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2006 Redskins preview

THE BOTTOM LINE

By Michael Smith, ESPN.com

What to make of the Redskins? No, these preseason games don't count. But man. On paper -- there's that phrase -- they look like Super Bowl contenders, what with all the new toys (Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle El, Adam Archuleta, Andre Carter) Dan Snyder bought coordinators Al Saunders (another new guy) and Gregg Williams this offseason.

With Joe Gibbs, Saunders, Williams and several other assistants who have been coordinators, the Redskins should have the best staff in football. But will the Redskins finally be the best team money can buy? Only if Mark Brunell can get back to playing the way he did when Washington was hot last season and Clinton Portis can come back quickly from his shoulder injury. On the field, on the sideline, in the booth, this team has everything. But judging from the last few preseason games, it looks like the Skins, who showed so much heart winning their last five games last year, are still missing something. They'd better find it quickly if they want to avoid being the most expensive bust in league history.

SCOUTS TAKE

By Chuck Knox Jr., Scouts Inc.

As in the past, the Redskins' strength is defense. Gregg Williams' pressure scheme gives offenses problems because he brings heat from all over the field. The addition of wide receivers Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd upgrade the receiver corps. Teams will not be able to double Santana Moss anymore. Look for tight end Chris Cooley to have another solid year.

The injury to Clinton Portis is a concern. The Redskins ran the ball effectively last year and need that production this year if they are going to keep defenses from concentrating on the pass. Keeping starting QB Mark Brunell healthy is paramount. Todd Collins is the backup, but he is a system guy who has not played much in his career. Can free-agent corner Kenny Wright be productive as a starter until Shawn Springs returns? He has been a backup most of his career and has struggled at times as a starter when not given safety help.

The Redskins have spent a ton of money upgrading their offense both in coaches (offensive coordinator Al Saunders) and players. The new-look offense and a solid defense should carry them into the playoffs again this year.

Prediction: Second in NFC East.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD

By KC Joyner, ESPN.com

The Denver Broncos' offensive run-blocking group (OL/TE/FB) had the highest overall metrics in 2005, but for my money, the Redskins had the best set of blockers last year. Chris Samuels and Derrick Dockery had the best set of metrics of any guard/tackle combination (and that does include the Walter Jones/Steve Hutchinson tandem). Samuels topped the 90 percent mark in run-blocking success percentage, and Dockery missed the 90 percent mark by a mere 0.5 percent.

The right side of the Skins' line had very good metrics as well. Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas both ranked in the top 20 at their positions in run-blocking success percentage.

Combine this great run blocking with a platoon of Clinton Portis, T.J. Duckett and Ladell Betts, and the Redskins could vie for the No. 1 rushing offense in 2006.


From ESPN The MAGAZINE
The Big Number10.2 Antwaan Randle El gives his team two legs up in the field position battle. Since 2003, the Skins have averaged just 7.7 yards per punt return. Randle El picks up 10.2. He's also got four TD returns since then. The Redskins have none.

STRENGTH


The defensive front seven doesn't feature a lot of big names -- just big hitters. All are stout and disciplined vs. the run, and coordinator Gregg Williams manufactures QB pressure like no one else. And with free agent Andre Carter joining the fray, Williams won't have to rely on overload blitzes that leave aging Shawn Springs on an island too often.

WEAKNESS

Santana Moss is a blur, but he's a runt of a No. 1 and his running mates last year came up short (literally and figuratively). Daniel Snyder's solution: Throw money at the problem. Unfortunately, the owner's aim isn't so hot. Randle El and Brandon Lloyd can break off huge plays (see below), but neither is the possession guy or red-zone ringer that dink-and-dunk virtuoso Mark Brunell needs.

PROSPECTS

When Brunell calls "9-99" in the huddle, it means "everybody go long." But the team's wideouts have another name for it: the Gun Line. "The receivers we have?" asks Clinton Portis. "Downright dangerous." With burners Lloyd and Randle El joining the NFL's second-leading WR (Moss) in offensive guru Al Saunders' high-octane system, the Gun Line got plenty of airplay in camp. Says Randle El: "We're in three-receiver sets 85 percent of the time." OK, so maybe this isn't the most well-rounded crew. But it sure beats the ultraconservative squad that rode its defense to a 2005 wild card. No wonder the Skins say they are, um, gunning for Miami in February.