Redskins Position Analysis: Offense

Can Portis return to '05 form?

Washington Redskins Position Analysis: The Offense

QUARTERBACK: 
Starter -- Jason Campbell. Backups -- Mark Brunell, Todd Collins.

Campbell, for whom the Redskins dealt three draft picks to choose in 2005, flashed some serious potential after replacing Brunell for the final seven games last season. Campbell has a strong arm and throws crossing patterns well. At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Campbell has the strength to fend off pass rushers and enough speed to make some plays with his feet. Like many young QBs, Campbell struggled with touch on short passes and made some foolish throws that were intercepted. Still, he's clearly the starter for 2007. Brunell, 36, couldn't recapture the magic of the first half of 2005. He had decent numbers but was very risk-adverse while going 3-6 before being benched. He's facing 4-5 months of rehab following January shoulder surgery as well a major salary reduction but is willing to remain a backup. Todd Collins, 35, was signed from Kansas City because he knew new play-caller Al Saunders' offense so well. Collins didn't play a snap yet again but figures to be back because he's under contract and is a good soldier. The Redskins could use a young QB on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS: 
Starters -- RB Ladell Betts, FB Mike Sellers. Backups -- RB T.J. Duckett, RB Rock Cartwright, FB Nehemiah Broughton. Injured reserve: RB Clinton Portis.

The flashy Portis had been the focal point of the offense in 2004 and 2005 but was having a sub-par year with 523 yards (albeit with a team-best seven TDs) after returning too soon from an August dislocated shoulder when he broke a hand on Nov. 12 and was done for the season. Betts, mostly a third-down back and KR during his first four years, took over and ran wild. Betts tied Portis' team record of five straight 100-yard games, averaged 130 yards over the final six games and is the kind of power runner that coach Joe Gibbs prefers. Assuming that the Redskins don't try to trade Portis (or fail to do so), it will be interesting to see if Saunders can keep both backs happy in 2007. Sellers is a bruising lead blocker at 278 pounds and a reliable weapon when given touches. Free agent-to-be Duckett, acquired from Atlanta in August for a third-rounder in a panic move when Portis and Betts were both ailing, was a bust as a power back and won't return. The short but strong Cartwright has had big games in the past but won't see the ball if Portis and Betts are healthy. Broughton, also undersized, spent most of the last two seasons on the practice squad and is just a guy.

TIGHT END:
Starter -- Chris Cooley. Backups -- Todd Yoder, Brian Kozlowski. Injured reserve -- Christian Fauria.

Cooley's numbers dropped from his superb 2005 season but that was as much or more about the passing game's struggles as it was his fault. The third-year starter still led the team in catches and TDs and was just 56 yards behind WR Santana Moss for the lead in that category. Cooley has become a better blocker and is quick enough to get downfield for big plays. As he and Campbell develop chemistry, he can become a bigger weapon especially if Moss remains the only reliable WR. Yoder was a good September pickup, stepping in when free agent bust Fauria went down with a chronic ankle injury in November after catching just two passes. Yoder even caught Campbell's first TD pass. Yoder is a free agent and might be re-signed. So is the 36-year-old Kozlowski, who re-signed in November. He and Fauria, 35, both might be finished. The Redskins could use a young TE although Sellers can play here, too.

WIDE RECEIVERS:
Starters -- Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El. Backups -- Brandon Lloyd, James Thrash, David Patten, Mike Espy.

Moss didn't come close to matching his breakout season of his Washington debut in 2005. He battled a hamstring for a month, missed two games and wound up with 29 fewer catches and 693 fewer yards than the previous season. However, Moss showed that he still has it with three TDs of at least 30 yards during the final five games so he should be fine in 2007. Randle El (32 catches, 351 yards, three TDs) wasn't as productive as hoped after coming over from Pittsburgh for a huge contract with just three catches, two runs and one pass over 20 yards. But at least Randle El hustled and returned punts. Lloyd, who received an equally astronomical contract after being acquired from San Francisco for two draft picks, caught just 23 passes, didn't score and was benched for the final four games after throwing his helmet near the end of the Dec. 3 loss to Atlanta. He'll only be back because of his contract. Thrash is a solid veteran who also plays teams and is a Gibbs favorite. Patten, a disappointing starter in 2005, caught just one pass in five games and won't be back at 33. Undrafted rookie Espy got into just one game and will try to win a backup job next summer.

OFFENSIVE LINE: 
Starters -- LT Chris Samuels, LG Derrick Dockery, C Casey Rabach, RG Randy Thomas, RT Jon Jansen. Backups -- T Todd Wade, C/G Mike Pucillo, T/G Jim Molinaro, C/G Taylor Whitley.
Samuels made his fourth Pro Bowl in six years despite a sometimes-balky knee. He has improved as a run blocker and remains elite in pass protection. Dockery, previously inconsistent, had his best season and is one of the top free agents. The Redskins want to re-sign him, largely because of the chemistry he has with Samuels. However, once players hit the market, they usually don't return to Washington. Rabach is a battler who works well with the rest of the line and played down the stretch with a broken thumb. Thomas was having a Pro Bowl year when he broke a leg in December 2005. He had a solid 2006 as the line made the Redskins one of just three teams to rank in the top 10 in yards per carry and fewest sacks per dropback. Jansen struggled much of the way with a torn calf but still shut down Julius Peppers and Trent Cole among other defensive ends. Former Miami/Houston starter Wade filled in ably when Jansen sat out in New Orleans but is a free agent and wants to start. Pucillo was the extra lineman in short yardage. Molinaro played in just one game and won't get any offers as a restricted free agent. Whitley, signed off the street in October, started 11 games for Miami in 2004.

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