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Seven Years After Green, QB Plan In Place

When the Redskins walk onto Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City on Sunday, the team's quarterbacks of the past, present and future will be on hand.

Mark Brunell has emerged as the Redskins' starting quarterback and he has been performing at a high level since officially taking over the reins in Week 2. Patrick Ramsey remains in the picture and will be called on should Brunell get injured.

With Brunell at age 35, rookie quarterback Jason Campbell is waiting in the wings. As the Redskins' second of two first-round draft picks last April--Campbell was the 25th overall pick out of Auburn--he is perhaps the quarterback of the long-term future for the team.

In the days leading up to the Redskins' game against the Chiefs, there has been talk about quarterback Trent Green and his departure from Washington as a free agent in 1998.

What would have happened if the Redskins had re-signed Green that offseason? No one can know the answer, of course, but it's safe to say the franchise would be different had the team committed to Green for 1999 and beyond.

A little background: Green played for the Redskins from 1995-98, serving mostly as a backup until his last season when he started 14 games and completed 278-of-509 passes for 3,441 yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In his last nine games with the Redskins, he threw for 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Following the 1998 season, Green became an unrestricted free agent. The Redskins franchise underwent an ownership change, making negotiations for Green's services difficult. How could the team commit top dollar to a player if it didn't even have an ownership plan in place? Green opted to sign with the St. Louis Rams. Two years later, he moved across the state of Missouri to play for Kansas City.

Green, now 35, has flourished in Kansas City, cementing himself as the team's starter since 2001. The 6-3, 217-pounder has thrown for more than 17,000 yards and 94 touchdowns in the last four years as the Chiefs' starting quarterback.

Meanwhile, the Redskins acquired Brad Johnson from Minnesota. Johnson led the Redskins to the playoffs in 1999 and had a Pro Bowl season, passing for 24 touchdowns and more than 4,000 yards. That was the last time a quarterback started all 16 games in a season for the Redskins.

Since then, the team has had a long list of quarterbacks: Johnson, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Kent Graham, Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerrfel, Ramsey and Tim Hasselbeck.

Even Green wonders what would have happened if he had stayed.

"I ask myself, 'What direction would have things gone in?'" Green told Washington, D.C., reporters in a conference call last Wednesday.

Added Green: "I have a great deal of respect for [former Redskins head coach] Norv Turner. He gave me the opportunity to play. Basically, Norv and [former Redskins assistant coach, current Rams head coach] Mike Martz taught me the system. I grew up in the system those years that I was in Washington. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if we all had been able to stay."

Dick Vermeil, now the head coach of the Chiefs, was the Rams' head coach when Green signed with St. Louis in 1999. Martz was then an assistant under Vermeil.

What attracted Vermeil to sign Green?

"I thought he was a guy who ran the machine well," Vermeil said. "He was a good driver. He utilized the talent around him. He functioned well within the system. Mike Martz had coached him some with the Redskins and he liked him. He was available, so we took a shot on him. In many ways, he has exceeded expectations."

Green has also earned Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs' respect.

"You can tell that he is very smart, very sharp and seasoned," Gibbs said. "He has been around a long time and gets rid of the ball quick. It's hard to find a quarterback of his size who sees the field real well. Their offensive stats speak for themselves and he is running the show for them."

Seven years after Green departed, it appears the Redskins finally have a short- and long-term plan at the quarterback position.

When Gibbs returned prior to the 2004 season, he recognized that the team needed to solidify the position. He acquired Brunell in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Brunell struggled through the first nine games of 2004 and Ramsey stepped in as his replacement.

Ramsey appeared set to be the team's starter this season. Gibbs elected to go with Brunell prior to the Week 2 game at Dallas and the 14-year veteran has returned to Pro Bowl form, completing 78-of-137 passes for 909 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions so far this season. He has also surprised with his mobility, rushing for 66 yards.

Brunell is playing because he gives the Redskins the best chance to win right now. Ramsey's long-term future in Washington is uncertain, but he has value as a backup since he has experience playing in Gibbs' offense. It's not out of the question that he could re-emerge later this season.

In the meantime, Campbell has quietly assumed the role as the team's quarterback of the future.

The 6-4, 230-pounder finished his collegiate career at Auburn completing 64.6 percent of his passes for 7,299 yards, 45 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He was also an effective runner from the quarterback position, rushing for eight touchdowns during his collegiate career.

"We've made a big investment in Jason, and it's going to be fun to watch him develop," Gibbs said. "We're talking about a young quarterback who excelled in college and high school."

Added Campbell: "My main focus has been to stay focused and keep working hard. Coming in here with Patrick and Mark has helped me learn and be able to see what they see. I think it would be harder to come into a situation where the QBs in front of you had not played much. They help me because they have been here and playing in games."

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