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Brunell Injury Raises QB Questions


Brunell Injury Raises QB Questions

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The news today that Mark Brunell broke the index finger on his left hand—his throwing hand—in workouts earlier this week is hardly earth-shattering stuff. While the expected 2-3 weeks that he will be out of action may force him to miss the team’s June 16-18 minicamp, there should be no problem with him being in shape and in rhythm for training camp, even given the fact that he’ll have to learn Al Saunders’ new offense.

What the injury does, however, is bring up the question of what would happen if this had occurred in, say, October. Would it be Todd Collins at the helm or would second-year player Jason Campbell get a shot?

The conventional wisdom is that Joe Gibbs would go with the veteran Collins as the caretaker should Brunell wind up on the sidelines for a significant amount of time. Applying the conventional wisdom to Gibbs’ handling of quarterbacks, however, is not always the best way to go. For example, who really thought that Patrick Ramsey’s job tenure as the starting quarterback would last less than 30 minutes last year?

The problem with Collins is that, while he is a solid citizen and he presumably understands Saunders’ offense better than almost anyone alive having worked under it for five years in Kansas City, he NFL playing resume is loaded with holes and question marks. In 11 NFL seasons had has started 17 games with 14 of those starts coming in 1997 when he was with the Buffalo Bills. In that season he threw for just 2,367 yards and posted a quarterback rating of just over 69. That’s not quite Brunell 2004 bad—he put up a 63 rating—but it’s close.

The Bills were so impressed with Collins’ potential after that season that they let him go to Kansas City. The Chiefs were so impressed with his ability that he didn’t take a single snap for two years while sitting behind the likes of Rich Gannon (pre-Raiders) and Elvis Grbac. Since 2001 Collins has been anchored on the bench behind Trent Green. He has attempted 27 passes in that time. Every single one of them has come when the Chiefs were comfortably ahead.

For seven years he’s been no better than the #2 guy. Contracts have come and gone and Collins has not found a chance to challenge for a starting job. That means that he hasn’t been looking for one or that he has been looking and there have been no takers. Both possibilities say something about Collins and not in a positive way.

Experience is a good asset and something that Gibbs values. But can it really be said the Todd Collins is an “experienced” quarterback? He many know Saunders’ offense inside and out in meetings and in practices but he has not demonstrated that he can execute that offense in a regular-season game situation. He has not faced a pressure two-minute drive in at least nine years unless you count the preseason. And if that impressed Gibbs, Babe Laufenberg would have been the team’s starting quarterback in the late 80’s.

Actually, Laufenberg’s and Collins’ careers are remarkably similar. Both spent most of their NFL careers glued to the bench getting one chance to start and failing to make the most of it. Collins is no Randall Cunningham or Trent Dilfer, fading former starters brought in as insurance. For that matter, he’s no Gus Frerotte, who demonstrated the ability to hold down a starting job for a few years.

There are those who will take this article as a rip of Collins but it’s not intended as that. His resume is what it is and I just want to make sure that everyone is aware of it before they go saying that Gibbs is going to hand him the #2 quarterback job.

Jason Campbell

Collins and Campbell have faced exactly the same number of pressure NFL situations in the past seven years; that is to say a combined total of none. Those who say that Campbell hasn’t demonstrated that he would be able to handle the starting job have a valid point. The problem is that there is absolutely nothing here that creates any confidence that Collins could get the job done if the starting job was thrust upon him.

We don’t know if a Brunell absence is something that Gibbs will have to deal with this year. But if you think you know how he’d handle it if it does, you need to guess again.
Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information, go to

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Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown

James Washington

Wide receiver
Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington measured at 5 feet 11 inches at the combine and his 40 time was a pedestrian 4.54.

But forget about the numbers. His catch radius is larger than his height would indicate, and he plays much faster than the stopwatch says he does.

His route tree needs to be cleaned up but his ability to get open deep, make receptions on back shoulder throws and, yes, Redskins fans, fade patterns will make him a productive receiver while he learns.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 213
40-yard dash: 4.54

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

He doesn't look like a receiver and he doesn't run routes like a receiver, but then you see him get open deep and make all those explosive plays, and you know exactly what he does for an offense.

—A Big 12 assistant coach via

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins needed a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Doctson after Terrelle Pryor fizzled out last year. They went out and signed Paul Richardson to a free agent contract, solving the immediate need.

But in the NFL, you should always be looking for your next receiver. It takes most of them at least a season to develop so if you wait until you really need a pass catcher it’s too late to draft one. Washington has the capability to contribute early and develop from there.  

Film review: vs. Pitt, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma

—Like most coaches, Jay Gruden wants his wide receivers to block and Washington certainly gives it the effort. He helped backs gain extra yards on stretch plays with hustling blocks downfield. His technique may need some work—a long touchdown run against Oklahoma was called back when he was hit for holding—but the effort is there.

—Against the Sooners, Washington got by a cornerback who was in off coverage and beat him for a long gain. Later in the game, the corner was in press coverage and Washington made one move and beat the defender on a post for a touchdown. We can insert the usual cautions about Big 12 defenses here, but it still was impressive to watch.

—Speed is important but so is how fast a receiver can stop to catch a pass. On one underthrown fade pattern, Washington was able to slam on the brakes while the cornerback kept on running, making the catch for a nice gain out of the end zone an easy one.

—Against TCU he split two defenders on a deep pass. He caught the ball in stride and then he found a second gear and easily outraced the defensive backs to the end zone to complete the 86-yard play. This is a good example of Washington playing faster than his 40 time.

Potential issues: Washington is not a good enough prospect to warrant the No. 13 pick, but he could easily be gone by the time the time their second-round pick is on the clock. As noted above, the quality of the defenses he faced in compiling 74 receptions for 1,549 yards (20.9 per catch) and 13 touchdowns has to be considered.

Bottom line: If I’m the Redskins, I have a talk with Jamison Crowder’s agent before the draft to gauge what his client would want in order to sign an extension prior to the 2018 season. If it’s something the Redskins consider reasonable, they should look elsewhere in the second round. But if a 2019 Crowder departure seems likely,  they should look at Washington if he’s there in the second round. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


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Redskins withdraw contract offer to Junior Galette

Redskins withdraw contract offer to Junior Galette

It looks like the Redskins are moving on from Junior Galette.

Citing a team source, Chick Hernandez of NBC Sports Washington is reporting that the team has withdrawn its contract offer to Galette, the veteran pass rusher who finally got on the field last year after missing all of his first two seasons in Washington with injuries. He is an unrestricted free agent.

The Redskins may have a replacement for Galette lined up. They had former Bear Pernell McPhee in for a visit earlier this week and there was a report that they made him a contract offer after that. McPhee subsequently visited the Falcons facility, but he has not signed anywhere. However, there have been no reports that a deal is imminent as of this morning.


As for Galette, Hernandez mentions two possible destinations. One is the Browns, who have two key connections to Galette. Scot McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who signed Galette after he was cut by the Saints after the 2014 season is in the personnel department in Cleveland. In addition, Gregg Williams, who was the Saints’ defensive coordinator when Galette made the team as an undrafted rookie, currently has the same position with the Browns.

Another possibility is the Rams. The connections there are Joe Barry, the linebackers coach in LA who was Redskins’ defensive coordinator during Galette’s first two years with the team, and head coach Sean McVay, who was the offensive coordinator in Washington while Galette was on the other side of the ball.

Galette has said on social media lately that his first choice is to remain with the Redskins but that the money had to be “fair”. The interest in a return to Washington was mutual but evidently, the organization’s idea of fair and Galette’s differed by too great a margin to bridge the gap.  

Last year, Galette didn’t have an impressive sack total, getting three in a backup role. But he got plenty of pressure on the quarterback and that can be just as important as sacks.


Galette developed into a feared pass rusher with the Saints, getting double-digit sacks his last two seasons there. After signing him to a lucrative contract extension, the Saints abruptly released Galette due to some off-field issues. McCloughan and the Redskins signed him soon after the start of training camp in 2015 but before he could even play in a preseason game, he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in practice and he was out for the year.

His much-anticipated return the following year ended before it even started. Shortly before it was time to report to training camp, he tore the other Achilles and he was on the shelf again.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.