Redskins at a loss to name No. 1 QB

Schottenheimer will talk to George before deciding

Pro Football

September 11, 2001|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Next to congressional budget battles and the Sunday morning political talk shows, Washington loves a quarterback controversy and new Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer has wasted no time giving the city a fresh one.

Just 2 1/2 quarters into a brand new season, Schottenheimer yanked starter Jeff George from Sunday's 30-3 drubbing in San Diego, inserted backup Tony Banks into the fray and instantly created a potentially explosive situation.

"Believe me, I was fully aware when I made this decision that an impact would occur," said Schottenheimer yesterday at his weekly Monday news conference. "This is a business that draws with it certain responsibility and accountability and performance is utmost."

And while Schottenheimer said he wasn't holding George, who was 8-for-18 for 66 yards with two interceptions and two mishandled snaps from center, completely responsible for the Redskins' offensive debacle Sunday, he was looking to do whatever he could to get things moving.

"The decision I made was driven by one single thing. That was, I wanted to try and create a situation where I thought we might get energized on offense and do some things. We weren't able to do that," said Schottenheimer. "It wasn't anything in particular and it wasn't specifically related to Jeff. It had to do with the fact that offensively, we weren't getting anything done."

Schottenheimer, who had a brief, animated conversation with George on the sidelines Sunday about the benching, said he hoped that the Redskins, who trailed 20-0 at the time George was replaced, would get a spark from Banks, who came off the bench to lead Washington to its only preseason win over Cleveland.

"My thought was if we put Tony in there and he draws a hot hand like did he in the preseason game, maybe we have a chance to get back in it," said Schottenheimer.

However, Banks went only 7-for-14 for 53 yards, adding to the team's dreadful offensive performance that yielded only just 161 yards of total offense, eight first downs and four turnovers.

George's benching leaves open the question of who will start in Sunday's home opener against Arizona. Schottenheimer said he plans to meet with George before the team's scheduled practice tomorrow to discuss what George is thinking before making a decision.

"I know he [George] is frustrated. I would be, too," said Schottenheimer. "We'll go with one guy. That's always been my preference, but, having said that, [we'll do] whatever it takes to win."

George, who missed much of training camp with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder, declined to speak to a group of reporters after yesterday's brief practice.

However, in an interview with a Washington television station, George later said he hadn't lost faith in his ability, though he again declined to address the specifics of his Sunday benching.

"I never lose confidence in what I can do [with] as much as I've been through in my life, and not just on the football field, but just in life in general," George told Washington's Channel 4. "I feel like I'm as good as anybody in the league."

Meanwhile, Banks, the former Ravens starter who joined the Redskins after being cut by Dallas early in training camp, said he still considered George the starter, but was more than willing to take over if the opportunity presented itself.

"I consider myself a starter, but Jeff's still the guy and I came here knowing that and knowing that I'm the backup," said Banks.

In other developments, the team re-signed linebacker and special teams player Eddie Mason, one of the last cuts when the rosters were pared to 53 players.

Mason, in his fifth year in the league, and his third with Washington, said he was contacted by the Ravens about signing after he was cut last week, but that the Ravens chose to increase their depth in the secondary with ailments to Chris McAlister and Duane Starks.

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