Spotlight on Spurrier - Week 6

It wasn't a meltdown. It wasn't a blowup. It wasn't even a tirade. It came across as a statement of fact. "We'll try to find out the guys that want to bust their tails . . .. and play 'em," said Steve Spurrier. As the Ballcoach spoke right after the loss to New Orleans, you could see the wheels turning in his head, figuring out how to react the loss.

Problem was that there was enough good play on offense and defense to take some encouragement from, but enough egregious errors committed by both units to drive the coach up the wall.

Note the lack of a mention of special teams as having done some good things. They gave up two returns for touchdowns. What happened there?

"Poor coverage, very poor coverage; guys not really concerned about busting their tail, making the tackle," Spurrier said.

The offense got things off to a rocky start.

"We're not smart enough to give ourselves a chance to win; a lot of careless penalties, careless turnovers"

The careless plays in the first quarter alone would have driven most coaches over the edge. The Redskins committed a total of 12 major errors in the first 15 minutes between turnovers, near-turnovers and major penalties.

Ramsey threw three interceptions and had another one dropped by the defender. "The first two, he threw right to the guy. I don't know if he was getting hit or what. . .I don't know where he was throwing on some of those," said Spurrier. "Ramsey. . .got off to a rough start, sort of hung in there after that. . .Played about like a rookie quarterback, I guess"

Before Ramsey completed a pass, the Redskins were down 20-0. Spurrier lamented, "As a team overall, we look pretty bad right now."

The defense played well early on and minimized the damage from the early turnovers. Ramsey found some rhythm and led the Redskins to two touchdowns.

In between the TD's the first of several momentum-swinging plays occurred. Michael Lewis, who was driving a beer truck for a living a few years ago, blew through the coverage and took the kickoff back 90 yards for a touchdown.

"We've got to make the play and play disciplined," said the coach.

Then as the Saints were leading 26-14 and driving towards the Washington goal line, Ifeanyi Ohalete stepped in front of an Aaron Brooks pass and raced 78 yards for a touchdown to pull the home team within five late in the first half. The Saints' next two offensive plays went nowhere and they faced third and 12 at the Washington 16. Brooks threw up a prayer that found a wide-open Lewis for 58 yards. Sam Shade let Lewis get behind him, a cardinal sin for a safety in the last minute of a half. That led to a field goal.

A similar pass from Brooks to Joe Horn in the third quarter set up New Orleans' final score. Shade was among three defensive backs that sort of watched as Brooks' howitzer dropped into Horn's arms.

"Lobbed ball right before the half, lobbed ball right before the quarter, that's not supposed to happen to good teams. Somewhere in our secondary, we've got to get smarter."

Prior to that, Lewis had gathered his second return touchdown, an 83-yard punt return.

"Two special teams scores, it's hard to overcome that," Spurrier said.

The coach's scorn for the special teams didn't stop there. "We kick off, they start out on their 35 or 40, they kick off, they kick off, we start on the 20. That's when you know you're getting your butt kicked."

He put the team on notice, saying, "We're just going to watch the tape, put in some guys who will hustle; if we have to bring up some guys from the practice squad, we'll do that."

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. For details about this unique book, which chronicles every game the Redskins have played, go to RedskinsAtoZ.com


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