- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

A weekend off for the Washington Redskins didn’t mean people took a break from thinking about — and writing about — the disaster that is 2-5 heading into the final nine games of the season.

The usual topics have been filling the mailbag since the 36-22 loss to the Colts on Oct. 22: There needs to be a change at quarterback, Joe Gibbs shouldn’t be in charge of personnel, the additions of Adam Archuleta and Andre Carter have backfired, etc.

Q: I’m just as critical of Mark Brunell as everyone. I do differ from most in one aspect — Brunell isn’t the biggest problem on the team. The defense is absolutely pathetic! Why haven’t they drawn the same amount of blame that Brunell has drawn, because they are the primary reason for our 2-5 start? — Troy M.

A: The Redskins’ defense has been a shell of what it was in 2004 and 2005. They rank 26th in yards, 29th in yards a play, 30th in passing yards and 25th in points allowed.

The defections of the past two years clearly have caught up to a unit that isn’t doing a lot to help an offense that is in transition and incapable of consistently putting up monster numbers.

High draft picks (Carlos Rogers, Sean Taylor) aren’t playing like high draft picks. Big-ticket free agents (Archuleta and Carter) aren’t playing like big-ticket free agents. And 2004-05 stalwarts (Lemar Marshall, Cornelius Griffin) haven’t played like stalwarts.

Q: Joe Gibbs is too old or getting too old. Why did he draft Campbell and then sit him for two years? It makes me wonder — is he taking advantage of Snyder’s desire to win at all cost? — Paul Johnson

A: Any coach who doesn’t take advantage of his owner’s desire to win is doing a disservice to the franchise. Some of Gibbs’ personnel decisions have been wretched, and I would have loved to be in the conference room during those discussions to see how much Snyder spoke up when Gibbs and his staff laid out their vision of how to build this team.

Although Snyder isn’t blameless — he should have hired a general manager to work with Gibbs in January 2004 — I find it hard to put too much of the blame on Snyder unless he was the one who demanded they pursue Archuleta, Carter and Brandon Lloyd.

Q: Do you think Gibbs is hurting Jason Campbell’s confidence and development by not giving him a chance when Brunell is obviously struggling? Part of him must wonder whether the coaches believe in him. — Al

A: Interesting question and theory. If I’m Campbell and I’m seeing Matt Leinart struggle the last two weeks in Arizona, I’m saying, “Thank goodness I’m not in that situation.” But if I’m Campbell and I’m seeing Vince Young win two straight for Tennessee, Charlie Frye get a chance in Cleveland and Tony Romo getting a road win for Dallas in his first start, I might be thinking, “Our starting quarterback is struggling, too. Why can’t I get my chance?” The feeling I get around Redskin Park is that the offensive coaches’ faith in Campbell has grown since the beginning of the season. They wouldn’t have been comfortable starting him in Week 1 but feel he could manage a game properly — with the occasional mistake.

But Campbell isn’t playing against Dallas because Gibbs doesn’t want to give the impression he has given up on the Redskins making a miraculous turnaround.

Q: Will the team support a change if Gibbs decides to switch quarterbacks? — Jim Brewer

A: A locker room split was possible had Gibbs benched Brunell in favor of Campbell (or, for that matter, Todd Collins) during the bye week. There is a piece of that locker room that still believes — even though they’re 2-5 and have a tough remaining schedule — that they can right the ship and make a playoff run. There is another piece of the locker room that is about reality — put Campbell in now or in the next few weeks to see whether he’s the guy for 2007.

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