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The Brunell Question

The Brunell Question

Gibbs on Brunell: "In the second half, he had a courageous performance," Gibbs said of Brunell. "I think he made a bunch of plays. I think we need to get everything else on the offense working together, including myself, and I think we can make plays to win games for us." I hate to take you to task, coach, but exactly what plays are you talking about? When I hear the term “making plays”, I think of someone doing something extraordinary. A diving catch. A devastating tackle. A jaw-dropping open field cut. In the case of a quarterback, a particularly nimble move to avoid the rush or dropping a perfectly placed bomb into the only place where the receiver could catch it. Brunell did nothing like that yesterday, so what’s the coach’s definition of “making plays”?

A couple of touchdown passes to Rod Gardner? A quick scan of yesterday’s game summaries shows that Brunell was one of ten quarterbacks who threw for two or more touchdowns and not all of them were Payton Manning. Billy Volek—his nickname is ”Who?”--threw a pair for the Titans. Jake Delhomme, the poster child for “flash in the pan”, tossed two for Carolina. I could keep going through Vinny Testaverde and Drew Brees, but you get the picture.

OK, there’s wasn’t a single other quarterback who completed a pass to convert a fourth and 22. But that wasn’t a particularly challenging pass by any stretch.

The point is that Brunell did nothing special, nothing that would make you say, “You know, he will overthrow the open guy a little too often, but, man, he shows those sparks of greatness that show his tremendous upside.”

Quite to the contrary, watching him play makes you say, “If he reaches his peak, his absolute maximum potential in this offense, he’ll be a mediocre NFL quarterback.”

I’m not completely off of the Brunell bandwagon. There are things wrong with this offense that do not involve Brunell. The offensive line has yet to gel, he’s been victimized by some dropped balls (although I don’t recall any yesterday), the play calling is puzzling a lot of the time, and Portis’ performance still is inconsistent.

Still, the quarterback is the guy who gets the big bucks, the one who’s supposed to lift the team on his shoulders when things aren’t working quite right. And Brunell’s just not doing this.

Gibbs is sticking by his guns, however, come hell or high water. It looks like we’re just going to have to sit back and watch all of this unfold, to watch and see if Brunell can blossom into mediocrity.

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Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 5, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:05; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and open locker room after practice approx. 3:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 17; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 25

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion)
Long's concussion could force roster move

First look at Redskins vs. Eagles

The last time: The Redskins won 27-20 at FedEx Field in Week 6 in a game that was not really as close as the score indicated. The Redskins outgained the Eagles 4923 yards to 239 and had the ball for 10 more minutes. Philly scored on a kickoff return and an interception return in a three-minute span in the second quarter and that was about all they had. The Redskins have now beaten the Eagles four straight times. 

The Eagles leaders: Quarterback Carson Wentz got off to a hot start, posting three passer ratings of over 100 in his first four games. In eight games since his passer rating is 70.1 and his high in a game is 91.4. Leading rusher Ryan Matthew had his first 100-yard game in Week 10; he shares the load with Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Jordan Matthews (57 receptions, 686 yards) is expected back after missing last week with an ankle injury. Sacks leader Brandon Graham (5.0) has only one sack in the last six games.

Be on the lookout: The Eagles have been getting it done on special teams for years. This year they have two kickoff return touchdowns and Darren Sproles averages 13.7 yards per punt return including a 66-yarder.

Hodgepodge: A Washington win would put them 2.5 games ahead of the Eagles with three to play. Barring a Philly win out/Redskins lose out scenario the Redskins would be out of last place in the NFC East in consecutive years for the first time since 2002-2003 . . . The Redskins already are ensured of avoiding double-digit losses in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2001-2002 . . . The Eagles have allowed over 400 yards of offense in two of their last three games.

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In case you missed it

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When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

The Redskins best pass cacther did not play in a loss to the Cardinals, and it appears there is still no clear timeline for Jordan Reed's return to the field. 

"Jordan will be day-to-day," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "You know, we just have to wait and see."

Gruden issued the same statement on Reed last week, and the tight end proceeded to miss all Redskins practices for the week and was announced out for the Arizona game on Friday. Reed's injury came on Thanksgiving in Dallas when he separated his shoulder diving in the end zone for a Kirk Cousins' pass during the first half.

Incredibly, Reed returned in the second half and caught two touchdowns while playing in immense pain. Gruden and Cousins used words like 'stunned' and 'surprised' talking about Reed's return in the Dallas game, but looking forward to Philadelphia, it's hard to know what to expect from the tight end's shoulder.

"Everybody is different with these types of injuries and hopefully he is a fast healer but we’ll take him day-to-day, get him his treatment and go from there," the coach said. "I can’t predict it."

For the season, Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games. Reed missed two games earlier this year after sustaining a concussion against the Ravens.

Without Reed in the lineup against the Cardinals, the Redskins offense dipped in production. Cousins threw for less than 300 yards for the first time in three games, though backup tight end Vernon Davis had five catches for 47 yards. 

If Reed practices Wednesday, even in a limited role, would be a good sign for the 'Skins tight end. 

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!