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The Brunell Question

Nov 2, 2004, 10:21 PM EDT

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Gibbs on Brunell:

“In the second half, he had a courageous performance,” Gibbs said of Brunell. “I think he made a bunch of plays. I think we need to get everything else on the offense working together, including myself, and I think we can make plays to win games for us.”

I hate to take you to task, coach, but exactly what plays are you talking about? When I hear the term “making plays”, I think of someone doing something extraordinary. A diving catch. A devastating tackle. A jaw-dropping open field cut. In the case of a quarterback, a particularly nimble move to avoid the rush or dropping a perfectly placed bomb into the only place where the receiver could catch it. Brunell did nothing like that yesterday, so what’s the coach’s definition of “making plays”?

A couple of touchdown passes to Rod Gardner? A quick scan of yesterday’s game summaries shows that Brunell was one of ten quarterbacks who threw for two or more touchdowns and not all of them were Payton Manning. Billy Volek—his nickname is ”Who?”–threw a pair for the Titans. Jake Delhomme, the poster child for “flash in the pan”, tossed two for Carolina. I could keep going through Vinny Testaverde and Drew Brees, but you get the picture.

OK, there’s wasn’t a single other quarterback who completed a pass to convert a fourth and 22. But that wasn’t a particularly challenging pass by any stretch.

The point is that Brunell did nothing special, nothing that would make you say, “You know, he will overthrow the open guy a little too often, but, man, he shows those sparks of greatness that show his tremendous upside.”

Quite to the contrary, watching him play makes you say, “If he reaches his peak, his absolute maximum potential in this offense, he’ll be a mediocre NFL quarterback.”

I’m not completely off of the Brunell bandwagon. There are things wrong with this offense that do not involve Brunell. The offensive line has yet to gel, he’s been victimized by some dropped balls (although I don’t recall any yesterday), the play calling is puzzling a lot of the time, and Portis’ performance still is inconsistent.

Still, the quarterback is the guy who gets the big bucks, the one who’s supposed to lift the team on his shoulders when things aren’t working quite right. And Brunell’s just not doing this.

Gibbs is sticking by his guns, however, come hell or high water. It looks like we’re just going to have to sit back and watch all of this unfold, to watch and see if Brunell can blossom into mediocrity.

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