|Ballcoach, where are the TPS reports?|
By Patrick Hruby
Page 2 columnist
News Item: Looking to a patch up a leaky defense and pass protection schemes that have led to quarterback Patrick Ramsey getting knocked out of two straight games, the 3-4 Washington Redskins have hired former NFL coaches Joe Bugel and Foge Fazio as "consultants."
Consultants? In football? For real?
Forget "Any Given Sunday." With corporate-minded team owner Dan Snyder in charge, the Washington Redskins appear to have less in common with a pro football team than the soulless Initech software company in "Office Space."
In fact, it's easy to imagine a sequel to director Mike Judge's cult-classic kiss-off to cubicle life -- albeit with a Redskins twist ...
[We see Redskins coach STEVE SPURRIER at his desk at REDSKINS PARK, drawing ballplays on a sketch pad. Team owner DAN SNYDER approaches SPURRIER'S cubicle, a coffee cup in hand.]
SNYDER: Hello, Steve. What's happening? So, I guess we should probably go ahead and have a little talk, hmm?
SPURRIER: Sure, what --
SNYDER: Did you see the memo about us being 3-4? You see, we're trying to make the playoffs this year, or at least finish with a .500 record. You apparently didn't realize that losing to Buffalo would drop your record with the team to 10-13.
SPURRIER: Well, it's not like I'm trying to lose ball --
SNYDER: Yeah. I'll go ahead and make sure you get another copy of that memo. Umm-k?
SPURRIER: Look, I don't need another --
SNYDER: Greaaat. (Takes a long sip of coffee). Oh, oh, and I almost forgot: I'm going to need you to go ahead and come in during the bye weekend. (Yawning) So if you could be here around nine, that would be great. We, uh, fell behind in the standings this week. And the Cowboys are making us sorta play catchup.
SPURRIER: Actually, I was planning to play 36 holes at --
SNYDER: OK then. And uh, we're going to bring in some consultants this week. They'll be asking some questions, maybe seeing if there are some ways we can win a few more games around here. So, uh, any questions? No? Greaaat.
[Enter Redskins defensive coordinator GEORGE EDWARDS.]
EDWARDS: Morning, Steve. Say, did you get the memo?
[SPURRIER, quarterback PATRICK RAMSEY and linebacker LAVAR ARRINGTON are gathered around RAMSEY'S cubicle. ARRINGTON is feeding paper into a fax machine; RAMSEY has a black eye, a swollen jaw and a cast on his right hand]
RAMSEY: Hey Steve. Dude, we lost again last week. Didn't you see the memo?
SPURRIER: (Exasperated) Yes, I saw the memo. That's not the problem. The problem is -- hey, what happened to your throwing hand?
[Offensive line coach KIM HELTON enters, gasping and short of breath.]
HELTON: Did you hear the news? They're bringing in consultants! Consultants! You know what that means? We're all gonna get canned!
RAMSEY: Calm down. I'm sure it's nothing. Right?
ARRINGTON: Right. If any consultants try and disrespect us by running through our stretching line, I'm coming after them.
HELTON: Wow, nice flak jacket. When did you start wearing those?
RAMSEY: Three weeks ago, actually. But thanks for noticing.
SPURRIER: LaVar, you've been hanging out by that machine all morning. You working on another non-NFLPA licensing deal?
ARRINGTON: Nah, just trading smack with Warren Sapp. League can't fine us if we do it by fax. (ARRINGTON frowns). PC load letter? What the heck is that? (ARRINGTON headbutts the fax machine). Give it to me, you little --
[Enter Redskins media relations assistant PATRICK WIXTED. WIXTED is holding a stack of envelopes.]
WIXTED: Hey guys, got some mail. (WIXTED gives SPURRIER the once-over). Say, what's with the sideline-quality frown? Looks like someone's got a case of the just-gave-up-432-yards-to-the-worst-offense-in-the-league!
SPURRIER grimaces. WIXTED ruffles through his letters, then examines one closely.
WIXTED: (reading) Kim ... Helton?
HELTON: Yep, that's me.
WIXTED: Kim? Really? Did you know you have a girl's name? Like in "A Boy Named Sue?"
HELTON: (rolling eyes). Heh. Yeah. Never heard that one before.
SPURRIER: Say, you guys wanna go coach up a cup of coffee somewhere?
RAMSEY: Let me get my wheelchair.
[SPURRIER, ARRINGTON, RAMSEY AND HELTON are sitting at a table in a nearby APPLEBEE'S.]
SPURRIER: So Snyder wants me to see Joe Bugel.
ARRINGTON: Dude -- Joe Bugel? Like, didn't he coach the Cardinals?
HELTON: Hey, look behind you. Isn't that Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton? You can't spell Citrus without UT, right Steve? (nervous laugh)
SPURRIER: Yeah ... you know, that job's looking pretty good to me. I'd be back in the SEC, surrounded by boatloads of talent ... plus, I hear he's about to break up with Phil Fulmer.
RAMSEY: Why don't you go talk to him?
[SPURRIER approaches HAMILTON, who appears surprised and preoccupied.]
SPURRIER: Do you want to have lunch with me?
HAMILTON: Right now? Uh, I have a meeting. With Phil.
SPURRIER: OK. Well, look, I'm going to go over to Flamers and read through the buyout clauses in my Redskins contract. If you want to get a lawyer and come and join me, great. If not, that's cool, too.
HAMILTON: Where was that again? Flamers or Chili's?
[SPURRIER is in his apartment, beer in hand, sitting on his couch and watching television. His next-door neighbor, Oklahoma football coach BOB STOOPS, can be heard talking through the thin wall separating their apartments.]
STOOPS: Steve! Check out ESPN Classic, man! They're showing the 1996 national championship game!
[STOOPS enters SPURRIER'S apartment.]
STOOPS: (gesturing toward the television) Say, that kinda looks like a Steve Spurrier-coached offense!
SPURRIER: It is a Steve Spurrier-coached offense (sigh).
STOOPS: Oh, sorry man. I thought you'd like that.
SPURRIER: You know, Bob, sometimes I get the feeling that I was better off in Gainsville --
STOOPS: Yeah, man, I get that feeling too. Just like the Redskins would be better off with a hot young college coach who understands defense and offense. Someone like me. Maybe I should return that call from Dan Snyder ... whoops. Don't mind me. I'm just talking out of my butt.
SPURRIER: Bob, tell me something: When you come in on a Monday morning after a tough loss and you're feeling a little down, does the athletic director ask to watch game film with you the way Dan Snyder does?
STOOPS: Naw (shaking head). Hell no. I do believe I'd have him fired before he did something like that. Hey, you wanna another beer?
[Redskins consultants JOE BUGEL and FOGE FAZIO are sitting behind a desk at REDSKINS PARK. SPURRIER sits on the other side.]
BUGEL: And you are ... (reading notes) Steve Spurrier. Very good. I'm Joe Bugel. And this is Foge Fazio.
SPURRIER: (nodding) Joe. Foge.
BUGEL: Steve, why don't you start by telling us what it is you do, exactly, to protect the quarterback?
SPURRIER: Protect the quarterback? Well, I would say on the average play that I'm thinking more about completing a 30-yard pass downfield. Or looking at the way the quarterback holds the ball. If I see them holding it down by their chest, it makes me sorta space out --
FAZIO: Ah ah ah -- space out?
SPURRIER: Yeah. Oh, and here's another thing, Joe: On some plays, I send out five different receivers.
FAZIO: Five. Dan Snyder didn't play me $25 million to run a max-protect, Marty-ball style offense. He wanted the Fun n' Gun. Even if it doesn't work too well against a professional pass rush.
FAZIO: And you give it to him?
SPURRIER: Oh yeah, I coach it up real good. The guy thinks I'm a football Einstein, like Norman. So why should I work harder to protect the quarterback? My only real motivation is to keep him standing upright long enough to throw a hitch-and-go to Laveranues Coles. But you know what? I'm starting to realize that my style will only motivate guys to play hard enough to get me fired.
BUGEL: What if your genius reputation was based on number of wins instead of passing yards? What if your contract was tied to that? Would things be different?
SPURRIER: I don't know, Joe. I guess. Look, I've got to get back to the practice field and coach up a few ballplays. It's been great.
[SPURRIER leaves. HELTON enters.]
FAZIO: And you are ... Kim ... Helton?
BUGEL: You know that's a woman's name? Like "A Boy Named Sue"?
HELTON: Oh, heh, really, I never thought of it that way.
FAZIO: Well, you must love Johnny Cash ...
[A bar. SPURRIER and Baltimore Ravens coach BRIAN BILLICK are sitting at adjacent stools.]
SPURRIER: I've been thinking about it. We don't have a lot of time in the NFL. We weren't meant to spend it this way, running fullback dives and using two tight ends to pick up the blitz on a five-yard slant pattern.
BILLICK: Tell me about it. (Downs a shot). I went from coaching the most dynamic offense in football to having Ray Lewis as my MVP. Now I'm handing off to Jamal Lewis 40 times a game. (Downs a second shot). For God's sake, what am I supposed to do with Kyle Boller?
SPURRIER: Brian, what would you say if I told you we never had to run out the clock ever again?
[A press conference at REDSKINS PARK. SPURRIER is speaking to reporters JODY FOLDESY, MARK MASKE, MARK ZUCKERMAN and JOE WHITE.]
FOLDESY: So, tell us about this plan of yours.
SPURRIER: Well, men, it's kinda complicated.
MASKE: We can handle it.
SPURRIER: OK, then. Last week I said we were gonna get players off the street. That's partially true. What we're gonna do is get the Gator band back together. First, we resign Danny Wuerffel, Jacquez Green, Ridel Anthony and Shane Matthews. Next, we trade for Fred Taylor and Rex Grossman. And we find a way to get Jevon Kearse in here. That oughta shore up the defensive side of things.
ZUCKERMAN: Wait -- isn't that illegal? We're past the NFL trading deadline. And adding all those players would put you way over the salary cap. Besides, why would anyone want to give up Taylor or Kearse?
SPURRIER: (visibly upset) No, no. Look, you don't understand. It's a foolproof plan. It'll work. We won't get caught. We're reuniting a winning group of guys. Like "Ghostbusters II."
WHITE: Um, didn't President Clinton end up issuing a national apology for that movie?
SPURRIER: I don't want to talk about this anymore. Press conference is over.
[A Monday morning in front of SPURRIER'S apartment. HELTON arrives in a car to pick SPURRIER up for work. We see a newspaper splayed out on the backseat. The Redskins have just lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 45-17.]
HELTON: (anxious and out of breath) Steve, have you seen the morning paper?
SPURRIER: No, what's wrong?
HELTON: We got killed.
SPURRIER: Yeah, but we threw for 450 yards.
HELTON: And six interceptions. Plus, Troy Hambrick broke the single-game rushing record. Oh, and the FBI wants to speak to you about the suspected kidnapping of Jevon Kearse.
SPURRIER: Don't they understand that the trade deadline's already come and gone? What else was I supposed to do?
HELTON: I don't know about you, but I don't want to coach in a Federal pound-me-from-behind prison.
SPURRIER: C'mon, it wouldn't be so bad. Have you seen "The Longest Yard?" Or "Lockup?" I bet I could coach those boys up, put one over on the ol' warden.
[SPURRIER and HELTON arrive at REDSKINS PARK. Firefighters are on hand, putting out the final flickers of a large fire. The building has been burned to the ground. SNYDER is standing next to a FIRE CHIEF.]
SNYDER: Anyone hurt?
FIRE CHIEF: Building was empty, luckily.
SNYDER: How did this happen?
FIRE CHIEF: From what we can tell, looks like someone left a lit cigar on their desk. The flames spread to an extra-large stack of rejected pass protection schemes, and, well, that was that.
SNYDER: I always put my cigars out before I leave the office! Hmmm ... who else could it be? Whoever it is, I'll have their stuff thrown out on the street! Well, whatever's left of it.
[Cut to a beach in CANCUN, MEXICO. Redskins legends SONNY JURGENSEN and DARRELL GREEN are sitting on lawn chairs, tropical drinks in hand. JURGENSEN is twirling an unlit Cohiba cigar.]
JURGENSEN: Maybe now they'll stop disgracing our once-proud organization.
GREEN: Hail to the Redskins!
JURGENSEN: Onward to victory!
JURGENSEN and GREEN raise a toast.
Patrick Hruby is a sportswriter for the Washington Times. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.