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2006 Team Report: Washington Redskins

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Starter: Mark Brunell
Backup(s): Todd Collins, Jason Campbell

Starting QB: Mark Brunell enters the 2006 season firmly entrenched as the Redskins starter after a resurgent 2005 campaign. Last year, Brunell set a career mark for TD passes with 23 and only threw 10 interceptions after replacing Patrick Ramsey as the team’s starter. It was quite the reversal of fortune for Brunell who had struggled as the part-time starter in 2004 (49.8 completion percentage, 5.0 yards per attempt).

Backup QB: With Patrick Ramsey traded to the Jets this offseason, the backup duties are left to Jason Campbell, last year’s first round draft choice, and journeyman Todd Collins, most recently of the Kansas City Chiefs. Campbell is an athletic, strong-armed passer from Auburn who represents the future of the franchise. Given Brunell’s age, it’s not unreasonable to expect Campbell to assume the starting role as soon as 2007. In the interim, it’s Collins who probably gets the nod as Brunell’s injury replacement in 2006. Why would an 11-year veteran with 546 career attempts get the edge over a first round draft choice? It’s because Collins spent five years in Kansas City playing for the Redskins new offensive coordinator, Al Saunders.

Running Backs

Starter: Clinton Portis
Backup(s): T.J. Duckett, Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright, Jesse Lumsden
Fullback(s): Manuel White, Nehemiah Broughton, Mike Sellers

Starting RB: For the third time in four seasons, Clinton Portis rushed for more than 1,500 yards. Also as impressive, Portis finished fourth in the league in rushing attempts with 352, proving once again that he’s more than equipped to shoulder a huge workload. Although his 4.3 yards per attempt fell short of his average as a Bronco, it was a marked improvement from 2004 when he averaged just 3.8 yards per attempt. Portis is a classic cutback runner, who maintains great balance and shows patience while waiting for the cutback lane to develop. Although he’s not the biggest back in the league, he excelled in short yardage and on the goal line. Portis will be one of the league's best all-around tailbacks assuming he can bounce back from the shoulder injury suffered in mid-August against Cincinnati.

Backup RBs: Ladell Betts appears to have been a victim of Coachspeak. Betts, a fifth-year player out of Iowa, was told by OC Al Saunders that he would be used frequently, and even opened the door to having Betts and Portis in the same backfield at times. With Portis' should injury, it seemed the Betts would be in line for a heavy workload, especially early in the season. Yet, the Redkins went out and traded for bruising, T.J. Duckett from Atlanta. Duckett, while disappointing as an all purpose runner the last few seasons, has remained an elite caliber short yardage and goal line back. His presence significantly crimps Betts' opportunity and also stands to impact Portis' fantasy value when he returns. Portis has never been a great short yardage runner, and that's about the only thing you can count on Duckett for. Rock Cartwright, highly effective as the team’s third option a year ago, reprises his role and will likely provide the occasional short yardage alternative if he holds off the younger competition for the final RB spot.

Fullback: Joe Gibbs has never been a fan of the traditional fullback, but Al Saunders is much more comfortable with the idea. There are three capable backs vying for a role at the FB position. Mike Sellers, a short yardage machine last year, Nehemiah Broughton and Manny White are going to have to work hard to differentiate themselves because the team won't keep all three once camp breaks.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd
Backups: Antwaan Randle El, David Patten, James Thrash

Starting WRs: For the second consecutive season, the Redskins have massively overhauled the receiving corps. Last year’s big acquisition, Santana Moss, remains at the top of the depth chart for good reason. Moss was second in the league with 1,483 yards to go along with nine touchdowns and a whopping 17.7 yards per reception. What Moss lacks in stature (5-9, 185 pounds), he makes up for in speed and route running discipline. This year, Moss won’t have to be a one-man show as the Redskins went out and acquired Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd from the Steelers and 49ers, respectively. Training camp will ultimately determine who starts opposite Moss, but Brandon Lloyd is the more logical choice. The Redskins traded for Lloyd and then signed him to a long term extension this offseason. Lloyd has starting experience and should provide the team a versatile scoring option in Al Saunders’ spread offense. Lloyd scored 11 touchdowns in 91 receptions over the last two seasons for a team that had one of the worst passing units in the NFL.

Backup WRs: The versatile Randle El made no bones about wanting to be a starter upon signing his free agent contract, but ultimately he's a team player and should recognize that he's better utilized out of the slot and as a special team's ace. Randle El, a former college quarterback, has turned himself into a well-rounded receiver who does everything admirably, if nothing spectacularly. He understands how to create space in tight situations and is a committed blocker. Last year’s free agent acquisition, David Patten, has been relegated to backup status and may be fighting for a roster spot. Patten was limited a season ago to nine games and had just 22 receptions for 9.9 yards per catch. James Thrash has likely secured a roster spot with the Redskins decision to trade Taylor Jacobs to San Francisco.

Tight Ends

Starters: Chris Cooley
Backups: Christian Fauria, Robert Johnson

Chris Cooley emerged as one of the NFC’s most prolific pass-catching tight ends last year with 71 receptions for 774 yards and seven touchdowns. Cooley, the classic H-back in Joe Gibbs’ motion offense, is a polished route runner with the hands and courage to make catches across the middle. He is expected to play more tight end this season. Veteran Christian Fauria was signed this offseason and will serve as the main blocking tight end, with Robert Johnson filling out the TE corps.

Place Kicker

John Hall : On a positive note, Hall hit 12 of 14 (85.7%) FGs last year, his first year over 80% since 1999. On a negative note, his injuries are becoming an issue. He missed eight games in 2004, and then missed five games last year with a strained quadriceps. Once one of the better kickers on kickoffs, he averaged only 60.8 and 60.5 yards the last two years. Rumor was that Hall will become a salary cap victim by June, however that never happened. Hall will no longer handle kickoffs, with that duty being taken over by the punter.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Ladell Betts; Antwaan Randle El; James Thrash; Rock Cartwright

WR Antonio Brown started last year as the Redskins’ return specialist, then fumbled his way off the team, then was re-signed after injuries decimated their roster, and finally was cut just before the draft. RB Ladell Betts averaged a healthy 25.9 yards on 24 returns. FA acquisition WR Antwaan Randle El is the wildcard. Depending on how they want to utilize him, he could be on occasional backup KR, or he could be the feature KR. Backups WR James Thrash (7 returns, 24.3 avg.) and RB Rock Cartwright (4 returns, 20.5 avg.) both have returned kickoffs during their career.

Punt Returners: Antwaan Randle El; James Thrash; Santana Moss

Newcomer Antwaan Randle El’s abilities are especially evident on punt returns, including his numbers with the Steelers last year (44 returns, 10.2 avg., 2 TDs). He finished last year as the 15th ranked fantasy returner, which is impressive considering he had only one kickoff return. James Trash (10 returns, 7.7 avg.) is available as a backup. WR Santana Moss has not been quite as effective recently on punt returns as he was earlier in his career, however he would probably be the featured PR on many teams. With the Redskins he’s just another backup (7 returns, 5.7 avg.).

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: RT Jon Jansen, RG Randy Thomas, C Casey Rabach, LG Derrick Dockery, LT Chris Samuels
Key Backups: G Mike Pucillo, T Jim Molinaro, G Ike Ndukwe

Last season, this unit finally stayed healthy and what a great season they had. Led by gifted OL coach Joe Bugal, this starting group is among the best in the NFL and they opened up nice holes for running back Clinton Portis to exploit throughout the season. Each of the starting five can be considered very good players and a few of them have Pro Bowl potential. Guard Derrick Dockery has developed into a tenacious run blocker. At 335-pounds he is a force and the former 3rd round pick has excellent athleticism and quickness off the ball. He played well enough last year to warrant a spot in the Pro Bowl. Tackle Chris Samuels did make the Pro Bowl and deservedly so as he was a force last year. At the other tackle position, Jon Jansen is in his sixth NFL seasons and has rounded into form as a great player in his own right. He hasn’t taken a holding penalty since the 2002 season. Finally both Randy Thomas and Casey Rabach are good, veteran linemen that help this unit achieve greatness although Thomas is returning from a broken leg suffered in December. This is one of the top units in the NFL today as they are right up there with the Chiefs and the Bengals. Unfortunately they have precious little depth and thus fantasy owners need to be mindful of a material fall off should a starter or two be lost for the year.

Team Defense

The Redskins finished in the top third in the league in 2006 in total defense. The unit finished ninth in yards per game allowed and in overall scoring defense, allowing just over 18 points a game. Gregg Williams, the highest paid defensive coordinator in the NFL, employs a complicated, aggressive, blitzing scheme that requires his players to be smart and disciplined. The 2005 version was well balanced, and equally strong against the rush (13th) and the pass (10th). As is often the case with a Dan Snyder run team, though, the Redskins had an active offseason. Starting LB Lavar Arrington, who never really bought into Williams’ schemes, S Ryan Clark, and CB Walt Harris all left in free agency. Former 49er LB and free agent signee Andre Carter will line up at defensive end and will be expected to upgrade the Redskin pass rush. S Adam Archuleta was also signed in the offseason, and will team with Sean Taylor to form one of the most talented safety tandems in the league. Second year man Carlos Rogers joins Shawn Springs in the lineup at corner. The Redskins also paid handsomely to move up in the second round to grab rookie LB Rocky McIntosh; he will get an opportunity to contribute early. After finishing in the middle of the pack with 28 takeaways last year, the Redskins hope the new additions will bring more big play capability to an already solid defensive unit.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Phillip Daniels, DE Andre Carter, DT Cornelius Griffin, DT Joe Salave’a
Backups: DE/DT Demetric Evans, DE Renaldo Wynn

Starting DL: After missing all but five games in 2004, spending the majority of the season on IR with groin/wrist injuries, Phillip Daniels returned to play a full slate in '05, posting semi-productive numbers with 37 solo tackles and eight sacks. "Semi-productive" pretty much sums up his career, a 33 year old workout warrior who's a solid run defender with limited pass rush skills, never recording over nine sacks in any of his 10 NFL seasons. Defensive ends with Daniels' skill set are valuable in the NFL, but you need someone on the other end more capable of getting to the quarterback. Forced to look towards free-agency they found was Andre Carter, a pure pass rusher who's quick off of the edge with a 44 solo tackle/12 sack campaign to his credit. Unfortunately, that season was 2002 and Carter has posted just 13 sacks in the three seasons since. If nothing else, his presence outside should help open up the interior for Cornelius Griffin. Griffin enters his third season with the Washington Redskins as one of the most productive defensive tackles in the game. Since joining the Redskins he's been able to match his potential with production, an ability that was absent during his first four seasons with the New York Giants. He uses impressive quickness for a man his size (6'3 310) to wreak havoc in the offensive backfield. Lining up next to Griffin inside is Joe Salave'a, a 6'3 317 pound blogger whose role it is to tie-up blockers and create space for his teammates to make plays. A fantasy afterthought, Salave'a has averaged less than a solo tackle per contest in 87 career games with 7.5 sacks in seven seasons. That's not to say he doesn't do his job well as he is a main cog in the Redskins run defense.

Backup DL: Demetric Evans re-signed with Washington after testing his options on the open market. A better run defender than pass rusher, Evans will provide depth at defensive end and, even tough he's a bit light in the pants at 6'3 285, he uses leverage effectively and can slide inside to tackle on occasion. Renaldo Wynn, a 32 year old entering his 10th season, remains part of the rotation. A starter for the past four seasons in Washington, Wynn has averaged just 27 solo tackles and two sacks in that time. He's recovering from a broken arm suffered in post-season play. The Redskins added a couple of defensive tackle projects later in the draft with Anthony Montgomery (5th) and Kedric Golston (6th). Montgomery raised his stock during the combine/pro day, showing nice quickness for a 300 pounder, while Golston is a shoot-the-gap defender with nice athleticism who’s had injury problems in college.


Starters: SLB Marcus Washington, MLB Lemar Marshall, WLB Warrick Holdman
Backups: SLB Jeff Posey, WLB Khary Campbell, WLB Rocky McIntosh [R]

Starting LBs: The Washington Redskins have been a sleeper LB haven over the last few years, turning undrafted players into fantasy stars. In 2004 it was Antonio Pierce, 2005 gave us Lemar Marshall. This year, it looks like that player will come from a group of linebackers vying for the starting WLB job left open by LaVar Arrington. SLB Marcus Washington has been a gem since coming over from Indianapolis in 2004, averaging 78 solo tackles and six sacks while playing near every snap in 32 games. At 6'3 247, Washington possesses a great size/speed combo. He's a rock on the strongside who's relied on heavily as one the teams best pass rushers. Lemar Marshall returns for his second season as the Redskins starter in the middle after starting 14 games on the weakside during the 2004 season. One of the lighter linebackers in the league, listed at 6'2 227, Marshall led the Redskins with 96 tackles (77 solo) while adding in two sacks and four interceptions, showing an exceptionally well-rounded game for a player who's with his fourth franchise in seven years. Warrick Holdman, a seven year vet, started the seasons first seven games a year ago at WLB in place of Lavar Arrington. An unrestricted free agent, he resigned for the veterans minimum and appears to have made a wise choice as he will break camp as the starter; perhaps keeping the spot warm for rookie Rocky McIntosh.

Backup LBs: Khary Campbell is a special teams leader who's with his third team in five seasons. Robert McCune, a fifth round pick last year, spent his rookie season on special teams and has been released, signed to the Redskins practice squad. Add rookie 2nd round pick Roger “Rocky” McIntosh to the list of possible weakside starters, with his name likely at the top. A very good athlete with sideline to sideline ability, McIntosh has a very nice all-around game with few weaknesses. A three-down linebacker who could play all three positions, the addition of McIntosh gives the Redskins tremendous flexibility with their LB unit. If Rocky McIntosh develops as Washington hopes, Warrick Holdman could become a backup. The Redskins added veteran LB Jeff Posey in mid-August to help offset the loss of Chris Clemons.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Shawn Springs, CB Carlos Rogers, SS Adam Archuleta, FS Sean Taylor
Backups: CB Kenny Wright, CB Ade Jimoh, CB/S Mike Rumph, S Pierson Prioleau, S Reed Doughty [R], CB Julian Battle

Starting DBs: After experiencing a rebirth in Washington, posting 52 solo tackles, six sacks and five interceptions in 2004, becoming the third player in history to lead his team in sacks and picks, Shawn Springs slipped last year (43/0/1). He remains a savvy veteran who has the size and experience to work around his declining skills, although at 31 years of age his production last year should be a much better indication of his fantasy potential. Unfortunately Springs had surgery to repair an abdominal tear late in training camp and may miss the start of the season. Rookie Carlos Rogers, the ninth overall selection in last years draft, started five games and averaged almost six solo tackles per start with one interception. A complete package of size (6'0 192), speed, coverage ability and willingness in run support. An ankle injury cost him some training camp last year and a bicep injury forced him out of the seasons final three games. Injuries can be a concern because he's a guy who plays bigger than his actual size, but if he can remain healthy he should become a major impact player, fantasy or otherwise. Not long ago Adam Archuleta was considered among the NFL's top safeties, with the height of his success being the 2002 season in which he posted 94 solo tackles with 2.5 sacks and a pick. A converted college linebacker, Archuleta has an extreme blend of speed, strength and athleticism, but that couldn't help him avoid back injuries that hampered him during the 03-04 seasons, knocking down both his production and his perception around the league (even though he didn't miss a game in 2004, he wasn't making many plays). Last year, he was expected to move to free safety but that never transpired. A concussion knocked him out of three games and he ended the year with his lowest tackle output since 2001, his rookie season. After signing a free agent contract with Washington that makes him the richest safety in league history, Archuleta gets to line up with one of the few players who can match him in athletic ability, Sean Taylor. Archuleta's health will go a long way in determining the success of this duo. Taylor's legal woes may also have an impact, although it's looking less likely as each day passes. The fifth overall selection in the '04 draft, Taylor was considered a once in a generation athlete with linebacker size (6'2 231), cornerback coverage skills and 4.5 speed. Once/if he gets his off-field issues dealt with, Taylor should develop into one of the games top playmakers. Thus far, through two seasons, he's been a decent fantasy option though a bit of a disappointment as we wait for his production to match his potential.

Backup DBs: The Redskins have good depth at cornerback with Kenny Wright and Ade Jimoh. Wright, a seven-year vet who started all 16 games a year ago with Jacksonville, has great size (6'1 207) to match up against the divisions bigger wideouts and proven durability, having missed just two games during his career. He's been very productive when allowed to start over his career. Jimoh has been impressive with his development on defense over the last few years and, while he's not a starting option, he has become a solid #3-4 type cornerback who brings added value on special teams. Safety Pierson Prioleau has been a sub/starter for the past three seasons with Washington and Buffalo. A better player in run support than pass coverage, he's more fit to back up Archuleta but will likely be the top reserve at both SS and FS. Like many of the other Redskin reserves, Prioleau brings added value with his special team play. Reed Doughty is a 5th round pick who makes up for a lack of athleticism with toughness and instincts. An “box” safety, Doughty will struggle in coverage and space. Mike Rumph, acquired in mid August from San Francisco, had a new lease on life after being a first round bust for the 49ers. Rumph has bounced from CB (where he lacks quickness and agility) to safety (where he lacks instincts and range) and back again (we've read this story before and know how it ends).

Last modified: 2006-09-03 05:33:58

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