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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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Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Facing one of the NFL's best running backs in Arizona's David Johnson, the Redskins plan to use rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens as a spy in nickel coverage to slow down the Cardinals' threat, per a source close to the team.

Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 921 rushing yards, but it's the variety of ways the Arizona offense uses their second-year running back that makes him so difficult to handle for opposing defenses. Johnson also has 55 catches for 613 yards, and that's just through 11 games.

Cravens comes into the game with momentum as perhaps the Redskins most dynamic defensive threat. With size to play linebacker and enough speed to play coverage, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. rookie out of USC will be put in a tough position covering Johnson. The reality of his assignment is to try and contain Johnson as the Cardinals offense is so reliant on the runner that he will get a number of chances.

In their last two games, Johnson has gone for more than 150 total yards in each contest and scored multiple touchdowns. For his part, Cravens has proved a playmaker in his rookie season. To go with 29 tackles in nine games, his stat sheet has sacks and an interception listed.

Getting to Carson Palmer is the best path for the Redskins defense - especially considering the Cardinals' offensive line woes - but using Cravens to try and limit Johnson is a smart course of action for the 'Skins.

One member of the Washington defense explained that Johnson is "going to make plays" but that the key is to limit the damage. If the running back catches a ball out of the backfield, Joe Barry's defense will be focused on making a stop after a five-yard gain, instead of a 20-yard gain.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates: Score, stats, highlights, analysis, video

Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates: Score, stats, highlights, analysis, video

The Redskins and Cardinals highlight the Week 13 schedule with a showdown in the desert with heavy NFL playoff implications on the line.

If the Redskins (6-5-1) can score a victory over the Cardinals (4-6-1), the team can move closer to solidifying one of the top two Wild Card spots in the NFC playoff race.

Depite the Redskins' difficult Week 12 loss to the Cowboys, Kirk Cousins is playing the best football of his career as of late, and earned the NFC Player of the Month honors for his efforts.

While running back Robert Kelley did have a slip-up against the Cowboys, the team's run game still looks vastly improved from the early season, which allows the passing game to thrive even more. Jamison Crowder continues to impress, and although Jordan Reed will miss the Cardinals game with an injury, Vernon Daivs has proven to be an excellent option for Cousins.

The most entertaining matchup of Week 13 might be Redskins DB Josh Norman vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, but the most important matchup will undoubtedly be the Redskins defensive line vs. Cardinals RB David Johnson. 

RELATED: NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS HEADING INTO WEEK 13

Johnson trails just DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott -- who finished with 83 yards and one TD in Week 12 -- in total rushing yards with 920 and trails just Elliott and Legarrett Blount in rushing touchdowns with 10. The Redskins rank 25th in rushing defense, and have given up an average of 108 rushing yards in their last five games.

Redskins vs. Cardinals kicks off at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 4 on FOX. Redskins Kickoff gets things started at 3:00 p.m. ET on CSN Mid-Atlantic. (Channel Finder)

CSN is providing all the live updates, stats, scores, highlights, videos and analysis from Redskins vs. Cardinals. Got a comment on the game? Be sure to let us know in the comment section and join Santana Moss and Sebastian Salazar at halftime for the Facebook Live Q&A.

RELATED: BEST & WORST REDSKINS ALTERNATE UNIFORMS

Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates

PREGAME:

10:30 AM: Game Preview: The five things you need to know before Redskins vs. Cardinals.

1. Keep it moving
2. Missing in action
3. Consider the source
4. Problems don't go away
5. Harder they fall

10:15 AM: Be sure to follow CSN Insiders J.P. Finlay and Rich Tandler, who are at University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Ari. Also, give our CSN Redskins Twitter account too. Come for the analysis, stay for the dank memes.

10:00 AM: Welcome to CSNMA's live updates blog of Week 13 Redskins vs. Cardinals. As always, I am Troy Machir and today I will be your online guide to Redskins vs. Cardinals football in the painted desert of the southwest. If you have an issue with me, you can cuss me out on Twitter, 140 characters at a time. It's fun.