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Archive for Wednesday, August 1, 2001

Can Schottenheimer save ‘Skins?

All power in Washington preseason camp now concentrated in hands of ex-Chiefs coach

August 1, 2001

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Last year at this time there was so much buzz around the Redskins that The Danny showed up at practice wearing a beekeeper's hat.

Snyder rolled out the burgundy and gold carpet for Deion Sanders (who actually had part of the carpet crafted into a suit), Mark Carrier, Adrian Murrell, Jeff George and Bruce Smith in a glorious, quixotic charge to bring the Super Bowl to Washington quick before all those guys became AARP members.

Last year, The Danny had everyone in town talking Super Bowl. Unfortunately, it was all talk and no walk. Oh, sure, some people walked. But it was out the door.

This year, the Redskins couldn't be more low-key if they lived in a basement apartment.

Let's say you do go to Carlisle to watch practice; you won't just need a scorecard to know the players, you'll need the NFL Encyclopedia. Radioactive uranium has been more stable than the Redskins.

Look at this list of key players from last year's team who are gone now: Larry Centers, Keith Sims, Irving Fryar, Albert Connell, Brad Johnson, Tre Johnson, James Thrash, Mark Carrier, Skip Hicks, Adrian Murrell, Derek Smith, Dana Stubblefield, Ndukwe Kalu and My Man Deion.

(My sense is that the Redskins will miss Deion more than they're inclined to admit now. I know I'll miss My Man. Where am I going to find a gold-mine quote machine like Deion? Who on this team is going to talk like him and dress like him? Surely not the new coach. Marty, can we talk? That straw hat has to go. Seriously, you look like a tourist at Jurassic Park.)

Nowhere is the turnover more drastic than on the coaching staff. Marty Schottenheimer has employed so many friends and family I'm surprised they're not wearing "Schottenheimer Reunion 2001" shirts. Schottenheimer brought in his cronies from Cleveland and Kansas City: Jimmy Raye, Mike Stock, brother Kurt Schottenheimer, son Brian Schottenheimer, Joe Pendry, Richard Mann and Greg Manusky.

My point here is this is Camp Marty. He picked the coaches, he's picking the players, he's calling the shots. All power is concentrated in Marty's hands. All of us are on the outside looking in this year.

Everyone knows the owner thought Norv Turner was wishy-washy, that Norv didn't take command, that he wasn't forceful enough. So the owner brought in a guy with a chest full of medals. And let the record show that so far that owner hasn't said boo, even as Marty has remade the Redskins into something generic and faceless.

Can Marty Schottenheimer make chicken salad here? If he puts in a defense like the one he had in Kansas City, LaVar Arrington could become a star in a hurry. Arrington is more powerful and as explosive as Derrick Thomas, and Schottenheimer's defense in Kansas City was designed to let Thomas roam free.

History shows that on offense Schottenheimer prefers ball control. He likes to run often, and to throw short and medium passes. Stephen Davis and Stephen Alexander should benefit from that.

The obvious question is whether Jeff George, who loves to throw deep, is the right quarterback for that system.

So the Redskins go into training camp an unknown quantity, with many more questions than answers.

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