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Brunell Right on Target

Aug 6, 2006, 1:10 PM EST

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Mark Brunell was super sharp in Saturday’s scrimmage against the Ravens. He had zip on the ball, he had touch, and he appeared to know the offense as though he’d been playing in it for 10 years. Receivers were catching balls in perfect stride, having just to open their hands a bit to let the ball glide into their palms.

Insert the proper caveats here about they’re just seven on seven drills, it’s early, and so on. Just like there would be no rational reason to get suicidal had Brunell looked bad (although there are some who would have to be talked down from a ledge had he thrown three picks), there’s no grounds to get all giddy over a few well-thrown darts in early August.

That doesn’t mean, however, that such a performance is meaningless for one simple reason. It’s much easier to stay sharp than it is to get sharp. Since the importance of everything a quarterback does is magnified, the significance of him performing well from the get-go increases exponentially. If he’s throwing to the wrong spots and misfiring even when he goes to the right place, nobody else can get in the flow of things. Everyone’s progress stalls until the quarterback gets it together.

We’ve seen this pattern year after year as the Redskins have had either a change at the starting QB spot from the previous camp or a competition for the job every year since 2001. They haven’t had anyone who had started as many as 15 games the previous season return as the starter since Brad Johnson in 2000. Since that year they have started seven different quarterbacks with about a dozen different changes at the position involved. This lack of continuity has led to the offense always looking ragged in the preseason and, frequently, during the regular season.

Another reason why Brunell’s excellent play is a good sign is that it may allow him to rest more prior to the season opener. Remember last year he was the second team quarterback all the way though camp, never getting a day off, going in to the preseason games with the scrubs, and so on. He’s less likely to wear down as the season wears on.

While teams like the Colts and Chiefs would scoff at calling a string of 17 straight starts (counting postseason) continuity at quarterback, it’s a better situation than the Redskins have been in during the past several years. If Brunell can seize the day and erase the team’s one major question mark, the Redskins season could well end with an exclamation point.

  1. Anonymous - Aug 8, 2006 at 4:11 PM

    The most significant concern that I have about Brunell has to do with the ability of the offensive line to keep him healthy. The O-line is the one of the real concerns of the skins this year. Jansen and Thomas (the two best lineman) spent most of the off-season tryng to recover from surgeries. On top of that, they don’t really have any proven, back-ups. Molinaro, apparently, is in need of knee surgery right now. I read somewhere that none of the other o-line men they brought in during the off-season are looking very good. This is a paper thin o-line and any significant injury could spell disaster for the team, because of its effect on the ability to protect Brunell and to open running room for Portis.

  2. Anonymous - Aug 12, 2006 at 4:09 PM

    You wanna know what’ll open up the running room for Portis? It’ll be Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle-El, and Chris Cooley. These guys stretch the field so well that each time CP touches the ball it’ll be for a touchdown.

  3. Anonymous - Aug 13, 2006 at 4:52 AM

    Sounds like you don’t thing a good, healthy o-line is not that critical. Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle-El, and Chris Cooley may be the best collection of receivers in the league. But they can’t catch a ball if their QB is decked, flat on his back, injured. Did you watch the Raiders of 2005? Passing game ranked 23rd in the league despite having Randy Moss and Jerry Porter, who both had terrible seasons. Also, if you look historically, especially at Gibbs, his teams have done best when they suffered the least number of serious o-line injuries. Hopefully, if we get an injury, then some of these no-name back-ups can step up and perform.

  4. Anonymous - Aug 14, 2006 at 2:56 PM

    Watching Brunell move is like watching maple syrup fresh from the fridge..Dear God, please give
    us a quarterback who knows how to win!

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