Even at 3-4, Spurrier defends Fun 'N' Gun

Despite slide, 'Skins coach plans to retain offense

October 28, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - For those who thought a 10-13 record in his first two seasons as an NFL coach would humble Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier, think again.

Spurrier, whose Redskins (3-4) enjoyed a much-needed bye this past weekend, remained adamant at his weekly conference at Redskins Park yesterday that there is nothing inherently wrong with his Fun 'N' Gun offense and that its reliance on the quarterback's ability to audible at the line of scrimmage based on the position of the defense can work in the NFL.

For proof, Spurrier said he and the offensive coaches watched film of the team's final three games last season in which the offense averaged 360 yards under quarterback Patrick Ramsey's direction.

"We're trying to get back to do more of those things," Spurrier said. "If that means checking off every now and then, then we're going to have to change some plays occasionally. We did that last year, and Patrick played pretty doggone well toward the end of last year."

Last season, Washington's pass-to-run ratio was 56-44. During the team's first four games this fall, the Redskins trimmed that gap to 53-47 and boasted a 3-1 record.

But during the current three-game skid, opposing teams have tried to knock Ramsey around and have keyed on blitzing a Washington offensive line that was supposed to be a strength.

The Redskins' 24-7 loss to Buffalo last week convinced team owner Daniel M. Snyder to ask former offensive line coach Joe Bugel and defensive guru Foge Fazio to review videotapes and offer recommendations.

"Most of it had to do with just some fundamental parts of the game," Spurrier said of Bugel and Fazio's reports. "Obviously, we're not great tacklers and blockers right now and it all comes back to fundamentals."

But Spurrier backed off reports last week that quoted him as saying that the offense would return to throwing the ball at the expense of running it.

"That's not the answer," he said. "The answer is running successfully and throwing completions. We've got to find a way to do that better."

Spurrier had little to say about the team's interest in former Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Darrell Russell.

The Raiders released Russell yesterday, the same day he was reinstated by the NFL after serving a 1 1/2 -season suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Sources told The Washington Post and the Washington Times that the Redskins might pursue Russell if Oakland released him.

Russell, the No. 2 overall selection in the 1997 NFL draft who had 28 1/2 sacks in five seasons with the Raiders, was eligible for reinstatement in January. But he had the suspension extended by three months because commissioner Paul Tagliabue wasn't satisfied with his off-field behavior, which included rape charges that were later dropped.

Spurrier also said nothing had changed with regard to bringing back quarterback Danny Wuerffel.

Spurrier said Wuerffel - a 1996 Heisman Trophy winner under Spurrier's coaching at the University of Florida who was cut by the Redskins before the start of the regular season - had not expressed an eagerness to rejoin the team.

That leaves either recently signed Tim Hasselbeck or rookie Gibran Hamdan to back up Ramsey. Neither quarterback has thrown a regular-season pass in the NFL.

NOTES: Although Spurrier listed his status as doubtful, running back Trung Canidate said his high right ankle sprain has healed enough so that he will be ready to play against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Spurrier also said cornerback Fred Smoot (fractured sternum) and left guard Dave Fiore (swollen right knee) were doubtful for Sunday's game. ... Spurrier said the team had released offensive lineman Mitch White - who was signed last week - and would try to re-sign offensive lineman Brad Bedell. Bedell was cut to make room for White.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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