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Sun Tzu Week 1: Flying High

By Eric Johnson | September 9th, 2003

Greetings, Shaolin Redskins fans! It has been many months since last we spoke, but now the campaign season is upon us and our army in burgundy and gold has been well-rested and -trained. I hope the quiet months have treated you well; I am glad you have come back–or if you are new to our village, it is good to have you here among us. I myself have been busy in my mountain retreat, working my garden and lengthening the stone wall–ah, but you aren’t here to listen to the prattling of an old man.

You want to know if Qiu Lei Yun Dong Jiao Lian–the Ol’ Ball Coach–learned anything from his experiences last season. If the battle last Thursday is any indication, he has taken Master Sun Tzu’s lessons to heart.


Sun Tzu said:

“It is a doctrine of war not to assume the enemy will not
come, but rather to rely on one’s readiness to meet him;
not to presume that he will not attack, but rather to
make one’s self invincible.”

The 2003 offseason was dedicated to preparation: Steve Spurrier wanted to be able to rely on the Redskins’ own readiness to meet the enemy, and to make sure that they were indeec themselves invincible. The 2002 season was useful in to primary ways–it helped the Ball Coach to figure out how best to run his system in the NFL, and he had sixteen games in which to evaluate the players he had. That way, he could go into the offseason with a particular plan of attack in mind for improving the team.

So as soon as the offseason began, Spurrier and the FO started making determinations about who to keep and what kind of players they needed to acquire. Two characteristics stand out: 1.) speed, speed, and more speed, on both sides of the ball. 2.) Hard-working lunch-pail types, guys who are willing to do what they need to for the good of the team without worrying about individual accolades. And no player better embodied both than Laveranues Coles, who has unreal speed that is perhaps only matched by his off-the-field preparation.

With a team like this, Spurrier won’t have to hope the enemy won’t show up that day–he can be confident in going out positively with victory on his mind.


Sun Tzu said:

“Having paid heed to the advantages of my plans, the
general must create situation which will contribute to
their accomplishment. By ‘situations’ I mean that he
should act expediently in accordance with what is
advantageous and so control the balance.”

The Ball Coach startled his critics this week with a 34/23 rush-pass ratio. Wait–this is Steve Spurrier, author of the Fun ‘n Gun aerial assault. In the first half, Patrick Ramsey could do virtually no wrong in the air, completing 12 of 13 pass attempts.

But the story behind the stats is the interesting thing. The ground game was used both to set up the pass and to relieve the pressure on Ramsey in the second half when an INT and a fumble rattled the young QB. Spurrier has made some revisions of his Fun ‘n Gun–it has, in effect, grown up a bit so it can go against legitimate NFL opponents. The early returns show a system that is much more balanced in execution, and perhaps even more importantly, Spurrier is showing a willingness to be flexible in his play-calling. He’s going with what works, instead of insisting on going bombs away no matter what the conditions are on the field. He’s even relying on his defense to protect a lead.

He critically examined the advantages of the Fun ‘n Gun and is now working on creating situations which will contribute to their accomplishment–he’s paying attention to what works, and what works right now (and worked against the Jets) is balance.

(And now, a bonus from our cousin in Japan, Miyamoto Musashi:)


Miyamoto Musashi said in the Fire Book, heeded by Arrington-san:

“Advance with as strong a spirit as possible, and when you
reach the enemy move with your feet a little quicker than
normal, unsettling him and overwhelming him sharply.”

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 |