It was a game that could have made a believer out of you: RFK
Stadium, Sunday night, Oct. 29, 1995. Giants 24, Redskins 15.
Washington's Gus Frerotte threw for 345 yards that evening. He
also threw four picks, including one off a drop, one on a
deflection and one at the end, when it was bombs away.
He never stopped coming, never stopped gunning, and in the
fourth quarter these were the receivers he was throwing to:
Leslie Shepherd, Coleman Brown and Tydus Winans--a guy who had
been cut, a pickup from the Dallas practice squad and a
second-year pro with one catch all season.
In the Giants' locker room after the game, cornerbacks Thomas
Randolph and Phillippi Sparks sat with their heads between their
legs, too tired to dress. "Man, I never want to go through a
night like that again," Randolph said. "That guy never let up. I
thought it would never end."
Now, when you throw out all the fancy stuff about picking up
secondary receivers and taking what they give you, etc., isn't
that what it's all about? Isn't that what you want to hear
opposing cornerbacks saying about your quarterback, particularly
if he's a young one?
August 1, 1996
Frerotte is an attack quarterback. Plus he's got a mean streak,
something refreshing in this era of dink and dunk. All this was
not lost on the quarterback-hungry teams around the league,
which figured all they had to do was sit back and this
25-year-old gunslinger would fall into their laps.
Everybody knew bonus baby Heath Shuler (page 36) was coach Norv
Turner's guy--Frerotte was sure to be trade bait. Neil O'Donnell
got the big money this year, but Frerotte was the one they all
wanted. The Jets would have given up the No. 1 pick on the
board. Not enough, said the Skins. In fact, nothing anyone
mentioned was enough. They set a price so high that everyone
backed off, and then the penny dropped and people realized that
Washington was merely going through the motions and had never
intended to trade Frerotte in the first place.
So Shuler and Frerotte will battle for the position again. Last
year Shuler started five games but missed eight of the first
nine and the finale due to injury. Frerotte says all he wants is
a fair shake. "Right now it seems as wide open as I could ask
for," he said in May. "It's not up to the coach, it's not up to
Heath. It's up to me. I can be as good as I can be--or as bad."
The potential is there for a very nice offense no matter who's
running it. Wideout Bill Brooks bailed the Bills out of some
very tough spots last season, and this year he fell to the Skins
at the bargain price of $325,000. If he comes through, the
receivers will be a classy group, with ageless Henry Ellard and
Michael Westbrook and Winans and Shepherd.
General manager Charley Casserly gets heat when his imports
don't pan out, but he deserves credit for a gamble that paid
off--tailback Terry Allen, whose sore knee made him expendable
at Minnesota but whose heavy-duty running brought the Skins up
to No. 7 in the league rushing stats last year. The line is
young and aggressive, with a free-agency swap replacing guard
Ray Brown with ex-Brown Bob Dahl, a drive-blocking specialist.
Barring injuries, the Skins should score a lot of points, but
they'll need to stop people if their 6-l0 record of '95 is going
to jump into the plus column. Enter defensive tackle Sean
Gilbert, third overall pick for the Rams in '92, Pro Bowl a year
later, trade bait three seasons after that. He's the Skins' big
acquisition this year, just as linebacker Ken Harvey was in '94,
and if he has anywhere near the impact Harvey has had, then
Washington is in business, because the D-line has been the
"God has restored me, and I claim a victory," Gilbert says,
adding that some people mistakenly view his newfound religious
commitment as a lessening of desire.
"He is so big, so fast," says his line mate Marc Boutte, who
broke in with the Rams the same year Gilbert did. "It starts in
the middle, and we've got it covered now."
BY THE NUMBERS
1995 yards per game (NFL ranking in parentheses)
Rushing Passing Total
OFFENSE 122.3 (7) 201.8 (20) 324.0 (18)
DEFENSE 133.3 (29) 204.3 (7) 337.5 (18)
Last year the Redskins became only the third team in history to
beat the eventual Super Bowl champion twice. But in both of the
previous cases, the championship-bound team avenged the
regular-season defeats with a victory in the conference title
game. The Redskins, who missed the playoffs for the third
straight year, never got that opportunity.
Teams That Have Beaten the Eventual Super Bowl Champion Twice
NFL champ scores Playoff score
Raiders Chiefs 27-24, 10-6 Chiefs 17, Raiders 7
Seahawks Raiders 38-36, 34-21 Raiders 30, Seahawks 14
Redskins Cowboys 27-23, 24-17 --
PLAYER TO WATCH
Rich Owens didn't start at Lehigh until his senior season, and
when the Redskins drafted the skinny defensive end in the fifth
round last year, people called it a wasted pick. He was
eager--"Richie Redskin," the players called him--but he was raw.
Somehow he hung in. And in starting the final three games last
year he showed enough of a burst on his pass rush to be penciled
in as the starter on the right side this season. "Every day I
wake up and I can't believe I'm here," he says.
"He was 245 when we drafted him; he's 265 now," general manager
Charley Casserly says, "which is what we want, because he has to
be an every-down player for us."
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Head coach: Norv Turner
QB Heath Shuler 125 att. 66 comp. 52.8% 745 yds. 3 TDs 7 int. 55.6 rtg.
RB Terry Allen 338 att. 1,309 yds. 10 TDs
FB Marc Logan 23 att. 72 yds. 1 TD
TE Scott Galbraith 10 rec. 80 yds. 2 TDs
WR Michael Westbrook 34 rec. 522 yds. 1 TD
WR Henry Ellard 56 rec. 1,005 yds. 5 TDs
WR Bill Brooks 53 rec. 763 yds. 11 TDs
LT Joe Patton 6'5" 308 lbs.
LG Tre Johnson 6'2" 340 lbs.
C John Gesek 6'5" 280 lbs.
RG Bob Dahl 6'5" 320 lbs.
RT Ed Simmons 6'5" 336 lbs.
PK Eddie Murray 33/33 XPs 27/36 FGs
LE Sterling Palmer 4 1/2 sacks 1 fum. rec.
LT Marc Boutte 2 sacks 1 fum. rec.
RT Sean Gilbert 5 1/2 sacks 1 fum. rec.
RE Rich Owens 3 sacks 0 fum. rec.
OLB Ken Harvey 7 1/2 sacks 0 int.
MLB Rod Stephens 0 sacks 0 int.
OLB Marvcus Patton 2 sacks 2 int.
CB Tom Carter 4 int. 0 sacks
SS James Washington 2 int. 0 sacks
FS Stanley Richard 3 int. 0 sacks
CB Darrell Green 3 int. 0 sacks
P Matt Turk 74 punts 42.4 avg.
PR Brian Mitchell 25 ret. 12.6 avg.
KR Brian Mitchell 55 ret. 25.6 avg.
[*]New acquisition (R) Rookie (college statistics)