Sunday, September 10, 2006

Redskins-Vikings: The Unseen Offense

The Unseen Offense. The Redskins practiced their new offense at a secret CIA facility, or something near to it. They went to great length to divulge nothing about it during the preseason. I hear a blogger snapped secret pictures during practice. He’s in Guantanamo now. No one but the players and coaches know what to expect.

The players gush about Saunders' Coryell schemes and hint they will have big years despite touching the ball fewer times. Does that sound like big plays to you? I’m expecting a lot of single back formations in three or four receiver, one or two tight end sets with lots of motion. I’m looking for more passes to the running back, though far fewer that what we will see with the Eagles/Vikings. That suggests that we will see more of Ladell Betts than TJ Duckett. What we need to see is better execution than the Skins showed in the preseason. Great strategies poorly executed are losers. With the Skins defense, it won’t take much offense to get by. The Skins can win 11 games if the O can average 18+ points per game.

It’s The Defense, People. For all the noise about the new Redskins offense, the defense is the heart and soul of the team. The defense will pick up where it left off last season - pressure everywhere, blitz from anywhere. Only, this year, more of the pass pressure should come from the defensive line, freeing the Redskins’ athletic linebackers to either rush or cover; that in turn could free the even more athletic safeties to blitz. See what I mean? Pressure from anywhere.

Nothing Special. Special teams are the Redskins’ Achilles heel. Special teams own field position. They get you good position, put the other guys in bad position and salvage points when drives peter out. The Skins did the opposite of all that in preseason. There is a lot of skepticism in a unit that gives up big returns. John Hall does not remind us of Mosley or Lohmiller. Ali Haji Shank comes to mind.

The Norsemen Are Coming. The Redskins first opponent, the Vikings, are an all new team with a new owner, new coach, new players, new offense, new code of conduct. So, they are hard to handicap. We remember Brad Johnson around here as the one who got away. Smart, competent, well grounded, Johnson won games by knowing where to put the ball and when to put it there. He went on to happier days at Tampa Bay and is experiencing a career renaissance with the Vikings, the team where he got his NFL start. The Vikings boosted the offensive line with Steve Hutchinson to give Johnson time to get the ball to an unimpressive group of receivers, who won’t do much more than catch the ball. He won’t be pressured into making bad throws too often. Chester Taylor comes over from Baltimore to be the starting running back. He joins Travis Taylor, also a Ravens transplant. Neither Taylor distinguished themselves while with Baltimore.

On defense, Pat Williams anchors a solid Vikings D-line. The Vikes imported Darren Sharper at safety to buttress experienced cornerbacks Antoine Winfield and our old buddy Fred Smut, er Smoot. Smootie still has friends on the Redskins, so he’ll have to endure endless jokes about double-headers and Viking long ships.

The Vikes do not have the horses to keep up with the Redskins. Washington takes this one by a touchdown.

For's preview of the Redskins-Vikings game, look here.

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