the preseason when it went 4-1 and scored a club-record 167 points.

"I maybe got misled a little bit by preseason," he said. "The real season began and we sort of got overwhelmed a little bit. You try to play everybody, but anytime you keep score you're supposed to try to win. People accused us of trying to win a little bit more because we threw the ball a little bit more, but they do keep score."

And as long as they keep score, and as long as he's the guy calling the plays on the sidelines, Spurrier says that won't change. Running backs coach Hue Jackson was promoted to offensive coordinator, but Spurrier said he will make the game-day decisions.

"Hue allows me to spend more time with the entire team," Spurrier said. "We have more meetings with the offensive staff, and sometimes I'm not there with them. I'm still going to call the plays, though. I'm the play-caller. Mr. Snyder didn't hire me to be an organizational chief."

QUICK KICKS. Receiver Taylor Jacobs, the 44th overall selection in April's draft, signed Sunday. The deal is believed to be for five years, worth $4.5 million. ... The Redskins are expected to give starting defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson one more chance to renegotiate his contract or risk being released. They are believed to be asking him to take a cut from $3.5 million to around $2 million with an opportunity to make up the difference with incentives. Should he balk and be released, free agent Jermaine Haley, a free agent who played all 16 games with Miami but did not start, will likely fill his position with the first unit ... The team will practice at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. today.

Warner Hessler can be reached at 247-4648 or by e-mail at whessler@dailypress.com

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