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Redskins Left Playing for Pride

Game in Chicago Is Test of Resolve

By Nunyo Demasio


Coach Steve Spurrier often suppresses his ultra-competitive nature behind a stoic, ruddy exterior. Minutes after an embarrassing Oct. 19 loss to the Buffalo Bills, however, Spurrier could barely contain his anger, publicly questioning his players' professionalism. But after reviewing tape the next morning, Spurrier tempered his remarks after realizing that his team's effort was more spirited than it appeared.

One reason that last week's 27-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys was viewed as a low point was that this time everyone, including the players, agreed that for one of the few times this season their effort was not what it should have been.

After being officially eliminated from the playoffs last week, the Redskins' final two games, beginning today with a visit to the Chicago Bears (6-8), bring a true test of their resolve.

Chicago has also been eliminated from the postseason, and about the only thing on the line is the future status of Spurrier's and Dick Jauron's coaching staffs.

"The ultimate goal in anything you do is to win," said cornerback Champ Bailey, who has played with left shoulder and left wrist injuries. "And that should motivate you enough. You want the playoffs, etc. But all that comes from winning. So we look at it simply. Let's win."

During a Dec. 7 victory over the New York Giants, the Redskins (5-9) gave perhaps their gutsiest performance of the season despite several players describing the weather as the coldest they experienced in an NFL game.

Most Redskins players have performed with spirit this season, even during lopsided outcomes. Those efforts often have been undermined by penalties, missed assignments and a lack of production at certain positions, particularly defensive lineman and tailback.

When Spurrier was asked Friday if his team played hard this season, he responded: "Pretty much so. Can some play a little harder? Yes. But overall, it's been pretty good."

One sign the Redskins won't go through the motions in the final two games is that a few injured players have insisted on trying to continue playing. Left tackle Chris Samuels will test his sprained right knee today after missing three straight games. Samuels was asked why he doesn't just call it a season, and avoid risking serious injury.

"This is my job," Samuels responded.

Wideout Laveranues Coles -- who has a stress facture in his right foot that may require surgery -- has the same mind-set.

"This is why you love the game: because you like to compete to win," said Coles, who must place his foot in a cast for up to eight weeks after the season. "Whether it's chess, checkers or a video game. When I'm home playing a video game, I get mad if I lose. There's nothing at stake for me but a win or a loss, or bragging rights."

One intriguing aspect of the game is that Spurrier will be coaching against a team quarterbacked by Rex Grossman, his former pupil at the University of Florida. Grossman made his NFL starting debut last week in Chicago's 13-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, completing 13 of 30 passes for 157 yards. Spurrier only concentrates on defenses when preparing for an opponent, but couldn't resist watching film of Grossman's first NFL start. "Rexie looked pretty good the other day," said Spurrier, who coached Grossman for two seasons, including his sophomore year when the quarterback threw 34 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions to finish as runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. "I usually don't watch the offense of the other team but I had to go peek at him in there."

Spurrier's new pupil, Tim Hasselbeck, vows to recover from one of the worst performances by an NFL quarterback. Hasselbeck almost certainly can't do any worse. Against Dallas's defense, Hasselbeck registered a 0.0 rating. Before the debacle, Spurrier raised eyebrows by allowing a slim possibility that Hasselbeck would displace Patrick Ramsey as a starter next season. Now, Hasselbeck merely wants to solidify his position as Ramsey's backup.

There are no real tangible goals for the Redskins, who once dreamed about the postseason. But the offense, ranked 24th, can try to improve statistically and surpass last year's 20th ranking. And the defense, ranked 21st, can become a middle-of-the-pack unit or drop to one of the worst in the league.

"We're trying to get to the offseason," wideout Rod Gardner said, "with some kind of positive note."

The Redskins must win both games to avoid matching their worst record in six seasons; in 1998, the Redskins finished 6-10 after an 0-7 start. If Washington loses both games, it will have its worst season since 1994 when Norv Turner's team finished 3-13. Two straight victories also will prevent an incremental decline in victories since owner Daniel Snyder's first season in 1999.

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Originally posted in the WP

Redskins Left Playing for Pride

When Spurrier was asked Friday if his team played hard this season, he responded: "Pretty much so. Can some play a little harder? Yes. But overall, it's been pretty good."

Playing for pride? :laugh: Pretty good? Spurrier has got to raise his self esteem standards. :laugh:

This must be some kind of cruel joke being played on us Redskin fans by the football gods. Now we'll probably F--K up our draft position. :(

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