- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Patrick Ramsey discovered the downside to his patience and toughness on Sunday.
The Washington Redskins quarterback won praise and neatly fit coach Steve Spurrier's offense by hanging in the pocket and delivering last-second throws. But in last weekend's loss to the New Orleans Saints, he realized that he must protect himself with the occasional dump-off throw or scramble.
"I guess I have to learn to pick my battles when I need to put the ball downfield, when I need to tuck it and run, or when I need get it underneath," Ramsey said yesterday.
If not, he might not make it to midseason. Ramsey was sacked seven times by the Saints and hit in myriad other instances. For now, he's just a bit sore and eager to get back on the field Sunday at Green Bay. But sooner or later, one of those hits could end his promising rookie season as teammates acknowledge.
"One of these times, he's not going to get up," defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said.
Added running back Stephen Davis: "I don't think any quarterback can go on with the beatings he took."
Certainly the poundings weren't all Ramsey's fault. Washington's offensive linemen were beaten one-on-one on numerous occasions by the Saints' defensive line. And a natural byproduct of the Fun'n'Gun Spurrier's big-play scheme that often sends potential blockers into pass patterns is a lot of hits on the quarterback.
The offensive line is determined to improve its performance this week, but Spurrier doesn't intend to alter the playbook. The coach simply hopes Ramsey can learn to dump and run every so often.
"There's a fine line," Spurrier said. "If it's third-and-12 and you hang in there, hang in there, hit a guy for the first down, that's good. If you hang in there, run around, get sacked and throw interceptions, that's not good. Sometimes you've just got to throw the ball underneath, take a 5-yard gain and maybe punt the ball."
But cutting bait doesn't come naturally to Ramsey. Like many strong-armed passers, he has been rewarded for waiting that extra second for his receiver to come free. However, he said he's ready to adjust.
"It's hard for the competitor in me, but for the realist, somebody who's trying to be a good player, it's not hard," Ramsey said. "I have to kind of have a switch in my brain that says, 'It's time to get off of this. Get rid of it and get ready for the next down.'"
The irony of Spurrier's hope that Ramsey will dump the ball off more frequently is that he benched Shane Matthews after three starts, at least in part, for dumping off too often.
Matthews was playing fairly well he's still tied for sixth in the NFC with an 84.4 rating but he remained in a West Coast offense mindset. Spurrier's offense calls for a lot of five- and seven-step drops and shots at the big play, while the West Coast asks for three-step drops and short completions to keep drives alive.
"There's a line where you try to go downfield with the first opportunity, then go [underneath]," Spurrier said. "I thought Shane was a little quick at times, but other times he was OK."
Ramsey, for his part, hasn't considered Matthews' benching while determining his own style.
"I think Shane played pretty well when he was in there," Ramsey said. "I just want to play efficiently. I don't think that I want to say, 'This is what kept Shane from being able to play so I'm going to do it oppositely.'
"I'm just going to try to play as well as I can possibly play. If that means dumping off to the back because they're playing a deep zone every play, that's what I'm going to do. I just need to learn when it is I'm going to do that and when I'm going to hang in there, take the blow and throw the ball down the field."
Washington's performance in its past two games reinforced the theory that conservative schemes are the way to attack this offense. The Redskins torched Tennessee on Oct.6 when the Titans attacked and left their defensive backs in single coverage. But New Orleans intercepted Ramsey four times by pressuring with a basic rush and playing a good deal of man-to-man coverage with zone help from the safeties.
Ramsey now believes he can handle the conservative schemes if they come. With the dump and run in his repertoire, he expects the subject of his beaten-up frame to become less of an issue in coming weeks.
"Hopefully, we won't have to talk about that ever again," Ramsey said. "I feel fine. I really do. It's not something we're going to assume [will] happen again, but I'm going to work through it just as everybody works through it. We've got a lot of guys who have some sores right now."
Notes The Redskins' proposal to extend the contract of tackle Jon Jansen should be coming this week, NFL sources said. Jansen will be a free agent at the end of the season, but Washington would like to re-sign him to a long-term deal before he is able to negotiate with other clubs.
Spurrier termed right guard Brenden Stai "doubtful" for the Packers game because of the tendinitis in Stai's left knee. Stai was at Redskin Park for treatment and said his current goal is simply to reduce the pain and swelling. Those familiar with his treatment said anti-inflammatory drugs weren't making a dent so far.
David Loverne is likely to return to the lineup at left guard, Spurrier said, while Wilbert Brown (Loverne's replacement Sunday), Alex Sulfsted and Ross Tucker battle for the start on the right side.
Running back Stephen Davis expects to practice today after missing several of last week's workouts with a sprained right knee. He said he was a bit sore against New Orleans but basically fine. The Redskins, as expected, did not make any moves before yesterday's 4 p.m. trade deadline.


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