Norv Turner Fired as Redskins Coach

ByJoseph White

A S H B U R N, Va., Dec. 4, 2000 -- Norv Turner, able to produce only a 7-6record with the most expensive roster in NFL history, was firedtoday as coach of the Washington Redskins.

Turner was dismissed by owner Dan Snyder one day after a 9-7loss to the New York Giants. It was the Redskins’ fourth loss infive games and third straight at home, and it moved a team withSuper Bowl aspirations precariously close to elimination from theplayoff race.

Passing game coordinator Terry Robiskie was named the coach forthe rest of the season.

Master Offensive Strategist

Turner, hired as a first-time head coach by late owner Jack KentCooke in 1994, was third in seniority among NFL coaches behindPittsburgh’s Bill Cowher and Tennesee’s Jeff Fisher. But Turner’s record was only 49-59-1, including 8-21-1 in games decided by three points or fewer.

Turner did not have a come-from-behind victory in the fourthquarter until his fifth year as coach, and it took six years forhim to get the Redskins to the playoffs. That came last season,when Washington won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and defeatedDetroit in the first round of the postseason before losing 14-13 atTampa Bay.

Turner, 48, earned a reputation as a master offensive strategistwith the Dallas Cowboys, where he was the offensive coordinator fortwo Super Bowl teams in the early 1990s. Some of his game plans inWashington were truly masterful, but his lack of communicationskills and his inability to keep players focused and motivated ledto his downfall.

Then season, the stakes became higher when Snyder spent millionson some of the biggest names in the sport: Deion Sanders, BruceSmith, Jeff George, Mark Carrier, draft picks LaVar Arrington andChris Samuels and defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes.

Snyder also signed running back Stephen Davis to the mostlucrative contract in league history and tested the limits of fandevotion by charging admission to watch practices at training camp.The total player payroll of salaries and bonuses for the season isabout $100 million.

But immediately it was apparent that the Redskins mirrored therecent Baltimore Orioles and New York Rangers, two other notableteams that essentially failed to buy a championship. Ego bruisingamong the big names wasn’t a problem; overconfidence was.

Losses to Detroit

A narrow season-opening victory over Carolina was followed by alosses to Detroit and injury-riddled Dallas. A five-game winningstreak followed, but the only dominant victories came against theGiants and Jacksonville Jaguars. A loss to lowly Arizona followedby a victory on the road at Super Bowl champion St. Louisexemplified the team’s fickle nature, then back-to-back home lossesto Philadelphia and the Giants did Turner in.

Injuries also slowed the offense. Three starters were lost forthe season and several other played hurt, and the reconstitutedoffensive line had its worst day Sunday. However, injuries couldn’tfor unforced errors such as dropped balls, missed blocks and badsnaps.

Turner began coaching as a graduate assistant at Oregon in 1975.John Robinson hired him as an assistant at USC a year later, andRobinson also brought Turner into the NFL with the Los Angeles Ramsin 1985.

Robiskie, 46, a former offensive coordinator with the OaklandRaiders, was one of Turner’s first hires in Washington in 1994. Heis known for a tough-love coaching style from his dealings withtemperamental Redskins receivers Michael Westbrook and AlbertConnell.

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