Brunell Describes Benching as 'Tough'
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Mark Brunell admitted yesterday that he's going to need some time to adjust to no longer being the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback.
On Monday, Coach Joe Gibbs announced that Jason Campbell would start Sunday at Tampa Bay, ending Brunell's run as a starter. He had started the past 26 games for the Redskins, the final 15 regular season games plus two playoff games last season and the first nine games of this season.
"It's tough. This is what we do for a living. We compete to try and win football games, so to not finish this is tough," Brunell said. "It's just business. Football is a great game, but it's a horrible business."
This season, Brunell has completed 62.3 percent of his passes, the second-highest percentage of his career in a season with at least nine starts, and has an 86.5 passer rating, which is better than last season's 85.9 and his career rating of 84.2. On Sept. 24 at Houston, Brunell set an NFL record by completing 22 consecutive passes in a 31-15 win, and he has the 10th-best passer rating in the NFL.
But the offense stalled despite Brunell's statistical efficiency, and that ultimately cost him his job. He said he felt a change was coming after Sunday's 27-3 loss at Philadelphia, when he completed 16 of 31 passes for 132 yards.
"I feel terrible for Mark in a lot of ways," said Al Saunders, the associate head coach-offense. "He's the 10th-rated passer in the NFL. His efficiency rating is the highest of his career. By no means is what's happening here the fault of Mark Brunell. There are 52 other guys here, too."
Brunell's statistics against the Eagles were emblematic of a difficult season. Minus his 43-yard completion to Brandon Lloyd in the second quarter, Brunell's 15 other completions produced just 89 yards, or 5.9 yards per completion.
"It's going to be difficult for a number of reasons," Brunell said. "There are a lot of things I'd like to have back, but I feel good about the way I played. We just didn't win enough games."
Cooley Playing Hurt
For the past six weeks, tight end Chris Cooley has been playing with a separated shoulder, but he said he did not think surgery would be an option.
Cooley apparently separated his shoulder during the Redskins' 36-30 overtime win over Jacksonville on Oct. 1. He is not wearing a harness, has not missed significant practice time and has played every game.
"I think it's fine. It's just something that will need some rest, from what they said," Cooley said. "It's getting better. When I take a big hit it'll be sore and swell up. Like when I took a big hit in the Dallas game it didn't feel great, but it's not a big deal right now."
Safety Sean Taylor, cornerback Shawn Springs and tight end Christian Fauria did not practice yesterday. Taylor was recuperating from the extraction of his wisdom teeth. Gibbs did not mention Springs on Monday, but he was given a day of rest. Springs said yesterday that, despite his return nearly a month ago from abdominal surgery, he isn't close to 100 percent. Fauria, a tight end who has contributed little this season, has an ankle injury. Defensive end Phillip Daniels will wear a hard-shell cast on his hand this weekend to protect a sore forearm and wrist. Wide receiver Santana Moss is questionable for Sunday's game with a left hamstring strain, and tackle Jon Jansen is probable with a calf injury. . . .
Because of Fauria's injuries, the Redskins filled the space vacated by Clinton Portis on the active roster by signing tight end Brian Kozlowski, who played with the Redskins in 2004 and 2005.
Staff writer Jason La Canfora contributed to this report.