Spurrier takes heat for ice-cold Redskins

With losing streak at four, coach deals with questions about status of assistant

Redskins notebook

Pro Football

November 04, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Under the gun, the architect of the Fun `N' Gun is firing back.

Facing widespread criticism after the Washington Redskins stumbled their way to a fourth consecutive loss, 21-14, to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, second-year coach Steve Spurrier yesterday defended his system, his coaching staff and his ability to adapt to the NFL.

Washington (3-5) had just 213 yards of total offense - 124 through the air - against the Cowboys (6-2), and quarterback Patrick Ramsey was sacked four times and left the game with a dislocated pinkie finger on his non-throwing left hand.

Asked if the sloppy performance reinforced doubts about his schemes, Spurrier said, "Of course it's that way. It was that way when I first got here, too. So nothing's changed. We're struggling a little bit right now, and we're going to try to get better."

It's a familiar tune that has been playing around Redskins Park since Washington last won a game on Sept. 28 against the New England Patriots.

Since then, opposing defenses have exploited the team's inability to protect Ramsey.

Of Dallas' four sacks half came from linebackers and the other half from blitzing safeties who crowded the line of scrimmage.

Even with eight-man maximum protection packages, the Redskins still could not keep Ramsey out of harm's way.

That has led to speculation if a report was true that alleged Spurrier had fired offensive line coach Kim Helton last week only to be overruled by team owner Daniel Snyder.

Spurrier denied the report Sunday and reiterated his stance not to fire any of his assistants.

"There's nothing wrong with these coaches," he said. "We've got to rush better, protect better and do a lot of things, and we've got to coach better. We're all trying to get better."

B. Smith unhappy

Defensive end Bruce Smith remained miffed that the team chose to start Regan Upshaw instead of Smith against Dallas.

Smith, who is two sacks from breaking Reggie White's career record of 198, said he was informed by Spurrier that Upshaw would be promoted for the Cowboys game.

"I want to know what their intentions are," said Smith, adding that he felt singled out by the demotion. "I have goals that I'd like to achieve - team goals and individual goals. At some point in time in your career, you have to take a stand and be a little selfish."

Spurrier denied that Smith was being singled out.

"I'm sorry he feels that way," Spurrier said. "I guess it was mine and the team's decision. Basically, we thought Regan has played as well or better and deserved a chance to start. Now the next game, I don't know who's going to start. If the defensive coaches say Bruce played better than Regan yesterday, Bruce will start."

End zone

The injury list at running back got longer as Chad Morton suffered a sprained ankle and Sultan McCullough fractured his hand in Dallas. Ladell Betts is still out with a broken forearm. Spurrier said Trung Canidate, who has been nursing a high ankle sprain, should return this week. Linebacker LaVar Arrington bruised his shoulder, but will likely play as will Ramsey.

Next for Redskins

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks (6-2) vs. Washington Redskins (3-5)

Site: FedEx Field, Landover

Time: 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 45, 5/WNAV (1430 AM), WJFK (106.7 FM)

Line: Seahawks by 3 1/2

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