Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Sep 2005

Brunell Replaces Ramsey as Redskins' Starting QB

Hope you didn't pick Patrick Ramsey as your quarterback in the Loser League contest. Instead of waiting to see if Ramsey will be able to play Sunday after suffering a sprained neck, Joe Gibbs decided to name Mark Brunell the starter right away. I'm guessing the Redskins are on their third starting QB by Week 5.

Posted by: Al Bogdan on 12 Sep 2005

32 comments, Last at 16 Sep 2005, 8:20pm by heavyjumbo


by El Angelo (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 7:18pm

The hit Ramsey took yesterday by Briggs was *brutal*. The reality of the Mark Brunell Experience definitely has Bronco fans jumping for joy right now.

by random (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 7:20pm

I feel bad for ramsay, the organization has been looking for a way to get him back on the bench ever since they saw brunell was healthy again this year, and then he gets hurt in the first half of the first game this year.

by sublime33 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 7:25pm

The *brutal" hit by Briggs was a result of him vaulting over an attempted illegal low block by (I believe) Clinton Portis and him catching Ramsey high on the shoulder pads on the way down. It just as easily could have been called a double foul.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 7:29pm

I thought Gibbs didn't play Ramsey because he was still hurt.

I'd rather have Ramsey's "gunslinging" turnovers than Mark Brunell's lollipop throwing getting his receivers killed interceptions / incompletes.

This is not going to be pretty.

He did the same thing to Mark Rypien beecause Rip had a turnover problem early in his career... let's see what happens when Brunell starts to become the turnover machine.

Congratulations Cowboys, Giants, Eagles and Broncos. I predict next year we trade Patrick Ramsey, 2007 first round pick and 2007 third round pick for our pick from Denver in order to draft Matt Leinart.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 7:32pm

I guess that's also why #55 put him in a headlock and slammed him to the ground as well?

Too bad that illegal blow to the head wasn't called for a penalty, it's prolly been played over and over on ESPN. Compare that non-call to the call Bledsoe received during the Chargers-Cowboys.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 7:35pm

Hope you didn’t pick Patrick Ramsey as your quarterback in the Loser League contest.

With 3 equivalent backup-quality QBs on the Redskins, who would be insane enough to believe they could pick the right one?

by sublime33 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 7:40pm

#5 - Headlock and blow to the head? What game were you watching? In which season? The only thing that hit Ramsey in head was the turf, and I have yet to see the turf get penalized, even in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

by Ferg (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 7:49pm

NOOOOOOOOOOO, you old fool!

Unless the injury is more serious than reported, Ramsey is getting a raw deal. Gibbs was just waiting for an excuse to put Marky Mark back in.

Yes, the Skins scored more with Brunell in the game. Their scoring drives started on the 28, 35, and 36. The three drives Ramsey played started on their own 22, 2, and 11.

Ramsey passed on third down 7 times, with an average of 8.8 yards to go. He converted 4 of them. Brunell passed on third down 5 times, with an average of 4.4 yards to go. He converted twice.

Yes, Ramsey lost a fumble and threw an interception. But Brunell also fumbled (he was fortunate enough to recover it) and had an INT called back by a penalty. Is that really so much better, or did he just get the bounces going his way?

Brunell got the benefit of the doubt for seven games last year, and Ramsey gets pulled after three series? For *that* performance? Arrrrrrrrgh.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 7:50pm

I don't feel like arguing in another thread about it.

If Brunell doesn't move the ball you can bet Ramsey will be in after halftime next week. It's the same old Gibbs trying to deal with marginal QBs, so he keeps switching them until one finally steps up and proves he's worthy of starting. Don't ditch out on Ramsey just yet!

by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 8:08pm

The hit on Ramsey may or may not have been illegal, but sublime33 is correct that it was not a blow to the head. It was closer to a "clothesline" tackle, but it wasn't that either, because Briggs's arm wasn't extended straight. It was closer to a headlock, as #5 alluded to. I don't know if it's illegal to tackle someone that way, but it probably should be. And no matter exactly how Briggs collared Ramsey, he certainly could have been given an unnecessary roughness call for driving Ramsey's head into the turf -- that kind of call gets made all the time.

On the other hand, Michael Wilbon of the Post says it was clean.

P.S. - In what sense was Portis's attempted block on Briggs illegal? Dr. Z's mantra is "No cutting unless you're face-up," and Portis was face-up on Briggs, so what's the problem?

by sublime33 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 8:47pm

#10 - I have to agree with the first part of your post. Few think there was intent to injure - it was a clumsy tackle as a result of a clumsy attempted block. Still, the result was a dangerous play and since it was a QB, that could have warranted a flag on Briggs.

Portis' block might have been legal since it was within the normal limits of the line of scrimmage (I'm not sure of the exact rule), but I think refs take a dim view of cut blocks because they are so dangerous. I also don't see how Portis could have been face up unless he was on his butt at the time. Briggs can't jump that high.

I think that if all cut blocking is outlawed, defensive players vaulting over blockers should also be outlawed. Lawrence Taylor and Richard Dent had some awesome highlights vaulting over low blockers and spearing the ball carrier in mid air, but it is amazing that some players like Eric Dickerson didn't get their necks broken in the process.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 8:59pm

Any time a defender makes contact with a player's helmet or face mask it is a penalty, regardless of whether it was intended or not. I thought it was a strange non-call.
On the other hand, I can't think of any reason why Portis' block was illegal. Low blocks are only illegal if executed from behind the player, or on a player who is already engaged by another blocker. Running backs execute cut blocks like that every game in the NFL.

by Todd (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 9:26pm

Patrick Ramsey does not have the decision-making skills necessary to be an NFL quarterback. He doesn't read defenses well, he holds the ball too long as a result and he often throws to covered receivers (especially interceptions to underneath defenders he never recognized would be in those positions). Ramsey is not getting a raw deal; despite all the coaching changes and the miserable Spurrier blocking schemes, he has had plenty of opportunities to prove himself -- he is not an NFL-caliber quarterback. Brunell no longer is a top quarterback, but he is a smart quarterback (his "interception" was the result of a correctly-called pass interference infraction -- you cannot expect a receiver who has been yanked down by his jersey to catch the ball) and he will make fewer mistakes (and the preseason showed his arm-strength clearly to be superior to last year). The Redskins have an excellent defense: they need a quarterback who will keep them in games, not take them out of games.

by SJM (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 9:36pm

#s 2 and 8 are right.

Ramsey actually threw the ball down the field, unlike Brunell, which was one of the alleged changes to the offense this year. But Gibbs was just looking for an excuse to bench Ramsey since he played poorly in preseason (and reportedly in practice too) while Brunell looked way better than last year AGAINST SECOND STRINGERS PLAYING VANILLA COVERAGES. Now the Skins are back to the dink-and-dunk of last year, when the recievers couldn't get YAC and the backs couldn't break away, and the offense is going to suck and waste great performances by the defense. Again.

On the other hand, Campbell won't play a down a long as the Skins are in playoff contention (and in the sorry NFC, that could be very late in the season). All of the "experts" who cover the NFL like to look like geniuses by predicting that a team with shaky quarterbacking will eventually go to their first-round pick. Well, in this case that "bold" prediction which everybody has made is wrong. Gibbs hates playing rookie QB's. He believes a young QB should learn on the bench.

by Todd (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 9:57pm

Why does a coach need an "excuse" to bench a player who "played poorly in preseason (and reportedly in practice too)"? Ramsey was the declared starter through the offseason, training camp and the preseason, and he did nothing to justify being the starter.

Certainly, Brunell was playing against second-string players and vanilla schemes in the preseason, but the issue is his arm-strength, not his ability to read defenses. His arm-strength is superior to last year. It may not last; Brunell may not physically be able to start for the entire season, but he is the better quarterback now, and Ramsey has shown no ability to improve: he is the same quarterback he was when he was drafted.

by sublime33 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 10:23pm

#13 - You are being a bit generous with Brunell's interception. Yes, it was a clear penalty because of the jersey grab, but it was doubtful that the receiver was even going to touch the ball. The Bear coaches were so mad at the offender (Mike Green) that the benched him for the duration of the game. The Skins dodged a bullet, because it was a hell of a play by Vasher to get into position to intercept the overthrow.

I thought Ramsey threw a better deep ball with more authority, but also made some questionable and dangerous reads, especially on the short routes. Brunell "managed" the game better, but I'm not sure I would want him to run the two minute drill.

by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:03am


I am not saying Gibbs needed an excuse to bench Ramsey, I am saying that Brunell is not any better.

Well, in a sense he did need an excuse because Brunell was so bad last year that no matter how good he looked this year he was not going to start barring an injury or truly atrocious play by Ransey in a real game. But Ramsey wasn't atrocious. He overthrew his receivers and had an int, but he was driving down the field for a score when he got hammered.

I admit that Ramsey's development has been slow, but he has shown some improvement. We aren't going to get a chance to find out if he really has gotten better, though.

by Jim (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 9:28am

Re:12 Briggs was engaged with Jansen. Also he never made contact with the helmet or facemask, just the neck.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 10:16am

Bledsoe, Brunell, it's Monday night!
Hmmm, too bad it's not 1996.
Gibbs, Parcells, it's Monday night!
Hmmm, too bad it's not 1988.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 10:51am

You can debate the Brunell/Ramsey question I suppose. For my $$ Brunell had his chance last year and was terrible. What seems indisputable is that Gibbs has completely botched handling Ramsey as an 'asset'. Last year (after he had signed Brunell), Gibbs refused to trade Ramsey (I think he could have gotten at least a 2nd round pick). Now, he'll be lucky to get anything for the guy.

by Josh (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 11:03am

Ramsey is better and Ramsey will be better from here on out. I don't understand how anybody can watch this team and not see that a) under Ramsey, the team is actually capable of a sustained drive, b) under Brunell they are not. I also don't think Ramsey is any more proned to turnovers than Brunell, at least not in games when he doesn't come in down three touchdowns. For some reason old fart coaches seem to think being a defensive team means having a crappy audience.

by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 11:17am

I've mentioned before, I think, that as a Tulane alum and 'Skins fan, I defend Ramsey more than I probably should. The offense Tulane runs consists mainly of "everyone go out for a pass," which also happens to be the offense that Ramsey was drafted into (Spurrier). I'm not sure he was ever taught how to knoe when to throw the ball away, etc. I could be wrong, though.

The other element of this, though, is that Gibbs simply likes old players. A lot of people like to joke that Campbell will be starting in two weeks, but if he does I'll be surprised. Gibbs never likes starting rookies, even when it might be in the best interests of the team.

In a WP article a few days ago, a lot of offensive players (including several lineman) were quoted as saying that the offensive struggles weren't Ramsey's fault, and that if everyone else did their job, he would be fine. It will be interesting to hear what they say now.

by Mike (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 1:11pm

So in the Ramsey vs Brunell debate, here's an interesting question. Imagine one or the other got traded to a quality offense where the other players do their jobs properly (e.g. Indy, NE, KC, etc.). Who would perform better?

I haven't watched a lot of Skins games, but my sense is, with a decent QB coach to teach him something other than a flashy college offensive style, Ramsey would be the better pick in that situation. Without such a coach, Brunell's decision making will always be better, but I don't think his physical skills would match.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 1:12pm

According to the stats provided by this site and according to PFP, also provided by the writers of this site, Ramsey should be the starter over Brunell.

But I, like JonL above, am not unbiased here.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 1:23pm

On a real team, who would be better? Can I choose neither? Would I rather have Brunell scramble around and short-arm his passes or Ramsey make a bunch of poor descisions? Brunell's carreer has two feet in the grave, and Ramsey's been given enough chances to succeed and screwed them all up. It's time to throw the rookie to the wolves and see how he does.

by Jeff J. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 2:33pm

This is madness, madness I tell you. I love Gibbs, but this is not the wisest of decisions.

The honest truth is that Patrick "Pharaoh" Ramsey has never been given the sufficient time to develop into the player he could have been. Under Spurrier he was blasted every other play by suspect offensive lines; last year he was inserted three games too late in the year. This year he's named the starter but given the hook after less than one half of one game in the first contest of the year.

Whether Ramsey can succeed as the Redskins starter has never been established, and it's a tragedy that we'll never know. He's now asking for a trade, and I can't blame him:

I'm a diehard Skins fan who exalts Gibbs high...but this just ain't right by the young kid.

by Baloo (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:07pm

Portis' blocking attempt may have been illegal. If you actually watch football you will notice that just about every back in the league blocks like that early in the game. They go for legs early, then later in the game linebackers are slower and more wary of coming in full speed. There is no chance someone would call Portis' block a penalty, every game has backs blocking linebackers like that. Pay attention to the football you watch sometime, you may notice something.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:20pm

"And no matter exactly how Briggs collared Ramsey, he certainly could have been given an unnecessary roughness call for driving Ramsey’s head into the turf – that kind of call gets made all the time."

That call gets made when it's intentional. Briggs was in midair and that's why he landed the way he did. He couldn't exactly hang in mid-air or sprout wings and start flying, and so he decided to viciously exploit the law of gravity by obeying it and landing on Ramsey.

by sublime33 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:55pm

#27 - Yes I indeed watch football. Do you read comments all the way through? I said Portis could have been flagged and you agree. You state that this is rarely if ever called - I agree with that. What I mentioned it was the refs basically waved off a double foul by making no call, which you chose to ignore.

#3 - As for the actual tackle, Briggs pulled his arm back after hitting him in the chin and left shoulder pad. He clearly did not follow through, which might save him $10,000 and a game suspension. In no way did he "slam him to the ground". But I still expect a $10,000 fine.

by Heavy Jumbo (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:14pm

You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. You know why there was not a penalty on Portis? Portis was not in the backfield blocking. There was NO ONE in the backfield cutting him. The offensive tackle, Jansen, pushed him, in the lower left part of his side and back toward the QB. More back than side. Before you start popping off about clipping, it's legal where it happened.

TIVO is a wonderful thing. This is what happened.
The tackler, slightly left of the QB, wrapped his right arm around the neck of the QB. No chin, no shoulder pad to slow the blow. The tackler, with his arm still wrapped around the QBs neck, moved around behind the QB (momentum) and flung him to the ground. While taking the QB down, the tackler went to his knees with his arm still around the QBs neck. The QBs head is twisted, his legs are folding. Right before the QB hit the ground with his BACK the tackler released his hold.

School is out!

by sublime33 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 2:34pm

#31 - Tivo is a wonderful thing, but you should Tivo Redskin games instead of Full House or WWF Wrestling. In what universe did the tackler go to his knees with his arm around the QB's neck? You must be mixing up WWF shows because that is a baldface lie that Briggs went from upright in midair to his knees with his arm wrapped around Ramsey's neck the entire time. If you truly watched this on Tivo, you know this cannot be true, unless you never really watched a replay. Either way, you are distorting the truth. And I hope your brother in law Mr. Ramsey has fully recovered.

by heavyjumbo (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 8:20pm

The more you open your mouth the dumber you look. Shut up and take your medicine.