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Washington Redskins

Although 2004 was understandably a learning year for head coach Joe Gibbs and his staff, you get the feeling they will make the necessary adjustments heading into the 2005 season. They still will utilize a lot of one-back and two-TE sets with motion and also will use their TE's on a lot of blocking schemes, but they will change a little bit of their run game philosophy with Clinton Portis.

Portis really struggled to run the Redskins' traditional "counter trey" a year ago, because it requires a lot of patience on the part of the running back to give it time to develop. Portis is a speed back who likes to hit the hole on the run, and patience is not his strength. For a guy who has explosiveness and big-play capabilities, he only averaged 3.8 yards a carry. That's not good enough, and we will see the Redskins utilize more stretch plays and straight-ahead running plays in order to maximize his skills.

The Redskins have a new offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave, a proponent of the West Coast offense, and he will use a fairly safe, conservative passing game to move the chains. The challenge for the Redskins, though, will be that they may again be forced to use a lot of max-protection schemes like they did a year ago to protect QB Patrick Ramsey, and that limits their ability to spread the field. Also, their receivers are small and not very physical, and they will struggle vs. press coverages, so we may see a lot more motion and shifting of their WR's in an effort to get away from the jam.

This is an offense that needs to run the football to let the defense rest and to play smarter than it did a year ago, when Washington was the most penalized team in the NFL. We will see fewer counter-trey and trap plays, but there is a lot of work to be done in training camp.

Defensively, coordinator Gregg Williams did a tremendous job a year ago with only average personnel. He utilized a philosophy that emphasized blitzes from all over the field and also did a lot of pre-snap shifting along the defensive line to confuse offensive blocking schemes. After the snap, the team played a lot of one-gap penetrating techniques. The end result was a defensive line that played much better than its talent level indicated.

In the secondary, the Redskins will play a lot of Cover-1 schemes and will blitz their corners off the edge more than you might think to try to bring pressure.

This defensive unit should be good again, especially if the offense can control the clock. The pressure will be on offensive coordinator Musgrave to make the offense more efficient and accomplish that.

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