Sayonara Sage

Sage Rosenfels wasn't ready for this chance. Even if the Redskins gave him a golden one. Which is why the Redskins tonight traded him to Miami for a seventh-round pick (which could improve to a fifth-rounder in 2004 based on playing time). It's the right move. Washington had two quarterbacks more experienced in Steve Spurrier's system and another one deemed the quarterback of the future in Patrick Ramsey.

When they drafted Ramsey, it was only a matter of time before Rosenfels was out. The only question was: would he be traded or cut. Now we knw.

Rosenfels posted solid numbers this summer. And he's coming off his best preseason performance, throwing three touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a 35-34 comeback win over Pittsburgh on Sunday. There's a lot to like about Rosenfels. He's not the most mobile quarterback, but he slid well in the pocket and made plays when his protection collapsed. Not everyone can do that.

Look at the numbers: Rosenfels completed 32 of 54 passes for 476 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 103.6. That's impressive. But also misleading. Rosenfels did much of his damage against backups. Considering that's what he is, that's not that bad.

However, he needed to win the starting job in Washington and he wasn't ready for that job. Against starters from San Francisco and Pittsburgh, Rosenfels completed eight of 16 passes for 76 yards and two interceptions. Too often he looked timid with his throws, a problem that improved but didn't go away. In practice he clearly rated behind Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews. That was true in games, too.

The big difference centered around their familiarity with the system, having played in it in college. All you had to do was watch Wuerffel operate compared to Rosenfels. Wuerffel could throw passes before the receiver broke, compensating for a weaker arm. Rosenfels hadn't mastered that, not in this offense. He didn't yet trust the receiver would be where he should at the right time.

Also, Wuerffel and Matthews could throw a defense off by glancing one way and throwing another. That's because they know exactly where the receiver will be. Rosenfels was learning that. One series against Pittsburgh showed that: he eyed the receiver on consecutive passes leading to two near interceptions. He did the same on the third, leading to an interception.

Rosenfels also admitted he still struggled to pick up blitzes, at least as good as the other two.

But Rosenfels isn't bitter about what happened (unlike Todd Husak a year ago). His agent, Rick Smith, said Rosenfels is disappointed, but appreciated the chance.

It's a shame that he had to be traded. Rosenfels clearly has enough talent to warrant a strong look. In the future. But he's not ready to play right now, which he had to be to win a roster spot. After all Washington already has a quarterback of the future. Maybe now Miami does too.

Breaking Burgundy Top Stories