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Potential of Russell vs Gardner in Spurrier's O


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Everyone seems to expect Rod Gardner to have a big breakout year this year. I'm wondering if by the last four games Cliff Russell will be catching more balls per game than Gardner.

Here's my reasoning. Normally you'd have to favor the #1 pick 2nd year player (Gardner) over the #3 pick rookie Russell, who's known to be unpolished. But in this case the returning player doesn't have the benefit of knowing the offense any better than Russell. You also can't argue that Gardner "developed" during 2001, because his best game was Game 6 (Carolina win), and he had fewer catches in the 2nd half than the first half. Finally, based on physique, Russell seems a much better fit for Spurrier (much faster than Gardner). The main rap on Russell is that he's "unpolished" and drops some balls, but Gardner also drops balls and doesn't seem all that polished to me.

I do expect Spurrier to give Gardner the benefit of the doubt and pencil him in as #1 receiver, much like he did with Rosenfels at QB. To placate fans, he might even line up Gardner #1 or #2 for Game 1, even if he thought he didn't deserve it. (Then again, maybe he wouldn't.) But unlike Marty, I don't see Spurrier sticking by Gardner if he gets the dropsies again, or runs bad routes, especially if Russell is coming along fast.

So who will bet against me? My $5 says Russell catches more balls in the last four games than Gardner, assuming both players are healthy.

Geoff

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ATL, I'll take that bet. $5 says Gardner has more catches during the last four games of the regular season than Russell. While I would be very pleased if Russell works himself into the offense enough so that he is catching more balls than Gardner at the end of the year; But I don't think it's going to happen. You're on.

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while it is interesting to ponder the receivers, I think you are OBSSESSED by the subject. :laugh:

how without seeing Russell even in camp you can come to the conclusion that HE is going to present a clear threat to Gardner or indeed any of the other receivers ahead of him right now on the depth chart is beyond me.

that is like saying Reggie Coleman, taken #6, a player I like by the way :cheers: , is going to come in here and present an immediate challeng to Rod Jones at RG or Jon Jansen at RT.

It is just pure fantasy at this point.

Gardner is only a second year player but did finish with the most rookie receptions after Chris Chambers.

I can't believe that you can be objective about the horrendous quarterbacking and playcalling this team had last season and then say that Gardner will not progress because he didn't show any great consistency later on in the season.

Except for Davis, NO ONE DID.

Davis was productive because he depended on the OFFENSIVE LINE and not Tony Banks or Jimmy Raye.

If people are making arguments that Green and Anthony are going to be better players here because of Spurrier and a new system that is organized and well-run, why won't Gardner benefit from that as well?

A crossing pattern is a crossing pattern my friend. How and when it is thrown by the quarterback has a lot to do with whether the receiver catches it or not.

to make the argument that a 6'2 and 218 wide receiver with 4.5 speed is rendered useless because the team is going to use a shorter setup and quicker release from the quarterback is ridiculous.

If you go back and read Russell's bio it says he has flat speed but has developed little in the way of moves or sophistication to his game.

he runs straight down the field and looks for the ball.

that is fine in college.

he will need to do more than that in the NFL.

you know when he will wake up?

when he is in two a days at camp and runs a straight fly and Darrell Green stays in his hip pocket all the way downfield. :)

It's a new world for these rookies. :)

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Originally posted by bulldog

while it is interesting to ponder the receivers, I think you are OBSSESSED by the subject. :laugh:

Well, I played receiver in high school, so I know a little about the subject and I'm naturally interested in the performance of receivers. What really piqued my interest was the misuse of Gardner and Westbrook last year by Marty/Raye, and the rather disproportionate support for Gardner and dislike of Westbrook here. I must be a natural contrarian.

how without seeing Russell even in camp you can come to the conclusion that HE is going to present a clear threat to Gardner or indeed any of the other receivers ahead of him right now on the depth chart is beyond me.

Oh, come on. It's a boring time in the offseason, and these bets are more amusing now when we don't know anything than they would be in the last week of August after hearing weeks of training camp reports. It's *because* of our lack of accurate information that I'm throwing out the bet.

I hereby accept mphilips16's $5 bet (no more offers please) and now offer two more $5 bets:

1. Russell will gain more yards than Gardner in the last four games, assuming both players are healthy.

2. If Willie Jackson joins the team, Jackson will have more catches over the season than Gardner, assuming both players are healthy enough to play every game.

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Gardner is a player with a year of NFL experience of being the NUMBER ONE wideout. Russell won't be anointed number one like Rod was, so he's going to have to work for his position. I have no clue about this kid, except that he's a burner and somewhat unpolished. Players like this don't usually come around until the second or third year, if they do at all.

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Just a reminder -- Spurrier commented after the 2nd minicamp that Betts and Russell impressed him. It's that comment that leads me to believe he's at least intrigued about involving Russell this year in the offense.

Obviously one minicamp does not make an NFL receiver, but you have to start somewhere.

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After seeing the receiving corps that was in Training camp last year under Marty, I can say this. All these receivers have work to do and that includes Green, Anthony, Gardner and Lockett.

Green is the likely #1 or will be defaulted to #2, with Gardner or even Lockett pressing. However, Lockett's press, from what I've seen, wouldn't last long. He's still good, but just won't handle the #1 spot. Gardner offers the most intrigue and his confident smile was the same as last year. He must keep that attitude to overcome the shortcomings, while improving that reception ratio.

Green's starts and involvement in very big games, brings the intensity, Gardner will desperately need. Green is also llikely to tell him, that the best teacher is the opponent you are playing.

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actually, AtlantaSkins, if the team acquires Willie Jackson I think Cliff Russell will be buried so deep on the bench we won't see much of him at all in 2002. :box:

meanwhile I agree that the addition of Jackson will probably cause Spurrier to split the time that Gardner and Jacquez Green get, so Gardner will end up with fewer catches.

but that isn't much of a bet considering that Jackson is a veteran starting receiver in the NFL who finished last year with over 80 catches and 1,000 yards. :)

in fact you would HOPE that in that scenario Jackson would be the most productive receiver, he is in his prime......................

Gardner at 23 is still learning.

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I don't see how russell will crack the top four if we have Gardner, Lockett and J Green starting since I envision Lockett and Green in the slot positions and he guy outside with Gardner could be a Skaggs/D Mac or Anthony type before the rookie.

If champ had to take it up a notch to handle skaggs on scout teams, I find it hard to believe that Skaggs cant make this team.

Its too early to see but this bet may have to be evisited after the second or 3rd preseason game

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Originally posted by NavyDave

I don't see how russell will crack the top four

First, here's a quote from Matthews about his years at Florida:

"I remember one spring going from fifth string to being the starter and played three years."

If Spurrier likes what he sees in a player, it strikes me that the player can blow through the depth chart fairly fast.

In CNPD's minicamp coverage, I saw the following note by John Keim:

"[spurrier] liked what he saw of rookie wideout Clifford Russell. By the way, there's a noticeable difference in speed and quickness between Russell and the other wideouts."

That's one of several media reports I've seen where Spurrier praised Russell. And if Keim is right that Russell is that much faster than the other WRs, I think he'll see playing time this year. If he makes good use of that playing time, I don't see why Spurrier will hold him back. Thus my hopeful prediction that Russell will be a major contributor by the last four games of the season.

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well, Russell will either become a good receiver or he won't, but given the draft pick and financial investment the team has made in Rod Gardner I don't understand why ANY Redskins fan would be almost happy about a #3 pick working on the minimum coming in here and stealing that spot.

The best scenario for the Redskins is for Gardner to live up to his #15 billing and become a true #1 receiver here in DC.

Any other outcome means no more than a 50/50 trade.

If Russell is a find but Gardner is a bust (in some scenarios) that to me smacks of the 1994 draft where we got a player in Gus Frerotte who was clearly better than a #7 pick at the time but also took at #3 a player that was out of the NFL before he was old enough to qualify for the pension plan.......................

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Bulldog,

You think ASF is obsessed, if Skaggs and DMac don't get a shot at some playing time this year, Navydave is going to go out to Redskins park and knock some heads together.

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We'll have to see how it works out in the pre-season. If Russell has crazy speed, but no hands, I can't see how he'd crack the starting lineup. Let's keep everything in perspective here. No way he'll just come in and unseat Rod Gardner.

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let's also remember that Spurrier has been saying a LOT of things about players early on that may not mean much come the opener in September. Coaches need to throw the bone out there and motivate the players to compete. He isn't going to shut the door on ANYONE this early.

Didn't Marty do the same thing last year with positive commentary about WR Latef Grim and quarterback Todd Husak early on, only to cut them down the road? :)

Consider not what the staff SAYS in Apil and May but what they DO in July and August. :D

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Originally posted by OrangeSkin

No way he'll just come in and unseat Rod Gardner.

Hey, don't exaggerate my prediction. I'm not expecting Russell to start for Game 1. I just think he has a shot of getting some playing time in the first half of the year, and if everything breaks right for him and not so well for Gardner, it wouldn't surprise me to see him catching more balls than Gardner by the end of the year.

I just have a hunch that Spurrier will take the super-fast guy with questionable hands/experience over the big strong slowish guy with questionable hands/experience. But Russell will have to make his catches when he has the opportunities as the #4 receiver to move up.

In any case, I don't see Gardner disappearing. It's more a matter of his getting fewer catches than Russell eventually.

I actually think Jacquez Green and Willie Jackson (if he's signed) pose more of a blockade to Russell getting playing time. Those guys are decent receivers and know Spurrier's system, so I have a harder time imagining Russell eclipsing them this year. Next year is a different matter, since Green is on a one-year contract and Jackson might be as well.

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Originally posted by bulldog

let's also remember that Spurrier has been saying a LOT of things about players early on that may not mean much come the opener in September. Coaches need to throw the bone out there and motivate the players to compete. He isn't going to shut the door on ANYONE this early.

Didn't Marty do the same thing last year with positive commentary about WR Latef Grim and quarterback Todd Husak early on, only to cut them down the road? :)

Consider not what the staff SAYS in Apil and May but what they DO in July and August. :D

Fair enough, but I think Spurrier is much more on the level in his comments. (Don't mention the Matthews deal -- there were some reasons for that weirdness.)

Marty was a bald-faced liar at times. (After the Denver game, he had the balls to say that Westbrook was intended to be the primary receiver. Oh really? It seemed pretty freaking obvious that Graham just decided to throw to Westbrook, primary receiver be damned. Next game, despite the huge upset of Denver and despite the Banks concussion, Graham rides the bench again, and suddenly there's no more Westbrook-centered offense. You'd think if something you planned worked out so well, you'd stick with it. Marty would rather lose doing things his way.)

I really think Spurrier tells the truth. Sometimes he speaks in riddles, but the truth is there. After one of the minicamps, he commented that the WRs all looked around the same to him, and he wasn't sure if that meant we had a bunch of good WRs or a bunch of average ones. That was just a nice way of saying the receivers stank, which is why I think we'll be seeing Willie Jackson here soon.

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