We won’t have Mark Brunell to kick around anymore.
It seemed clear that this would be the case on the first day of free agency when Todd Collins signed on to return as the Washington Redskins’ backup quarterback. It became official on Thursday when Brunell signed a contract with the New Orleans Saints.
Brunell was the first player that Joe Gibbs went after when the Hall of Famer returned to coaching the Redskins. Many will say that that first decision doomed Gibbs’ second run as coach to mediocrity.
The view here is that Gibbs’ unwillingness to take chances—crossing the line from coaching conservatively to coaching scared—was the main issue that led to the 30-34 record from 2004-2007.
There are those who will argue that Brunell’s game, mainly his lack of arm strength, forced Gibbs to play things close to the vest. It’s really a chicken-or-egg argument and I can see that side of it.
Brunell did have his moments. In the second game of the 2005 season the Redskins were down 13-0 midway through the fourth quarter and looking horrible offensively. Like a bolt out of the blue, Brunell cranked out two touchdown bombs to Santana Moss, both deadly accurate thrown made without much margin for error.
But in between the high points there were way too many dump offs to a back on third and eight, way too many passes thrown to a cheerleader when there seemed to be plenty of time to continue to scan for a receiver.
They don’t do approval polls for quarterbacks, but if they did it’s likely that we would have found that, for most of his career in Washington, Brunell’s would have matched that of other Washington residents such as W or the members of Congress.
Through it all, though, Brunell remained a class act. He cheerfully answered questions through two benchings and a demotion to third string. No teammate ever had a bad thing to say about him either publicly or off the record.
I wish him well.