Gibbs sticks by slumping Brunell

October 13, 2004

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Joe Gibbs is sticking with Mark Brunell at quarterback even though the Washington Redskins' offense is one of the NFL's worst.

"There's a temptation there," the Redskins' coach said Wednesday. "And you see it all the time. 'Let's change a person because it's an easy thing to do.' I want to do what's right. Right now, Mark's the guy."

The scrutiny has intensified since Brunell completed 13 of 29 passes for just 83 yards in Sunday's 17-10 loss to Baltimore. Brunell had completed 60 percent of his passes entering this season, but this year his 53 percent completion rate is last in the NFC and his quarterback rating of 73.3 is nearly 12 points below his career average.

Still, Gibbs did not consider a switch to backup Patrick Ramsey for this weekend's game at Chicago.

"I would say if there's any person we could change on our football team that would help us, we would do it. ... I don't think I would hesitate to do it," Gibbs said. "But I also think that if somebody's earned that job and they're fighting their guts out doing everything they could and you look at it and say this guy's not the problem, that would be the wrong thing to do."


Brunell is the 16th quarterback to start a game for the Redskins over the last 12 seasons. Gibbs was loyal to his starters during his first stint with the Redskins from 1981-92, but he made the late-season switch from Jay Schroeder to Doug Williams in 1987 en route to winning the Super Bowl.

Ramsey has a stronger arm than Brunell and could restore the deep passing threat that has disappeared in recent games. Brunell is more mobile, however, which helps behind an offensive line that has already allowed 12 sacks.

The main case against Ramsey is that he hasn't shown he would be any better. He played poorly when given a chance to win the job in training camp and threw three second-half interceptions in Week 2 against the New York Giants after Brunell left early with a hamstring injury.

Plus, there's no guarantee that a new quarterback would improve the other parts of an offense that is averaging just 14.2 points per game. The rushing game is sputtering behind an inconsistent line and the hot-and-cold running of Clinton Portis. Rod Gardner and Laveranues Coles have dropped passes, and they've had trouble getting open because Gibbs' scheme puts fewer receivers downfield to maximize quarterback protection.

"You can't put it on one guy's shoulders," Coles said, "because that's not the type of offense that we're in. The offense is divided evenly among everybody. It's not an offense that is really going to feature one guy."

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