Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell spoke with Redskins.com in between practices heading into the Week 5 game against the Denver Broncos:
Q: What are your memories from the Jacksonville Jaguars' 1997 Divisional Playoff win in Denver, in which you started at quarterback?
A: "We do [have great memories]. The second playoff game [that season] wasn't very fond. [The win in Denver] was a big game for us, but it was a long time ago."
Q: What are your thoughts on Clinton Portis's return to the city in which he began his career?
A: "I'm sure it's very special [for him]. I'm sure he has friends on the team. He had a lot of success there. I'm sure it's a big game for Clinton."
Q: What do you think are Clinton Portis's most valuable qualities?
"He has a great personality. He's great in the locker room. The guys [on the Redskins] have a lot of respect for him and enjoy being around him. I think everyone likes that, even though he may not be getting the ball sometimes, he'll go block downfield and for the quarterback. He always goes 100 percent, which is very impressive."
Q: What do you think are the differences between a good wide receiver and a playmaker?
A: "Everyone at this level is a good player. Playmakers are the guys that find a way to get open and make that great catch. They get the ball in their hands and do something with it. They're the guys that have the stats, the touchdowns, and win games for teams. We're fortunate to have one [playmaker in WR, #89 Santana Moss] for ourselves. Everyone [in the NFL] is talented. Everyone is good. But there are guys who go above and beyond the call of duty."
Q: What are the specific skills that separate playmakers from good wide receivers?
A: "It's everything. I believe the great ones have it all. I'm fortunate to have been around a couple in Jacksonville in Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. To have two guys like that on one team is pretty special. I've been around some [playmakers], but there are not a lot of them out there. We're fortunate to have a guy like [WR, #89] Santana [Moss on our team]."
Q: What are your thoughts on Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey?
"He's one of the best, if not the best, cornerbacks in the NFL. He certainly commands a lot of respect. You have to be very careful [around him]. The timing has to be there. You have to be very accurate. If you're not, you could get picked."
Q: What are the factors responsible for your increased comfort in the Redskins' offensive system?
A: "There are a lot of factors. [First] it's being in [the system] for a year. It's our offense evolving and doing some different things right now. I think the biggest thing is the 10 other guys on the field. The line is doing great. We have two very good running backs. The receivers obviously are making plays. It's a combination of things. I can't put my finger on just one."
Q: What is the next step in the offense's development?
A: "We've talked a lot about the third-and-long situations that we've been able to overcome. The idea now is to not get into those third-and-long situations. The chances are [good] that you're not going to convert those. We were fortunate to get some big plays on Sunday. We have to be more productive on first and second down, cut down on turnovers, and be more efficient in the red zone. We have a lot of work to do. We're not even close. We've won some games, but we have a lot of work to do. There is so much room for improvement that we could talk about it all afternoon."
Q: How did your apparent chemistry with wide receiver Santana Moss develop so quickly:
A: "We've had some big plays, but there still needs to be some [better] timing and [more] work. Fortunately, we have a lot of games ahead of us. Hopefully, each week we'll get better and better. We have a ways to go."
Q: What is it that makes you successful when you have to scramble?
A: "Running is the last option. You hope that your other options are there [before]. You have two, three, or four receivers after you go through your progressions. If nothing is there, it's either throw it away or run. Hopefully, a [running] lane presents itself or, if you have a free runner [on defense] like we did on Sunday [against Seattle] and you're able to shake him a little bit, you can get some yards. It's the last option. It's not something we're going to hang our hat on. The last two weeks we've been able to use it. It's not something that will pop up all of the time."