“Ballcoach” Anything But

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October 3, 2002
“Ballcoach” Anything But
By Dave Sabo

While I knew that I’d be writing this particular column at some point this season, never in my wildest dreams did I believe that it would be this early. In what may be remembered as the single most asinine coaching decision of the 2002 NFL season, the Washington Redskins Steve Spurrier has named future insurance salesman, Danny Wuerffel, as his starting quarterback this Sunday. Further, he will deactivate Week 1 NFC Offensive Player of the Week, Steve Matthews, leaving rookie quarterback, Patrick Ramsey, as the designated “Plan B” upon Wuerffels inevitable benching. And come Monday morning, he’ll pick up the largest paycheck of any head coach in the NFL.

Short of “Oilers” head coach, Jeff Fisher, and defensive “coordinator,” Jim Schwartz, calling Spurrier and begging him to throw against their horrendous defense, it could not be more obvious that this is an “Oiler” team ripe to be torched this weekend. With the Redskins in desperate need of a win and facing the kind of team his over-hyped offense can actually be effective against, Spurrier will avoid the sure “W” by trying to prove to the world that Danny Wuerffel is an NFL quarterback.

This decision is truly mind-boggling. Setting all hyperbole and sarcasm aside, I can’t come up with a logical explanation as to why Spurrier would start Wuerffel over Matthews. Matthews’ QB rating is double Wuerffels, he’s more mobile and has a better arm and head than Wuerffel. Most importantly, he doesn’t take a sack or throw a pick half the times he drops back (Wuerffel has dropped back 16 times and has taken 5 sacks and thrown 2 interceptions). The only explanation that I can come up with is that Spurrier has taken a look at the Nashpatch secondary and decided that this is the best chance for Wuerffel to prove he’s capable of leading an NFL team. If that IS his reasoning, then the situation in DC is about as critical as it could be. If not, it just means he’s an utter moron.

Unfortunately (for Deadskin Nation, anyway), I believe I may be on to something. When asked about his decision, Spurrier basically said that he wanted to see what Wuerffel could do if given a “full opportunity” and then talked about what a great game he had in Osaka. Are you kiddin’ me?! If you don’t know what your quarterbacks are capable of four games into the regular season, you have no business coaching in the NFL. If you’re willing to sit an obviously superior player based on what a guy did in THE FIRST PRESEASON game against a bunch of scrubs who are currently loading UPS trucks and fielding inquiries from AF2 teams, you, once again, have no business coaching in the NFL.

What’s most amazing about the entire situation; however, is the indifference it’s being greeted with around the city. Anybody who points out that disaster is looming on Sunday is basically accused of panicking. Well, what do these nimrods call benching your best quarterback after three games? Further, what do you call it when the benching isn’t the result of poor play, but of an ego-trip by a pompous, hick windbag that still thinks uttering such cornpone phrases as “we’re gonna practice ’em up” and “he’s pitched it around pretty good before” will pass for coaching in the NFL? I agree that nobody should panic over a 1-2 record. What they SHOULD be panicking over is the fact that the slack-jawed yokel that was hired to coach this team is panicking. Spurrier figured that he’d come into the NFL, do EXACTLY what he did in college, going 16-0 and winning the Super Bowl. Well, this ain’t college, hayseed, and Vandy ain’t on the schedule. And, by the way, the USFL doesn’t mean squat, either.

And, speaking of the slack-jawed yokel’s hiring, that brings me to Li’l Danny Snyder and his role in this catastrophe. Li’l Danny pursued Spurrier like a giddy schoolgirl from the day he bought the ‘Skins. To land the object of his affection, he had to seduce him with a 5-year, $25 million contract. Never mind that Spurrier is basically a glorified offensive coordinator and that, until recently, referred to his defensive players by their numbers since he didn’t know their names, Snyder just overpaid the massively overrated Marvin Lewis to take care of the other side of the ball. No, Li’l Danny wanted Spurrier from the get-go and he did whatever it took to get him. Why? Because under Steve Spurrier, the Florida Gators were “exciting!” They were “fun!”

It wasn’t going be like his first three years with that milquetoast Norv Turner mumbling his way through post-game press conferences or that boring old Marty Schottenheimer with that boring offense and all that tiresome winning, no, sir! Once Li’l Danny got his man, things were gonna be FUN! Spurrier is smarter than all these other imbeciles coaching in the NFL, just ask him. The “Ballcoach” wouldn’t be spending nights in his office studying film, shoot, it didn’t help “that Hays-lit guy down in New Orleans”. You know that Hays-lit guy, the one that’s 3-1? Why study film when you’ve got an offense “that’s so simple, it can’t be stopped” and there’s golfing to be done? Spurrier will just have ’em “pitch it around” like they did down in Florida. Look at the preseason. They set a preseason scoring record. What fun! They opened the season by crushing (okay, “crushing” might be a bit much) the powerhouse that IS the Arizona Cardinals and the fun level was off the charts!

Then the Eagles showed up and they had to break out the tear gas, it was so fun. If you can call a 37 – 7 pasting at home in front of a national TV audience “fun.” Finally, the ‘Niners, a team suffering from a stomach virus so bad that it spent halftime yaking and taking fluids intravenously, smacked them around. Not so much fun anymore.

Thankfully, the bye week arrived. After taking a good hard look at what had transpired and listening to his players say that some of them didn’t really know what they were supposed to do or where they were supposed to be sometimes, Li’l Danny concluded that the problem was most definitely NOT his new trophy coach. It was his lazy players. The same players, in fact, that his new trophy coach handpicked. The same players that, when reminded that they hadn’t done anything as professionals, Spurrier claimed “won a lot of games” down in Florida.

If Deadskin Nation needs to panic, there’s reason enough right there. Their head coach still doesn’t understand that there is a nearly boundless difference between the NFL and the SEC. Further, their idiot owner doesn’t understand that his trophy coach is a college head coach who’s never had to deviate from his thin playbook and has yet to prove that he’s capable of making adjustments when necessary. Simply, the entire organization is rocketing toward disaster, the head coach obviously has no plan and the owner is completely unaware of any of this.

Normally, I would merely point and laugh as I always do whenever the ‘Skins blunder into their latest fiasco. Unfortunately, this season, I again have a rooting interest in the NFL and the ineptitude of the organization and its ownership has divisional implications. If Spurrier is determined to leave Steve Matthews off the active roster this Sunday, I can envision no scenario in which the “Oilers” lose this game. Unless, of course, even I have underestimated the massive problems plaguing the “Oilers”. But, that’s a column for another time.

Dave Sabo has abandoned his belief that Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, is the anti-Christ on the grounds that it lends the owner entirely too much credit. Dave Sabo is now convinced that Snyder is merely an ass clown. Steve Spurrier Steve Spurrier Return to Houston Pro Football If you have a question, comment or suggestion, contact Dave Catch up on past installments of The Armchair Quarterback