Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs concedes that Patrick Ramsey faces a daunting task making his 2004 starting debut against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles (8-1), with their blitz-driven defense, often exploit inexperienced, mobility-challenged quarterbacks. But the flip side is that Washington's offense, ranked 26th in the league, almost certainly can't go any lower. The Redskins haven't scored more than 18 points in a game this season, one of the feeblest periods of offense in franchise history. Ramsey is replacing Mark Brunell, the worst quarterback -- statistically -- in the NFL. Even if Ramsey shows rust in his 17th NFL start, his cannon arm should help Washington's offense get the ball downfield more. With cornerbacks Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent departing via free agency last offseason, Philadelphia's defensive backfield is younger, and Washington's receivers will have an edge. The Redskins turned to Ramsey to see if he could jump-start the sputtering offense. There's little doubt Ramsey will help improve on Washington's average of 272.1 yards per game. And the third-down conversion rate can't go much lower. Still, the Redskins want Ramsey to emulate Brunell's poise and savvy. Ramsey's bombs won't make a difference unless the third-year quarterback keeps turnovers to a minimum. Against Philadelphia's blitzes, Ramsey will be forced to overcome his weaknesses by releasing the ball quickly and finding the open receiver.

Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey, left, gets his first start of the season today against Philadelphia.