Washington Redskins 2005 Preview

By John Onan  |   Monday, August 08, 2005  |  Comments( 0 )

Washington Redskins
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Joe Gibbs begins his second season back with the Washington Redskins, hoping to turn things around and guide the team he once led to three Super Bowl titles back to the big game. He is also out to prove the critics wrong. Many have said that the game has passed the legendary coach by.

Strengths: Obviously, one of the lone bright spots for the Washington Redskins in 2004 was their stingy defense that ranked 2nd in the league. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams did a fine job after an unsuccessful stint as Buffalo Bills head coach. The linebacker corps was the backbone of the D last season and they should be just as strong this season with the return of their leader, OLB LaVar Arrington, who missed most of last season with a serious knee injury. The team has been very careful with him so far in training camp, as he has been held out of any physical activities, but he should be ready to go once the season begins. The Redskins other OLB Marcus Washington came over from Indianapolis last year and immediately established himself as a stalwart, registering 107 tackles and 4 sacks.

In running back Clinton Portis, the Washington Redskins have the feature back they lacked when Steve Spurrier was running the show. Portis came over before the start of the 2004 season from the Denver Broncos and rushed for over 1,300 yards, but he only scored 5 touchdowns. He'll also need to do a better job holding on to the ball, as his Achilles heal was fumbles. If the offensive line does a better job in front of him, he could easily get back to being a 1,500 yard rusher and at least double his touchdown output in 2005.

Weaknesses: Right now, the quarterback situation is still an enigma, even though Patrick Ramsey has reclaimed the starting role he relinquished to veteran Mark Brunell at the beginning of last season. Brunell came over from Jacksonville and was a major disappointment, eventually leading Gibbs to switch back to Ramsey during the second half of the season. In the end, the Washington Redskins ranked 29th in passing offense in 2004.

The Redskins overhauled the wide receiver position during this off season, bringing in former Patriot David Patten and sending Laveranues Coles back to the NY Jets for Santana Moss. The Redskins get quicker, but much smaller by making these moves. Both receivers are 5-foot-10 and there is very little depth behind them. If one or both were to miss any major time this year, they will be counting on some unproven guys to pick up the slack. Disgruntled WR Rod Gardner was dealt to the Carolina Panthers, so the only there is very little veteran depth.

With safety Sean Taylor's legal issues and 1st round pick CB Carlos Rogers' injury, the Redskins secondary situation is up in the air right now. Fortunately for the team, Taylor's trial for allegedly threatening someone with a gun will probably be delayed till season's end; he faces a three year prison term if convicted. Rogers suffered a fracture in his foot on the final day of June's mini camp. This unit was one of the leagues best last season, but solid cornerback Fred Smoot has moved on to Minnesota, which would leave Walt Harris to start opposite Shawn Springs if Rogers isn't ready for the regular season. Springs has been battling hamstring problems early in camp.

Also' KR/PR Antonio Brown impressed coaches early in camp, and may be a factor in the return game this season. K John Hall and P Tom Tupa return to handle kicking duties.

The offensive line returns much the same unit from a year ago, and should improve under Gibbs. His offensive line, known as the ‘hogs', were one of the keys to Gibbs past Super Bowl success. Look for tougher, nastier play from this group.

Overall, the league has changed quite a bit in the 12 years that Gibbs was away running NASCAR teams. Now that he's got a solid footing, this team will improve in most areas. Gibbs is too good a coach for the team not to. It may be a stretch to suggest this team competes with the Eagles for a division crown, but with a solid defense and marked improvement on the offensive side, they could be knocking on the door of a playoff birth. They'' be either 9-7 or 8-8 from my vantage point.
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