Monday, November 13, 2006
Redskins bench Brunell; Jason Campbell will start Sunday
ASHBURN, Va. -- Jason Campbell will make his NFL debut
Sunday for the Washington Redskins, replacing Mark Brunell for a
3-6 team apparently heading nowhere and in need of a plan for the
Coach Joe Gibbs announced Monday that Campbell, who has been an
inactive third quarterback for all 25 games of his pro career, will
start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"We're going to give Jason his opportunity and see if we can be
more productive and see if we can get some more answers," Gibbs
The move comes a day after the Redskins were beaten 27-3 at
Philadelphia, leaving Washington among the bottom teams in the NFC.
Brunell went 16-for-32 for 132 yards and had an interception
returned 70 yards for a touchdown. Nearly every completion was a
screen or a short pass, with only one going for more than 20 yards.
Also Monday, running back Clinton Portis underwent surgery on a
broken bone in his right hand. Portis, who was hurt during the
first quarter against the Eagles, had three screws inserted and
will be sidelined three to four weeks.
Brunell's numbers for the season aren't too bad -- a 62 percent
completion rate, eight touchdowns, four interceptions, an 86.5 QB
rating and an NFL single-game record 22 consecutive completions
against Houston -- but the Redskins have struggled to get the ball
downfield, and the offense failed to produce a touchdown in any of
its three NFC East road games.
In making the announcement, Gibbs showed the strain of a Hall of
Fame coach -- one who is so accustomed to success -- facing up to the
humiliation of having to switch quarterbacks during the season for
the third straight year.
"It's something you labor about a lot," Gibbs said. "It's a
big decision for us, for a lot of reasons."
Gibbs benched Brunell in favor of Patrick Ramsey in 2004 -- also
with the record 3-6 -- when Brunell was struggling through the worst
season of his career. Brunell regained the job from Ramsey after
the first game of last season and had one of his best years,
throwing 23 touchdown passes and helping to lead the Redskins to
their first playoff berth since 1999.
Now, however, it would appear Brunell's days as a starter in
Washington are done. He is 36, and he can no longer throw as hard
or run as fast as he did during nine successful seasons in
Earlier in the day, before he was informed of Gibbs' decision,
Brunell said the recent losses had him looking over his shoulder on
"You don't know how many more years you have to do this,"
Brunell said. "I'd like to do this as long as I can."
Brunell was not at Redskins Park when Gibbs made the
announcement and was unavailable for comment. The quarterbacks were
informed of the change in separate meetings with the coach.
"I was kind of shocked," Campbell said. "It's like when the
principal calls you into the office, you get kind of jittery, you
don't know what to expect. ... Basically he told me it's my job.
It's my job, and I've got to approach it that way."
The Redskins traded three picks so they could move up and select
Campbell with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2005 draft. Campbell
led Auburn to an undefeated season as a senior. He is 24, tall,
strong and mobile and has shown flashes of promise in preseason
Campbell sat behind Brunell and Ramsey last season. This year,
in an unusual pecking order, Gibbs said Todd Collins would play if
Brunell were replaced during a game, and that Campbell would start
if the team decided well in advance that Brunell wouldn't play.
Campbell is experiencing in his sixth offensive scheme in six
years. He went through four at Auburn and learned Gibbs' system
last year. This year, Gibbs turned over the offense to new
assistant coach Al Saunders.
"We're going to do everything we can to support him," Gibbs
said. "Hopefully it's something he's going to make the most of.
He's spent a year and a half preparing for this."
Gibbs said Brunell will be the No. 2 quarterback, with Collins --
signed as a free agent from Kansas City in the offseason -- demoted
to No. 3. Gibbs said neither quarterback agreed with his decision.
Gibbs isn't used to coaching a team on the verge of playing out
the string. He made references to the salary cap and the fact that
he's "always looking for youth and guys to fit in," but he also
refused to concede that he is throwing in the towel on the season.
"It's not giving up," Gibbs said. "My goal is to win every
Campbell echoed his coach's sentiments.
"First things first, I just want to come in and do what I can
to help the team," Campbell said. "There are seven games left in
the regular season. You never know what's going to happen."