Two months ago, during Redskins training camp, Mark Brunell talked about the team's "high expectations" for the 2006 season. But, after six games, Brunell and the Redskins are a surprising 2-4 and facing a difficult road game against the undefeated Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Perhaps looking to set a tone for the week of practice, Brunell said on Wednesday that the Redskins are "at a must-win stage of the season."
"We need a win," he said. "We're 2-4 and certainly we're not where we thought we would be. Hope is not lost. We have an opportunity this week to face a very good team and hopefully come away with a win.
"We have a tough game against one of the best teams in the NFL right now. Certainly it's a big challenge."
His remark that the Redskins are "at a must-win stage" drew the attention of reporters.
"It's a must-win, because we lost last week," he said. "So now we're at 2-4 and we have to win one. It would be good for our hopes down the road and would be good for this football team right now."
As quarterback, Brunell is obviously the focal point of the Redskins' offense. His season has been one of ups and downs.
He struggled along with the Redskins' offense in the first two games of the season, both losses.
After facing a week of criticism from media for his play, Brunell went out in Week 3 and set an NFL record by completing 22 consecutive passes in a 31-15 win against the Houston Texans. Then, Brunell helped guide the Redskins to a 36-30 overtime victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After losses to the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans the last two weeks, Brunell is back under the microscope. He completed 6-of-7 passes on the Redskins first two offensive drives against Tennessee, producing touchdowns, but he was 10-of-23 the rest of the way, including incomplete passes on his last six throws of the game.
Overall, Brunell has completed 105-of-169 passes, a 62.1 completion percentage, for 1,239 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. His QB rating is 86.9.
Regarding the offense, Brunell said: "There are a lot of things we go into each game with the mindset of doing. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to do everything we've wanted to do. We've had moments. We've had good halves. We've had big quarters. We've had big plays.
"We just need some consistency. It starts with the run and hopefully that opens up the passing game. But we have had a couple games where we have shown exactly what we want to be."
To turn their season around, Brunell said the Redskins would try to draw on last year's success, when the team reeled off five consecutive wins in December and January to earn a playoff berth.
"We're in the same situation now, but it's earlier," Brunell said. "So we'll find out about the character of this team, I think. It's another opportunity to display what we're made of. Hopefully we're made of all the right things and we can get this turned around."
How does the team stay together through this tough time?
"You do what you've been doing," Brunell replied. "You work hard and you maintain a positive attitude. It's not easy to do right now, obviously. But we have guys in that locker room who will stick together and work hard."