X's and O's With: Eddie Mason

EDs Note: Eddie Mason will break down the Redskins' offense, defense and special teams this week. Today, Eddie takes a look at the offense.

Ultimately, the major area of concern for me is the quarterback position. If they had anybody early on during the course of the year who could have played a little quarterback, this team would have been in the playoff because of their margin of losses.

If I'm the Redskins and I'm the GM, I'm going after Matt Leinart or the kid from Cal, Aaron Rodgers. There might be a quarterback that falls to that number nine spot and I'd take one of them. The reason I say this is, and this isn't to say Patrick won't be a good quarterback, but he's still behind the learning curve. He still made a lot of errors that a third-year guy shouldn't be making.

But he got set behind the learning curve under Spurrier. They didn't have anyone to teach him the way the quarterback should play in the NFL. That set him back. It's really not his fault, but it hurt his development. You can't build around him because he probably won't be around here in another year or two. So you need to go get someone.

We hope that Patrick has a Drew Brees season and if he does, great for us. He would be the '05 starter, but then we'd also have our franchsie guy, who's being groomed by the best in Joe Gibbs. That way we can get somebody that we know if Pat's not year a year from now, then they'll be all right. This is our future. The draft is a gamble but I'd rather do that than stay with a guy who might have an up year and then the next year he's down.

I wouldn't say the problem on offense was necessarily the scheme. They need to try and stop outscheming everyone else week to week. They need to get a system, instill the system they want, whether it's the power running game and mixing in opening up the offense. But stick to your game plan. Trust that your personnel is good enough to outplay the personnel for the other team. Instead of having an approach that we have to do this like a chessmatch and we'll try and outscheme the guys.

That's what it seemed like they were doing all year, always trying to fool or trick the other team with schemes and with all these different formations and stuff instead of just lining up and playing.

You have to trust that your wide receivers are good enough playing against the cornerback. Do some basic formations like they did against the Vikings. They had a good power game, Ladell was getting great yardage. They opened up the offense with three- and four-receiver sets, did slant routes which I almost never seen them do, and some quick outs. One time they ran a vertical route with Taylor Jacobs across the middle and he gets a first down and the slant route which was one of Patrick's best throws all season, the one he threw to James that got 18 yards. That's one of the best I've seen him make all season.

They were doing plays like that and getting a good mix of plays, but they weren't trying to outscheme them. They never had an identity on offense. It's almost like for 12, 13 weeks they were trying to figure out who they were and were like, 'Well, let's try this. It didn't work so let's try this.' It never seemed to fit or work. Because of that, it hurt them. The last four weeks of the season it seemed like they started to find themselves and identify what they were doing. Before then, I don't know if it's because they didn't trust the quarterback play or if they were worried that Patrick wasn't ready to make the checks and do different things.

In the last three weeks Patrick was more comfortable in the pocket and with the receivers they had in that game and with the play of Betts in the last game, they could all be playmakers on offense next year. And Clinton obviously will be back. That will be a great asset, but he has to learn how to fit into the scheme of things and they have to design plays that work for him. If they stick with this guy they have to understand he's a zone running back, a stretch back, a toss-run back and not an inside guy. But it's also good to have that one-two punch.

If they can recognize that and get a guard and a center -- more a center than a guard. They need a big power center, someone who is athletic and can pull. How good would that be? You have to get someone who is smart enough to make the checks. Cory Raymer is smart adn that's why he's there. But from an athletic standpoint . . . No. Some of those defensive tackles are monsters and you've got to have big centers. It's very important. They can get away with Randy for another year, but he hasn't yet filled the bill that he's worth it. He hasn't made a Pro Bowl and they were saying he'd be a Pro Bowl player and they invested 30 million in a guard who hasn't blossed into the dominating Larry Allen force. It just hasn't happened.

Chris Samuels played his tail off. If they'd been a winning team, he would have made the Pro Bowl. With he and Dockery and Jon Jansen back -- if Chris restructures his deal, you get a center you can live with and with Randy, then the line could be a force to be recokened with. Derrick and Chris could have a nice thing going on the left side.

And the way Ladell played in the last game, being that type of pounding back and someone who never gets knocked back. He's powerful, strong and has good vision and is always getting yards. He's a pile mover. His legs are always churning. That's the type of back they need in this system. Portis is a tremendous talent, but you wonder if coach Gibbs is thinking that they have quality guys who can get the job done.

Rod Gardner, he should be out of here. McCants looks like he's on his way out. I don't know if they'll just cut them or ship them out. But we need a deep threat, someone who's a playmaker, a potential Terrell Owens or Randy Moss or Torry Holt. There was one pass that sealed Rod's fate to me against the vikings. They took one deep shot and he didn't even try to make an effort to go over the top to get the ball from the DB. That should seal his fate and then with his offfield activities have been a big question mark in the minds of the staff and the fans.

And I've just got this feeling that if it were up to Gibbs, he'd downsize his roster and go with guys like Ladell and get rid of Clinton and LaVar and instill other no-name guys who are solid and don't make mistakes, blue-collar guys. Not a lot of fluff. Those are the kinds of guys he wants to build around. Look at Chris Cooley, he's a Joe Gibbs guy. He's not rah-rah, he just plays and makes plays and has a passion to play the game. James Thrash is another guy. Look how he played against Minnesota.

What Gibbs is trying to build is a mindset like Thrash and Cooley, Marcus Washington and Antonio Pierce and Patrick. Guys who want to get better and who want to make a difference. They may not be the biggest name players and make the most money, but they make plays and they love football and they're tough. That's the objective this offseason, to find more guys like that to build around. I wonder if there will be surprise cuts because of that philosophy.


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