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Nov. 21, 2004

Time to pack it in for Redskins

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
As Patrick Ramsey’s pass with eight seconds left in the game sailed into the hands of Bengals safety Kim Herring, the Redskins shot at a crucial victory disappeared, and with it, almost any hope of a playoff berth. Ramsey was much improved in relief of starter Mark Brunell, but that says very little.

Brunell, who was signed to a $40 million deal in the off-season, has been unable to throw for over 100 yards in four of the last five games. Not 300, not just 200, but a paltry 100 yards. Finally, he was pulled in the second quarter of Sunday’s game, leaving to the sounds of 91,000 booing spectators.

The praise of Joe Gibbs was always that he was great with any quarterback; that he could coach ‘em up. After all, he won three Super Bowls with three different mediocre quarterbacks. But Brunell had been consistently awful, and it shouldn’t have taken a one-for-eight performance to finally get Gibbs to yank him for Ramsey.

Prior to last Sunday, a Brunell sympathizer (like say, Gibbs) could have said that a reason why Brunell has struggled is because of the butter finger epidemic that has plagued the Redskin receivers. Laveranues Coles, Rod Gardner and other generally sure-handed wideouts have been dropping easy catches all season long.

But Sunday was all Brunell’s fault. He threw behind open receivers, in front of them, but never to them. The fact that he can’t throw a dump-off pass to Mike Sellers or some other back for a short gain is puzzling. How he went from a Pro Bowler to a dud so fast is boggling.

And what makes his (lack of) performance so much more painful is the fact that the Redskins have the top rated defense in the NFL. Their D has kept Washington in every game thus far, but no team can win when they are going through their worst scoring drought in 70 years. Yes. 70 years.

Even the most mediocre QBs complete half their passes in the era of the short pass in the NFL, but Brunell couldn’t even do that. His quarterback rating is 63.8, worst in the entire league. He’s only thrown for 200 more yards than Clinton Portis has run for.

Flat out, Brunell; and to be fair, often the receivers have let the defense down. And at 3-6, even with Ramsey now finally starting, the team has to look towards next year. Is Ramsey the guy they can count on? He has been hailed for being so strong when he takes vicious hits, but a reason why he takes so many is due to the fact that he’s slow and holds the ball too long. Not good.

Jon Kitna and Drew Brees will likely be available this off-season, should Washington decide that they want to part with Brunell, a man who eats up a huge amount of salary cap space.

All four major free agent quarterbacks from last off-season, Brunell, Vinny Testaverde, Kerry Collins and Kurt Warner, have all underperformed in their new homes.

With the toughest schedule in the NFL over the next four weeks upcoming, it’s quite possible that the highest paid team in the league, coached by Joe Gibbs, could be 3-10.

The old adage is that defense wins championships, Perhaps, but not if you can’t score 20 points.

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  • Isamu Bae on November 21, 2004
    Actually, the Ravens' offense struggles to score a single touchdown. Case and point? Their game against the Redskins.
  • what the heck?! on November 22, 2004
    did u just call joe theismann a mediocre quarterback? u dont get into the hall of fame being mediocre!
  • danno (View Email) on November 22, 2004
    I think you're off on a couple points. first off, with the Gibbs being able to "coach 'em up" reference, I think you're using a line more commonly associated with former coach Steve Spurrier. Also, Gibbs really wasn't great with every quarterback - there's a reason why you don't hear names like "Jay Shroeder" being tossed around in Canton, Ohio. And yes, Theisman was a pretty decent QB. Your closing line is also wrong. The Ravens won a Super Bowl four years ago with a quarterback who didn't throw a touchdown pass for almost a half of a season. Yes, many of the problems with the Redskins can blamed on Brunell - you'd have to be blind not to realize that he's not healthy enough to be a starting QB in the NFL anymore - but Brunell alone is not the problem. Besides, if he was the problem, then why was the offense just as stagnant against Philly last week with a much better arm in Patrick Ramsey at the helm? Clinton Portis has been so-so for the number of carries he's had, and the receievers have been less than spectacular. The vertical passing game has been non-existance, and do keep in mind that the special teams is anchored by a Swede who'd never played an NFL game until 4 weeks ago and a punter who gets his AARP card in less than a decade.

    This article was pretty weak overall - what's the point of dumping on Brunell and a pretty terrible team when everyone else has, too?
  • meme on November 22, 2004
    "a punter who gets his AARP card in less than a decade."...Tom Tupa has a hell of a leg, he booms those punts
  • Ravi Umarji on November 22, 2004
    I think it's fair to point out that the Redskins have had their fair share of crippling injuries, perhaps the most important of which was Jon Jansen getting injured in preseason. A potential Pro-Bowler, Jansen would have fit in perfectly with Bugel's o-line, and probably created the protection Brunell needed to get in a groove.

    On the defensive side, the one thing defensive teams must do is score; the Redskins defense, while having played incredibly well, has not done that. And that could be partially attributed to the loss of LaVar Arrington, who should have had a breakout season in Gregg Williams's free-wheeling defensive schemes.
  • JoeThiesman on November 23, 2004
    "partially attributed to the loss of LaVar Arrington, who should have had a breakout season"....good point, just think how many plays we would have made on defense with Lavar, all of these injuries did have an effect and not everyone realizes that.
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