Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo

NFL.com: 2005 the year of the QB renaissance


Recommended Posts


2005 the year of the QB renaissance

By Andy Friedlander

Special to NFL.com

(Oct. 27, 2005) -- That sound coming from the Washington Redskins huddle might not be the smug laughter you'd expect from a team that has confounded its many doubters with an unexpectedly strong start.

No, the cause of those chuckles is more likely the man most responsible for the Redskins' unlikely rise in the NFC East -- they are 4-2 and in a three-way tie for the division lead heading into their showdown with co-leader New York.

The joke, it seems, is on all those who thought Mark Brunell 's days as an NFL star were long over. A 35-year-old three-time Pro Bowler whose career had been left for dead -- in the figurative sense -- Brunell is not only alive and well, he's feeling so at ease that at times he breaks up the Redskins huddle -- in every sense -- with a few one-liners, just to remind everyone that this football thing is supposed to be fun.

"Mark is just a laid-back guy," tackle Chris Samuels said. "A lot of guys get uptight in the huddle, but Mark will loosen you up. He'll crack a joke here and there. I think that helps. He's a veteran guy and teammates look up to him a lot."

And, allowed the generous Samuels, "Some of them are funny."

"We have a good time," said Brunell, who hadn't started full time since 2002 with Jacksonville. "We try to keep it light. This is a game. We try to have fun. There's absolutely nothing better. I have the best job in the world. ... We have a lot of fun doing it. I'm going to make sure we have fun doing it."

Indeed, Brunell's performance this season surely has the Redskins smiling. He began the season as the backup to Patrick Ramsey, but he was under center by the end of the opening game, and he's been lighting up the league ever since.

Seven weeks into the season, Brunell is on pace for the best season of his 13-year career. He leads the NFC with a 98.3 passer rating, having thrown for 1,492 yards, 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions, and the Redskins rank second in the league in total offense. He is even running like a kid again, with scrambles of 25, 18 and 14 yards this season.

But Brunell's isn't the only back-from-oblivion quarterback story in the NFL this season. Drew Bledsoe, who was shown the door by Buffalo to make way for young J.P. Losman after struggling last season, has rediscovered his youth in Dallas, leading the NFC with 1,799 passing yards. In Buffalo, journeyman Kelly Holcomb opened the season buried behind Losman on the depth chart, but has posted a sparkling 95.2 rating and a 2-1 record since replacing Losman as the Bills starter.

"When you're drafted high, you get every opportunity to make it," said Holcomb, who went undrafted out of Middle Tennessee in 1995 and has started only 16 games in 10 NFL seasons. "But when you're in a situation like myself, and you get in the game, you've got to show that you can do it, because you're not going to get another chance. ... You only get one chance, and you've got to make the most of that chance."

So far, Holcomb is doing just that. While he hasn't put up the attention-grabbing yardage numbers of Brunell and Bledsoe, Holcomb has been remarkably efficient in his three starts, completing 72 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He has been a steadying presence for an offense desperately in need of one.

Losman might or might not still be the Bills' quarterback of the future, but Holcomb, whose longest stint as a starter was a stretch of five games with Cleveland in 2003, seems to have a firm grasp on the present.

"I certainly believe that I'm a starter in this league," Holcomb said. "I firmly believe that and I'll always believe that. I've always had confidence in myself and that it was going to happen. And that's all I can worry about. I'm getting a chance to play."

So is Buffalo's quarterback of the past. A celebrated gunslinger for the Patriots in the 1990s, Bledsoe lost his job to an injury in 2001 when his fill-in turned out to be some kid named Tom Brady.

Bledsoe spent three mediocre seasons with the Bills, who decided after last season that the 33-year-old veteran was no longer a viable starter, releasing him and handing the reins to the untested Losman.

"When I left New England, Tom had come in and won the Super Bowl, so that decision was kind of obvious, whether I liked it or not," Bledsoe said. "This one was very different. (Buffalo) went with a kid who hadn't been on the field, and I didn't think that was a very smart decision on their part."

That move left Bledsoe seething, and he has used that fire to power the Dallas offense. He is on pace to set Cowboys season records for passing attempts and yards. And don't think he isn't aware of Losman's struggles back in Buffalo.

"He says he's just out there leading the football team," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said, "but if you watch him, you can definitely tell that he's like, 'Let's go, let's go, these guys thought I was done and I'm showing them now.' "

Among NFC quarterbacks, only Brunell has a better rating than Bledsoe's 94.9, and in the league, only Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger averages more yards per attempt than Bledsoe's 8.18. His projected numbers -- 4,112 yards, 27 TDs and 14 interceptions -- rank with the best of his career.

"You can point to him and say this is one of the elite guys in the league," Cowboys receiver Keyshawn Johnson said. "Is there a chip on his shoulder? Oh, yeah. And there should be. I'm pulling for him. I want to see him do well so he can laugh at the people who cast him off."

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...