- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 1, 2003

I suppose everybody wants to know whether Patrick’s for real. A lot of people have asked, “Did you expect to see this out of Patrick in only his second year? Is he just on a hot streak, and is he going to calm down?”

I don’t think we’ve seen Patrick at his best yet. He has played extremely well. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s held up to some severe punishment — stood in the pocket, taken some big hits and still made the throws.

To give some of the readers some insight, Patrick took some time off after last year. He was one of the first guys back. He got into watching film, talked to the coaches, went over the offense, got back into the weight room, threw the ball, went over his footwork. Basically, he did everything he possibly could to get himself physically and mentally ready to play.

Then we came out in minicamp, and you could see Patrick still wasn’t as comfortable as he wanted to be. I talked to him, and he said, “I’m not throwing the ball like I think I can.” I told him, “Hey, there’s tons of time before the first game. Just keep working on it.” And then we got into the coaching sessions, and by the first or second week you saw tight spirals going all over the place.

The main thing I can say is that nothing that has happened out there has been a surprise to any of the Redskins’ players, coaches or personnel staff because what we see Patrick do on the field we see him do every day in practice.

He’s still young in his career. He’s still going to do things he doesn’t even think are possible. To be here as that development is going on is exciting to see and exciting to be a part of.

Is everything honky-dory? No. It’s been a tough road to 3-1. But he’s statistically among the best passers in the league, and you don’t get there without being legitimate. He’s going to have his bad days, but his bad day might be better than three-quarters of the rest of the quarterbacks in the NFL.

The key ingredient, I think, is that Patrick is confident, not cocky. He’s confident in that he knows what to do with the football in different situations. He knows when he comes up to the line of scrimmage, if something needs to be audibled, he knows how to do it. And conversely, if he doesn’t know something, he admits it and tries to figure out how to learn it.

Let me give you an example of the latter quality. Patrick drives me to the team hotel every Saturday night before the game. We talk occasionally on those trips about the game and how we felt the preparation was for the week and where we are.

Early in the year, more in the preseason games, Patrick didn’t understand where the protections were coming from, who we had, what we were doing. He told me that. We would talk different protections, and I’d tell him, “OK, on this protection we have these four guys and this guy. We’re sliding this way or that way.” He had a sense that he wasn’t 100 percent sure, and we got it sorted out.

The only concern I have is not about him, it’s about us and our offense. Patrick — and it’s a good quality — will stand there until the last second to deliver the ball, no matter what is coming to hit him. The concern I have is that a guy can only take so many hits.

What we have to do is make sure each game there are less and less and less hits. And there has to come a point where we say, “No more.” It doesn’t matter whether it’s a running back’s guy, if it’s the offensive lineman’s guy, if the receiver has to get open. We have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now. We have to make sure we keep him.

OK, on to the mailbag. One reader asks why teams use the prevent defense because opponents always seem to rally against it.

Now, I’m really not qualified to answer that question, but I can provide one observation. Look at the quarterback we played Sunday, Tom Brady. He’s a smart guy, and for the most part, he’s going to move his offense down the field, especially in the two-minute drill. Whether you’re in a prevent defense or in a regular defense, he’s going to make some plays. What you want to make sure is he doesn’t make the one that beats you.

Another reader wants to know whether I sense something special about this team.

I do because we have guys at every position who other guys can look to for leadership. The more leaders you have, the better, obviously. But when you have one or two at every position, you really get a feeling that no matter what happens, when things go bad they’re never going to go that bad. Somebody always will be there to pick you up. I really think that’s what sets us apart from any other team I’ve been on in the NFL.

Thanks again for the e-mails at [email protected] See you next week.

• Staff writer Jody Foldesy collaborates with Redskins tackle Jon Jansen on this column. It appears every Wednesday.

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