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Daily Press: Redskins know not to put stock into preseason output


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Throw out the exhibition-game video

Redskins know not to put stock into preseason output


By Warner Hessler

Daily Press

Published September 3, 2003

ASHBURN -- Washington Redskins' coach Steve Spurrier says he won't be fooled again.

Last summer, he watched his offense score 164 points in five preseason games and went into the regular season believing he could score at any time, from any place on the field. He was wrong. The 33-point average of the summer turned into a very pedestrian 19.5-point average during the regular season.

"We were pretty good in the preseason," he said. "For whatever it was worth, we were leading the NFL in offense, in scoring and in touchdown passes and, lo and behold, then the season started. It was like two different seasons."

This summer, Spurrier watched his offense stumble around, scoring five touchdowns in four preseason games and averaging 13 points. He insists last year's experience has taught him to not put a lot of credence in preseason production. As such, he is not about to throw out his playbook and write another one.

"We still have confidence that we have a good offense, but we need to go prove it," he said. "Our offense is struggling. I can't tell you that we haven't been trying. We've just been sputtering around quite a bit. We are a wait-and-see type of team right now."

The waiting part will end Thursday night, and the seeing stage will begin when the Redskins open the regular season against the New York Jets.

Can a team that scored two passing touchdowns, averaged 186.3 passing yards per game and was penalized 39 times push a button and find the rhythm and productivity that was so elusive during the preseason?

"I think so, I hope so," said offensive tackle Chris Samuels. "We said a lot of big things last year and were proved wrong, so I don't want to say a lot of bad things now and be proved wrong again.

"There's no magic potion you can drink that makes an offense suddenly come together. With the talent and the coaching and the young players we have this year, I feel it will eventually come around. Like everybody else, though, I guess I have to just wait and see."

Fullback Bryan Johnson believes there is a shortcut to having a productive offense.

"If your playmakers make big plays, you don't have to wait around and find your rhythm," he said.

Receiver Rod Gardner, who is one of those playmakers, concurs.

"Rhythm is making plays, that's all it is," he said. "You make one big play, and that leads to another and then another. What I don't know is at what point you begin to click and these big plays begin to happen. I know we haven't done our best in preseason, but I just know that it will begin to happen soon."

Left guard Dave Fiore, who is entering his eighth season, believes it's ludicrous to place any emphasis on preseason results.

"Preseason is a time for the coaches to look at a lot of guys," he said, "and coaches put a different emphasis on each game. This summer the emphasis was on getting (quarterback) Patrick Ramsey some throws. With players coming in and out all the time, you're not going to have the kind of rhythm you normally have.

"Now that the season is beginning, you begin to tighten up. You play the same guys, and you plan everything right down to the last detail. That's how you establish a rhythm and keep improving on it to the point where you hope you are playing your best football in December."

By that time, chances are the enthusiasm or anxiety of the summer has long been forgotten.

QUICK KICKS. Rookie receiver Taylor Jacobs, who sustained an abdominal bruises during the final preseason game last Thursday in Jacksonville, was released from the hospital Tuesday. He is expected to return by the third game against the New York Giants ... Defensive end Bruce Smith, who is expected to split time on the right side with free agent Regan Upshaw, will make his 260th start Thursday night ... Washington is 13-11 at home over the past three seasons.

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

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