Spurrier defends passing up more runs

Redskins notebook

Despite 161 rushing yards, team has Hasselbeck try 42 passes in first NFL start

Pro Football

December 02, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Last week, he apologized to fans. Yesterday, Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier offered nothing of the sort.

After the Redskins (4-8) lost for the seventh time in eight games with a 24-20 setback to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Spurrier defended his decision to dump a successful running attack for the arm of a quarterback making his first career NFL start.

Spurrier said he felt asking Tim Hasselbeck to throw a career-high 42 passes against New Orleans despite having a rushing attack that averaged 6.2 yards a carry in that game would help Washington win.

"We ran well at times. We didn't run well all the time, or else we never would've thrown the ball," Spurrier said. "We made some yards here and there, but overall, it wasn't good enough to win the game."

Pressed four more times on the topic, Spurrier couldn't help but add a touch of sarcasm to his last answer.

"Of course, every time you lose, you can look back and say you should've thrown more or you should've ran more," he said. "I guess we should've, what, run more? Maybe we should've tried to run."

Last season, the Redskins were 5-1 when they called more running plays than passes. This year, two of the team's wins featured that same pattern.

And Washington seemed to have considerable success on the ground Sunday against the Saints, who have a run defense ranked in the bottom third of the league.

Running back Trung Canidate gained 115 yards on 16 carries, and the team gained 46 more yards on 10 additional carries.

But Spurrier, who took over the primary play-calling responsibilities from offensive coordinator Hue Jackson after a 20-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 16, called just 10 running plays in the second half. Hasselbeck, on the other hand, completed 12 of 21 passes for 113 yards in the half.

Fullback Rock Cartwright, who scored the Redskins' only offensive touchdown on a 2-yard run in the second quarter, seemed just as mystified by the decision.

"We thought we'd run the ball up in there, but Coach didn't think we needed to run the ball," he said. "He wants to throw the ball, and that's what we did."

Interested in staying

Defensive tackle Darrell Russell said the team's swoon hasn't colored his perspective on staying in Washington after this season.

Russell, the No. 2 pick in the 1997 draft who signed with the Redskins last month after serving a one-year suspension for violating the league's drug policy, has collected just four tackles, no sacks and one forced fumble in spot duty behind starters Bernard Holsey and Lional Dalton.

Despite acknowledging that he would like to play more, Russell said he intends to prioritize any free-agent offers, beginning with the Redskins.

"I wouldn't disrespect them like that," Russell said. "They gave me an opportunity and a chance. So if I'm going to go anywhere, my first place is to go here."

Et cetera

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who missed Sunday's game with a bone bruise and aggravated fracture in his right foot, said he intends to practice tomorrow. Ramsey, who had a cast around the foot removed, said whether he plays against the New York Giants (4-8) will depend on his ability to move around on the foot. Spurrier said wide receiver Rod Gardner (bruised arm) should be able to play, and center Larry Moore (fractured foot) could return to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 2. Offensive tackle Chris Samuels (sprained knee) is not expected to practice this week, Spurrier said.

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