“I thought maybe you could do a post on all the columns written after Spurrier’s first game,” Reader Kevin suggested on Tuesday, as the world hailed Chip Kelly’s genius. “I’m sure there was plenty of back slapping and ‘this is the new NFL’ type stuff going on.”
Well, I looked into it. Without blogs and Twitter and eight million sites devoted to the NFL, my sense is the hype machine had a few less gears back then. And there were obvious differences: Kelly debuted on the road against a defending division champion, while Spurrier debuted at home against the Cardinals. Kelly ran up a massive first-half lead and then coasted; Spurrier did not. Kelly had Vick and Jackson and Shady; Spurrier did not.
But still, the most striking thing was the final offensive numbers. Kelly’s Eagles ran 77 plays, amassing 443 yards and 33 points. Spurrier’s Redskins ran 73 plays, racking up 442 yards and 31 points. And while the post-game coverage wasn’t euphoric, it was certainly positive.
“Spurrier’s offense, which had many doubters despite the Redskins’ preseason record, was the star yesterday,” wrote Rick Snider, then of the Washington Times.
“Spurrier doesn’t leave you wanting for much,” his colleague Dan Daly added. “He’s a kitchen-sink kind of coach, the type who throws whatever he’s got at the opponent. Yesterday that included not only the usual suspects [Davis, Rod Gardner], but also Derrius Thompson [who carried once on an end-around], Kevin Lockett, Chris Doering, Zeron Flemister and, in the late going, even Kenny Watson.”
“The sellout crowd expected such razzle-dazzle football, including reverses, long touchdown bombs, a flood of audibles and fourth-down gambles,” Boz wrote. “They got all of that, including a no-huddle offense for most of the first half, even on a fourth-and-one call that resulted in a first down.”
“For Steve Spurrier, the Washington Redskins’ 31-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals yesterday resembled most of his sometimes tempestuous triumphs at the University of Florida — the coach’s Fun ‘n’ Gun Offense chewing up 442 yards while he stalked the sideline in a white visor, black golf shirt, tan slacks and white sneakers,” began Dave Anderson in the New York Times, later adding that you should “Remember those names — Rod Gardner and Derrius Thompson. In the Fun ‘n’ Gun, wide receivers are going to put up big numbers.”
“A 2-0 start could make Spurrier more popular in the nation’s capital than President Bush,” wrote Rick Gosselin in the Dallas Morning News. “That would mean a victory over the Eagles on Monday night. Who’s going to bet against Spurrier?”
“Whatever your feelings are toward Stevie Wonder Coach, there is something that cannot be debated,” wrote Jon Saraceno in USA Today. “You must watch him. And you must watch his team.”
Point being, who knows what happens next with Kelly’s offense. But week one of season one probably isn’t the best test.
MORE OVECHKIN TAILGATING
This is the best photo I’ve seen of Alex Ovechkin tailgating at FedEx Field on Monday. It’s via @BillCutting.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Jayson Werth, on the still flickering playoff hopes:
“I can see it,” Werth said. “I know it’s possible. I’ve done it.”
BEST POSTGAME QUESTION
I watched Larry Michael’s post-game interview with Robert Griffin III. My favorite question was this one: “You had some pretty good elusiveness, some pretty good escapability. You looked like you.”
First of all, that’s not a question. Second of all, if Robert Griffin III looked like himself on Monday night, I look like a miniature albino rhinoceros.
ZUBAZ OF THE WEEK
That’s a lot of Zubaz. So much Zubaz. You could probably put someone in a trance with all that Zubaz if you really wanted to. Via @BlueShortsLIFE.
SIRI LOVES THE REDSKINS
If you asked Siri who her favorite football team is on Tuesday, she’d have told you this: “I always like to root for the underdog. I guess that makes me a fan of the Redskins right now.” See here.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
The Nats face the Mets in New York at 7 on MASN2. All radio and TV listings are here.