Tribe without a Chief
By: Les Barnhart 
Posted: 2004-01-01
Category: Washington Redskins News
Well, here we were getting ready for the off-season and starting to discuss what moves the team would make or whom we would be looking to draft in April. Then the news came that Steve Spurrier had called it quits. After his second year at the helm of his first NFL team, the Ole Ballcoach decided to shut it down. There will be all sorts of speculation as to what his reasons were for his sudden but not unexpected departure. The real surprise surrounding his leaving was when it happened and the way that it happened. The coach that two seasons ago came into Washington as the big dog in college football left town today with his tail firmly tucked between his legs.

Spurrier made the jump from the college ranks, where he found great success, to the NFL after being courted by Redskins owner, Daniel Snyder. Spurrier had a great résumé coming into his first season but as with all coaches that make that step up, the real question would be how he handled the transition from leaving the college ranks, where he was undoubtedly at the top of the food chain and coming into the world of the highly paid professional athlete. The first issue that was called into question was Spurrier's work ethic as he made comments that he would still be adhering to the work schedule he implemented during his glory days at the University of Florida. He led all to believe that his time would be still be used to golf and then he would work on the football side of things. Spurrier did little to help himself in his first year as he loaded his coaching staff as well as his roster with so many Florida alums that the Redskins were dubbed "the Gatorskins". After a disappointing first season, Spurrier lost his defensive coordinator, Marvin Lewis, to the head coaching job with Cincinnati. So what did that result in? Just another opportunity for Spurrier to add another Floridian to the coaching staff in George Edwards. The roster did get the much needed overhaul and the cache of former Gators was jettisoned in favor of true NFL talent. This season, the second with Spurrier and his vaunted "Fun and Gun" was to be different.
In several ways this season was different. Many of the players were different, the expectations were different and the product that the Redskins would put on the field was different. The one thing that wasn't different and should have been was the coaching staff. Call it whatever you want, whether it is the lack of continuity in the franchise or a meddlesome owner or countless other reasons, the one thing that was abundantly clear was a lack of coaching from Spurrier and his staff. While I realize that the players play the game, it is still the coach's job to get the team prepared and that always seemed to be lacking during the Spurrier regime. It was quite evident that this team lacked focus and good coaches don't allow that to happen. This was viewed by many including myself to be a major reason his stint as Redskins coach has ended prematurely.

Now, I was one of Spurrier's biggest supporters but perhaps it was for the wrong reasons. I wanted Spurrier to succeed so that all the Snyder detractors would have to admit that perhaps he (Snyder) wasn't just "a spoiled rich kid with a new toy." I hoped that Spurrier would be the answer to all the questions' us fans have asked since the days of post-season births each season faded away. I didn't care for Spurrier or his style when his Gators were beating my Georgia Bulldogs every season. However, when he chose to lead our beloved Redskins, I was willing to eat some humble pie in exchange for a taste of the post-season and the beating of the Cowboys. I wanted Spurrier to stick it out so that this franchise would find some continuity and with it recapture the pride and respect that it once had under Joe Gibbs and Jack Kent Cooke. There is a saying that "in the absence of the truth, people will accept anything." Well, that applies to me. I was one of those people, a dreamer so to speak that believed this team would turn it around under Spurrier and they would make him a winner in the NFL. I love the Redskins and I look forward to each season with the hopes of a school boy, hoping that the new season would be that one magical season that all fans dream of. You see, my heart lies with the Redskins. I expect the same from the players that wear the burgundy and gold. I also expect it from the coaches that are given the opportunity to add their names to the list those who have led this team into battle. Like so many of my fellow Redskin fans, I have committed my life to this franchise. It is unfortunate that Steve Spurrier couldn't even commit to the contract that he signed.

So now, we close the chapter of Redskins football that will forever be viewed as the Steve Spurrier experiment and we look to the future as we await the next Chief. Perhaps the next one will be the one that helps ease the pain that we, as fans, have endured since we last were able to call ourselves "Super Bowl Champions".

Be sure to come back next week and check out the view from the Cheap Seats . . .

-Wingman
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