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Spurrier sees game from other end now

Not accustomed to losing, the first-year Redskins coach shows signs of strain at 1-2.

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 24, 2002

ASHBURN, Va. -- Steve Spurrier has a losing record for the first time in 10 years, and it showed Monday.

There were no jokes. Gone was the self-assuredness of a week ago, when it was possible Washington's first loss was an aberration.

Spurrier appeared nervous and restless at his weekly news conference as he discussed Sunday's 20-10 loss to San Francisco. Spurrier nervously leaned on his podium a half-dozen ways, once stumbling over a microphone cord in mid-sentence.

"I never expect a rough go," Spurrier said.

Spurrier has shown he's not immune to the adjustment pains most rookie coaches face. After a home-opening win over Arizona, the Redskins have one offensive touchdown in two games. A defense of Pro Bowl players is ranked 30th against the rush after allowing 252 yards on the ground against the 49ers.

"We think we've got a decent team here, but we cannot continue to perform like we have the last two games, or we will be in dire straits," Spurrier said.

Spurrier hasn't had a losing record since Florida started 1-2 in 1992 and finished 9-4.

"Losing's no fun," Spurrier said. "But you've got to keep on keeping on. We think we're heading in the right direction. Whatever changes we need to make, we'll make them. There's a lot of 1-2 teams. We're not the only one, but unfortunately we've lost the last two. You're only as good as your last game, and we're not very good right now."

Asked about Danny Wuerffel throwing an interception at the 49ers' 3 on Washington's final offensive series, Spurrier snapped back: "Maybe it's my fault for teaching Danny to throw the ball down the field."

On defense, Spurrier said he has complete confidence in Marvin Lewis, the unit's fourth coordinator in as many seasons and the coordinator of the Super-Bowl winning Ravens defense two seasons ago.

The players said Lewis' schemes are too complex to master in three regular-season games.

"That's our big problem," tackle Dan Wilkinson said. "Guys do not know the defense."

Spurrier also is learning that opposing defenses have a much better answer for the Fun "n' Gun. The Eagles in Week 2 and the 49ers played a zone that took away deep passes. That should allow the Redskins to move the ball with runs and short passes underneath, but that's not Spurrier's style.

"You can run three and punt, run three and punt," he said. "Next thing you know, the first quarter's over with. I would love to mix it up like we did in the first game, running and passing, and we'll continue trying to do that."

Spurrier is a picture of contortion and emotion on the sideline but rarely shows his temper at practice or in meetings.

After meeting with Spurrier, backup quarterback Patrick Ramsey said Spurrier was more determined than upset.

"He just explains what took place, and how we're going to fix that, and where we're going to go from there," Ramsey said.

Owner Dan Snyder, who has averaged a coach per year since buying the team in 1999, was asked to assess the team: "I can't comment. I wish I could."

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