Predictable Move

Patrick Ramsey never was Joe Gibbs' guy. Never. And he wasn't going to be.

Gibbs wanted Mark Brunell. He wanted Jason Campbell. He inherited Patrick Ramsey. And those who liked Ramsey enough to draft him are long gone from Redskins Park.

So if there was a choice to make, who else would Gibbs choose?

That's the choice he made today, picking Brunell to start against Dallas on Monday night. It's the necessary move for a struggling franchise, one that gives them their best hope of making the playoffs.

Brunell is not a Pro Bowl player waiting to happen. He might bomb again for a second straight season. But I never doubted from the time we saw both players this summer, in games and in practice, that Brunell was better than Ramsey.

He avoids mistakes better, he's more mobile and he makes better decisions. Add it up and that's what Gibbs wants in his quarterbacks.

Ramsey turned the ball over two times, with an interception and a fumble, in Sunday's 9-7 win over Chicago. He lost another fumble, but teammate Jon Jansen recovered.

Ramsey never looked comfortable in the pocket; and misfired on too many throws. It always seemed as if his misfires were this close to being major disasters. I did see progress in how he looked off defenders, an improvement over last season when he rarely seemed to do this.

But until he stops turning the ball over, or forcing balls in the red zone, he'll have trouble holding onto a starting job. He might get another shot this year in Washington; if not, he'll want to go elsewhere. His contract expires after next season. Here's a hint: his agent isn't happy about what transpired.

Yes, it's a short leash. A very short one. But he didn't do anything this summer to earn a long leash. This time, he can't say he didn't have a chance.

Brunell looked Sunday like he did in 2004: a guy who will manage the game and make a few plays with his smarts or legs to lead drives. He doesn't always have to run from defenders, but now he just needs to escape them, which he can.

I was more pleased with his showing this summer than what I saw Sunday. But it was his first time facing a top defense since last season. Let's see how he fares now that he'll have a week to practice with the starters.

There's no doubt some fans will point to Brunell's efforts last season and use that as the reason this won't work. I go back to this: after he was traded, receiver Laveranues Coles was telling people that Brunell wasn't finished here. He had confidence he could still play. So, too, do his teammates -- privately and publicly. The players know who can play and who can't. They think Brunell still can.

Brunell has what the Redskins need: leadership skills, veteran quarterback intelligence. Now we'll see if he can give them what they want. There's not much riding on it, except for the season.

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