FedEx Field hasn't felt like home to Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell, who was serenaded with boos after the team's last home game, a 28-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Halloween. Redskins fans have turned on Brunell, statistically one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. Spectators chanted Patrick Ramsey's name in the last game, and the catcalls appear likely to be repeated at the slightest sign of Brunell's struggles.
But the Redskins have issues at FedEx Field that go beyond their starting quarterback. After winning the season opener, 16-10, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with a record crowd rocking, the Redskins have lost three straight home games and six of their past seven at FedEx Field.
"I think we've got a great home-field advantage with our fans," Coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday. "It's real important to play great at home. We haven't done that at times this year."
Gibbs was fond of RFK Stadium, where the Redskins played during his first stint with the team, because of its legendary home-field advantage. However, Gibbs believes that FedEx Field can be just as raucous -- he pointed to the Green Bay game when Brunell turned the boos to loud cheers before an apparent touchdown late was nullified by a penalty. "It was one of the best comebacks I've been a part of," Gibbs said. "I think our fans helped us in the second half."
Gibbs praised Washington's fans for their passion but said that he wouldn't allow them to affect his judgment. "They are emotional and they care," Gibbs said. "I like that part of it. If you're a quarterback or a coach, you're going to take some heat if things aren't going well."
During the 2000 season, Gregg Williams was a hotshot defensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans. Marvin Lewis was considered a head coaching candidate while the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. That year, the Ravens set an NFL record for fewest points allowed before winning the Super Bowl against the New York Giants. However, the Titans were the top-ranked defense that season because of the fewest total yards allowed. According to NFL scuttlebutt, Lewis and Williams have become ultra rivals since then. But Lewis denied such talk. "I have no competitive thing with Gregg."
Williams said of Lewis: "I think he's a very good football coach. I think Marvin does a very good job of how he . . . coaches the toughness and the discipline that's in that team, and he's been very energizing for that organization."
Thomas to Chow Down
Right guard Randy Thomas has accepted an eating challenge from Chubby's barbecue restaurant in Maryland. If Thomas, renowned for his appetite, can eat three special 12-inch, two-pound submarine burgers within an hour, the establishment will give him and three friends/teammates free meals for the rest of the season. "I'm doing it for my friends," Thomas said before confessing: "Okay, [the burgers] are big and a lot of meat, and it's free." Thomas received the challenge after his eating exploits were detailed in a newspaper article. . . . The Redskins are urging fans to arrive early for Sunday's 4:05 p.m. kickoff to minimize delays now that fans are allowed to walk to FedEx Field. There will be a charge for parking at Landover Mall, however. . . . Linebacker Mike Barrow's Redskins debut has been put on hold yet again. Barrow (knee) had been listed as questionable this week, but yesterday Gibbs ruled him out. . . . The NFL recently released the NFL Films Super Bowl Collection of DVDs: Super Bowl XXI to XXX. It includes footage and highlights of Super Bowl XXII (1988), when the Redskins defeated Denver, 42-10; and Super Bowl XXVI (1992), when Washington beat Buffalo, 37-24.