Quick Links

Brunell Right on Target

Brunell Right on Target


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.

Quick Links

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Many considered the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender this season, though the team has not performed to that level so far in 2016. One huge problem for Arizona - protecting quarterback Carson Palmer. 

In its last four games, Arizona has given up 16 sacks on Palmer, including a staggering eight sacks against the Carolina Panthers. In the last two games, Palmer has gone down six times, and both games have been losses. 

With weapons like wideout Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson, Palmer has lots of options to move the ball. That's why Jay Gruden knows how important it is for his front seven to get home.

"It’s going to start with the pass rush," Gruden said. "If Carson [Palmer] has all day to throw and give Larry time to do double moves and stem you inside and vertical and then get back out or break it back across, I don’t care how big you are or how fast you are, it’s going to be hard."

In all six Cardinals losses, Palmer has been sacked at least two times, and in four of the losses, Palmer has gone down at least four times. Beyond the Panthers' eight sacks, the Bills brought down the Cards QB five times, and both the Seahawks and Vikings got to Palmer four times.

While the sack totals stand out, Washington's Preston Smith knows each week is different in the NFL.

"Every game you’re fired up because you feel like it's an opporttunity to get out there and get sacks," Smith said. "You don’t think about what another team did, they’re going to play us different."

Talking on the latest #RedskinsTalk Podcast, Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy acknowledged that the defense knows how beat up the Cardinals' offensive line is. Murphy, who has seven sacks on the season, added that he's 'drooling' for this matchup and the opportunity to take advantage of the Arizona vulnerabilities up front. (Listen to the full podcast below.)

Bruce Arians knows his team is undermanned on the line, and the Arizona offense will be creative to protect Palmer.

"You have to help them," Arians said of his O-line. "You have got to stay balanced and hopefully not get into a situation where it’s a throw, throw, throw game because then you’re putting them in harm’s way and your quarterback in harm’s way."

It doesn't help that in his 14th season, Palmer is probably one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. After matching up against Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott in their last two games, the Redskins defense knows Palmer won't move nearly as much, though that doesn't mean he's neccesarily easier to get down.

"You’re not going against a mobile quarterback but you still got to get to that spot," Smith said. "Carson’s a good quarterback."

Linebacker Mason Foster said that sacks aren't as important as consistent pressure. 

"On a great quarterback like that you want consistent pressure all day long. Make things tough on him, you don’t want a clean pocket," Foster said. "If you have pressure in his face all day and you don’t get no sacks, I think that's a success."

Even at 36, Palmer is still a dangerous quarterback. He's thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this year with a beat-up offensive line and missing one start. But numbers are numbers, and the data shows that if the 'Skins pass rushers can get Palmer to the ground, the chances of a Washington win shoot right up. 

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

 

Quick Links

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

As always, hit the poll and then head to the comments section here and talk about your answer, or reply on Twitter.