- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Instead of pointing a collective finger at Mark Brunell or the defense, Washington Redskins fans — in the below questions and handfuls of other comments to the mailbag — are now casting doubt on Joe Gibbs’ ability to turn this team around.

The consensus: A lot of fans would rather give up on this season now and allow Brunell’s backup, Jason Campbell, the chance to prepare for next season.

Q: Brunell is obviously not the answer — he is really holding back the Redskins. Why don’t they put in Jason Campbell, because the team doesn’t have a chance of making the playoffs. And, for the record, Brunell’s 22 straight completions shouldn’t be that big of a deal because it was against the Texans. Jermaine Johnson

A: Agreed on the 22 consecutive completions. It came against a bad Houston team, and only one of the passes traveled more than 12 yards. And agreed on Brunell not being the answer. But what fans should realize is that if the Redskins go to Campbell, they’ll take a step back. That’s the way it goes with young quarterbacks. But struggling a little bit in November and December 2006 may have its benefits in November and December 2007.

Q: The season is over. Is Joe Gibbs too stubborn to switch quarterbacks? Ann Goins

A: I’m not sure if “stubborn” is the right word because I do believe he’s not afraid to make a change. Let’s say Gibbs is overly hesitant when it comes to making a move with Brunell. Gibbs doesn’t want to give ownership the impression he’s giving up on the season, which is what he would be doing by going to Campbell. Gibbs remains hopeful — though the reasons for his optimism aren’t clear — that the season can be turned around.

Q: Do you think that it will take the Redskins going 2-9 before Gibbs will consider making a change at QB? If Gibbs sticks with Brunell, the losses and futility will continue. — Sidney Penn

A: At 2-9, the Redskins would be riding a seven-game losing streak. It all depends on how Brunell is playing. If the Redskins lose at Indianapolis, it would make sense to go with Campbell the next game: Washington’s record would be 2-5, the playoffs would be out of the question, and Campbell would have two weeks, including the bye, to get ready for the Dallas game on Nov. 5.

But Gibbs will stick with Brunell through at least the Dallas and Philadelphia games. And if the offense is moving the ball but still losing, Gibbs has a built-in excuse to keep No. 8 as the starter.

Q: I keep watching the Redskins play every week, and it reminds me more and more of watching those religious fanatics on the news beating themselves over their own heads with chains and rocks. Should I be worried? — Jim Kundreskas

A: Yes, worry. It would be one thing if there was only one, correctable thing gone wrong with the Redskins. But there are team-wide problems. Unless the Redskins pull a shocker at Indianapolis, the misery will continue.

Q: How many coaches do the Redskins have? — Bill Williams

A: The Redskins have 21 coaches: one head coach, 10 offensive coaches, six defensive coaches, one special teams coach and three strength/conditioning coaches. The Giants have 19, Philadelphia 18 and Dallas 16.

Q: I haven’t seen any comments on the play selection on the Redskins’ final drive. Why throw deep on the first play, and why throw into all that coverage? I didn’t see anyone open. — Deene Ehlis

A: That’s because nobody was open. Brunell threw a pass intended for Santana Moss, who was surrounded by four defenders. My bigger play-calling beef was on the second-to-last drive.

The Redskins trailed 25-22 with 5:05 remaining. They started the drive at their own 30 with two timeouts, but they acted like only a minute remained and they had no timeouts. Brunell threw three straight incompletions — passes that traveled 25, 5 and 21 yards in the air.

At that point, the Redskins should have used any part of the field and just steadily moved into field goal range.

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