Ramsey Still Must Prove Himself

Let me say straight up that I've liked Patrick Ramsey from the start. I liked him when the Redskins drafted him. I liked him even more after talking to those who worked with him before the draft. And I've always liked his toughness in the pocket.

I like what I see in his future.

But he hasn't done anything yet. OK, he's done a couple things. However, he hasn't done enough to have his agent sit there and threaten a trade if the Redskins land veteran quarterback Mark Brunell.

And that's what bothers me. I could see if Ramsey had led the Redskins to the playoffs this past season and firmly established himself among the best young quarterbacks in the game. Then he'd have a right to be irked by Washington's pursuit of another possible starting quarterback.

That's not what Ramsey did. Not all of it was his fault, but some of it certainly was. He's a young quarterback who is still learning the game. Yes, Steve Spurrier's system made it difficult on him in terms of protection. But Ramsey's inexperience at knowing where the blitzes were coming from also hurt him.

Ramsey led the Redskins to four wins this past season. Repeat that: four wins. That's hardly an eye-popping stat to put on his resume, and certainly not a number that warrants any special attention from a new coach. Nor does he deserve any special consideration when it comes to keeping his job. Why should he be any different than anyone else who is still proving himself? Ramsey has never played in Joe Gibbs' system; how long would it take him to learn it vs. a proven veteran?

And please don't trot out how he graded out to a B+ by Spurrier's staff. What does that mean? Does that mean he played almost as well as he could and still finished with a 53.1 competion percentage and 76.4 rating (14 TDs, 9 INTS)? Come on. Besides, whose judgment would you rather have: Spurrier's old staff or Gibbs' new one?

Here's the thing: Gibbs is in this for a short run, possibly as few as three years. That's just a hunch, not based on anything I've heard. But it's realistic. Which means Gibbs knows he needs a proven veteran winner at quarterback, like he's had in the past. And make no mistake about this: if they give Brunell an $8 million signing bonus, he's the starter. Try keeping that much money on the bench. If you do that, then you suffer elsewhere for devoting so much cap space to a backup.

I'm also not sold on Brunell as even a short-term solution, mainly because of his health. Two concussions and a severe shoulder injury since 2001 is reason for concern. And I don't blame Ramsey for being upset if the Redskins went this route.

But I'd expect him to say this: I welcome any challenge. Period. And I don't expect his agent to sound petty by threatening to demand a trade. Maybe it would be better if the Redskins did trade Ramsey should they land Brunell. Then you'd eliminate any hint of a controversy. However, I'd only do that if I could get Drew Henson.

Let's say the Redskins get Brunell and Henson. Then they'd be set in the short-term and, perhaps, the long-term. If Henson comes through, he's awesome and would have been a No. 1 pick had he gone the football route. This isn't the second coming of Chad Hutchinson.

If the Redskins made these moves, they could be set for a long time at this position (Gibbs has said they're not going to trade Ramsey).

But if they stayed with Ramsey, I would say that's fine, too. I still like most of what I see in Ramsey -- his toughness, smarts and desire. He's a very good kid. He could also learn a lot from playing with Brunell and for Gibbs. He'd be much better for this experience.

And I know he's not the one publicly saying anything about a trade. It's his agent.

Still, his agent works for Ramsey. And until Ramsey takes the Redskins to the playoffs, his side is not in a position to make any threats or any demands.

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