Coach Steve Spurrier said yesterday that he regretted his conservative, run-oriented play-calling during the Washington Redskins' loss last Thursday at Dallas and on some other occasions this season.
The Redskins have the league's 22nd-ranked passing offense but Spurrier remains convinced that the passing attack that carried him to 122 victories in 12 seasons at the University of Florida will work in the NFL. He said yesterday that he was particularly upset about one first-quarter sequence in the 27-20 defeat to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. The Redskins got the ball at the Dallas 25-yard line after a blocked punt. But three running plays, including a two-yard loss by tailback Stephen Davis on third and two, left them attempting a 36-yard field goal by place kicker James Tuthill that was blocked on the first play of the second quarter.
"We ran the ball three times and got a field goal blocked, and we never threw the ball into the end zone," Spurrier said at Redskins Park. "I'm not very proud of those calls. I know you've got to have balance, but I was a little aggravated at myself for that."
Spurrier regularly has been criticized this season when he has thrown the ball more often than run it, particularly when the Redskins threw 51 passes in a 26-7 loss at Jacksonville on Nov. 10. The Redskins are 5-7 overall but in three victories they employed more running plays than passing plays.
Spurrier said yesterday he is seeking a mixture of running and passing, but does not think he should abandon the approach that made him successful in college and led Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to sign him in January to a five-year contract worth nearly $25 million.
"You need balance," Spurrier said. "We need to run more than we did in Jacksonville. I know that. But I was maybe wrong in worrying about it [the criticism of the number of passes the Redskins were throwing] too much. You have to coach your way. If it doesn't work out, you always should have done the other thing. That's the way it is in football. . . . We've had some bad plays. At times, we've had some good ones. Our fans, even the players on our team, they want to run more. I want to do what they want to do. But Mr. Snyder didn't hire me to run the ball 45 times. We're not real good at either one right now. Hopefully we'll get better."
The Redskins are virtually out of the playoff race and plan to work younger players, including rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey, into their lineup during the season's final month. Club officials already are planning an offseason overhaul of their offensive lineup for next season. Davis is in jeopardy of being released for salary cap purposes. The Redskins plan to add wide receivers and guards, and team officials hope that Ramsey will be the quarterback who makes Spurrier's offense go.
"Don't get me wrong: We're still searching for balance," Spurrier said. "But we need to be able to throw the ball, too. When you look at what teams average per running play and what they average per passing play, it's usually a lot more in the passing. Most of the big plays we've had have been throwing and catching."