His thinning hair is flecked with gray, and wrinkles mark the
corners of his eyes and mouth. He has long looked the part, but
now more than ever Jeff George is central casting's answer to the
call for a veteran quarterback.
During his 11-year career George has always had the swagger,
always had the 70-yard missile at the ready--and always worn out
his welcome. Since 1996 he has played for four teams, and at
every stop he has clashed with coaches or gotten caught up in a
quarterback controversy. After he replaced injured starter Brad
Johnson last year, George somewhat peacefully coexisted with
coach Norv Turner but, after Turner was fired with three games
remaining, sparks flew between the quarterback and replacement
coach Terry Robiskie.
This year George--who won the starting job by default after
Johnson signed with the Buccaneers in the off-season--has been
asked to fill a new role: a wizened leader content to play a
supporting role in new coach Marty Schottenheimer's
controlled-passing, power-running offense. George will also have
to learn to play nice with the famously rigid Schottenheimer,
whom meddling owner Daniel Snyder coaxed from retirement with a
guaranteed four-year, $10 million deal and a promise that the
57-year-old coach would have total control of all football
"When people say that Marty and I are a bad fit, I don't even pay
attention," George says. "I'll be perfectly comfortable handing
the ball to Stephen Davis or hitting a back coming out of the
backfield. Marty and I have talked a lot about what he expects
from me, and I'm fine with that."
"Whether or not Jeff has taken heat in the past is irrelevant to
me," Schottenheimer says with a dismissive wave of his hand. "I
couldn't care less about what other people have said. Before
minicamp we talked, and I said that every time he made the right
decision to dump the ball off, he'd get a point; every time he
threw it away downfield, I'd get a point. He struggled early, but
eventually we stopped counting when his lead was 17-5 and
That certainly makes for a pretty picture in August, but let's
see if the two men can coexist during the ups and downs of a
16-game season. By the end of last season George was reportedly
diagramming his own plays on the sideline against the Steelers
and then was benched by Robiskie for the season finale the
Not that anyone on the team longs for the past regime; in fact,
it's nearly impossible to unearth a single fond memory of the
Turner era. "Last year was a complete circus, full of
distractions, where no one was accountable for being on time or
being up on the playbook," says linebacker Shawn Barber, echoing
the sentiments of many veterans. "Without any discipline--when
players know they can do whatever they want and not be held
responsible--you've got real trouble."
Michael Westbrook is more pointed in his criticism. "The last
couple years were ridiculous," says the seventh-year wideout, his
voice rising in anger. "It was like some coaches had no idea what
they were doing. I went to [Turner] and said, 'I want to be the
man for you.' He just said, 'I don't work like that.' I was
shocked, just shocked. What a joke. I'm so excited for Marty's
offense. Jeff and I will go crazy."
The infusion of hope brought by Schottenheimer is tempered by the
bleak reality that the team will pay this year for mismanaging
the salary cap in 2000. Snyder spent almost $100 million in
salary and bonuses for a win-now team that went 8-8 and left
Schottenheimer with a disastrous cap situation. Thirty players
were whacked from last year's roster to clear cap space and rid
the locker room of deadwood. The Redskins will have to rely on
rookies and retreads working for close to the NFL minimum, and
depth is a concern throughout the lineup.
The Redskins moved to address that problem at quarterback by
signing Tony Banks, who had been cut by the Cowboys in the
preseason. Last Friday, in his first exhibition game with
Washington, Banks relieved George (who had missed almost three
weeks of camp with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder) and hit
12 of 15 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns against the
On a team on which good help is hard to find, victories won't
come easily either.
COLOR PHOTO: JON SOOHOO/TDP Controversy has followed George everywhere, but he insists that this year will be different.
COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN SMOOT
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Redskins
"Marty Schottenheimer is a perfect fit for this team. He's a
motivator and a disciplinarian, and just what these players
need. He won't hesitate to get rid of problem guys, and I don't
think he would have come back unless he believed owner Daniel
Snyder wouldn't bother him. No one pushes Schottenheimer
around.... His biggest problem will be Jeff George, who's not a
team guy. There's a reason so many teams have cut ties with him.
He'll tease you with talent, but he'll never take you to the
next level.... Stephen Davis is an excellent back, and the line
has some promise--Chris Samuels is unbelievable.... Michael
Westbrook is cocky for someone who hasn't proved anything. He
can't stay healthy, but he's also a smart guy who should be a
No. 1 receiver.... The defense is thin and desperately needs
Bruce Smith and Marco Coleman to get over their injuries. Kenard
Lang is O.K., Dan Wilkinson will play hard for Marty, but they
need those old warhorses Smith and Coleman.... LaVar Arrington
could be a breakout guy this year. They'll move him around, use
him more as a pass rusher and get him out in space where he can
run and pursue.... The secondary is a big question. Champ Bailey
is Champ Bailey, but Darrell Green's old and [rookie cornerback]
Fred Smoot didn't play in such complicated schemes in college.
They only have one safety in Sam Shade. I'd be worried back
there.... This team in the playoffs? No. Too little depth, too
little talent. Make that a big no."
Sept. 9 at San Diego
24 at Green Bay (Mon.)
30 KANSAS CITY
Oct. 7 at N.Y. Giants
15 at Dallas (Mon.)
28 N.Y. GIANTS
Nov. 4 SEATTLE
11 Open date
18 at Denver
25 at Philadelphia
Dec. 2 DALLAS
9 at Arizona
30 at New Orleans
2001 SCHEDULE STRENGTH
NFL rank: 30 (tie)
Opponents' 2000 winning percentage: .461
Games against playoff teams: 6
PROJECTED LINEUP with 2000 statistics
COACH: Marty Schottenheimer; first season with Washington
(145-85-1 in NFL)
2000 RECORD: 8-8 (third in NFC East)
NFL RANK (rush/pass/total): offense 19/10/11; defense 22/2/4
OFFENSIVE BACKS PVR*
QB Jeff George 78 194 att. 113 comp. 58.2% 1,389 yds.
7 TDs 6 int. 79.6 rtg.
RB Stephen Davis 14 332 att. 1,318 yds. 4.0 avg. 33 rec.
313 yds. 9.5 avg. 11 TDs
RB Ki-Jana Carter 245 6 att. 15 yds. 2.5 avg. 3 rec.
[N] 24 yds. 8.0 avg. 1 TD
FB Donnell Bennett 262 27 att. 24 yds. 0.9 avg. 2 rec.
[N] 17 yds. 8.5 avg. 1 TD
RECEIVERS, SPECIALISTS, OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
WR Michael Westbrook 59 9 rec. 103 yds. 0 TDs
WR Rod Gardner(R)[N] 179 51 rec. 956 yds. 6 TDs
WR Kevin Lockett[N] 278 33 rec. 422 yds. 2 TDs
TE Stephen Alexander 168 47 rec. 510 yds. 2 TDs
K Brett Conway[N] 301 8/8 XPs 6/6 FGs 26 pts.
PR Kevin Lockett[N] 278 26 ret. 8.0 avg. 0 TDs
KR Michael Bates[N] 338 42 ret. 22.4 avg. 1 TD
LT Chris Samuels 6'5" 325 lbs. 16 games 16 starts
LG Matt Campbell[N] 6'4" 300 lbs. 14 games 14 starts
C Cory Raymer 6'2" 295 lbs. 16 games 16 starts
RG Dave Szott[N] 6'4" 290 lbs. 1 games 1 starts
RT Jon Jansen 6'6" 302 lbs. 16 games 16 starts
LE Marco Coleman 51 tackles 12 sacks
LT Dan Wilkinson 22 tackles 3 1/2 sacks
RT Kenard Lang 16 tackles 3 sacks
RE Bruce Smith 55 tackles 10 sacks
OLB LaVar Arrington 55 tackles 4 sacks
MLB Kevin Mitchell 20 tackles 1 sack
OLB Shawn Barber 65 tackles 2 sacks
CB Champ Bailey 62 tackles 5 int.
SS Sam Shade 98 tackles 2 int.
FS Keith Lyle[N] 68 tackles 1 int.
CB Darrell Green 22 tackles 3 int.
P Bryan Barker[N] 76 punts 42.0 avg.
[N]New acquisition (R) Rookie (statistics for final college
year) *PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 119)
"George is not a team guy. There's a reason so many teams have
cut ties with him."