Spurrier's learning curve grows
Back to Ramsey?
Back to Ramsey?

Posted Nov 18, 2002

The Redskins season has turned into one long exhibition season. And that's mainly because Steve Spurrier didn't know what he was in for when he joined the NFL. He's finally starting to learn.

Spurrier learned a few more lessons Sunday in Washington's 19-17 loss to the Giants. Another game in which the Redskins came away feeling they should have won. They're right. When the defense forces three turnovers, all inside the opponents' 40, the offense must score more than 10 points on those drives.

But for Spurrier this season has turned into a 16-week crash course on the NFL. He's learned that you can't attack superior defenses with mediocre offensive talent. He can't accept it, or so it seems, but he certainly appears to realize they need more talent in the passing game.

And he's learned that he doesn't have the quarterbacks to win in the NFL. If only he had listened to others about this topic long ago. Thankfully some sane voices won out last spring and the Redskins drafted a quarterback in the first round. At least Patrick Ramsey gives hope for the future.

But Spurrier needed to see first-hand what everyone else already knew: the Redskins needed a proven quarterback and they couldn't find one. Whenever Spurrier was asked what he liked about Matthews or Danny Wuerffel, he always replied that he had seen them do it in college, so he knows they can do it in the NFL.

Guess what? They can't. At least not at the level the Redskins need. But Spurrier needed to find that out himself. Considering the Redskins' passing woes, it appears that's something he's learned in a painful way.

He's also learning that schemes don't win in the NFL. They only work when the talent is there to make them work.

And that's what we've learned about Spurrier. He's no different than any other coach. He needs talent to win. Before the season, no one knew quite how he would handle the NFL. The talent suggested a 7-9 record, but Spurrier's collegiate success made him an X factor.

We've also learned that he must be better focused on the details of the NFL. When every team is closely matched in talent, those little details make all the difference. Maybe he's learned that, too. And he must learn when to single players out--he incensed many when he incorrectly fingered long snapper Ethan Albright as the culprit on the blocked field goal.

That's not to say Spurrier will never win in the NFL. Given the right talent, his aggressiveness will make for a fun attack. And the thing we've always liked about him is his willingness to defer to others, letting everyone do what they do best.

Spurrier has his strengths. He also has a lot to learn--as we've spent all season learning.

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C Ethan Albright (profile)
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