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Season Is Slipping Away For Redskins

Redskins tight end Chris Cooley has reason to be frustrated with quarterback Mark Brunell after Brunell overthrew him in the fourth quarter. Restless fans at FedEx Field could be heard calling for backup quarterback Jason Campbell.
Redskins tight end Chris Cooley has reason to be frustrated with quarterback Mark Brunell after Brunell overthrew him in the fourth quarter. Restless fans at FedEx Field could be heard calling for backup quarterback Jason Campbell. (By Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)

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"This was a team we should have beaten," he said, echoing a theme many of the Redskins players expressed. "We have a bunch of guys who are working hard. This should not be happening."

He shook his head with disgust.

"We're not playing like we did the last couple of years," he said. "We pride ourselves on stopping the run. The last two weeks we have let people run over us."

Starts as bad as this year's 2-4 have not been good to the Redskins in recent seasons. Two years ago, in Gibbs's return to Washington, they began 2-4 and finished 6-10. In 2002, a 2-4 start led to a 7-9 record.

Things are not going to get any easier for Washington, either. On Sunday, the Redskins play at Indianapolis, which is 5-0.

While there is blame to go around, much of the fans' ire is directed at the team's quarterback Mark Brunell, who has appeared to struggle with the complex offense of Al Saunders, who was hired from the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason to be the Redskins' associate head coach. Yesterday, Saunders called several short passes for Brunell, hoping to develop a rhythm for his quarterback -- this despite the fact that Tennessee came into the game with the worst rushing defense in the NFL. Brunell was effective in the first half, leading the Redskins to two touchdowns, but he came unraveled in the second half.

And as Brunell became more erratic, chants of "Jas-on Camp-bell" rose from the stands in a plea for the second-year player who is considered the team's quarterback of the future.

The fans would probably be heartened to know that shouts of "thank you Mark Brunell" could be heard though the cinder block walls of the Titans' locker room before it was opened to the media yesterday.

Gibbs did not give Brunell a vote of confidence after the game when asked if he would make a change at quarterback this week. Instead of a curt "no," as coaches do when they want to dispel talk of a quarterback controversy, Gibbs spoke in generalities.

"I'm not focused on the quarterback or any one person," he said. "I'm focused on all of us together. I don't look at one person or area, I look at the overall picture for us."

Which may mean nothing. Or everything.

If he does, it won't be too soon for the fans. As they shuffled out of the stadium before the final whistle, many passed Chris Jones of Beltsville, who held a white Campbell jersey aloft near the exit at Gate A. He shouted "Campbell! Jason Campbell!"

"I don't think Mark Brunell has the arm," he said. "Listen, if you're playing and you're not winning you have to make the change."

For the discouraged faithful, it's the only explanation they have.

Staff writer Adam Kilgore contributed to this report.


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