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About-Face
Peter King
December 03, 2001
Grousing and winless six weeks ago, the Redskins are the hottest team in the NFC East. How in the name of Marty Schottenheimer did they do it?
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December 03, 2001

About-face

Grousing and winless six weeks ago, the Redskins are the hottest team in the NFC East. How in the name of Marty Schottenheimer did they do it?

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With 9:30 to play and trailing 10-3, Philadelphia had its last gasp, fourth-and-two-feet from the Skins' 35. The Eagles sent 222-pound blaster Correll Buckhalter behind 349-pound left tackle Tra Thomas. Surely they could make 24 inches with 571 pounds of thrust, couldn't they? Arrington threw his 246 pounds at the thighs of Thomas, driving under him and diving at the pins of Buckhalter. No gain. Not an inch. What a play.

When you talk about the top young linebackers in the game, you cannot mention Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis unless you mention this kid, too. "The veterans on this defense, like Bruce Smith, tell me, 'I need you to be a man,' " Arlington said after the game. "So I never want them to look at me, ever, and say I wasn't a man."

Don't believe for a minute that Schottenheimer has done a 180. He still believes in micromanaging. Employees and players were assigned to specific cars on the manifest for the eight-car train trip north to Philadelphia last Saturday. "If I compromised my basic philosophy about working with a plan to achieve your goals, that would invalidate everything we'd done to this point," he said that night. It's also a misconception that 53 guys hated the structure and the work and the man in September. Half the team, probably, had major beefs with Schottenheimer. Half simply shut up and practiced hard.

Arlington was one of the latter. He called it "a joy" to play for Schottenheimer. So it seemed right that the last two Redskins out of the dank locker room in the bowels of the Vet on Sunday night were these two gym rats. "You stay with me," Schottenheimer said. "Right by my side."

"Coach," Arlington said, grinning the winner's grin, "we've got much more to do."

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