Zorn and company kept 24 offensive players and 26 defenders. They kept five wide receivers when most thought it was certain that they would keep six, choosing instead to go with a sixth defensive end. And the luxury of having a fourth running back on the roster to stockpile some talent there was sacrificed in order to keep an extra defensive back around.
And, in reality, a number of offensive players either aren't ready to play or won't play if all goes as planned. Colt Brennan and Todd Collins go into the latter category while the likes of Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas, Chad Reinhardt, and Justin Geisinger fall under the designation of those who aren't playing at prime-time levels yet. That leaves just 18 players to man the 11 offensive positions.
On the other hand, most of the defensive players will be counted on to contribute, either in situations from scrimmage or on special teams.
Zorn, the offensive-minded head coach, the ex-quarterback, is being practical. Instead of collecting extra weapons for his side of the ball, he opted to give Greg Blache and Danny Smith a couple more tools with which to do their jobs.
It seems that Zorn knows that he has his work cut out for him in crafting this offense into a well-oiled machine. He knows that in order to stay in games while the offense is in on the job training mode he'll need a defense that can constantly rotate in fresh linemen to keep pressure on the other team's quarterback and that he'll need plenty of hands in the backfield to cover multiple-receiver sets.
The West Coast offense is supposed to replace a lot of running plays with short passes. I don't see Zorn doing that to the extent that, say, Andy Reid does in Philadelphia. While we won't see a Gibbs-like power running game, it's safe to say that Zorn will rely heavily on Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts to move the chains. Still, there will be a high number of three and outs and the defense has to be ready to take the field after only a short rest on frequent occasions.
In other situations such as this, many new head coaches would be uncomfortable going in with a relatively small number of players on the side of the ball that represents his specialty. It looks like Jim Zorn has checked his ego at the door and is dealing with the reality that his offense isn't likely to score points by the bucket in 2008.
Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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