If the final four regular-season games of 2007 showed us anything, it's that the Redskins had the talent on offense to be a Super Bowl contender. So if the team could beat the playoff-bound Cowboys and the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants to get a wild-card berth, why did they only finish the season 9-7?
Offensive philosophy—the great Vince Lombardi once postulated that if you can carry a 28-point lead into the fourth quarter, you have won the game. So far he has never been proved wrong.
So, unless you’re ahead by 28 points in the fourth quarter, you should try to score every time you have the ball. Now I don’t mean go for it on fourth down when you’re up 35 points, but last year's team seemed to lay off after it was only up by 14 at halftime.
Two words: Chris Cooley—Now I know you can’t always throw the ball to Cooley, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t throw to him at all.
He seemed noticeably absent last year, even though his stats don’t support that. What his stats do support is that he averages over 10 yards per reception, and anybody who has watched him knows that he typically earns those yards by being tough to bring down.
It’s a rare thing for Cooley to drop a pass that hits him in the hands, and even more rare that he’s tackled by the first player who hits him.
K.I.S.S.—I don’t mean "Detroit: Rock City," I mean "Keep It Simple Stupid."
The Redskins’ offense tried to confuse defenses with too much pre-snap motion, which typically only seemed to confuse themselves. I understand what they were trying to do, but it didn’t seem to work.
What it did seem to do (very well) was burn up all of the play-clock, and result in a lot of "false start" and "delay of game" penalties. The offense should snap out of the huddle, get to the line, give the QB time to look at the defense (and change the play if necessary), and snap the ball.
The faster they get to the line and get the play off, the less time the defense has to figure out what they are going to do next.
Have a Sense of Urgency—The Redskins seemed to be at their best last year when they were in the "no-huddle" offense.
There were two reasons for this. Firstly, they got the defenses on their heels. Secondly, Jason Campbell was able to be creative with the play-calling. Now I’m not saying they should go "no-huddle" all the time, as going "no-huddle" just as easily can produce the quickest three-and-out drive as it can a scoring drive.
What I am saying is that the team should use some of that magic by getting to the line quickly and allowing Campbell the creative freedom to change the play.
A Show of Hands—Jason Campbell had an above 60 percent completion percentage last year, but it’s hard to believe it was that high. I don’t know about anybody else, but there were times where it seemed like nobody wanted the ball.
Every coach will tell you, if the ball hits the receiver in the hands, than the QB did his part. I can’t remember how many passes I saw bounce off of or slide through the hands of a wide open receiver last year.
Even the usually sure-handed Santana Moss had his share of blooper-reel near-catches. Granted, some of the blame goes to the fact that both Moss and Randle-El were playing through the pain of strained hamstrings.
Strength and Conditioning—The Achilles’ Heel of last years’ team was actually more of an Achilles’ hamstring. So many muscle pulls, strains, and sprains it was unreal.
Many of these injuries were non-contact related. It seemed like everyone on the team was coming up gimpy after a play. You can’t always blame a strain on the strength and conditioning coaches, but when most of the team starts coming up lame, that’s a sure sign of poor conditioning and inadequate stretching and warm-up before games.
Your move, Dirtbag—Where do I start with the troubles on the offensive line?
Should I go for something simple like Pete Kendall’s knee bothering him so bad that he wasn’t able to practice during the week, or more complex like Randy Thomas’ torn tricep or Jon Jansen’s broken ankle?
Either way, the O-line was in rough shape last year.
That being said, what was left pulled together pretty well, even if it did take several weeks. The Redskins are playing it kind of risky this year as they haven’t really done much different with their O-line, but if they can keep Jansen and Thomas healthy through the year the front-five ain’t so bad.
All in all, the Redskins have all the players they need on offense, but getting it done is going to fall to the coaches and training staff. I don’t think the Redskins are playoff bound this year, but I certainly believe they are a team that shouldn’t be over-looked.
Next up: Defense