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WP: Wuerffel Gets a Lengthy Look


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Wuerffel Gets a Lengthy Look

He Completes 13 of 19 for 147 Yards; 4 Sacks

By Nunyo Demasio

Washington Post Staff Writer


JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Aug. 28 -- Every few minutes as the Washington Redskins warmed up before tonight's preseason finale, the public address announcer revealed the latest starter who wouldn't bother suiting up, further lending the game the significance of a scrimmage.

But despite the swaths of empty blue seats at Alltel Stadium, the game was important for every Redskins quarterback not named Patrick Ramsey. Coach Steve Spurrier used Jacksonville's 17-15 victory to determine whether Danny Wuerffel or Rob Johnson would be the backup to Ramsey.

Spurrier gave Wuerffel the most playing time, largely because the former Florida Gator had thrown only 13 passes entering the game. And except for four sacks, Wuerffel responded with a solid performance: completing 13 of 19 passes, for 147 yards and a 108.9 quarterback rating.

The numbers were more impressive than the performance, but Wuerffel likely did enough to stick.

"I just trust try to do the best that I can," said Wuerffel, who had one touchdown and no interceptions. "I don't know how it's going to shake out. I hope it works out well here to support Patrick and help him be the best he can be, and then go from there."

While Wuerffel was interviewed by a throng of reporters, rookie Gibran Hamdan glumly changed in the next stall. The former Indiana quarterback viewed his absence from the game ominously. Earlier in the week, Spurrier's planned to give Hamdan some playing time tonight.

"Obviously it doesn't bode well for me," said Hamdan, who threw only seven passes in preseason, completing three. "Not playing tonight is a strong indication."

Sunday is the NFL's deadline for the 53-man roster to enter the regular season. And Spurrier was noncommittal about any decisions tonight, likely wanting to inform his players before telling the media.

Johnson didn't play until about eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. But this game was more crucial for Wuerffel. Ramsey has been declared the starter for the rest of the season. However, Spurrier has a reputation for switching gears despite such firm convictions. Last season, Ramsey was part of a quarterback carousel that included five changes, each preceded by a definitive announcement. And with injury part of the NFL, the odds aren't long that Ramsey will start every game this season.

Tonight, Wuerffel replaced Ramsey with about two minutes left in the first quarter. Wuerffel looked his sharpest in the fourth quarter, during the Redskins' only touchdown drive. He guided the Redskins on an eight-play, 69-yard drive that took 4 minutes 19 seconds. Patrick Johnson became Wuerffel's favorite receiver on the drive, catching 25 and 20-yard receptions to get into Jacksonville's red zone before culminating the drive with an eight-yard touchdown catch that cut Jacksonville's lead to 17-12.

During the offseason, the Redskins signed Rob Johnson to a two-year deal, worth $2 million to back up Ramsey. Johnson seemed like the ideal backup, with a strong arm, mobility and starting experience, including with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But Johnson found it difficult trying to learn Spurrier's Fun 'n' Gun offense. So Spurrier signed the quarterback he can't quite get out his system.

In Wuerffel's first practice, he audibled as if he could read Spurrier's mind, illustrating why the coach can't resist. But Wuerffel soon reverted to the form that caused him to lose his starting spot after last year's exhibition finale.

"It's up in the air," Johnson said of the backup spot. "I don't know. Now it's all mental. You just get ready on the side and try to get as many mental reps as you can because Patrick will get 95 percent of them."

Tonight, Ramsey threw only three passes while playing just three series. Most important, Ramsey left uninjured, allowing Johnson and Wuerffel to try making the most out of a dreary night.

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AGONIZING!!!!!! Jax is sitting on two more-than-capable QB's. We've got a guy that has the mental part down but no physical skills, one with physical skills and no smarts, and one too young to know. Iam not bashing Ramsey, but I look at Leftwich and lick my chops in the SOS offense.

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Wuerffel's stats were better than his performance would indicate. Most of his completions were on that one drive in the fourth quarter against Jax's backup's backups :laugh:

He has no arm strength at all and the Redskins are basically a WCO with him in the game, except they don't have the personnel to run that scheme.

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