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.