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News & Notes: Brunell Seeks Fumble Fix

Often this season, Mark Brunell has had to use his scrambling ability to escape pressure and gain yardage with his feet.

Remember the 25-yard scramble at Dallas that helped the Redskins come back from a 13-0 deficit and stun the Cowboys? Or the 18-yard run in overtime against Seattle that led to a game-winning field goal?

Clearly, scrambling remains a key element of Brunell's game.

The downside?

Fumbles. Brunell has fumbled six times this season, losing five. His fumble in the first half of last Sunday's game at Tampa Bay led to the Bucs' second touchdown.

It's something that Brunell knows he needs to rectify.

"Quarterbacks aren't guys who are used to carrying the football, so you do have to be careful," Brunell said. "When you are in the pocket and outside of the pocket, you have to hold on to that thing because defenders know that you're susceptible to dropping it. They go after it. Instead of many times just all-out hitting you, they take a swipe at the ball. You have to be careful."

Brunell has studied film with head coach Joe Gibbs and quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave, analyzing different ways of holding the ball in and out of the pocket.

"I think Mark is very conscientious about it," Gibbs said. "Typically, quarterbacks are the ones who fumble the most because they're not normally protecting the football. They're normally scrambling and getting hit from directions where they don't expect it.

"With quarterbacks, when they start to scramble, they typically hold the ball away from their bodies. The best place to carry it is like a running back--in the front with your fingers over the end of the ball. As a quarterback, when you're trying to throw the ball, you normally don't have the ball in that position. And the quarterback is still looking to throw it lots of times as he scrambles. Then when he gets it, that's when he's most likely to fumble."


During his weekly media session, Gibbs said that he got "carried away" in his comments on Monday about the use of replay and the role it played in the outcome of the Redskins' 36-35 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 13.

"I think first of all I need to say I probably emotionally should not have said what I said," Gibbs remarked. "If we ever disagree with something, I should just say, 'Hey, we are going to turn it in.'"

Gibbs said on Monday that he had clear-cut evidence on game tape that the Buccaneers did not convert a two-point conversion late in the game. The conversion turned out to be the game-winning points.

It was one of several controversial plays that Gibbs cited from the game.

Gibbs said he called the league office to apologize for his comments.

"That having been said, I think what we all do in the league is try and work as hard as we can to help the officials," Gibbs added. "I think we need to work together and do a better job. We are all working hard to try and improve in any way in the league, in particular officiating is a big deal. We have very professional people there. They work hard at it. We need to be a part of helping them, not working against them."


It's the game film that every NFL team on the Redskins' remaining schedule will have dissected by game day. It's the Redskins' 36-0 loss to the New York Giants in Week 8, a game that stunned everyone in how lopsided it was.

Head coach Joe Gibbs has called it a game where "nothing seemed to go right for us." Some players have called it an aberration.

Maybe it was both. But clearly some of what the Giants did worked that afternoon on both sides of the ball. And other NFL teams hope to replicate it.

Last week, the Bucs openly commented on their review of the Redskins-Giants game film.

Said cornerback Ronde Barber: "The one thing that we noticed, when we watched clips of the Giants, was that they really got after [the Redskins]. They were hustling to the ball and playing hard. I was watching that game because [his brother] Tiki was playing in it. The Redskins couldn't stop the Giants running game. The Giants started controlling the clock. When you have to play catch-up, it's tough to win in the NFL."

Added Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden: "We looked at the film carefully. Although they gave up some rushing yards, they had a man in position to make the tackle for no gain. For whatever reason, they just didn't make that particular play. We look at the film where opponents have success and try to draw from those tactics. At the same time, we respect what we see on tape."

The Redskins continue to use the Giants game as a reminder of how quickly things can change in the NFL.

"You never want to believe that you're as good as people say you are," linebacker Marcus Washington said. "You never want to believe you're as bad as people say you are. The Giants knocked us off our high horse.

"You definitely learn more from a loss than from a win because you pay more attention and break it down more. We didn't like the taste that was left in our mouths and we don't want to go back to that."

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