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2006 Redskins Training Camp Myths

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Old 08-11-2006, 08:12 AM   #1
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2006 Redskins Training Camp Myths

The torturous hiatus from football that each calendar year forces upon has faded away, and it’s nearly football time again for all of Redskins Nation. With training camp now in full swing, there are more fans in Redskins jerseys walking around Washington-area towns and neighborhood than there are Bengals in the Hamilton County Jail. For those teams not coached by Mike Nolan, training camp is a time for optimism and hope for the season ahead. But it is also a time where the sanguine atmosphere of a new season can lead one to believe the hype, no matter how unfounded.

Part of it is human nature, really. All of us like to hear nice things said about our teams, and we all have a gullible streak when it comes to compliments. But if one could truly separate himself from the euphoria that is football season, it would become apparent that not all that glitters in August is truly gold in November. It is for this reason that I have taken it upon myself to iron out a few of the most common misconceptions surrounding the 2006-07 Washington Redskins.

Myth #1: Mark Brunell is the most important player on the Redskins Offense.

I’ll admit that this seems quite true on the surface, but that is mainly because the quarterback is a critical part of every NFL team, and in that respect Redskins are certainly no different. There is also valid concern that the backup, whether it is the inexperienced Jason Campbell or the unknown in Todd Collins, will be a significant drop-off from a healthy Brunell. But the most important players on the Redskins offense are Santana Moss and Clinton Portis, not Brunell.

Without Moss, the Redskins passing attack would suffer, thus increasing the load on Brunell. Even taking into account the impact that newcomers Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El will have, and the receiving threat Chris Cooley has become, Santana Moss is the man that assures that none of those three will be the primary focus of opposing defenses. Facing double and sometimes triple-teams, Moss nearly made legitimate threats out of the likes of Jimmy Ferris and Taylor Jacobs, so imagine what he’ll do when Lloyd or the versatile Randle El lines up opposite him.

Take Clinton Portis away from the offense, and the attack becomes rather one-dimensional, which also places increased stress on Mark Brunell’s already taxing task. All of the sudden, that extra defender drops back, or blitzes in a creative manner, and the passing attack takes a hit. Teams have to plan for Portis, and that only opens things up for the rest of the offense.

Myth #2: Ladell Betts should be counted on to contribute more to the offense.

Everyone raised an eyebrow when offensive guru Al Saunders commented on what he considered to be the surprising talent the Redskins second-stringer displayed. Noting that he knew Betts was good, but he didn’t know how good until he saw him in person, is not the glowing praise it might appear to be. To be pleasantly surprised by someone in anything, one must first have a fairly low expectation of that person. Since Saunders knows football like Ray Lewis knows murder, his presumed limited expectation of Betts’ talent is justified, however the thought that Betts is an underutilized force is overblown.

Everyone who has so much as had a hot dog at FedEx Field knows that Betts, barring injury, has a better chance of starting at off guard for the Mystics than he does of starting at halfback for the Redskins, if for no other reason that the fact that he plays behind Portis. Spelling him for a play, or even the occasional series, is about as far as Betts can safely reach without exceeding his grasp.

It isn’t a tremendous feat for a professional football player to look good in summer workouts. Recall that around this same time in 2005, there were several references made by Joe Gibbs and others referring to the improvement that Taylor Jacobs had made, as well as the mysterious “flash” that was running around Redskins Park as if he were in the ending a prototypical British comedy sketch. Both Jacobs, and the “flash” – which was most likely a reference to Willie Mays Hays in pads, Antonio Brown – proved themselves to be June phenomena, and his history says Betts, known for untimely injuries and not answering the bell, will play out to be the same.

Myth #3: There aren’t enough footballs to satisfy the Redskins new offensive threats.

This is a popular hook upon which the naysayers of the world can hang their hats. It basically refers to the now abundant talent on the offensive side of the ball for the Redskins, and how there won’t be enough touches to go around to keep everyone happy. What this doesn’t take into account is that the two new receivers, Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El, have never registered more than 50 catches in a season. While that fact belies their explosive potential, it also demonstrates that neither is accustomed to being the primary target, thus neither should be expected to suddenly demand to become the first option.

This also illustrates the irony surrounding the acquisition of Randle El. Many pointed out how princely a sum Washington paid to land a receiver with only seven career receiving touchdowns. ‘He only had 35 catches last season’, was the cry from the mountaintops, yet those same voices now seem to think that Randle El is going to demand the ball at every opportunity. Throwing logic to the wind is the only way that both sides of this ill-conceived criticism can exist.

Myth #4: The Redskins will miss LaVar Arrington in 2006.

What other chronically (for the last two seasons) injured player, who happens to be as ill-suited for the scheme as Bill Parcells is for a leotard, is coming off of a season in which he found himself benched because he couldn’t be trusted, and yet is still seen as a loss to his original team? The answer, of course, is no one, because no team would miss a player with those credentials. The Redskins aren’t planning to make any exceptions for the recently departed LaMartyr Arrington, who saw fit to broadcast his “plight” to anyone who would listen.

Not only will his production not be missed, but the constant distractions he provided will also give way to a blessed peace around RedskinsPark. Even now, in the media capital of the world, Arrington loves to lament on his days in D.C., never, however, mentioning the irony that he’s spent his summer learning a new defense, which was one of his primary complaints while in Washington, referring to the various coordinators he played under. So, LaMartyr, it will be nice to see you overrunning plays for General Tom Coughlin this season and no longer in the Burgundy and Gold.

Myth #5: Marvin Lewis is running a high-character program in Cincinnati.

All right, this has nothing to do with the Redskins, but nearly every Bengal this side of Ickey Woods has taken up residence in the local jail at some point during Lewis’ tenure, yet the media still strokes the Marvin Lewis image of high-character players as if Lewis were the conductor of the church choir. Listen, any time you gather a few dozen men between the ages of 22-30, there are going to be run-ins with the law. But the Bengal ratio makes the Baltimore Ravens look deserving of halos.

As the season approaches, the final roster will become more apparent, and months worth of optimism will come to fruition. News comes out left and right, but to keep your sanity, try to keep an objective mind, or, just keep checking in for your Redskins football fix.

Hail to the Redskins!




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