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Gibbs Meets Brunell, Supports Ramsey

Head coach Joe Gibbs said Tuesday that even though he has met with Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell, the team has no intentions of trading Patrick Ramsey.

Gibbs said he informed Ramsey about his approach to the Redskins' quarterback situation in a meeting last week.

"We think Patrick has a great future with the Redskins," Gibbs said. "He's not going anywhere. He knows that, too. Basically what we talked about and what I shared with him are my feelings about the quarterback spot and kind of the way I'd like it to progress—the fact that you can't have question marks there.

"As best as we can, we want to have a very solid quarterback situation."

When asked if the Redskins have fielded any queries from other NFL teams about trading for Ramsey, Gibbs replied: "No, I don't think anyone else in the league would be that foolish, to tell you the truth. We have a good young quarterback and he's not going anywhere."

Gibbs also said that, heading into next season, there would likely be an "open competition" at most positions, including quarterback.

"Listen, everybody on this team is going to have to compete for starting jobs," he said. "The good thing about it is, we have a new coaching staff and I think most of the players here expect it. In general, what we're going to do is have open competition."

Ramsey was the Redskins' first-round draft pick (32nd overall) in 2002. He had his first extended action as a professional last season, starting 11 games and completing 179-of-337 passes for 2,166 yards, 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Ramsey is currently backed up by Tim Hasselbeck and Gibran Hamdan, a pair of young quarterbacks. Hasselbeck started five games last year when Ramsey was out with a bone bruise in his right foot. Hamdan spent most of 2003 on the Redskins' practice squad and is headed to play in NFL Europe this offseason.

Gibbs said last month that he preferred to have a veteran presence among his stable of quarterbacks. His two options for acquiring a veteran QB are either through free agency or via a trade. The NFL's free agency period begins on March 2 and the trading period recommences on March 3.

Brunell, 6-1 and 217 pounds, is under contract with the Jaguars. He has started 117 games in his 10-year career and has led the Jaguars to two AFC Championship games in 1996 and 1999. He has thrown for 25,793 yards, completed 60.3 percent of his passes and connected on 144 touchdowns in his career.

Last year, Brunell started the Jaguars' first three games of the season and completed 54-of-82 passes for 484 yards and two touchdowns. He injured his elbow and was replaced by rookie Byron Leftwich. Brunell did not get into another game the remainder of the season.

On Monday evening, Gibbs flew to Florida to dine with Brunell. The Redskins' head coach, who is diabetic, inadvertently switched medications prior to the trip and he grew concerned that he had taken the wrong dosage. So Gibbs had Brunell take him to the hospital for a routine check-up.

"It was a precautionary thing," Gibbs said. "There was nothing wrong—my blood sugars were right on."

In the coming weeks, Gibbs expects to crisscross the country to meet with other players, as well as attend the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis, which starts on February 18.

Gibbs has said on several occasions that he has been impressed with Ramsey's toughness, throwing arm and overall ability. On Tuesday, Gibbs also indicated that he is not worried about Ramsey's psyche being affected should the team bring in a more veteran quarterback.

"I think Patrick is great—every time I've talked to him, he's been very positive," Gibbs said. "He loves football. He can't wait to get started here, to come in and start talking football. I told him, 'He's ahead of the game right now,' because we're still getting together our playbook and everything else.

"So I think he's kind of chomping at the bit. He's been one of the guys who has been here [at Redskins Park] everyday. We like everything about him. We think we have a good young quarterback here."

Gibbs, on trying to recruit potential free agent players:

"I think we're in a situation right now where all the free agents are sitting out there and you can't do anything. So we're looking at film, evaluating guys—where do they fit in?—and taking a look at the people we have here. And then you're trying to say, 'Okay, what's the game plan here.' So we're trying to get as much information as we can. Really, there's not a lot we can do. We're not in a situation where we can finalize anything."

On whether members of his staff will be crisscrossing the country for him to help evaluate players:

"No, I'll be doing quite a bit of it. When I say that, our staff is obviously going to be involved. We're going to all be at the combine, or back and forth.

"From my portion of it, I'll probably be spending more time on offense. But I'm in there right now going through the defense because we need to have a defensive game plan. We're just finishing up all the defensive linemen, and we'll craft a plan there and go forward with it. I want to be involved in all of that.

"When it comes to recruiting a player or trying to talk to a player, no matter if it is defense or offense or whatever, I think it's important for all of us to be involved."

On his evaluation of the roster and his statement that there will be an 'open competition' for starting jobs:

"When we looked at the film, some of the guys we have here who weren't starting—we kind of looked at it like, 'Hey, this guy is kind of what we're looking for.' So I think that's one of the good things about this coaching staff is that, with some of those preconceived ideas about what you're looking for, for us they might be totally different than what the previous staff was looking for.

"So we have some set things that we think about guys who will fit it with us and their roles. We'll see as we go forward here, but it's kind of a work in progress. And we won't really know until we get the pads on and start picking people."

On whether he's concerned about the relatively low number of draft picks the team has this year:

"Obviously we'd love to have as many picks as we can get. You'd have to look at that and say that's not the case. I never worry about something we don't have. I think that's the reason you look a little more at free agency. You can't really change that. So I'm not going to worry about something you can't change."

On whether he thinks he's ready for the around-the-clock demands of being a NFL coach:

"I'm used to this anyway. What I've always done—I'm kind of a late-nighter, I always stay up late at night. So that kind of thing doesn't bother me. I think for the next couple weeks I'll be crisscrossing the country talking to players. Next week I've got some things scheduled.

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