Spurrier softens game critique

Wholesale changes not imminent, coach says

Pro Football

Redskins notebook

October 21, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier called an audible.

Less than 24 hours after the second-year coach had blasted his players for a lack of "fight" during a 24-7 loss to the Buffalo Bills Sunday and hinted at cutting or benching players, Spurrier changed his tune yesterday and said that his post-game comments were perhaps overly critical.

"Maybe that was [an] on-the-moment thought to get our guys' attention," Spurrier said during his weekly news conference at Redskins Park. "We need to change some people, but there's not a whole lot of changing you can do right now, to tell you the truth. ... This is our team. Somehow or another, we've got to get our players excited to play a game. That's the challenge we've got to do."

The reversal was fine with co-captain and right tackle Jon Jansen, who attributed Spurrier's frustrations to the emotions of the loss to the Bills.

"After you lose a game that you think you should've won, that you felt you should've won, everybody's going to be frustrated and emotional about it," Jansen said. "Yeah, we're glad he's taking some of those things back, but we have to go out and prove to everybody those things aren't true."

The Redskins (3-4) dropped their third straight game and fourth in their past five by collecting just 169 yards of total offense and allowing Buffalo (4-3) to gain 432 yards -the team's worst showing since the Philadelphia Eagles posted 451 yards in September 2002.

After that game against the Eagles, Spurrier vented about his players' lackadaisical effort, but like last year, Spurrier needed a day to acknowledge that he allowed his frustration to get the best of him.

"The message right after a game like that usually tapers off a little bit after you realize this is your team [and] these are your guys," Spurrier said, adding that the club invited seven free agents to work out at Redskins Park yesterday: running backs Fred Talley and Travis Stephens; defensive backs Calvin Carlyle and Willie Miles; offensive linemen Bernard Robertson and Mitch White; and defensive end Erik Flowers.

"You don't change a team in midseason, but if there's one or two players somewhere or maybe even one or two on our team that need to play more, then that's something we're looking at."

One of those positions under scrutiny could be left guard, where rookie Derrick Dockery knocked the ball from quarterback Patrick Ramsey's grasp on third-and-one from the Bills' 1 and was called for a holding and leg-whipping penalty.

Asked if the team would insert backup Lennie Friedman in Dockery's place, Spurrier said, "That's certainly something we need to strongly consider."

Worst day at the office

Sunday was a career day for the Redskins - just not the kind to write home about.

Ramsey's nine completions for 115 yards were career lows since he entered the NFL last season. The last time a Washington quarterback completed fewer than 10 passes was Dec. 30, 2001, when former Raven Tony Banks was 9-for-15 in a 40-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Wide receiver Laveranues Coles' NFL-record 19 consecutive games with at least five catches ended Sunday when the Bills limited him to three catches for 58 yards.

The eight first downs were the fewest since the 2001 Redskins collected eight in a 37-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 24.

Et cetera

Spurrier said running back Ladell Betts will be out at least two weeks with a broken bone in his left forearm. Ramsey (bruised right hand and hip), left tackle Chris Samuels (pinched nerve in neck), defensive tackle Martin Chase (strained quadriceps) and wide receiver Darnerien McCants (sprained ankle) will not practice today, but should be ready to play the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 2, according to Spurrier.

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