Scouts Inc. Redskins Training Camp Preview
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There is talk that Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey will fight for the job, but this probably is Brunell's job to lose. Brunell is aging, but is smart, has good leadership qualities and knows how to manage a game. Brunell's feet aren't what they once were, but he can still move around the pocket and buy time.
The blocking will be a lot better under Joe Bugel at least in terms of assignments and schemes. Brunell won't get hit as much as Ramsey did in 2003. This will be a power run offense that sets up the pass. If Brunell can hold up for 16 games, he can be very productive. Ramsey is a tough guy with excellent intelligence. He has a strong arm, and deserves some respect for hanging in the pocket when he was getting pummeled last season, but tends to hold onto the ball too long, taking unnecessary hits. At other times, he will force passes into tight coverage. But Ramsey's problems seem to revolve around poor protection and his discomfort in the pocket. He has an excellent future, and if he learns under Brunell, Ramsey can still be the face of this football team in future years. No. 3 Tim Hasselbeck did an excellent job a year ago with virtually no experience. He has adequate arm strength and cannot put balls into tight spots, but he has good mechanics, is smart, reads defenses well and is efficient. He could develop into a solid No. 2. No. 4 Gibran Hamdan has a strong arm but is not ready. He will probably wind up on the practice squad.
Joe Bugel will use a power-running game despite lacking a true power back. The Redskins gave up a lot for Clinton Portis. Portis has good speed, and will give this offense a rare big-play element. Portis has balance and vision. He can bounce it outside or cut back. He hits the hole with great explosiveness, and can turn a short run into a long one. He is surprising between the tackles because of his quickness and ability to plant, and he doesn't take a lot of solid hits. He is a potential three-down back because of his receiving skills. But can Portis hold up with a heavy workload? He is not a ball-control back, and Portis and the coaches must find a happy medium. No. 2 Ladell Betts has good quickness and reads blocks well. He is not a power back, but can bounce it outside. He has good receiving skills, is good in space and, like Portis, has some big-play potential. However, Betts is always nicked up and durability is a bit of a problem. No. 3 Chad Morton is a return specialist with excellent third-down qualities. He is versatile, has quickness and speed, and has surprising power. He is also an excellent receiver. These three backs give Washington a lot of options in their nickel packages, but they don't have a bruiser who can finish a game and control the clock. Rock Cartwright will likely be the team's only fullback. This offense runs a lot of one-back sets, and there is not a clear cut role for the position. Cartwright has good power, and could be used in short-yardage and goal-line situations. He can also contribute on special teams.
This unit has a chance to be outstanding. The best is Laveranues Coles, who is developing into one of the game's best. He has an excellent work ethic and has shown steady improvement. He can stretch the field, has tremendous speed, is outstanding at making yards after contact and after the catch. In addition, he is tough, knows how to separate, is explosive in and out of his cuts, and is really effective on crossing routes and hitches where he can use his speed to turn short catches into home runs. The Redskins will try to work the middle of the field and hit their receivers on the run, a perfect role for Coles. Likely No. 2 Rod Gardner is a big, physical possession receiver. He should be excellent over the middle on crossing routes, but isn't much after the catch. Gardner doesn't get great separation, and drops too many balls. He is an up-and-down player, and the Redskins haven't gotten enough big plays inside from him. But he is a big target in the red zone and should be a lot more effective vs. smaller DBs. The key to this unit might be how they perform in three-receiver sets. Slot receiver Darnerien McCants doesn't have explosive speed or acceleration, but looks brilliant at times. He knows how to get open and separate. He is good vs. tight man coverage and is especially effective in the red zone, scoring six TDs a year ago. McCants has good body control and will catch balls away from his body. Another No. 3 possiblity is James Thrash. Thrash is a straight-line speed guy. He is a leader who will work to finish his routes, he drops too many balls and has never lived up to expectations. Taylor Jacobs fought injuries last year and got off to a slow start. He has speed and athleticism but is still learning to handle press coverages and tight man schemes. He can get pushed around a lot and won't be effective until he learns to use his quickness to separate. Cliff Russell will compete for the No. 5 spot. Russell has excellent speed, but the Redskins have a lot more invested in Jacobs. The Redskins will use a lot of tight end sets with an H-back, using a variety of formations and motions to get good blocking schemes. The best blocker of the bunch is veteran Walter Rasby. Rasby isn't a good receiver, but is a good lead blocker in the run game, excelling in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Others in the mix are Brian Kozlowski, who has good all around skills as an H-back; Robert Royal who can play TE and H-back, but is not a good blocker; Fred Baxter, a good blocker for a TE; journeyman Mike Sellers; and 2004 fourth-rounder pick Chris Cooley, a solid receiver with H-back skills. The Redskins will try to develop four TEs to work a variety of roles, but this will be a tall order in training camp.
Joe Bugel should turn this unit into a strength after a disaster in 2003. The Redskins will change their blocking schemes and will be much more technically sound. Left tackle Chris Samuels is coming off an off year, but he was often injured and played through pain. He has excellent athletic ability and feet, long arms and good power. He can push defenders past the pocket. He has problems with speed rushers, but has tremendous skills and should be a perennial Pro Bowl candidate. He seemed to have mental lapses a year ago and would give up plays despite his athleticism. Samuels will be a Bugel pet project. Right tackle Jon Jansen is the ultimate power player, a short-area lock-on guy. He is tough to get around but has added responsibility this year -- he must block left-handed QB Mark Brunell's blind side. Jansen doesn't have the athleticism or range to be on an island, so this might make for big adjustments. Brandon Winey should be the No. 3 tackle. He has size, plays with leverage and has shown good toughness. Winey can also play at center. He has good movement skills, power and the coaches seem comfortable with him. Rookie tackles Mark Wilson and Jim Molinaro are developmental projects and neither should figure in the 2004 mix. Left guard Derrick Dockery should start. He is big and strong and is a short-area lock-on guy, but has poor quickness and doesn't always get off the ball with explosiveness. His footwork must improve. He has gotten better in pass protection, but is still bothered by quick inside penetrators. Playing more zone blocking schemes should help. Right guard Randy Thomas might be the best player on this line. He is excellent at the point of attack and is the Redskins' best blocker. He holds his own vs. power players, is steady and rarely makes mistakes. Thomas has excellent balance and is an excellent technician. There will be an excellent battle for the job in the middle between Cory Ramer and undersized Lennie Friedman. Friedman is a good technician who uses excellent angles. Friedman gets good position, can get to the second level and plays under control. Ramer is the same kind of player. He is smart, utilizes angles, knows how to chip, does an excellent job of helping his offensive guards and is rarely out of position. The best scenario would probably be for Ramer to start at center, which would allow Friedman to compete with Dockery at left guard. This group will improve, but there is not much depth here.
This was team's weakest unit in 2003, and it might not be much better in 2004. This defense generated only 27 sacks a year ago, and the front four will do little to create big plays. Left end Renaldo Wynn is somewhat undersized but gives great effort. He is tough to keep blocked, but lacks pass-rush skills and can be overpowered. Right end Phillip Daniels is a solid run defender who will hold his own at the point of attack, but also lacks pass-rush skills. He is not explosive and is more of a push-the-pile, read-and-react guy. The No. 3 end will be veteran Regan Upshaw. He has an excellent motor and is very aggressive but is not an accomplished pass rusher. The starting tackles will likely be Cornelius Griffin (left) and Jermaine Haley (right). Griffin is a good run stuffer who shows some one-gap explosiveness. He will play the three technique in this defense but is inconsistent and tends to wear down.
Haley is a big guy who gives good effort. He will play nose tackle and be required to eat up blockers and take up space. He is a good run defender but can't penetrate in a pass rush. Brandon Noble is interesting. He missed 2003 because of a knee injury, but the coaches would like Noble to start at NT and move Haley to a backup role. Noble is active, can eat up blockers in space, controls the inside and allows his linebackers to make plays, despite his average athleticism. He is tenacious and works hard to finish blocks.
Weakside linebacker LaVar Arrington is a great talent who can make plays all over the field. He will be in a better situation at weakside OLB, where he play in space and get away from blocking or holding up the tight end. Arrington can blitz or cover receivers. He is explosive, can beat one-on-one blockers and can make plays from either sideline. But he is undisciplined, freelances a lot and is inconsistent. On the strong side is Marcus Washington. Washington has 18 sacks over his last four years, and will line up over the TE. Washington has speed, range and is a very good blitzer. Micheal Barrow is 35 but can still be very effective. Barrow is consistent and can step up and fill. He has excellent instincts, but is a liability in coverage and lacks range outside. Backup MLB Kevin Mitchell played well a year ago. He is physical vs. the run and is a sound technician. He appears good enough to start for this defense. At the very least, he will push Barrow in training camp. The key backup on the perimeter is Antonio Pierce, a smart space guy who knows how to slip blocks. Pierce makes plays on the move and has good cover skills. This unit lacks depth, and there will be tremendous pressure on Arrington and Washington to become excellent pass rushers and blitzers.
With a poor pass rush and a blitz-heavy scheme, the Redskins must put their corners on an island a lot in man-to-man coverages. Right corner Fred Smoot doesn't have great size, but he is a cocky, confident player. He has excellent speed, and his cover skills make up for his lacking run-support skills. He struggles vs. big, physical receivers, but can turn and run with just about anybody. But asking him to move from No. 2 corner (replacing Champ Bailey) to No. 1 might be asking too much. No. 2 CB Shawn Springs is constantly banged up. He has lost some of his cover skills, and it doesn't look like he'll play in 16 games. He has good size, and flashes decent man-coverage skills. He is smart and efficient, but he is no longer a big-play guy who can take out quality receivers. 2004 first-rounder Sean Taylor will be the starting free safety. Taylor is big, fast and tremendously strong. He was a tremendous playmaker in college. He can cover ground in zone or man-to-man. Taylor must play center field and help out in a variety of double coverages and his cover skills will be critical. The coaching staff would like to Matt Bowen to win the starting strong safety gig. Bowen has speed and range. He is a big hitter and is a natural at strong safety. Bowen will battle projected starter Ifeanyi Ohalete. Ohalete is a big hitter who is excellent vs. the run and is good in the box. Ohalete lacks cover skills and can't handle wide receivers and backs. The No. 3 corner will likely be Rashad Bauman. He should be fairly effective in the slot. Veterans Ralph Brown and Walt Harris aren't premier cover guys, but they are savvy and should provide stability and consistency in nickel and dime packages.
Kicker John Hall has a strong leg and is excellent on long field goals. He is really effective on kickoffs, providing distance and hang time, and his leg strength helps cover teams get good position. Punter Tom Tupa is aging. He no longer has an overly strong leg, but still has a little pop and is solid and dependable. The return game is in great shape. Chad Morton is one of the best in the business with excellent burst and speed. Morton knows how to read blocks. When he sees a hole, he can hit it and go.
Cory Raymer, not Ramer
Thanks for the info smootsmack.
Overall pretty accurate, but I'm kinda suprised they have Springs as the #2 CB.
Cooley was a 3rd rounder, not 4th.
Russell compete for the 5th WR spot? Somehow I don't see that happening.
Saying someone will "compete for the 5th WR spot" is a polite way of saying that he has a shot at making the team but that even if he does, he is not likely to get his uniform dirty. That is the sports reporting version of politically correct writing.
It might hurt Russell's feelings if someone wrote that he hasn't shown a thing as a wide receiver in his entire pro career because he can't catch a cold. We wouldn't want to hurt his feelings now...
I don't even see the need to mention Russell in the article at all.
so ohalete is being projected as the starter? i thought bowen was.
Bowen, Iffy, does it really matter?
yeah, iffy has more upside than bowen
[QUOTE=Big C]so ohalete is being projected as the starter? i thought bowen was.[/QUOTE]
same here. Bowen is a much more natural fit in the strong safety slot. I'd like to see if he was worth the pick we traded for him now that he'll finally be playing in his normal position.
anyone else think cloman will finally get a roster spot this year? russels gonna be gone unless he's made remarkable improvements catching the ball, but I think Cloman and Standeford r gonna have a heck of a fight for that fifth wr spot.
Russel should have the advantage over them, having his speed, but he does really suck at catching.
I think this year is cloman's chance to shine with Gardner not being the reliable reciever he should be at this stage in his career and cloman could fill the big man with some speed role that Gardner might vacate next year if not resigned. and if Standeford plays like he did at Purdue the past 4 years I believe, he could be a very cheap yet solid addition to the wr group.
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