On spot, Ramsey gets another shot

Redskins: Entering his fourth season, QB Patrick Ramsey knows it's time to get the offense moving in a positive direction.

September 11, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs won't have much to say to Patrick Ramsey today.

Not because Gibbs dislikes his quarterback or thinks that any last-minute advice for today's regular-season opener against the Chicago Bears at FedEx Field in Landover at 1 p.m. would jinx him.

To Gibbs, the time for chatting is past.

"I think the talking's pretty much done," he said. "It's down to playing."

In his fourth season as a pro, Ramsey is entering what could be the watershed moment of his career. Ramsey will make his 24th start at quarterback, leading an offense that has been analyzed, dissected and overhauled.

Last year's starting wide receivers were jettisoned and replaced by Santana Moss and David Patten to add speed and stretch opposing defenses. Former Ravens center Casey Rabach was brought in to anchor an offensive line that welcomes the return of massive left tackle Jon Jansen. And running back Clinton Portis is still regarded as one of the top players at his position.

It's up to Ramsey, who is 9-14 as the starter, to pull these pieces together and direct a unit that ranked 31st in points scored. If he can't, the consensus is that Gibbs will replace Ramsey with veteran Mark Brunell and groom first-round draft pick Jason Campbell for 2006.

It's a burden that Ramsey is handling just fine.

"I'm anxious to get started," Ramsey said. "I think we're anxious to win football games and be a team here in the NFC East that [can contend] for the division. That is what our focus is going to be - go out there and win this first one and go from there."

Ramsey's preseason was mixed. He completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 418 yards and two touchdowns, and had six passes for 20 or more yards. He also earned Gibbs' praise when Ramsey rebounded from a costly interception against the Pittsburgh Steelers to lead Washington on a game-tying touchdown drive.

But Ramsey also threw four interceptions, was sacked four times and finished the preseason with a 65.6 passer rating. The first-team offense scored just two touchdowns with Ramsey at the helm.

Moss, who averaged 19.4 yards per catch this preseason, said patience is required as he, Patten and Ramsey are still getting familiar with each other.

"You can't just go out there and say we have everything under control," Moss said. "We know what we've got to do, but we have to go out there and play with each other. That's the best thing we can do - just play with each other."

Today's opponent, the Bears, ranked 21st in yards allowed last season. Injuries to middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, defensive end Adewale Ogunleye and defensive backs Mike Brown, Jerry Azumah and Charles Tillman took a toll, but those players are back to bolster a unit that finished in the top third in points and first downs surrendered.

Chicago coach Lovie Smith said he thought Ramsey played well during the preseason.

So is Ramsey ready? Time will tell, and if he's feeling the pressure, Ramsey didn't admit to it.

"I just want to go out there and play and win the game," he said. "As long as I play within myself and do my job, I think we're going to be fine offensively."


LEAN ON PORTIS: Nothing calms an unsettled offense better than having a potent running back like Clinton Portis. Portis, who took his first handoff last season 64 yards for a touchdown, can alleviate some of the pressure on Patrick Ramsey with some big gains.

OBLITERATE ORTON: Bears coach Lovie Smith has faith in Kyle Orton, but the fourth-round pick in April's draft will be severely tested by assistant head coach Gregg Williams and his defense. Expect lots of blitzes and unusual coverages to throw the rookie off his game.

LIMIT TURNOVERS: It's a bad omen when the offense commits 10 turnovers in four preseason games. Not coincidentally, the Redskins lost three of those. The offense must do a better job of protecting the football if it wants to help coach Joe Gibbs improve to 7-7 in season openers.

THE PICK: Orton is no Ben Roethlisberger. The Redskins' defense will force Orton into a couple of errors, and the offense will do just enough to cement a victory. Redskins 14, Bears 10.

- Edward Lee

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