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Brunell Injury Raises QB Questions

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Brunell Injury Raises QB Questions

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

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 http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 26, one day before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 206 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 46 days.

Today’s schedule: Players report to training camp for physicals and conditioning test. Jay Gruden news conference 2 p.m.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 15
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 24
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 38

Five pre-camp questions for Jay Gruden

RICHMOND—The media portion of training camp gets underway on Wednesday as Jay Gruden holds his pre-camp presser at 2 pm at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center (that’s probably the last time I’ll use the full name of the facility).

Here are some questions we will ask of Gruden as he enters his fourth season as the Redskins head coach.

Will Kirk Cousins’ contract situation be a distraction? This must be asked, even though we know that the answer will be no. Yes, Cousins handled a similar situation just fine last year. But a quarterback playing on a second franchise tag is unprecedented. Certainly, Gruden has to guard against things getting out of hand if the season starts to turn sour.

In his fourth training camp, what is he doing now that he wishes he would have done in 2014? One very visible change has been a reduction in the amount of contact that takes place on the field. Will this continue to decline or, give the issues the team had tackling last year, will it ramp up? What used to be the morning practice and afternoon walkthrough were flipped a couple of years ago. Has there been any thought to changing it back?

How has the adjustment process to having so many new coaches gone so far? The Redskins have new coordinators on both sides of the ball and several new position coaches. As happens when any group of co-workers gets added to a workplace, there is an adjustment period. In the NFL, the coaches have to get up to speed with each other in a hurry.

Will Gruden use the season-ending loss to the Giants as a motivational/learning tool or just bury it in the past? It’s a fine line between learning from past mistakes and dwelling on them. While Cousin should make sure that he doesn’t throw another late-game interception like the one he threw in that game, he can’t have it spook him to the point where he can’t pull the trigger on a pass late in a close game. How Gruden handles the 2016 finale could have a major effect on how 2017 unfolds.

After having one of the highest pass ratios in the league, will Gruden look to run the ball more often? Last year, Sean McVay called passes on 62.4 percent of the Redskins’ snaps. The Redskins drafted a fourth-round running back in Samaje Perine and they may team him with starter Rob Kelley and call to keep the ball on the ground a few more times per game.

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

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Is Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL? One analyst says so

Is Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL? One analyst says so

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports declared Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL. Prisco repeatedly points out that while Cousins is a good quarterback, the notion that he should be paid like one of the best passers in the league is what makes him overrated.

From Prisco:

After having six 300-yard-plus passing games in his first 11 games, including two over 400, Cousins had one in the final five games last season as the Redskins pushed for a playoff spot. He had five touchdown passes and five interceptions in those games, going 2-3 as Washington folded. It wasn't all on him, but that's the point. I don't think he's a quarterback who rises above situations when the team isn't going right. I am not going to sit here and pan him as a starter. He has proven to be that, and a pretty good one. It's just that the perception is he's much better than that, which is why he's my most overrated player in the NFL in 2017.

Here's the problem with Prisco's login: Simple market economics. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

An argument can be made Cousins is a Top 10 passer. He's certainly in the top half of the league at the position. Few, if any, would argue Cousins is a Top 5 quarterback, but his contract situation forces him to be paid like he is. Those are the exact terms of the franchise tag, even before the 20 percent increase Washington paid this season to use a second-straight tag.  

Since the Redskins lost their window to sign their single-season passing yards record holder to a team-friendly deal last year, Cousins has leverage and the advantage of inflated QB salaries on his side.

That doesn't mean Cousins is overrated. 

If the threshold for being overrated is money, then Brock Osweiler wins this thing in a landslide. After the 2016 season in Houston, Osweiler seems unlikely to ever again be considered a starting QB in the NFL. He's due to be paid $18 million this fall and his offseason trade to the Browns will go down as the first-ever salary dump in NFL history. 

Is Cousins overpaid? Probably. That's the way contracts work in pro football. 

Is Cousins overrated? Probably not. He's thrown for more than 9,000 yards and completed about 68 percent of his passes over the last two seasons. 

There just aren't enough quarterbacks to go around in the NFL, and guys who can play the position get paid handsomely. That doesn't make Cousins overrated. 

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