ASHBURN, Va. - Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs ended any suspense quickly, naming Mark Brunell as the team's starting quarterback for Monday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Redskins opened the season with a 9-7 victory after Brunell replaced injured starter Patrick Ramsey and guided the offense to three field goals against the visiting Chicago Bears on Sunday.
That performance, along with other factors, contributed to Gibbs' decision to stay with Brunell against Dallas (1-0).
"I felt like it was a decision I had to make," Gibbs said at Redskins Park yesterday. "I think we've got a situation where two quarterbacks there can go in and win ballgames for us. I just felt like at this point, the best decision for us and for the Redskins was to start Mark."
Both quarterbacks left the team's practice facility before Gibbs made his announcement, but both had stated their desire to start against Dallas.
"I'd be lying to you if I told you that I didn't care," said Brunell, who was pulled by Gibbs last season after a 3-6 record in the first nine games. "I really want to start. I'd really like to play and be a part of this, but that's ultimately up to Coach Gibbs."
"I want to be out there regardless," said Ramsey, who went 3-4 as Washington's starter last season. "It's a big opportunity to go out there and play a good team, but at the same time if it was here Sunday against a college team, I would want to play."
Neither quarterback appeared to have a substantial edge after Sunday's win.
Before Ramsey left the game after getting sacked by Bears linebacker Lance Briggs in the second quarter, he had completed just six of 11 passes for 105 yards and was sacked twice. He threw an interception on the first series, fumbled on the second (offensive tackle Jon Jansen recovered), and lost a fumble on the third on the Briggs sack.
Brunell was 8-for-14 for 70 yards, was sacked once and didn't commit a turnover. But under Brunell, the offense made four trips inside Chicago's 40-yard line and failed to score a touchdown.
Although he seemed to acknowledge that Ramsey's tendency to turn the ball over (four in the preseason and two Sunday) played a role in his decision, Gibbs declined to elaborate on the rationale behind the switch.
"I think it was just a general feeling that I have," he said. "I'm here living through it, watching the films, going through everything, and I felt like at this point, it would be the best for us to start Mark. Really, what I am looking toward to is for somebody to really establish themselves as the quarterback and take off with the football team."
Ramsey's sprained neck is no longer an issue, but kicker John Hall's strained right quadriceps is. Gibbs said the injury is not as severe as the one that ended Hall's season in 2004, but said the team could sign a free agent like Jeff Chandler, who was cut by the team last month.
Director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said defensive tackle Brandon Noble, who damaged some cartilage in the left knee that also forced him to miss the 2003 season and undergo surgery, is seeking a third opinion on the injury.
Tyer also said that wide receiver Taylor Jacobs (sprained toe), safety Ryan Clark (sprained knee) and linebacker Chris Clemons (pulled hamstring) will likely be able to practice this week.
Next for Redskins
Matchup: Washington Redskins (1-0) at Dallas Cowboys (1-0)
When: Monday, 9 p.m.
TV/Radio: Chs. 2, 7/1430 AM, 106.7 FM
Line: Cowboys by 6