Schottenheimer looks ahead

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Redskins coach works on amid growing speculation about job after 8-8 year

Pro Football

January 08, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - In every tangible way, Marty Schottenheimer carried out his duties as coach of the Washington Redskins yesterday, meeting with each player to recap the just concluded season and map out off-season conditioning plans.

Roughly 45 players dropped by Schottenheimer's Redskin Park office to chat about the 8-8 season, which began with an 0-5 start and concluded with an 8-3 flourish, with thrills and chills in between.

"We all talked about the disappointment about not making it to the playoffs," said Schottenheimer. "We all decided if you can't go to the playoffs, at least you ought to have a little bit of fun and we certainly had a little bit of fun."

But that was yesterday, and whether Schottenheimer gets to keep having that fun depends on the meetings he has scheduled with team owner Daniel Snyder. The Associated Press reported the two met last night.

For a second day, Schottenheimer deflected questions about what discussions with Snyder might yield, saying he would address it "at the appropriate time."

"I am the coach of the Washington Redskins and delighted to be so," said Schottenheimer.

The indecision surrounding Schottenheimer's status stems from Snyder's apparent interest in other coaches and general managers, even with Schottenheimer under contract in Washington for three more years with $7.5 million in salary owed him.

In the past week, the names of former Florida coach Steve Spurrier, former Washington and San Diego general manager Bobby Beathard, and former Green Bay general manager Ron Wolf have been floated as possible replacements for Schottenheimer, who also controls player personnel decisions.

But Schottenheimer, who came to Washington after two years as a television analyst, said Sunday that he wants to return as coach, though he did not address whether he would give up his player personnel authority. If Schottenheimer is dismissed, his successor would be Washington's third coach in as many seasons, a track record that troubles some Redskins players.

"It [change] affects you," said defensive lineman Kenard Lang, who is a free agent. "One person will bring you in because he likes you, then another one might come in and bring in a different scheme and you might not fit, so it does affect you in terms of how you might be used. The way you might be used the next year might not be to your strength.

"I wanted to get out on the field and I was and that's all I asked for. I thank Marty for that. ... Now, I want to be loyal to him because he was loyal to me."

Said Pro Bowl offensive tackle Chris Samuels: "I don't like this. I would like to get one system and stick with it for a while."

Linebacker LaVar Arrington, like Samuels a Pro Bowl pick after his second season in the league, voted for retaining Schottenheimer.

"The staff seems optimistic about coming back and giving it another crack," said Arrington. "I think the staff is more than capable of doing the job. If Marty and the rest of the guys come back, I think this is a great start because we got the nuts and bolts tightened up this year. I think very highly of Coach Schottenheimer. I have never seen Coach point fingers at anybody. You must respect a man like that."

One of the first decisions for whoever coaches the Redskins next season will be whether to retain quarterback Tony Banks, who came to Washington after he was let go by the Ravens after last season and then cut by Dallas a few days into training camp this year.

Banks, a free agent, took over as starter in the third game of the season with mixed results, throwing for almost 2,400 yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

"If anybody, when I first got here, would have said that Tony Banks would be the starting quarterback by Week 3 and we would win eight of our last 11, I would have taken that bet," said Banks, who strained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee late in Sunday's 20-17 win over Arizona. "So I feel proud about our season. I had a lot of fun with those guys in the huddle. It's a great group of guys, but there's a lot of uncertainty."

Banks said he wants to stay in Washington.

Schottenheimer was a bit less committal, saying he thought Banks did a "respectable job." But unless the Redskins move up appreciably from their current draft position of 19th in the first round, they are not likely to find a superior option in the college ranks, and the quarterback free agency class is not believed to yield much better pickings.

The team must also decide whether to re-sign free-agent linebacker Shawn Barber, a starter who tore a knee ligament early in the season.

It appears that seven-year veteran Michael Westbrook, also a free agent, will not return. Westbrook, the team's leading receiver with 57 catches for 664 yards, expressed dissatisfaction at his reduced role in Schottenheimer's conservative offense, and said Sunday that he was not likely to come back unless he got more to do.

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