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Steve Spurrier learned his lesson. He tried to reunite his old Florida Gators offenses in the NFL, putting his former college players in key offensive roles. It didn't work. Nor did much else he tried as the Redskins needed to win their final two games in his rookie season just to finish 7-9.

The swagger his offenses once had vanished, replaced by reality. In college, systems rule. In the NFL, it's the players who matter. "What we learned is that we needed better players," Spurrier said. "If you're struggling -- and 7-9 is struggling -- then you need to get better players or coaches. (Owner Dan) Snyder said we need to get better players, so we did. He did his part, so now it's up to us players and coaches to get the job done."

Spurrier wasn't the only person in the organization to have learned a lesson. Last time the Redskins went on a major offseason shopping spree, they ended up with big-name players at the end of their careers. This past offseason the Redskins opted for a different strategy, signing players who were just entering or close to their prime. They wanted speed on offense so they signed restricted free agent wide receiver Laveranues Coles and drafted wide receiver Taylor Jacobs, a former Gator who should pan out for Spurrier. They finally found a returner for punts and kickoffs. And they added two guards, shoring up a major hole.

"They can be as good as any group that's played here," Redskins offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said about the line. "(The Hogs) were one of the greatest groups, but I would hope that this group has a chance to get there. If they do, we'll be really good."

Problem is, they could be a year away from paying dividends. Washington still has a young quarterback and major questions along the defensive line where they lost DTs Daryl Gardener (free agency) and Dan Wilkinson (waived). The Redskins also must play much smarter if they want to contend for the playoffs; they had a combined 25 penalties in the first two preseason games.

The defense, ranked No. 5 overall in the league last season, has a new coordinator as George Edwards replaces Marvin Lewis. Edwards, the LB coach last year, is the team's fifth coordinator in five years.


Quarterbacks: At least there is a clear-cut starter. Patrick Ramsey is smart and tough and has a strong arm. But he has started only five games in the NFL, throwing nine touchdowns and eight interceptions last season, and is being asked to shoulder more of a burden than many young quarterbacks are. The game has slowed down considerably for him since the end of 2002, and Ramsey has all the tools to succeed. But it's hard to ignore the inexperience. Journeymen Rob Johnson and Danny Wuerffel will be the primary backups. Johnson's play in training camp improved when Wuerffel arrived in the second week. Johnson, though, still is learning the offense. Raw rookie Gibran Hamdan likely is bound for the practice squad. Grade: C-plus.

Running backs: The Redskins traded for Trung Canidate, hoping his speed would translate into big plays. He hasn't shown much this summer but remains the top back with Ladell Betts sidelined with an elbow injury. Canidate, an upright runner despite his slender frame, hasn't proven he can be an effective every-down back. Betts, who rushed for 214 yards in the last two games last season, is a better short-yardage runner. RS Chad Morton will often enter the game on third downs, using his shiftiness out of the backfield and reciving ability to hurt defenses. Versatile Kenny Watson, who rushed for 534 yards last season and is a good pass blocker, could be in trouble for a roster spot. Fullback Bryan Johnson, usually sure-handed, has dropped a lot of passes this summer, but he's a solid blocker. Rock Cartwright will share time with Johnson. Grade: C.

Receivers: Coles, coming off an 89-catch season, gives them an intermediate threat, especially on Spurrier's favored crossing routes. In the preseason, Coles has been wide open a lot. Rod Gardner, coming off a 1,000-yard season, gives them a physical presence. Second-round pick Jacobs is fast and runs precise routes. Speedy second-year wide receiver Cliff Russell missed last season with a knee injury and has had nagging injuries in camp but will help if healthy. The Redskins will keep six receivers, with veteran Patrick Johnson -- if he makes the team -- likely to help more on special teams than from scrimmage. Third-year pro Darnerien McCants, hobbled by a hamstring injury in camp, is athletically gifted, but he hasn't proven he's ready to take the next step. Tight end Robert Royal will start among a mediocre group. Grade: B.

Offensive linemen: Right guard Randy Thomas and left guard Dave Fiore are athletic interior players with good pass-blocking skills, necessities in this offense. But Fiore, coming off a knee injury, must stay healthy. The tackles are solid: Left tackle Chris Samuels is the lone Pro Bowler in this group with two straight trips to Hawaii, and right tackle Jon Jansen is among the best at his position. Samuels struggled with injuries early last season but is healthy and has looked good this summer. Center Larry Moore, who sprained a knee in camp but should be ready for the opener, is adequate. Rookie Derrick Dockery is massive but still has too much to learn. Guard/center Lennie Friedman adds depth. Grade: B.


Defensive linemen: There were problems here before defensive tackle Brandon Noble, who excelled at the dirty work, suffered a season-ending injury. The indistinguished trio of Delbert Cowsette, Bernard Holsey and James Cannida will try to replace him. Jermaine Haley, who likely will start at the other tackle, is OK against the run. Nineteen-year veteran defensive end Bruce Smith, 3½2 sacks shy of breaking the NFL record, remains the team's best pass rusher. He will rest more than he has in the past. Defensive end Renaldo Wynn is adequate, but he's not a playmaker. He'll rush inside on third downs. Defensive end Regan Upshaw should help the rush, but his knee has limited him in camp. Peppi Zellner can play both defensive end spots. Defensive end Ladairis Jackson, coming off knee surgery, is quick but needs to get stronger. Grade: D.

Linebackers: They're the heart of the defense. Strong-side linebacker LaVar Arrington, entering his fourth year, is coming off two straight Pro Bowls. But he'll finally be used the way he likes, coming off the edge as a pass rusher and not lining up at end like last year. He still needs to pay more attention to the details of his position, however. Middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, coming off knee surgery, also is happier with his role as the team will allow him to attack gaps more like he did in Philadelphia. Weak-side linebacker Jessie Armstead had the steadiest season and hasn't showed signs of slowing down in camp. Kevin Mitchell provides depth in the middle and allows the team to use a 3-4 in some rush situations. Outside linebacker Antonio Pierce isn't the biggest or the fastest, but he's always in the right spot. Grade: B-plus.

Defensive backs: Champ Bailey remains one of the best corners in the league, capable of shutting down any receiver. Cornerback Fred Smoot played well as a rookie but was inconsistent last year. That led to more film study and weightlifting in the offseason. Free safety Matt Bowen, who signed as a restricted free agent, is a potential playmaker and vicious hitter with 4.4 speed. Strong safety David Terrell, coming off a tough season, hasn't improved and still takes too many bad angles to the ball, leading to big plays, but neither Ifeanyi Ohalete or Andre Lott has been able to unseat Terrell. Improved second-year cornerback Rashad Bauman likely will be the nickel back. Grade: B.

Special teams

The Redskins finally found a replacement for return specialist Brian Mitchell, who left after the 2000 season, in Morton, who will return punts and kicks as well as help the coverage units. The exciting Morton was second in the AFC in kickoff returns a year ago. Another former Jet, John Hall, should stabilize the kicking position; he's better than what they have had the past eight years and can kick off. Punter Bryan Barker was too inconsistent last year but had a good summer. The coverage units were a major problem a year ago and must improve greatly. Grade: C.

I think you got a raw deal in some of these positional breakdowns. They have the Skins WR's at a B, and the Eagles at a B-?

:twitch: I also think your OL should be rated higher. These don't mean anything anyway, but it's an interesting read nonetheless.

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Originally posted by Eagles_Legendz

If you read it two weeks ago, you must have telepathy or something. I wouldn't have posted it if those dates weren't at the top.

I think we are just getting used to the bashing here. Maybe that is why it looks so familiar, but as a famous person once said

That is why they play the games :cool:

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I think I've just figured out why the national press seems as a whole seems to have a sour disposition towards the Redskins.

Poor guy actually takes the time to look at the roster, then read some stuff written by other people and maybe change a word here or there lest he plagiarize too much and be caught, then WRITES the stuff, then gets it past his editor (not so hard - the guy is no doubt out trying to get a radio gig anyway) ... and THEN finds out that by the time it goes to print, THE DAMN TEAM HAS SIGNED TWO MORE DEFENSIVE TACKLES!

I'd be grouchy too.

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Spurrier's system is complicated, and most of the players are young and are still learning the offense. As soon as that light turns on. When Ramsey & company understand the offense like DW ... watch out!

that is one reason there have been so many stupid penalty & mistakes the first two preason games. Players were thinking about what they are supposed to do. But they are improving .. by mid season....:)

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