SPOTLIGHT ON SPURRIER

He wasn't hurt? He could have come back into the game? When Danny Wuerffel replaced Shane Matthews at quarterback with about 11 minutes left to play and the Redskins trailing the 49ers 20-10, it was widely assumed that Matthews had been knocked out of the game. As Steve Spurrier put it, Matthews "took some hits that quarterbacks are not supposed to take."

But after the game it was revealed that Matthews could have gone back in. Both Spurrier and Matthews confirmed this. So why was Wuerffel, who had a terrible outing in the second half last week against Philadelphia when Matthews was hurt, in the game?

"I thought he'd give us a spark," said Spurrier. As Paul Woody said in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "The only way [Wuerffel] is going to provide a spark when he enters the game is if he's carrying a book of matches."

Even if Wuerffel was carrying a book of matches, he barely had time to try and strike one. He had just two pass attempts. One was complete to Ledell Betts, the other was a horrid looking lob that everyone knew would be intercepted from the moment it left his hand. San Francisco's Zack Bronson tracked down the lazy fly at his own two with about eight minutes left. The Niners ran out the clock with their dominating (252 yards) rushing attack.

Pressed on why Wuerffel was in the game, Spurrier said, "Early (in the preseason), he was very good. He quickly added, "but lately nothing good happens when he's in the game," stating the obvious.

All of this opens up Washington's favorite can of worms, the quarterback controversy. This is not, however, Sonny vs. Billy. It's a tri-cornered affair with Matthews, the banged-up starter, Wuerffel, the horridly ineffective backup, and Patrick Ramsey, the X-factor.

The topic dominated the coach's Monday press conference. Spurrier started out with a general statement about making changes. "If we have to make some changes we will. We'll look at the off week here to evaluate where we are, what we need to do and try to get better for the remainder of the season. . .If changes are necessary, we'll make them before the Tennessee game. . . We're not going to watch the same guys do the same stuff."

When asked about the possibility of Ramsey playing, the coach said, "Obviously, we'll coach up Patrick as much as we can."

He had made the same statement after the Philadelphia game. What exactly does that mean? "We'll let (Ramsey) take a lot of snaps, make a lot of decisions," and see if he's ready to play.

Would a Ramsey start mean that the Skins were throwing in the towel on the season, sacrificing some wins now for a better chance at success down the road? No, Spurrier said, "We'll play the player who gives us the best chance to win. . .Sometimes, you've just got to put the player in there and find out."

As usual, Spurrier refused to be pinned down to any kind of timetable for making a decision, saying, "We'll make some kind of announcement next week. Early next week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Wednesday Thursday, something like that."

In addition to patiently dealing with the quarterback questions, the Ballcoach expressed displeasure with nearly every other phase of the San Francisco game as well. "We all had a bad outing. . .we've got to pass block better. . ..I'm not a very good quarterback coach right now. . .our receivers were not real sharp."

In summation, Spurrier said, "You're only as good as your last game and we're not very good right now."

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. For details about this unique book about the history of the Redskins go to RedskinsAtoZ.com.


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