Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell has taken full responsibility for the team's offensive problems and hopes to rebound for tomorrow's contest against the Baltimore Ravens at FedEx Field. Brunell said he takes the blame for Washington's three straight losses and faces a familiar opponent this week, after lining up against the Ravens' fierce defense many times while playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"I think we're all concerned [about the offense], and we have every reason to be concerned," Brunell said. "We're not playing smart football, we're not moving the ball, we're not scoring enough. So we've got some work to do."
Brunell used to face Baltimore twice a season when Jacksonville was in the same division as the Ravens, and was roughed up by them the last time he was on the field against Baltimore, getting sacked twice and intercepted three times by the Ravens in 2002. But Brunell's mobility and accuracy also gave the Ravens fits at times, and Baltimore Coach Brian Billick has been praising the quarterback for years and believes the 12-year veteran still has the tools to be a top performer in the NFL.
"I have a huge respect for Mark Brunell, that's been well documented," Billick said. "One of the things that drew me to [draft quarterback] Kyle Boller [in 2003] were the similarities between he and Mark Brunell. Now, Kyle Boller has got a long way to go before I put him in Mark Brunell's class, but I've admired Mark's abilities."
Washington will be facing a true 3-4 defense for the first time this season tomorrow, and the coaches have spent the week adapting their system. The Ravens use three defensive linemen and four linebackers, anchored by Pro Bowl inside linebacker Ray Lewis, and are known for causing turnovers and making big plays. Most teams use four defensive linemen and three linebackers, the base scheme Washington uses under Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense.
"It's the first time we've really gone against it," Coach Joe Gibbs said, "so we've had to change our blocking schemes and ideas. I think the second thing is they have great personnel that fits it, they have huge outside linebackers and you've got the inside linebacker and Ray Lewis, chasing you all over the place and their secondary is very good."
The New York Giants, Washington's Week 2 opponent, use a 3-4 formation at times, Gibbs said, but not nearly to the degree the Ravens do, and how well the Redskins adjust to that scheme could have a big impact on the outcome of the game.
The Redskins made one change to their injury list yesterday, ruling safety Andre Lott (hamstring) out for tomorrow's game; he missed last week's game and had been listed as questionable. Linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee), linebacker Mike Barrow (knee) and defensive end Phillip Daniels (groin) are also out. Cornerback Shawn Springs (ankle), tackle Ray Brown (hamstring), defensive end Ron Warner (ankle) and kick-punt returner Chad Morton (knee) are probable. . . . Cornerback Fred Smoot said he is relishing the chance to play against Baltimore's Deion Sanders, whom he idolized as a child and learned from as a rookie when Sanders played for Washington. Sanders, who came out of retirement to play for Baltimore this season, called Smoot, who wears No. 21 to honor Sanders, on the day he was drafted to welcome him to the NFL and the men still talk frequently. "I saw a lot of a young Fred Smoot [in Sanders]," Smoot said. "Growing up that's what I liked to do -- I liked to talk, I was fast and small as an athlete, so I compared myself to him in many different ways."