Redskins need direction, a clue

The playoffs are done. Maybe not mathematically, but this isn't about math. It's about reality. And the reality is after Thursday's 27-20 loss to Dallas (10 in a row and counting) another season will end minus the postseason. With two key defensive players--linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and tackle Dan Wilkinson--possibly out for the year with injuries, the ending could get ugly.

Problem is, the Redskins have endured way too much change and drama over the past three years to become consistent winners any time soon.

And they won't become one until the owner gets a clue and the coach gets a clue.

The owner surrounds himself with people that few other teams would want. Worse, they disagree on what the team's philosophy should be. Vinny Cerrato is more aggressive pursuing free agents, something Snyder likes. Joe Mendes is more cautious.

When you mix the two, you get an organization in constant conflict--and far from being on the same page. It's one thing to disagree; it's another to have completely different philosophies. It can't work. Joe Gibbs and Bobby Beathard disagreed on certain decisions, but not on the direction or philosophy of the franchise.

The coach has to get a grip on his talent. There's no doubt Steve Spurrier cost his team a shot at the playoffs with his game plans. He cost them a chance to win against Jacksonville and New York and likely against Dallas.

The players need to make plays and they didn't. Obviously injuries aren't Spurrier's fault, either. Nor is it his fault that Kenny Watson couldn't handle a simple pass or that James Tuthill had a field goal blocked and missed an extra point.

But one of our Signs of Trouble on Wednesday was watching Danny Wuerffel drop back to pass too much. That's an obvious problem to everyone but Spurrier. Wuerffel is as nice a person as you'll meet and easy to root for. He's handled constant criticism with constant grace.

That said, his arm lacks any sizzle and it hurts Washington every time he throws--save for the 18-yard hitches, on which he's usually accurate. Receivers always have to wait for the pass, preventing them from getting more yards after the catch. Watch how long they must wait on the screens. It's ridiculous. It's a testament to his smarts that Wuerffel throws for as many yards as he does.

He knows how to operate a game and where to throw the ball and probably will make an excellent coach someday--if he wants to. But Wuerffel is what he is and everyone in the league knows it. He must have everything working right to succeed--like against St. Louis--and once the Redskins scrapped the run in the second half-- nine runs for Davis after halftime, they were doomed.

Then Spurrier has the nerve to seemingly blame others for his decisions to run the ball. He hates being second-guessed and sarcastically said after the game, ''We're supposed to run the ball.'' Yeah, right at people--not away from them. Not when a defense is that quick.

I'm tired of constantly writing the same stuff about Spurrier. One prominent columnist said he wasn't going to write about him after the Dallas game because he'd be repeating himself. Can't blame him.

We were told not to underestimate Spurrier from people who covered him in Florida. Turns out we overestimated him. Can he still win? Yes--and it will be fun when he has the requisite offensive talent. But the same can be said about every other coach in the NFL. For five million bucks, we expected more than that.

Then again, in the end, money isn't what wins.


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