Redskins' Ramsey on the run in Fun 'N' Gun

QB has been sacked 26 times in eight games

Pro Football

November 09, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Lately, being the quarterback for the Washington Redskins has entailed more risks than rewards for Patrick Ramsey.

Ramsey, whose arm strength and passing prowess reminds some older Redskins fans of Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen, was supposed to be the point man in coach Steve Spurrier's Fun 'N' Gun attack.

But instead of dropping bombs, Ramsey has just been getting dropped. In eight games, Ramsey has been sacked 26 times - the second-worst mark in the NFL behind the Philadelphia Eagles and quarterback Donovan McNabb (28 sacks).

And Ramsey, Spurrier, the team's offensive linemen and everyone else know that the Seattle Seahawks will try to add to that total when they visit FedEx Field today at 1 p.m.

"It's logical thinking to know that," Ramsey said. "They're going to bring it. We're just going to find a way to beat it."

"It" is the blitz, and the blitz is what has aided Washington's four-game losing streak.

In that span, Redskins quarterbacks have been sacked 14 times, and the passing offense is averaging just 174.8 yards.

The blitz most recently doomed Washington (3-5) in its 21-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, who sent in their safeties and linebackers in an all-out assault on Ramsey.

It's why the offense had minus-11 passing yards in the first half and just 124 for the game. It's the reason Ramsey was sacked four times, forced to leave the game twice, and suffered a dislocated pinkie finger on his left, non-throwing hand.

So it's reasonable to expect more of the same from a Seattle defense coached by Ray Rhodes, who was defensive coordinator in Washington in 2000.

"He saw that," said left tackle Chris Samuels. "We struggled a bit the last game, so I'm expecting them to do it. But I'm confident that our coaches will get it fixed and come up with a good scheme."

The Seahawks (6-2) aren't exactly a blitzing team. This season, Seattle has collected just 16 sacks, five more than the Redskins' anemic pass rush.

But the Seahawks have allowed opposing offenses to gain just 195.8 yards a game through the air. A secondary that has snatched five interceptions also could give linebacker Chad Brown (team-high four sacks) and defensive end Chike Okeafor (three) enough time to penetrate the pocket.

Injuries are wreaking havoc on Washington. Left guard Dave Fiore, a high-priced free agent, will miss the rest of the season with a stubborn knee injury.

Center Larry Moore is listed as doubtful with a sprained foot, and running backs Ladell Betts (fractured forearm), Chad Morton (high ankle sprain) and Sultan McCullough (broken hand) also might miss the game.

Another issue has been Washington's blocking schemes. Since tight end Robert Royal went down for the season with a hip injury last month, the Redskins have not found an adequate fill-in, and the running backs have been woeful at picking up blitzing linebackers and safeties.

The impact is less time for Ramsey to read the defense, set his feet and throw.

"If you watch these other quarterbacks around the league, they stand there and nobody's within 3 yards of them, and they make their throws," Spurrier said. "Patrick hasn't been in that position all that much."

Ramsey has prided himself on his resiliency, but Spurrier knows that if Ramsey - who has endured a bruised shoulder, hip and hand - goes down for a substantial amount of time, the backup is Tim Hasselbeck, who threw his first NFL pass last week.

"Every time [Ramsey] gets hit, we wince," Spurrier said. "I feel like I'm getting hit. We're trying not to let that happen."

THREE KEYS FOR THE REDSKINS

1. Learn from the past

The last time these teams met, on Nov. 3, 2002, Washington won, 14-3, despite only 10 completed passes, due, in large part, to a 110-yard rushing game from Kenny Watson. Running is still a viable option against a Seahawks defense that has surrendered 115.9 yards a game on the ground and is ranked 17th.

2. Protect the ball

Seattle has been one of the most opportunistic teams in the NFC. Emboldened by defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes' attacking style of play, the Seahawks have forced 16 turnovers, fifth best in the conference. Fortunately for the Redskins, they have coughed up just one fumble in their past two games and have only 11 turnovers - tied with Seattle for second best in the NFC.

3. Critical third downs

The Seahawks' 11th-ranked offense has been prolific on third downs, converting 45 of 98 (45.9 percent), which is second best in the NFL. Washington is 18th, allowing opponents to convert 37.8 percent of third downs. Preventing Seattle from sustaining drives could go a long way toward stopping the Redskins' four-game slide.

Redskins today

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks (6-2) vs. Washington Redskins (3-5)

Site: FedEx Field, Landover

Time: 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 45, 5/WNAV (1430 AM), WJFK (106.7 FM)

Line: Seahawks by 3

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