Passing Not Fancy--Air Game Needs Work

Passing Not Fancy--Air Game Needs Work

Patrick Ramsey is still having difficulty grasping and executing some of the finer points of playing quarterback in the NFL. While there's still time for him to improve, it's rapidly slipping away with just four weeks to go before the season opener.

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Audio Clips from Ramsey post game at end of article

On his first pass of the game, Patrick Ramsey threw the kind of pass that the Redskins used a lot last year, a short down and out pattern to James Thrash. No defender was within five yards of Thrash, but Ramsey's pass made Thrash lunge for the ball and the receiver stumbled to the ground in the process of catching it for a five-yard gain. A properly thrown ball would have allowed Thrash to make the catch in stride and turn upfield for a few more yards. Instead of second and one or two it's second and five.

On his second pass, Ramsey took a seven-step drop and then, as the defensive ends started to converge on him, he stepped up into the pocket a couple of steps and launched a pass intended for Santana Moss, who had a step on a post route. Perhaps spooked by the safety who was coming in to provide deep help, Ramsey tossed the ball up for grabs, making a tentative heave that had INT written all over it the second it left his hand.

On his third pass, on third and five, he threw a four-yard completion to Santana Moss and the Redskins had to punt. Moss just ran straight to a spot, stopped, and turned for Ramsey's pass. Certainly Moss stopped short of the first down marker and he should be faulted for that but Ramsey needs to know where that marker is. Even given where Moss was positioned, a throw that led Moss to the inside just a shade would have allowed the receiver to run for a couple of additional yards to keep the drive alive.

One more pass illustrates what's wrong here. On third and three at the Carolina 14, Betts circled out of the backfield and cut into the middle. He was wide open about 10 yards downfield, but he had to jump to catch the ball and he was tackled almost immediately. If Ramsey had hit Betts in stride, it appeared that the back had a chance to pick up some major yardage. It was still a positive play, a third-down conversion and a 15-yard gain, but the result was less than it should have been.

Ramsey, playing almost the entire first half, finished the day 8-12 passing for 77 yards and the one interception. Those aren't horrible stats for a half of play with Clinton Portis playing just one series and his backup Ladell Betts playing just the next few series, but the plays that made up those stats were even less impressive than the numbers considered in total.

These are all subtle little things here, a couple of feet here, a shade off target there, a slight error in judgemet thrown in occasionally. However, they are the kinds of throws and decisions that you expect an NFL quarterback going into his fourth season to be able to make. In none of the passes described above did Ramsey have any significant pass pressure, he was just a shade off. Good quarterbacks, we're not talking stars, just solid, competent QB's, make those throws with regularity. They can be the difference between an offense that clicks and moves the chains and puts up points and one that sputters and stumbles and puts up 15 points a game.

As the game progressed, Ramsey did make some nice throws like a pass on a sideline pattern by Davis Patten for an 1-yard gain, but it's fair to say that such throws were the exception rather than the rule for the night.

All is not lost for Ramsey or for the Redskins. Even if he improves only a little bit, the Washington defense and running game could be enough to carry the team this year. There are four weeks to go before the season opener against Chicago and Ramsey will have time to practice those throws and perhaps put a finer point on them. Remember, however, that this team has been going through the paces in the passing game for a few months in minicamp and the other organized workouts. Sure it's not the same as full speed, full contact football, but it's not like Ramsey has any excuse for being rusty or anything. He's been the first-team quarterback the entire time and has had plenty of throws, plenty of chances to hone in on his targets and make accurate throws.

Again, there's still time but the prospects for Ramsey having a breakout year like Drew Brees did last year don't seem very bright.

Ramsey talks about the interception: Audio

He says he's comfortable. . . Audio

. . .but disappointed. . . Audio

. . .but not discouraged. Audio

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