An Offensive Look

In the first-year of the Steve Spurrier experiment, the coach didn't have much fun and noted that the challenge was a bit more difficult than he anticipated. Year-two of the Spurrier may become as difficult a challenge. During the off-season, Washington has made wholesale changes to the roster, attempting to improve the speed of the team as well as its physical ability along the offensive and defensive lines.

An average offense during the 2002 season left Spurrier moderately embarrassed, especially with all the hype and media publicity surrounding his taking of the Redskins post.

The biggest concern the Redskins have on the offensive side of the ball resides at running back. Without an established presence in the backfield, the Redskins may struggle. Trung Canidate was brought in to compete for the Redskins starting running back job. At receiver, luring Laveranues Coles from the New York Jets could be a major coup for Spurrier. Coles is expected to become Patrick Ramsey's go-to receiver, with Rod Gardner being a solid complimentary player. And at quarterback, Patrick Ramsey will start the season, but you never know how long it will take for Spurrier to become impatient with his second-year signal-caller.

Quarterbacks - Patrick Ramsey, Rob Johnson, Danny Wuerffel (Knowing Spurrier, the listed order means nothing)

As a rookie, Patrick Ramsey got his feet wet last year, so he has some knowledge of the Spurrier offense. Ramsey has a tremendous arm, though he tends to speed-up his delivery which has caused him some problems in overthrowing the ball, or putting too much heat on it for a wide receiver to handle. Until Ramsey gains experience, he will only be as good as the team around him. He should be much improved in his second season, but don't expect Ramsey to be the savior for an offense that does not have an established presence in the running game. Ramsey is a pocket passer that has shown some ability in training camp to throw the ball on the move better than most anticipated or expected. While Ramsey does not posses quickness, he is sufficiently agile in eluding the pass rush. Spurrier has been somewhat open in his praise of the second-year signal-caller. Bringing in another receiving threat in the mold of Laveranues Coles is a great move and will provide Ramsey with another viable option in the Redskins offense, which will only increase his confidence.

Running Backs - Trung Canidate, Ladell Betts, Chad Morton, Kenny Watson, Sultan McCullough

The Washington Redskins may live to regret losing running back Stephen Davis this season. A running game would supplement this Redskins offense nicely, and there are numerous questions surrounding the Washington rushing game. There is no Stephen Davis on this Redskins roster. Furthermore, the best replacement on the roster has been slowed in training camp due to a sprained elbow. Sure, the Redskins dealt for underachieving running back Trung Canidate, though he has not provided the slightest glimpse of being capable to handle the load as the starting running back. Spurrier is always looking for speed and quickness. Wanting more speed and better receiving ability from his running backs, Trung Canidate becomes the favorite to win the starting running back job, especially with the injury issues that have hampered 2002 holdovers, Ladell Betts and Kenny Watson.

If Canidate lands the starting role, the question will be how long he will hold it. Not known as a physical player, Canidate does not gain yardage after contact, a facet of the game that makes Betts extremely attractive. For Betts, making up for lost time in camp will determine the role that he will fill when the season commences. The Redskins will need to run the football to take the pressure off the offensive line and Ramsey, Betts provides the team with a tough runner that will gain yards after contact and is deceptively quick to hit the hole and coming out of the backfield. The jury is out on Kenny Watson who has missed a significant amount of practice with a sprained knee. Watson's roster spot could be in question with the emergence of rookie Sultan McCullough from USC. McCullough has had a very good training camp and has been impressive in the preseason games. As is Canidate, McCullough is a quick back that has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Chad Morton may receive a few carries here are there, but is will primarily be a third-down back and a serious threat in the kick return game.

Receivers - Laveranues Coles, Rod Gardner, Taylor Jacobs, Darnerien McCants, Cliff Russell

Free agent acquisition, wide receiver Laveranues Coles has been everything and more that the Washington coaching staff had hoped he would be. Coles has been extremely impressive in camp, has a firm grasp on the offense and has begun to show signs that he and Ramsey are beginning to get on the same page. As seen in New York, Coles is explosive and will force a defense to respect the passing game. Once Ramsey and Coles gain experience in the system together, both players should reap the rewards of some exciting moments in this passing offense. Coles will be the main target for Ramsey in between the 20's, with the taller and tremendously talented Rod Gardner being the red-zone threat due to his size and physical ability. Gardner is bigger, and more physical with the defensive backs at the line of scrimmage, which has helped him create separation from the defenders. Coles and Gardner should compliment one another nicely in this offense, providing the Redskins ample opportunities to become a scoring machine in 2003 (only if they can run the football). Darnerien McCants and Cliff Russell have fallen far behind rookie second-round draft pick Taylor Jacobs and it is likely that neither receiver will have any impact on the Redskins 2003 season.


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