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Brunell goes marching out

Brunell goes marching out

We won't have Mark Brunell to kick around anymore.

It seemed clear that this would be the case on the first day of free agency when Todd Collins signed on to return as the Washington Redskins' backup quarterback. It became official on Thursday when Brunell signed a contract with the New Orleans Saints.

Brunell was the first player that Joe Gibbs went after when the Hall of Famer returned to coaching the Redskins. Many will say that that first decision doomed Gibbs' second run as coach to mediocrity.

The view here is that Gibbs' unwillingness to take chances—crossing the line from coaching conservatively to coaching scared—was the main issue that led to the 30-34 record from 2004-2007.

There are those who will argue that Brunell's game, mainly his lack of arm strength, forced Gibbs to play things close to the vest. It's really a chicken-or-egg argument and I can see that side of it.

Brunell did have his moments. In the second game of the 2005 season the Redskins were down 13-0 midway through the fourth quarter and looking horrible offensively. Like a bolt out of the blue, Brunell cranked out two touchdown bombs to Santana Moss, both deadly accurate thrown made without much margin for error.

But in between the high points there were way too many dump offs to a back on third and eight, way too many passes thrown to a cheerleader when there seemed to be plenty of time to continue to scan for a receiver.

They don't do approval polls for quarterbacks, but if they did it's likely that we would have found that, for most of his career in Washington, Brunell's would have matched that of other Washington residents such as W or the members of Congress.

Through it all, though, Brunell remained a class act. He cheerfully answered questions through two benchings and a demotion to third string. No teammate ever had a bad thing to say about him either publicly or off the record.

I wish him well.

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Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 18, 99 days before the NFL draft.


Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 43
NFL free agency starts 51
First Sunday of 2017 season 236

The coordinator search and more

Did the Redskins underachieve this year? I know that a metric like Football Outsiders' DVOA is not the final word in the quality of a team but looking at it year after year it usually does work out that the teams with the better numbers in DVOA usually win more games than those with worse numbers. The Redskins finished 2016 eighth in DVOA. Considering that 12 teams make the playoffs, that could be considered a playoff quality team. Yet 15 teams finished with a better record than they did. I’m sure there are some holes in the formula for the stat but just looking at that it sure appears that the Redskins did leave some wins out on the field.

John Keim is reporting that the Redskins are prepared to switch to a 4-3 defense if that is what their new defensive coordinator prefers. They have been in the 3-4 since Mike Shanahan arrived in 2010. Whether it is because of the scheme or lack of draft and free agent resources spent on the line and at safety, the defense hasn’t been very good. As Keim notes, they will need to make some personnel changes if they do change but with a full load of draft picks and $62 million in cap space this may be the time to do it.

I expected the angst that was all over Twitter when word of the Rob Ryan interview got out. But it’s pretty dumb to get all worked up over an interview (with all due respect to readers here who may have been upset). It’s not a hiring. Look, somehow or another Ryan managed to stay employed as an NFL defensive coordinator for 12 straight seasons. I don’t know how to research it without going through some very time consuming and tedious steps but I’d be willing to bet that only about a few dozen men in the history of the league have been able to remain a defensive coordinator for that many season in a row. The organization can learn something from sitting down and talking to him for a few hours.

I understand that we want things to talk about in a relatively slow time. But I just don’t see why there is fear out there over the possibility that Kyle Shanahan will get hired as the coach of the 49ers and somehow steal Kirk Cousins away to be his quarterback. The Redskins can maintain his rights via the franchise tag. They could tag Cousins and trade him to the 49ers but there would be a heavy price in terms of draft picks. But while it’s possible, it’s unlikely. The chances are very, very good that Cousins will be in a Redskins uniform this year via either the tag or a long-term deal. 

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In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

As the Redskins settle into the offseason without both an offensive and defensive coordinator, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler debate who will get the jobs, and when they will be announced.