Big Decisions for Spurrier

Two weeks ago he was the toast of Washington. Now he's toast, at least for a little bit. Or so it seems as Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said he might make yet another quarterback change, benching rookie Patrick Ramsey.

No one should be surprised. But the Redskins must fix other problems if they think a switch is the answer. Spurrier is right that Ramsey struggled mightily against Green Bay. He missed open receivers, held the ball too long and played like, well, a rookie. Everyone knew this would happen. And everyone knew Spurrier would have a tough time living with it. He is, after all, getting paid to win now.

And if he continues with Ramsey, the clear indication is that Washington is more preparing for the future than trying to win now. We're not jumping off the Ramsey bandwagon--he's a tough, smart kid with a strong arm. He will improve and will again return to the strarting lineup. But clearly he's not completely ready to consistently win now.

I'll admit being surprised by Ramsey's emergence against Tennessee. I wrote this summer that he wouldn't be ready to help at all this year. This offense--any offense--demands a lot from quarterbacks and a rookie who missed the first 16 days of training camp should expect trouble. Also, teams now prepare for Ramsey, who surprised the Titans.

He's still struggling to make proper decisions; he's at times indecisive against blitzes (when they're coming up the middle, get rid of it in a hurry) and he's still trying to learn when to finesse the ball in there and when to zip it as hard as he can. These three games have provided him an invaluable learning experience, one from which the Redskins ultimately will benefit.

If Shane Matthews had played Sunday, the Redskins would have had a better chance to win. Right now, he's more accurate than Ramsey and it's unlikely he would have missed as many throws as Ramsey did, particularly to Rod Gardner in the end zone. This team needs the type of consistency that Ramsey can't yet give and Matthews can. As long as he can stay upright.

Thing is, the Redskins always have had a bigger problem than the quarterback. And it's one we harped on during the summer. Until the line improves, the Redskins are headed for trouble.

Washington was more balanced yesterday, which should have helped. And Matthews ability to make quicker reads eventually will help, too. But there's nothing about the interior that provides hope, not in the short term. Maybe someday David Loverne develops into a quality starter. This year he's still learning.

But it's not just him. Center Larry Moore flubs line calls, leading to missed assignments. Guard Wilbert Brown isn't terrific, but did anyone expect him to be? Right guard Brenden Stai is still learning the offense, but has enough veteran savvy to survive. But that's all he's doing.

This is a problem that won't be corrected until the offseason. Just imagine how bad it'll be if they lost Jon Jansen to free agency. Shudder at the thought.

Still, the Redskins can help the line and one way is by playing a veteran quarterback, who doesn't need as much time as a rookie to make decisions. Despite the inexperience up front, running back Stephen Davis ran for 91 yards. Despite the trouble, Ramsey had enough time to find guys on most occasions. There is hope for the future with Ramsey; there's more hope for the present with Matthews.


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