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Roster gives peek at the Zorn Identity

Aug 31, 2008, 3:21 PM EDT

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A look at the final roster for the Washington Redskins tells me that Jim Zorn is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst when it comes to the team’s offensive output in 2008.

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.

  1. BluCollar Redskin - Aug 31, 2008 at 4:27 PM

    Very insightful work Rich. Excellent points. I do hope they can coach up Tryon(my biggest issue with the cuts)and hope that Kelly can get healthy, with McMullen cut, Fred Davis and Cooley, and Portis may be JC’s best options on a regular basis, with the occasional big play to Moss or ARE. Thrash may have a near career year if he can stay healthy too. It will be an interesting ride for sure.

  2. Chris C. - Aug 31, 2008 at 8:13 PM

    WoW. What a great look into the composition of the roster. A great opinion that really states what Jim Zorn is about. I’ve loved the way he has been consistent in manner through wins and losses, and I really think Zorn could be special. Again, great analysis and keep showing the world what an intelligent and classy guy Zorn is.

  3. Chris C. - Aug 31, 2008 at 8:15 PM

    By the way, way to give the Redskin Faithful something to look forward to, unlike other bloggers/journalists around here.

  4. Steve_Ehrmann - Aug 31, 2008 at 10:58 PM

    All I can say is “thanks!” for taking the time and thought to write such a great commentary. Much better than the Post, or anything else I’ve read.

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