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Ramsey Healthy but Brunell to Start

Ramsey Healthy but Brunell to Start

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Well, there goes one myth out the window.

You know, the “rule” that says that you’re not supposed to lose your starting job because of an injury. It’s one of those time-honored traditions of the game. If you’re injured, not matter how well your replacement plays, you start when you’re healthy enough to do so. Usually when we talk about this, we’re talking about a player who missed at least an entire game, usually a few weeks or more.

Patrick Ramsey lost his job because of an injury that prevented him from playing for about 15 minutes of real time, not game time. He took a dirty hit that should have drawn a flag and almost certainly will draw a stiff fine. After that he stood up, started to wobble a bit and then had to be helped to the sidelines. Soon after it happened he was warming up behind the bench apparently none the worse for wear.

Mark Brunell, however, remained in the game and led the Redskins to a win, albeit one that came without the benefit of a touchdown being scored by the winners. And Joe Gibbs announced today that Brunell would remain in the lineup and that Ramsey, although physically able to play, would sit. From Redskins.com:
"I made the decision to start Mark," Gibbs said in his opening remarks of his Monday press conference at Redskins Park. "I know a lot of people will disagree with this and I understand that. For me, I felt like it was a decision that I had to make."

Added Gibbs: "I'm looking for someone to establish himself as our quarterback."

Asked about what he has seen in Brunell during the offseason and the preseason, Gibbs said: "He's been confident and sure."Ramsey started the last seven games of 2004 and Gibbs announced just after the season that Ramsey would be the #1 quarterback in 2005. All through OTA’s, minicamp, training camp and the preseason games Ramsey worked with the first unit. That unit included a pair of speedy new receivers in Santana Moss and David Patten, receivers that were supposed to help take advantage of Ramsey’s strong arm and open up the deep passing game. There seemed to be a commitment to Ramsey, but it lasted about as long as Brittney Spears’ first marriage.

What should be painfully obvious now is that Gibbs doesn’t like Ramsey as a player. If the trade for Brunell, Gibbs hesitance to make a move to Ramsey when Brunell was struggling mightily and the king’s ransom of picks that Gibbs gave up to draft Jason Campbell didn’t already make it obvious enough, this, an 18 minute, 52 second run by Ramsey as the unquestioned starting quarterback makes it perfectly clear.

The turnovers have to be the reason why. In his 18:52 Ramsey threw one interception—a wretched throw right to the defender--and put the ball on the ground twice. Gibbs couldn’t write off Ramsey’s early problems on Sunday as a rocky start; rather, they were the continuation of a pattern. During the preseason Ramsey would make some great passes and throw some killer interceptions

Something else is obvious. Joe Gibbs has looked at this team and has decided that he can sacrifice big plays for safer plays. Brunell threw the ball about as far as he could on Sunday on that play that ended up with the interception being nullified by a pass interference call and it went less than 50 yards in the air. In Gibbs’ view, the Redskins can win with defense, a one-two rushing punch with Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts running behind an improved offensive line, and by playing it close to the vest with a veteran quarterback who makes a minimum of mistakes. Time will tell if this is a formula for success.

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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!

 

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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.