September 22, 2004
Under the Radar Shift
As the Redskins lined up for their first offensive play on Sunday, the Fox Sports graphic had Kenyatta Jones' name and picture at right tackle as the starting lineup was given. Right above the shot of Jones' mug, Ray Brown was lining up to in that tackle spot.
Joe Buck announced that Brown was starting a few minutes later, but Brown's name was not mentioned the rest of the day. That, of course, is a good thing for an offensive lineman, especially one going up against the estimable Michael Strahan.
I was milling around with the press corps on August 11, the last day of training camp that was fully open to the press and public, when Brown was whisked from the main building to the practice field in a golf cart about 15 minutes into the session. As most of the press corps had turned over since Brown last played for the Redskins, it took a few minutes for anyone to figure out exactly who he was. As one would expect, his participation in practice was quite limited.
When I saw him surrounded by a gaggle of reporters after practice, I saw Central Casting's perfect fit for the Craggy Veteran—tall, fit, but with the 19 years of pounding in the interior of NFL lines showing in his face. You can't help but root for the guy.
It's still unclear why he started on Sunday and if he will start on Monday night. Gibbs said that Jones had a "fat" (sprained) ankle and that's the reason he went with Brown. Jones dressed and claims that he could have played without any hindrance from the ankle.
No lineup changes on the line have been announced, but the depth chart on the Redskins' Website lists Brown as the first-string right tackle and Jones as the backup. As this depth chart is as "official" as it gets and it's unlikely that a short-term benching for a minor injury would lead to a shuffling on the chart (note that Brunell is still listed as the starting QB despite his questionable status for Monday), one would have to think that Brown has moved ahead of Jones based on merit and will stay there until his play dictates otherwise.
Hey, Tony K. You writing about the Bandwagon is kind of like Tom Jones on daytime TV singing "It's Not Unusual". It worked once, it doesn't work any more. Yeah, Kornheiser can be funny, but so can Steve Martin and he moved away from "A wild a crazy guy" quite some time ago.
September 21, 2004
I was putting together my weekly Timeline feature for the print edition of Warpath and I wrote of the 1991 game against the Browns (we have to get this feature stuff in early to Keim) when Ricky Ervins ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Ervins went from being a bench-bound rookie to key role player in the space of about a quarter and a half.
If the Redskins are to have a special season, someone has to emerge into that sparkplug role. The best candidate to do this is Chris Cooley, who caught a pass for the Redskins first touchdown. He also caught a key pass for a first down to get the Redskins out of the hole after Tampa Bay had tied the game last week.
Cooley is a nice blend of decent natural ability and solid fundamentals. He's not one of those fluid athletes who makes everything look effortless, but he doesn't look awkward on the field either. You can see him look each pass into his hands and you can practically hear him count the steps as he runs each precise route.
He probably won't have a signature "breakout" play like Ervins' 65-yard touchdown run in that Cleveland game at RFK, the one that clinched a win that sent the Skins to a 7-0 record. But every week, Cooley will make a play that will help the Redskins win the game or help them stay competitive.
Ramsey in Relief
While it was disturbing to see Mark Brunell limp off the field on Sunday, there was reason to be encouraged by the thought of Patrick Ramsey coming into the game in relief. As a rookie, he came in to relieve an injured Danny Wuerffel twice. The first time, in his first significant NFL action, he led the Redskins to a win over the Tennessee Titans. Ramsey couldn't hold on to the starting job, however, and found himself as the backup again late in the season when Washington faced the Giants. Wuerffel again injured his shoulder and Ramsey rallied the Redskins from an early hole to a near-miss loss. Had Darnerien McCants not fumbled at the Giant 30 after catching a pass from Ramsey the Redskins just may have pulled out a win despite five turnovers.
And had Rod Gardner been able to hang on to Ramsey's pass at the goal line last Sunday, Ramsey may have led his team to a win in a game that they had no business being competitive in given the seven turnovers.
While it's early in Ramsey's career, his story line thus far is filled with "almost", "nearly" and "might have". Last year, he rallied the Skins at home against the Giants, pushing them to overtime and the Redskins almost won the game. A couple of weeks later he nearly lead a miracle rally in Philadelphia, but he sailed a pass over a wide-open Laveranues Coles' head on a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game. The Redskins might have beaten the NFC-champs-to-be Carolina Panthers in Charlotte had Ramsey not overthrown a couple of wide open receivers in the early going.
The good thing for Ramsey and the Redskins is that he is just two years and two games into his NFL career. At that point in Joe Theismann's career all he'd done is return punts. Mark Rypien hadn't even taken a snap. On the other hand, Gus Frerotte and Heath Shuler also had some "coulda, shoulda, woulda's" on their resumes after a couple of seasons on the roster, too.
With Brunell questionable for Monday night's game, we may well see another entry on Ramsey's resume written. Whether that will be a value adder to that resume or a detractor, of course, remains to be seen.
Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins. For information on this unique book, visit GutCheckBook.com
Tandler's Redskins Blog 9/21
Tandler's Redskins Blog 9/22
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