Coach is a hit, was it <BR >a start or a tease?

Everyone loved the new coach's debut, making grand predictions of things to come based on one game. But what a game it was: the Redskins smashed the Cleveland Browns, 41-12, in Richie Petitbon's preseason opener. Turns out it meant little. Injuries and age combined to wreck the season. Which brings us to Steve Spurrier's first game, a 38-7 win over San Francisco. Yes it was a nice opener. But it's still too early to decipher the true meaning. Was it a start? Or a tease?

Either way, it was different. The Redskins passed for 441 yards and five touchdowns, showcasing Spurrier's intent this season. They also ran the ball ineffectively, mostly on draws. Thing is, in the NFC East, you must run the ball well to win. And you must run it between the tackles. We know the Redskins have the back to do it in Stephen Davis; we need to see if they have the guards to do it.

But the opener also was about the quarterback battle. Obviously Danny Wuerffel emerged as the victor, completing 16 of 25 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. Sage Rosenfels started and completed 11 of 21 passes for 172 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Forget the stats, however. Rosenfels faced the 49ers starters; Wuerffel faced the backups. But forget that, too. Wuerffel simply made better, and faster, decisions. Complain about his arm strength all you like, but if he can make quick throws against first teamers, that will compensate for the lack of zip. That's something Rosenfels still doesn't do.

Yes he threw a 65-yard touchdown pass. But Derrius Thompson was wide open. Against the first unit, Rosenfels was slow to throw, leading to ugly incompletions. He recovered nicely and showed that he has a future in this league. I like him and would like to see him stick around for a couple years and develop. But the Redskins might not have that luxury. They already have their young quarterback of the future. Still, I'll be anxious to see how Rosenfels fares in his next start; maybe he worked out jitters early and will look more comfortable the next time.

Wuerffel made all sorts of different throws: fades, crosses, slants. He even showed an ability to make plays when the pocket collapsed, one time flinging a pass to running back Robert Gillespie as he was getting sacked and another time sidestepping the rush and floating a pass to Ladell Betts. Many times Wuerffel threw what could be described as a perfect pass, putting the ball in a spot where only the receiver had a chance for it. Rosenfels doesn't do that yet.

Also, considering the state of the interior of the line, the quarterback's quick decisions will bolster the pass rush. That's something Rosenfels has struggled with from the start. And he'd need a year in this system to feel fully comfortable.


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