Danielson: What's needed, what must be avoided

Gary Danielson knows what makes Steve Spurrier's offense go. Danielson played quarterback in the NFL and analyzed Spurrier's offense for ABC over several years. He's a big fan of Spurrier, but he also knows what the new Redskins coach must avoid to make his system work. And Danielson knows what he's looking for in a quarterback. Here, in his own words, is what Danielson has to say.

But the offense has some potential pitfalls. One is the complexity of protection mandated by really sophisticated defensive coordinators. If you try to be too simple in your protection scheme, you can get pigeonholed and they'll get a feel for you.

Another potential pitfall is the movement of the players. Steve may get tired of the fact that he keeps losing people for only one reason for one reason or another, whether the cap dictates it or the wife wants to live in another city or people have different agendas.

At Florida he had an advantage. Every guy at Florida wanted to play in the NFL. They all believed if they listened to Steve that was their best chance. Every guy for the Redskins knows there's 30 other teams that would take them for the same amount of money. If you get a selfish player in college you can pound on him and he knows it's something he has to go through.

In the pro's, a guy says, 'Screw him. I'll go play somewhere else.' They don't want to hear it. They don't care what it is and there's not much you can do about that. But there's nothing Steve is going to do that Parcells hasn't done to a guy before. Most will take anything from a coach if they think they can win.

Another problem is there's a much higher injury rate for quarterbacks and receivers. After a while you could be playing with inferior players. No matter how smart you are, you're not going to win.

He doesn't need a Drew Bledsoe to win. A big arm is becoming a hinderance in the NFL. If your arm is too big, you have to gear down to throw the passes necessary to compete in this league.

That's why you see guys that are mechanically sound, like Rich Gannon and Kurt Warner. If you're quick and accurate, you can be successful. That fits into his system. The long throws made in the NFL are touch throws where they throw the ball up and the receiver tries to win the matchup.

A quarterback may be harder to measure than even a major league pitcher. How can Jeff Garcia be a good player and Akili Smith not? I have no idea why. It all depends on the type of guy when he gets into a system.

He wants a mechanically sound quarterback who can envision the game. He'll live with a gunslinger, that won't bother him. But he has to be able to see the game a half step before the game happens. He doesn't have that guy there now. Steve has a chip on his shoulder, which I enjoy. That's why Rex Grossman could play for him. He wasn't intimidated by him. Steve sees who's tough enough to play quarterback.

He's looking for receivers more in the vain of what St. Lous does than what the big receivers are doing around the league. He wants a guy that can handle the footwork of the passing game.

That's the way Steve teaches the passing game, that the receiver has to be in the right spot at the right time and the quarterback has to depend on that. Steve is the best I've seen at creating space for the quarterback. In college, when you're open, you're open by three yards. In the pros, you're open by half a yard. If you make that one yard, then all those guys are 60-percent throwers. He might be the type of coach who can take an offense that gets guys open by half a yard and now gets them open by a yard.

Steve is as good as I've seen at teaching the receivers and not just the quarterbacks.

Steve had the advantage in college. He had better players. He knows he can win with good palyers.

Now he wants to see if he can win with equal players. That's something to admire.

He's a lot of fun: he's as quick-witted as anybody and he loves to get people thinking. I agree with something else he believes in: You don't fire up someone else by what you say. I don't believe in locker room bulletin board stuff. Steve is a joy. He's real funny when he's picking on someone else. When it's on you, it's not so funny.

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers and is a correspondent for Pro Football Weekly.


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