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QB Situation: Wait and See

QB Situation: Wait and See

Joe Gibbs’ announcement that Patrick Ramsey would be benched and that Mark Brunell would start at quarterback has created quite a stir among Redskins fans, a development about as predictable as the sun rising. Around the message boards, the water coolers, in barroom debates and in the talk shows and the like, there have been two distinct camps that are bickering with each other and are easily identified. They each have a motto:

In Gibbs We Trust: Whatever Joe Gibbs does is OK with this bunch. Argue with Gibbs and he can punch you in the mouth with his three Super Bowl rings. If he thinks that Mark Brunell is best for the team and gives it be best chance of winning that’s good enough for them. Of course as late a week ago, many of these same people were wondering if Gibbs had lost his mind because he hadn’t yanked Ramsey based on his preseason performance.

Gibbs II is a Bust: This crowd says, “Thanks for the memories, Joe, but you’ve lost it.” According to them, you have to give the guy that you said was your starter for eight months during the offseason more than 20 minutes of playing time before you yank him. Ramsey is the up and comer, Brunell is the has-been and if Gibbs can’t see that, well, maybe it’s time to promote Gregg Williams into Gibbs’ job and put Joe out to pasture.

Here, the position is to keep one foot firmly planted in each camp. Call it Gibbs, Wait and See We Must. This may disappoint some of you who come here looking for a firm stand to tell you what to think about it. Sorry, that’s not going to happen. While I don’t like the move, I have to give Gibbs the benefit of the doubt.

I didn’t like the move because, while Ramsey was struggling some with interceptions and fumbles, he was also making enough plays on the positive side to warrant giving him a chance to work through his problems. And even though many, present company included, think that Mark Brunell has been throwing and playing much better than he did last year you can’t overlook the fact that he could be vastly improved from 2004 and just move from being a horrible QB to one who is sub-mediocre. On top of that, it seemed to me that the Redskins have a defense that could minimize the damage from a higher than average number of turnovers.

On the proverbial other hand, you have to think that Gibbs had had enough of Ramsey. While I remarked here yesterday that Ramsey got only 18:52 to prove himself; in fact he has had much longer than that. He had the last seven games of 2004 plus this year’s OTA’s, minicamp, training camp, and the preseason games to prove himself. In Gibbs’ eyes, he hasn’t done that. This was not a snap judgment by Gibbs but one based on his observations of Ramsey ever since his return as coach of the Redskins.

This is speculation—everyone else is trying to get inside Gibbs’ head, why not me—but I have to think that Gibbs’ patience with Ramsey grew thin over the past eight months because, although Gibbs and Bill Musgrave and a number of other coaches have been telling Ramsey the same things over and over again and they just aren’t sinking in. Implicit in the “you’re the starting QB” deal is that you listen to what the coaches say and adjust what you do accordingly.

It’s one thing for a fourth-year quarterback to make mistakes. It’s another him to repeat the same mistakes. The end zone interception Ramsey threw against Cincinnati in the preseason wasn’t just eerily reminiscent of the game-killing pick that Ramsey threw against the Eagles last year; it was its twin brother down to it being at the same spot on the FedEx Field turf. In 2005 he has twice looked up to find a linebacker who had come through on a blitz in his face. Against the Steelers he threw an interception for a touchdown. Certainly, one would think, the coaches repeatedly went over with Ramsey what he needs to do in that situation and practiced it over and over. But the next time it happened, in the second quarter last Sunday, the result was another turnover (albeit on what appeared to be a dirty hit).

Gibbs probably looked at Ramsey and his gut told him that it wasn’t going to get any better that the turnovers would continue at the rate of one or two a quarter because Ramsey was either unwilling or unable to learn from his mistakes and adjust. He may be right in that assessment and he may be wrong.

One other thing—please don’t talk to me about Ramsey’s psyche or say that Gibbs lied to him. He has not demanded a trade according to Jon Jansen and numerous other sources. Sure, it hurts to be demoted, but he’s a big boy and he’ll get over it. His best bet it to keep his mouth shut, play when the opportunity comes along (few NFL quarterbacks make it through 16 games unscathed) and audition for a shot at a starting job here or elsewhere.

All that being said, I still don’t like the move. The Redskins offense would be more effective and versatile with Ramsey at the helm and, again, the defense is good enough to minimize the effect of mistakes. With Brunell, we’re reduced to “Portis left, Betts right, Pass, Punt, Fight, Fight, Fight!” and waiting for the other team to lose the game.

It’s a strategy that has landed a playoff spot for many teams. We’ll see if it works for this one.

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Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

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Associated Press

Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

The sudden resignation of Barry Trotz as the coach of the Stanley Cup champion Capitals is the most stunning Washington coaching departure since Joe Gibbs retired from the Redskins about 13 months after the team won its third Super Bowl in a 10-year span. 

In the years leading up to Gibbs’ departure, there were some rumblings that he might leave. As early as 1986, John Madden said that Gibbs was a candidate to burn out of the profession early. During the 1989 season, Gibbs said that he was contemplating retirement, but he retracted his words the next day. In 1990, columnist and TV pregame panelist Will McDonough reported that Gibbs would retire after the season. Retirement rumors popped up again in early 1992, just two days before Super Bowl XXVI. Again, Gibbs denied them. The Redskins easily beat the Bills to claim their third championship in 10 years and there was no apparent reason why such a successful coach would think about leaving. 

Redskins fans had become so used to hearing the Gibbs retirement reports that many just started to tune them out. So on the morning of March 5, 1993, when reports of Gibbs’ resignation as coach started to circulate, many were in a state of denial.

That turned out to be wishful thinking. The fans were given a hard jolt of reality when the team announced a noon press conference. 

There the coach was on TV, as promised, confirming the news. He said it was a family decision. 

“Every year, we get away and talk about it,” Gibbs said. “We always reach the same conclusion. This year, it was different. The boys didn’t encourage me one way or another, but they understood when I told them what I was thinking. I think Pat’s happier than anyone. This isn’t an easy lifestyle for a coach’s wife. The coach is the guy who stands up and hears everyone tell him how great he is. The wife is the one waiting at home alone while the coach is spending every night at the office. 

“I wanted more time with my family. I wanted more time with my sons. I look at this as a window of opportunity with them and I couldn’t let it pass.” 

Although he has been diagnosed with a condition that has caused some pain and some difficulty in sleeping, Gibbs said that health was not a factor in his decision. 

Richie Petitbon, the team’s longtime defensive coordinator, was named the team’s new head coach. It had to be one of the shortest job interviews ever. 

“I get a call from Mr. Cooke who tells me Joe has retired and that he wants me to coach the Redskins,” Petitbon said. “After I picked myself up off the floor, I said yes.” 

After hearing the news, most Redskins fans had to pick themselves up as well.  

Petitbon lasted only one season as the head coach and the other eight head coaches who followed, including Gibbs himself in a four-year second stint, have been unable to get the Redskins back to the Super Bowl. Coincidentally, the Caps’ head coaching job is widely expected to go to Todd Reirden, who was Trotz’s top assistant just as Pettitbon was Gibbs’. 

Washington fans hope that the Caps have better fortune with Trotz’s successors. 

More Redskins

- 53-man roster: Roster projection--Offense
- 53-man roster: Best players 25 or younger

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

 

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 19, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on defense; the offense was posted yesterday.

Defensive line (7)
Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Stacy McGee, Tim Settle, Ziggy Hood

I don’t think that McGee’s groin injury will be an issue, but it seemed that Jay Gruden was very tight-lipped about the whole thing, so we will have to wait until training camp starts. This is one more than they normally carry here and Hood’s presence on the roster could be in danger if injuries force the team to carry more players at another position. 

Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee

Anderson is certain to make the roster, but he was mostly invisible during the offseason practices that were open to the media. The spotlight will be on last year’s second-round pick in training camp. After a zero-sack rookie season, Anderson will be under pressure to produce this season. 

Inside linebacker (5)
Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton

The player I have on the wrong side of the bubble here is Martrell Spaight. If he does work his way on, the spot most in jeopardy is Vigil’s. Harvey-Clemons got a lot of reps with the first team in OTAs and the team thinks he can help in nickel situations and perhaps more. And Gruden called Hamilton a potential future starter. So the two younger players seem safe, leaving Vigil vulnerable.

Cornerback (6)
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey, Greg Stroman

As is the case with the running backs that I looked at yesterday, this group seems to be pretty well set. It’s not that it’s an exceptionally strong group, but there isn’t a lot of real competition. Behind these six are three undrafted free agents, and while Danny Johnson, Kenny Ladler, and Ranthony Texada all have had flashes in the offseason practices, they are extreme long shots to make the roster at this point. 

Safety (4)
D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

If there are concerns about Nicholson’s health—to be clear, as of now there are none—Fish Smithson could make it as a fifth safety. 

Specialists (3)
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

It looks like the Redskins will have the same trio of specialists for the fourth straight year. I will look it up at some point but for now, I’ll say that it’s been a while since they had such stability here. 


Defensive players: 26
Rookies (5): 
Payne, Settle, Hamilton, Stroman, Apke
New to the Redskins in 2018 (7): Rookies plus McPhee, Scandrick
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (13): Rookies plus new players plus Vigil (released in the final cut, re-signed later in the season). 

On the 53-man roster:

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists
Rookies: 8
New to the Redskins in 2017: 12
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster: 16

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 37
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 51
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 74

The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 82 days. 

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