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Preseason: On the Cusp of the Season

By Eric Johnson | September 6th, 2002

“He whose ranks are united in purpose will be victorious.” – Sun Tzu

One of the most striking aspects of this off-season was the ease with which Steve Spurrier got the team to buy into his system. For comparison, the close of the preseason last year saw many on the team in near open rebellion with then coach Marty Schottenheimer and his strict approach to the game. This year, new player and veteran alike seem to have nothing but praise for their coach and his system. Better yet, the team members seem to genuinely like each other.

All eyes are on the goal: making the best possible showing of the Spurrier and Lewis systems of offense and defense. On the defensive side of the ball, LaVar Arrington said, “I don’t want to be [the answer to] the trivia question, ‘What defense was not good that Marvin Lewis coached?’ I’m not looking forward to that.”

And Marvin Lewis observed, “Steve Spurrier has grabbed the attention of everyone in this program. He understands how to move the ball and isolate weaknesses. Everyone on this field buys into his system.”


Sun Tzu said: “When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing.”

The genius of Steve Spurrier’s offense lies not so much in its schemes; it lies in Spurrier’s ability to put in the right play at the right time. “He understands defense more than offense,” said former Redskins quarterback Sage Rosenfels. “That’s the key to this offense, to know what defense is out there and then to have the best play for that defense.” If Spurrier doesn’t make the right call, he expects his quarterbacks to correct him–and gets irate if they don’t.

It is a common fact of life in the NFL that coaches come into games with the first ten or twenty plays already scripted, regardless of the defense called against them. Spurrier wants to get a read before he directs a play or a series, to maximize the chance of success. I find it strange that more coaches don’t take this approach; they don’t trust their instincts enough. Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said, “What does he have that few have? He’s got instincts.”

The most useful instinct, the source of Spurrier’s winning ways? His sense of timing.


Sun Tzu said: “Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack”

This might be considered the team slogan of the Redskins this year. Steve Spurrier’s offensive prowess is well-documented. A 122-27-1 record in 12 seasons at the University of Florida. Constant accusations of running up the score. “Spurrier’s a genius” (or, as he’d prefer, an offensive mastermind). Banditball. Airball. Fun ‘n Gun. The reason the league is watching is to see whether the Redskins can continue to throw it all over the field.

Spurrier has said that the NFL is too conservative. Or, to use his words, “Very few coaches throw it in the end zone a lot. We believe in giving it a chance.”

But it’s the defense that will provide the invincibility factor this year.

Washington finished last season with the number 10 defense in the league, despite an atrocious start to the campaign, and the addition of Marvin Lewis as defensive coordinator has the team looking to improve on that ranking.

LaVar Arrington is poised for a monster year, especially given the support he’s received from the addition of Jeremiah Trotter and Jessie Armstead. Already in the preseason, the starters on defense showed that they can be dominating. It will be exciting to see them in the game for four quarters.

With the anvil of our defense and the hammer of our offense, I wouldn’t want to be the team caught in between. Heeding Sun Tzu’s advice, the Redskins are definitely united and we WILL definitely be victorious.

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Eric Johnson

Categories Posted In | Archive: Sun Tzu | Washington Commanders |