Having tossed Cards, 'Skins wait to see if Schottenheimer stays

Coach states desire to remain in shuffle after 20-17 finale win

Pro Football

January 07, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER - If yesterday was Marty Schottenheimer's last turn behind the wheel of the Washington Redskins, the record will reflect that he drove full throttle.

Amid rumors that he will be fired as early as today as the team's coach and head of football operations, Schottenheimer pushed virtually every button at his disposal to get the sluggish Redskins across the finish line a winner.

And after the Redskins got a hard-fought 20-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (7-9) at rain-soaked FedEx Field, Schottenheimer made it clear that he wants to remain in the driver's seat.

"Would I like to come back? You bet your tail," Schottenheimer said. "I love coaching, and you know what, and if this is arrogant, so be it, but I'm pretty damn good at it."

Whether Schottenheimer, who just completed the first year of a four-year, $10 million contract, returns is one of the hotter questions swirling around the nation's capital.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is reportedly not only looking for a general manager to take over Schottenheimer's personnel duties, but also for a coach, namely Steve Spurrier. Snyder made a pitch last season for Spurrier, who resigned Friday as football coach at the University of Florida presumably for an NFL job.

Snyder has not commented on recent stories regarding Schottenheimer's fate, lending credibility to speculation that Schottenheimer may be in jeopardy of being replaced.

Beyond his declaration that he wanted to return, Schottenheimer deflected other questions about his job status, saying only that he would meet with Snyder in the next few days.

But Schottenheimer made it clear that he was proud to coach a team that initially grumbled under his strong-willed leadership and stumbled out of the gate with five straight losses. But that team eventually came to respect him and finished the season at 8-8."[The turnaround] feels very good, but it doesn't surprise me," he said. "When things are going good, you can win with anybody. When things get tough, and they always do in this business certainly, you will not succeed unless you have good people. And that locker room is full of a bunch of good people."

And the players in the locker room generally indicated that they would like to have Schottenheimer back based, in some cases, on what he has meant to their careers.

Quarterback Tony Banks, who joined the Redskins in training camp after being released by the Ravens and Dallas Cowboys, expressed support for Schottenheimer, who installed him as the starter in Week 3 after waiving incumbent starter Jeff George.

"Marty gave me this opportunity," said Banks, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. "I think with an off-season of all of us together will let them see all the things that I do well, and there could be some additions. You never know."

"I would think it would be wrong and an injustice to change what we've established here and the direction we're going," said guard Dave Szott, who played his first eight seasons for Schottenheimer, and was pulled out of semiretirement by the Redskins' coach to shore the team's fragile offensive line.

"It wouldn't be a good sign in my mind and in my heart if he were not here."

Stephen Davis would have good cause for wanting Schottenheimer to return, as the coach pared down the offense in Week 4 and made the sixth-year running back the focus.

Davis returned the favor by running for a team-record 1,432 yards, topping his own franchise team mark of 1,405 he set two years ago. He ran for 148 yesterday on a career-high 38 carries.

Davis' 2-yard touchdown run with 3:11 left and his subsequent two-point conversion run sent the announced crowd of 61,721 home reasonably happy on the raw, rainy day.

"I got a lot of rest [Saturday] night," said Davis, who earned a $750,000 bonus to his 2002-2003 salary by again setting the team rushing mark. "I knew going into this game that we were going to run the ball with the elements out there. It was pretty cold out there, and it was raining and doing everything, but we just stayed with our game plan. We ran the ball and were successful with it."

Said tight end Walter Rasby, who caught a 5-yard third-quarter touchdown pass from Banks: "[The win] lets us go out on a good note. This type of game really resembles our season. Start out ugly, ugly, ugly, and then keep plugging away and come out on top."

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