For Ramsey, It's Now or Never

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By Mike Wise
Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Whenever Patrick Ramsey thinks his job is secure, he knows he's the only quarterback on the roster not handpicked by Joe Gibbs. Whenever he feels good about his play and his team, Ramsey must know Gibbs brought in Mark Brunell to take his job a year ago and in April drafted Auburn's Jason Campbell, who naturally would like to replace Ramsey this year.

"Initially, when I heard about [Campbell], I thought, 'What's going on? What's the plan here?' " Ramsey said.

He calmed down after Gibbs explained he rarely passed on drafting a talented quarterback in the first round. "He made clear his reasons for doing it weren't solely to replace me," Ramsey said.

Solely?

"We'll cross those other avenues if we come to them," Ramsey said. "But it's certainly there, in the back of my mind. If I falter and don't play well, I'd be ignorant not to recognize that. It's the NFL. You don't produce, you don't play."

What a realistic, adult perspective from a guy nearly traded before he played a down for the Redskins.

In the four years since the Chicago Bears almost dealt for him, Ramsey's employers have benched him, failed to protect him and toyed with his psyche in hopes that some quarterback -- any quarterback, it seems, except Patrick Ramsey -- would emerge as the franchise's future starter.

Steve Spurrier's fascination with everything Gator -- Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews -- meant Ramsey didn't get the starting nod in 2002 until the University of Florida first failed. In 2003, he made the cover of the team's media guide and started well before unofficially becoming the most punished quarterback in the NFL. Ramsey played in an offense in which protection was an afterthought.

Gibbs was hired in January 2004 and immediately went out and did what Gibbs does: find a tested veteran to move the ball, kill the clock and win games. When Brunell was not the answer, Ramsey was reluctantly brought in.

It's not exactly the conventional way to nurture and bring along a young quarterback -- in fact, Ramsey's career has been a study in how not to develop a player.

Yet he is still here, comfortably taking snaps out of the shotgun on a hot, sticky summer afternoon in Ashburn. The shotgun for Gibbs -- who equates six-yard hitches to Art Monk with throwing downfield -- is a dramatic offensive concession. It's a scheme catering not to plodders but to cannons.

"This is his big opportunity, he knows it," said Jon Jansen, the right tackle and Ramsey's best friend on the roster. "The offense, the confidence coach has shown in him, everything. It's a big year in the NFL for him. That's when quarterbacks are supposed to show they can play and win at this level. He's ready."


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