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FFM on 'Skins -- 6/23/03


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http://www.ffmastermind.com/2003/offseason/reports/eye145.shtml

PUTTING THE "FUN" BACK IN THE FUN 'N' GUN?

Last year the Redskins drafted Patrick Ramsey in the first round. He is their QB of the future - the "Gun" in their Fun 'N' Gun offense. But last year, Steve Spurrier didn't have any "Fun" - he did not have the speedy receivers he thinks he needs for the Fun 'N' Gun to be successful. (He also didn't have good enough offensive linemen to give his QBs adequate protection.) The Redskins spent this past off-season trying to put the "Fun" back in to the Fun 'N' Gun, by adding talented wide receivers and offensive linemen to their offense.

At the top of the list are two ex-Jets.

New WR Laveranues Coles was hailed by The Sporting News as the "Best free-agent acquisition (offense)" in TSN's recent Pro Football 2003 season preview issue. Coles will be the primary deep threat for the Redskins, and his ability to get deep should open up the middle of the field for WR Rod Gardner.

New Guard Randy Thomas is part of a substantial upgrade of the Redskins' offensive line. Thomas will start at Right Guard and is a great pass-blocker as well as run-blocker. He'll be teamed with Right Tackle Jon Jansen to give the Redskins an excellent right side of the line.

Other additions that should help put the "Fun" back in the offense for Spurrier:

· Rookie WR Taylor Jacobs was drafted with the Redskins' second round pick. Spurrier considers Jacobs, another one of his former Gator receivers, to be a first-round talent and Jacobs is expected to become the Redskins' #3 WR almost immediately.

· Speedy WR Patrick Johnson was also added in the off-season. He'll compete with Jacobs, Darnerian McCants, and sophomore speedster Cliff Russell for the No. 3 and No. 4 spots in the Redskins' receiver rotation. Johnson has been disappointing for most of his NFL career but has the speed and talent to be successful in this offense, if he can step his game up a notch and grab some playing time.

· Guard Dave Fiore was signed away from the 49ers. Fiore is a talented player who will be the Redskins' starter at Left Guard if he's healthy. (Fiore also can play center and could eventually replace solid-but-unspectacular Larry Moore at Center.)

· Guard Derrick Dockery was added in the 3rd round of the draft. The Redskins consider him a first round talent, and he could eventually start at Guard for the Redskins. He is massive, but he may lack the athleticism to handle the pass-blocking duties in this offense.

· Speedy running backs Trung Canidate and Chad Morton were added to compete with incumbents Ladell Betts and Kenny Watson. Canidate is expected to be the primary running back because Spurrier loves his speed. Canidate has some other holes in his game, though, so Betts and Watson have a chance to move ahead of Canidate at some point. Also, Betts or Watson are both much better inside runners than Canidate, so one of them will probably be the main short-yardage runner. Chad Morton is primarily a kick returner but Spurrier reportedly will also try to work Morton into the offense for a few plays each.

The early reports out of mini-camp have been encouraging. Taylor Jacobs is reportedly looking very good already, further contributing to hype that Jacobs will move up the NFL learning curve faster than most rookies because he already knows the offense. To me, Jacobs looks like he could be a decent No. 3 receiver for the Redskins this year, but I seriously doubt he'll take over one of the top 2 spots this year, which is what some people have projected for Jacobs.

Patrick Ramsey is also reportedly looking much better than last year in the early mini-camps. His knowledge of the offense is clearly better than last year (when he missed part of training camp in a hold out and got limited snaps even when he did practice with the team while Spurrier evaluated Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel, and Sage Rosenfels). Ramsey also has better weapons this year, especially with Laveranues Coles and Taylor Jacobs added to his options at receiver, and with Rod Gardner knowing the offense better with a year of experience in it.

The big question for the Redskins is: how fast can all the new pieces on offense come together and develop enough chemistry to be successful? Ramsey needs to get used to Coles and Jacobs as his new #1 and #3 receivers and develop timing with them. The offensive line needs to learn to play together. The new running backs (Canidate and Morton) need to be integrated into the offense, and collectively the Redskins have to find someone to replace Stephen Davis's inside running for short yardage situations.

Last year the Redskins had enough "experience" and their problems stemmed mainly from not having enough talent, especially at QB and WR (where former Gators Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel, Jacquez Green, Chris Doering, and Reidel Anthony knew the Fun 'N' Gun well, but the QBs had weak arms and the receivers could not get open consistently). This year, it's the opposite: there is enough talent at QB and WR, but Ramsey is inexperienced as an NFL QB and is still learning the offense, Coles is trying to learn the offense quickly, Jacobs is trying to adjust quickly to the NFL, and two new speedy running backs are trying to learn the offense. The key offensive players might not have enough experience in this offense together and that could mean a disappointing year for the Redskins.

One other thing to keep an eye on - the Redskins' defense will probably be worse this year. They lost star defensive lineman Daryl Gardener in free agency, and it appears their defensive line will be a weakness. They also lost defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. With the defense likely to be worse, the Redskins might lose a lot of close games. That will put additional pressure on Ramsey, since Coach Steve Spurrier hates to lose and is much more likely to make a Quarterback change if the team is losing. We may not have seen the last of the Quarterback Merry-Go-Round in Washington.

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Nice piece, but it goes from seeming overly positive to ending on some down notes. Once we get past about week five, I think the offense will be rolling and everybody will be comfortable with the scheme.

Thanks, good find!

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Good stuff, nice article. Like MAP, I find it interesting that it seems like the author is applauding everything we did in the off-season, then just drops bombs on us:

One other thing to keep an eye on - the Redskins' defense will probably be worse this year. They lost star defensive lineman Daryl Gardener in free agency, and it appears their defensive line will be a weakness. They also lost defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. With the defense likely to be worse, the Redskins might lose a lot of close games. That will put additional pressure on Ramsey, since Coach Steve Spurrier hates to lose and is much more likely to make a Quarterback change if the team is losing. We may not have seen the last of the Quarterback Merry-Go-Round in Washington.

I guess that they have to list the pro's and con's of each team, I'm interested to see if they did the same with all the other teams.

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The Redskins defensive line is considered subpar strictly because we don't have a sexy edge rusher at DE.

The fact we have a solid run stopping line and linebackers with great speed to rush has seemingly escaped notice.

The other thing is Lewis didn't MAKE this defense good. The Redskins have had a top 10-12 defense under Ray Rhodes, Marty Schottenheimer and Lewis the past three seasons.

Each benefitted from inheriting some great talent, although not at DE.

The corners have been solid, the linebackers are athletic and the DT's inside have enough size to stop the run.

Those to me are the ingredients of a good defense. Maybe not a great defense, but certainly one that can compete.

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OK OK, We know are D-line is lacking a some puss rushing abilties. But WE did add NOBLE, Haiely, and Upshaw.. But even still we get ragged about it. What about the fact that we have 3 WHIP ASS LB's. LB's Can make up for lack of a DL. And Plus i think this year The Skins might have the best D they've had in 10 years against the RUN. And i'd rather have A DL stop the run all day, then sack the QB. Cause if they have the lead what do they need to pass for anyway. I am sick of seeing a team up by a little just run all over the skins late in the game. Quick Stat top 10 Run Defnse went 97-61-1 8 out of 10 had winning records 6 out of 10 went to the playoffs 2 went to the Super Bowl

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I agree with the article. First off, Wynn showed no pass rush last year. Noble is fine, but DG was a beast last year. I dn't think anyone expects Noble to have anything like the year DG had.

And as for Upshaw thats a question mark. Sure he's intense but why do we have reason to believe he will have a great year? I really think we lack pass rush. And while we all seem to like Edwards, he IS unporven. I'm not saying the line is awful, but we could struggle putting pressure on the QB.

If I was an outsider, I would be skeptical too...

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facts:

1. Noble is a good run stopper. He has been the past couple of years in Dallas.

2. Wilkinson CAN provide an inside push IF the scheme allows him to do so. He had 8 sacks twice in a season from the DT spot, and that is something people forget easily when evaluating the Redskins line. In 2001 he was the best DL on the team.

3. Regan Upshaw had 14.5 sacks in two years in Tampa before going to Oakland. Who says the guy can't rush the passer? He may not be a 15 sack monster, but was on IR for most of last season and thus didn't get a chance to put up any numbers at all.

4. Bruce Smith remains an effective rushman. Yes, we all know he tailed off vs. the run and is now down to 260. But he has posted 10, 7 and 9 sacks in 3 years with the club. If he were 10 years younger the critics would say we had a genuine pass rush threat on the outside at RDE :)

5. Wynn is not a pass rush fiend. But playing on a bad wheel that needed postseason surgery, it is easier to understand how Renaldo failed to reach the kinds of numbers he did in Jacksonville, 6 or 7 sacks. When healthy you are going to get 6 or 7 sacks out of him and he is going to shut down the run on the left side. sounds like pretty good production to me :)

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the question to be answered is the depth at defensive line. Not whether Gardener stayed or not. The coach is using the exact same system from last year, with numerous players familiar with it, even if they weren't there. Add to that, Trotter's return and that comment on defense won't hold water.

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