Frerotte bests Shuler in Redskins' QB duel

August 09, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The cheap rookie overshadowed the rich rookie last night for the Washington Redskins.

Unheralded Gus Frerotte, the seventh-round draft choice who's only costing the Redskins $125,000 this year, was more impressive than the team's $19.25 million first-round draft choice, Heath Shuler, when they both made their debuts in an exhibition game against the Buffalo Bills.

Even though the Redskins lost, 13-11, Frerotte put them into position to win when Chris Jacke tried a 35-yard field-goal attempt as time expired that would have won the game. But Jacke, who has virtually no chance of beating out Chip Lohmiller, hit the right upright to give the Bills the victory.

But Jacke's miss didn't diminish the showing of Frerotte, who had the advantage of having taken part in an entire training camp.

He completed 15 of 25 for 178 yards and mounted what would have been the game-winning drive when he took over on the Redskins' 36 with 2:48 left and moved them into position for Jacke's attempt.

Despite the impressive showing, Frerotte said he knows he's destined to be no more than a third-string quarterback this year.

"I know my position on the team. I know my role," he said.

Shuler played the second quarter and looked very much like a rookie quarterback playing with less than a week of training camp under his belt.

Shuler had his moments, completing three of his first four passes, including a 22-yarder over the middle to rookie tight end Kurt Haws, but he was successful on only one of his last six passes and wound up completing four of 10 passes for 47 yards and one interception. In 12 plays, he produced 48 yards of offense.

Shuler, working with the second unit against the Buffalo backups, misfired on all three of his third-down pass attempts.

After Johnny Thomas forced a fumble on a punt return by Darrick Branch and Stephen Hobbs recovered on the Buffalo 20, Shuler moved the Redskins just five yards in three plays. They had to settle for a field goal. Chip Lohmiller, who missed a 51-yard attempt in the first period, then nailed a 33-yard attempt.

Shuler's last two plays were particularly frustrating. On third-and-5 at the Buffalo 15, he threw deep in the end zone while rookie Tydus Winans turned, obviously expecting a sideline pass.

Even though he struggled at times, Shuler was pleased that he played as well as he did with such limited practice time.

"Obviously I had some negative things," he said.

He said coach Norv Turner stressed all week that he shouldn't press in his debut.

"I thought I did a really good job, but my goal was not to throw an interception. Norv talked to me about not trying to do anything spectacular and to stay within the system."

The Redskins got the ball back after Steve Christie missed a 52-yard field goal attempt with 1:05 left in the first half. Shuler went deep on first down just as James Patton, who beat highly touted rookie Tre Johnson, unloaded on him.

Shuler overthrew the pass and Jeff Burris picked it off.

Frank Reich then moved the Bills 59 yards in eight plays and Don Silvestri kicked a 48-yard field goal as the half ended to give the Bills a 10-3 lead.

Shuler's one-quarter showing did nothing to change the Redskins' perception that Shuler has a bright future.

Of more concern to the team was the performance in the first quarter when both teams used their first-string units. The Redskins' defense was shredded by Jim Kelly and they were ineffective running the ball.

Kelly completed nine of 12 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown and the Redskins never put any pressure on him. If Ken Harvey hadn't stripped the ball out of Pete Metzelaars' hands at the Washington 2-yard line at the end of Buffalo's first drive, Kelly would have had two touchdowns in two drives.

Although two defensive linemen, Leonard Marshall and Tim Johnson, were sidelined with injuries, the Redskin defense, which is being rebuilt by new defensive coordinator Ron Lynn, was obviously overmatched against a Buffalo first-string offense that has gone to four straight Super Bowls.

Meanwhile, while starting quarterback John Friesz was able to throw the ball -- he completed 13-yard passes on his first two plays and wound up completing three of seven for 36 yards in his two series -- the Redskins' rushing game went nowhere.

Ricky Ervins, playing the Emmitt Smith role at tailback in the Turner offense because Reggie Brooks is out with a pulled hamstring, managed only seven yards on four carries.

Since the Redskins' veteran offensive line is supposed to be the team's strength, that was a disappointing first outing.

Rookie Tyrone Rush, who suffered a neck injury early in the third period that wasn't thought to be serious, got 17 yard on four carries.

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