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QB woes mount for old pals

For the first time since 1966, I am not enjoying the highs or suffering the lows of coaching a team. Being out of coaching has given me a different perspective on things.

Of course, I still follow the Cowboys closely. But teams I watch the closest are the ones coached by my good friend, Norv Turner, and my best friend, Dave Wannstedt.

I have been a sounding board for some of their thoughts on getting ready for a game and personnel moves. As with most teams, the focus has been on their quarterbacks, and each coach has a controversy on his hands, but for different reasons.

First, Norv had veteran John Friesz starting while Heath Shuler, third pick in the draft, watched from the sideline. No one outside the Redskins' organization was giving much thought to another rookie, Gus Frerotte.

Norv kept Shuler on the bench until Friesz started throwing interceptions. Enter Shuler. He was faced with the unenviable task of playing against the Dallas, Philadelphia and Arizona defenses. Naturally, the rookie struggled, and Norv and I talked after the Arizona game about his situation. He then made the call to go with Frerotte.

The rookie from Tulsa played so well against Indianapolis that the Redskins must decide which rookie to feature for the rest of the season. The bottom line is Norv will have to do what's best, not just for the long run, but also to try to win games this year.

While Norv figures out what to do, Dave has to decide what to do with Steve Walsh. The Bears paid a lot of money to Erik Kramer, and they were happy with him. He looked to be their quarterback for years to come. Then Walsh put that in doubt by replacing the injured Kramer and leading the Bears to three victories.

I know Dave is still solid on Kramer. He went back to him last week, and although the Bears lost , Kramer threw for more than 300 yards and had some tough luck. That won't stop a lot of Bear fans from howling for Walsh on Monday night when they host Green Bay.

I was fortunate to have few quarterback controversies. Most of you probably didn't follow the Rusty Hilger-Adam Hines battle at Oklahoma State in 1982.

At Miami, we went from Bernie Kosar to Vinny Testaverde to Walsh on a smooth basis. In Dallas, it was Troy Aikman's job from the start. The only minor controversy came in our first trip to the playoffs when we started Steve Beuerlein over Aikman, who was recovering from a knee injury.

As head coach, you worry about 22 positions, about special-teams players, about everything else you can think of to worry about. But if you're not on top of the polls or leading your division, fans and media are on you about your quarterbacks.

Coaches in Tampa Bay, Houston and Arizona are feeling heat about those decisions right now. At least my pals are not alone.

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