Like recently fired coach Norv Turner, quarterback Brad Johnson figures his days with the Washington Redskins are over.
So on Wednesday, Johnson, who lost his starting job to Jeff George, took some early parting shots at Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder and renewed the debate over whether Snyder is too meddlesome in player decisions.
As the rest of the team adjusted to a pared-down daily routine and simpler offensive scheme under interim coach Terry Robiskie, Johnson said upper management — not Robiskie — has made the decision to start George the rest of the season.
Robiskie Defends Snyder
“I think that decision’s made from up top. ... I think it’s obvious,” Johnson said. “I think Jeff’s going to be the starter the rest of the way out. In case something happens with him, then I’ll be ready to go. Otherwise, I’m just going to finish strong up here and deal with my situation in the offseason.”
Robiskie, speaking after his first practice as coach, did not dispute Johnson’s statement. He said the decision to go with George was made in talks among the coaches and Snyder — and he defended Snyder’s right to have such input.
“A lot of people want to separate us from Mr. Snyder,” Robiskie said. “Mr. Snyder owns the football team. I know that. I promise you there’s very few things in the building I’m going to say I want to change without calling him to say I want to change it.
“If I wanted to change my desk, I’m going to call him and say I want to change my desk. If I want to change quarterbacks, I’m going to call him and say, ‘What do you think of me changing quarterbacks?’ It’s his football team. To try to separate it, we’re wasting our time.”
Snyder was not available for comment. His spokesman, Karl Swanson, said Robiskie “makes all football decisions, just as Norv did. He doesn’t need to ask anybody’s permission.”
Johnson Will Move On
Still, Robiskie’s remarks may make it even harder for the Redskins to lure a high-profile coach for next season. One thing is for sure: The quarterback who led them to their only playoff appearance since 1993 does not plan on returning.
Johnson’s relationship with Snyder has been frosty since the owner signed George to a huge contract in the spring and refused to negotiate a new one for Johnson. While Turner preferred Johnson, George was Snyder’s chosen catch.
Johnson’s contract expires at the end of the season, and he restated his intention to become a free agent.
“I still stand by what I want to do,” Johnson said. “We tried to work out stuff a long time ago, and it didn’t work out on both sides. And you’ve got to move on.”
The only way the Redskins can keep Johnson from becoming a free agent would be to designate him as a franchise player, but that would require an upfront commitment of about $6.5 million from a team with almost no salary cap room.
Johnson was the primary reason the Redskins ended their playoff drought last season. This year, the team is a disappointing 7-6 and the offense is beset with injuries. Johnson recently missed three games with a knee injury, and George went 1-2 in his place.
In Sunday’s 9-7 loss to the New York Giants, Johnson was under constant pressure and threw two interceptions. George entered the game with eight minutes to play and nearly led a comeback victory with a touchdown pass and another impressive drive that led to a missed field goal.
After the game, Turner said George would start Sunday’s game at Dallas. Turner was fired the next day, but Robiskie reaffirmed George as the starter — at least for the Cowboys game.
A Fork in the Road
“I took a beating. We had a hard time with blitz adjustments,” Johnson said. “I’ve done some good things here. My record speaks for it, the numbers speak for it. I’ve got a long career still in front of me. I’m not going to let one play or one game bring me down.”
Johnson’s career record as a starter is 31-18. George’s is 46-74. Johnson said he would not mind working with Turner again.
“I wouldn’t have a problem strapping it up with him again at all under different circumstances,” Johnson said. “Norv’s a tremendous coach. He’s going to go one way, and I’m going to go another way, and you never know where that road leads in the end.”