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To No One's Surprise, Defense Is Ahead at This Point

Defenses generally are sharper than offenses this early in camp. The precision with which an offense must work to be effective takes more time to develop than it does to rush the passer or drop in coverage.

To this point, that's certainly true of the Redskins' offense.

After the team's first session in full pads Saturday, Coach Jim Zorn said the Skins have a long way to go on offense. It struggled overall and the defensive line appeared to be in top form as the offensive line experienced protection problems. Poor pass protection was among the Skins' biggest problems in their 2-6 second-half collapse, and it still is a front-burner issue.

"I would say I want to see sharper things, but not because of last year," Zorn said. "I want to see 'em just because that's what we have to do. We're working at it, and I think I had a little information overload today because we missed our practice yesterday from the rain.

"We added things in today's practice that were supposed to be run yesterday. We were just trying them out today. We got a little bit ahead of ourselves because of the lack of practice."

With third-year tackle Stephon Heyer projected as the starting right tackle and guard Derrick Dockery back with the team after two years with Buffalo, the offensive line needs time to come together. Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels and guard Randy Thomas also are coming off surgery, so there's a lot going on with this bunch.

Samuels, Thomas, Dockery, Heyer and shrinking tackle Mike Williams (the heat on the field in Ashburn should help him lose even more weight) worked out in Arizona before camp, in part, in an effort to build unity. Of course, it is a little tougher to focus when Albert Haynesworth lines up against you.

Despite the concerns about the line, Zorn expressed confidence the unit would be better than it was last season when it gave up 38 sacks -- the league's fourth-highest total. "If we stay healthy, our pass protection is going to be better," he said. "Our run blocking, I'm definitely expecting the same result. I just want to improve that pass pro."

It seems Heyer could have a big role in the process. An undrafted free agent from Maryland in 2007, Heyer has played in 21 games, starting 12s. He has worked hard in the weight room to improve his physique, and it appears he is by far Washington's best option on the right side.

Williams has been beaten often early in camp by several rushers. And after losing so much weight so quickly (he's reportedly down about 100 pounds from a high of 450), Williams might not be at full strength as his body adjusts.

The Skins are intrigued about the potential versatility of guard/tackle Jeremy Bridges, but he might be better suited to a swing role as a reserve. It seems as if the competition at right tackle is in name only.

"What I see from him is more confidence in himself," Zorn said. He's "not trying to think through every situation. He really knows the calls, knows who's next to him and how he needs to work with the guy next to him."

But Zorn is not ready to name Heyer the starter. "I think the position is open," Zorn said. "I'm not going to make any decision [now]. It will be made as we go along in training camp, as we go along in the preseason.

"I'd like to wait for preseason games to say, 'Bless the guy.' Not that I'm anybody special, but you know what I'm saying? We're looking for a starter there."

By Jason Reid  |  August 1, 2009; 2:01 PM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Next: Battle for Special Teams Positions Begins


Counting on Heyer to establish himself this season... I just don't believe in any of the alternatives, as yet.

C'mon, Heyer, big fella... rooting for you.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | August 1, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I know it is early but....

Haynesworth and Orakpo are beasts. No one can stop them although O is still learning the linebacker position. Looks like Blache is going to be more aggressive this year.

I continue to be very worried with the O-line. Samuels looks to be in great shape but the rest are struggling.

The 2nd year receivers are progressing. Thomas is flat out fast. Kelly runs great patterns and catches everything. Too bad we cannot combine them. Davis is okay, backup to Cooley (receiving) and Yoder (blocking)

Campbell is still an enigma. Great touch, esp on the deep balls and to Cooley. However, he holds onto the ball way too long and doesn't step up in the pocket enough, instead drifting to his right.

Don't be surprised if Colt Brennan is the #2 QB by opening. He is quick and accurate with the ball, although his long ball arm is very weak.

Posted by: tconway | August 1, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"if we stay healthy" . . . ugh the 4 ugliest words in fubol world . . .

I think I'd better start some rituals and ceremonies with sage and chicken legs and chanting and bongos for our o-line. . .purely made up improvised rituals must count for something right?

Posted by: sfskin | August 1, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Mayor, quite frankly I think there is something here to rip.

I'm just not buying Zorn's weak explanations about bad pass protection.

"Information overload??" - what is this B.S.??

Our O-line is a veteran group that had all of last year to digest these pass-protection schemes. The only new addition to the group is Dockery. Is Zorn implementing an entirely new scheme/or whole new plays?

Sounds to me like the real problem is that the guys lining up across from them are just beating them...

Posted by: p1funk | August 1, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

JR: "I'm headed out to the field now. Perhaps I'll find something to rip."

That shouldn't be so hard. Try either

1. Your pants. Your ass is fat.


2. A big stanky fart. Echo of that Mexican you had last night.

Posted by: LibertyValence | August 1, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

If we're going to be any good this year, we'll be like that Ravens Super Bowl team: terrifying defense, very weak offense (because of a nonexistent O-line). Next year's draft/offseason simply has to be focused almost exclusively on offensive linemen, but we all know that.

Posted by: cali_snowboarder | August 1, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

sfskin, I had the EXACT same reaction to this post:
"If we stay healthy, our pass protection is going to be better," Zorn said

If our team's plan is to have the entire O-Line stay healthy all year, we're doomed. No team in the NFL has a line that "stays healthy"

I really hate that 8-8 is the best we can hope for.

Posted by: jgarrisn | August 1, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse


"...I'm just not buying Zorn's weak explanations about bad pass protection..."


Last week, it was, "Well, we know the system as it's the team's second year in it."

This week, it's, "Well, we've had some information overload....."

Which is it?

How do you not know what you've claim to have known?

And to what degree does the difference in talent that exists between the redskin offensive and defense linemen get recognized as a factor?

The NFC East features some very good defensive linemen. We hope the redskins FO choice of using old, undrafted, and 'scrap' players pays off.

Posted by: MistaMoe | August 1, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

We're going to have one of the very best dline's in the league and it's a wonderful thing. Haynesworth, CGriff, and Daniels are among the most powerful lineman in the league...they will be wrecking olines all year. So it's no surprise our makeshift, jenny craig oline doesnt stand a chance on the first day of hits.

Posted by: divi3 | August 1, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

From what I've heard so far about these first few days of camp it's not good as far as the oline.

Agree with you others the "information overload" remark by Zorn is pure BS. As of now it looks like our oline is picking up right where it left off last year. I hope that it improves.

One last thing, the 2010 draft has to have a competent emphasis on the Oline, no more of; "there was nobody there", or drafting the best player BS. You don't shore up your team's most glaring weakness with cast offs, projects, and factory seconds, or focusing on a 4th ranked defense.

There is truth to the old cliche,"You get what you pay for."

It's still early and lets hope the pass protection gets better. The fate of Jason Campbell, the rest of the offense, and ultimately the season, will depend on it.

Posted by: 72Redskins | August 1, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

soft off? really? is that even a comeback? you're a cantaloupe!

Posted by: pabrian2003 | August 1, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I usually give Pollyannas a free one, But don't push your luck

Posted by: TheCork | August 1, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Our O-line is a veteran group that had all of last year to digest these pass-protection schemes. The only new addition to the group is Dockery. Is Zorn implementing an entirely new scheme/or whole new plays?

Sounds to me like the real problem is that the guys lining up across from them are just beating them...


You've keyed in on the issue. The "OLine" can look bad early while learning new plays and trying to achieve cohesiveness. That's bnot so worrisome, since coaches figure time will cure that problem.

What IS worrisome is individual OlineMEN getting beaten like rented mules one on one. If that is happening with regularity, it's not likely to cure itself with time.

Like to see some informed, detailed reporting about those differences and how they shape up. And no, that doesn't include just repeating what the coach says about it.

One has to worry about this Oline improving or staying healthy by the time the season starts. First they get beat up by their own quality defenders, then they have to try to work things out against Pittsburgh, the Ravens and the Pats in their first three preseason outtings.

That worries ME most of all.

Posted by: TheCork | August 1, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Why do I get the feeling that Jeremy Bridges is going to be huge this least in terms of playing time.

Posted by: chrislarry | August 1, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Every offensive line gets banged up over the course of the year. Finishing fourth worst in sacks allowed is as bad as it sounds.

The two categories the Redskins lead the NFL in are excuses and alibis.

Posted by: hz9604 | August 1, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone else worried they cancelled practice today. Our STeam's wasn't the strongest in the league last year. I know it's early, but comeone. If you don't practice you don't get better. I checked the weather there's no thunder or lighning threat.

Give me a break. I'm not to keen on what I'm seeing so far. D is stout for sure, but the O Line is going to struggle and the end result will be then end of Clinton's youth and Campbell's confidence.

Way to go Vinny. Your grocery list was way short of all the ingredients needed to succeed. You blow.

Posted by: Devo2 | August 1, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

"So it's no surprise our makeshift, jenny craig oline doesnt stand a chance on the first day of hits."


Hehehe... "jenny craig oline" -- line of the day.

Posted by: cali_snowboarder | August 1, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

You gotta loooooove the 3rd-day-of-camp freak outs. Calm down people. You expect the offense to come in and be firing on all cylinders immediately? Impossible

The defense always starts out quicker than the offense. This is even the case through the first few weeks of the season.

Posted by: -swb | August 1, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Alright guys, I know it's kinda late in the FA period but I looked around for some free agent RT that are still available. It is pretty bleak but there are some guys who could come in for a fairly cheap price. They might not be starter caliber but they could definitely provide depth for later in the season... Maybe the skins should think about signing one of these guys as a "project" lol...

Here is what I found with my minimal research:

jonas jennings - A 2001 third round pick; has played RT in the NFL but is notorious for being injured often. Had shoulder surgery during the offseason.

Terrence Metcalf - PRO CAREER: Veteran offensive lineman enters his 6th NFL season having started at both guard positions over his 62 career games played with 15 starts at right guard and 5 at left guard… Played career-high 16 regular season games in 2006, while also appearing in all 3 postseason contests… Started the first 12 games of 2005 season at RG en route to a career-high 13 starts… Started 17 straight games from 2004-05, beginning with 5 starts at LG to close 2004… Reserve first 3 seasons in the NFL, filled-in for 2 starts and reserve O-line duty in 2003 after playing primarily on special teams as a rookie.

HOW ACQUIRED: Entered NFL as a third-round selection (93rd overall) by Chicago in the 2002 NFL Draft.

Mark Tauscher - Tauscher, 32, underwent reconstructive knee surgery Jan. 15 after blowing out his left anterior cruciate ligament Dec. 7 against Houston. A source close to the situation said Tauscher's rehabilitation is well ahead of schedule and that he was extremely optimistic about being ready to play by early September.

What do you guys think?

Posted by: Rashad8o4 | August 1, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I am preparing myself for the inevitable run, run, short completion/incompletion, punt series repeatedly. Offensive line? We dont need no stinking offensive line.

Posted by: ToddStinkston | August 1, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I feel like the same 5 things are repeated on this blog every day! I think everyone in the world is aware that Mike Williams is down 100 pounds, Stephan Heyer is unproven, we got Dockery back from the Bills, and the other guys are old. Can't we just edit those paragraphs out of the blog posts?

Posted by: mikeyvanilli | August 1, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Like to see some informed, detailed reporting about those differences and how they shape up. And no, that doesn't include just repeating what the coach says about it.

Posted by: TheCork | August 1, 2009 4:14 PM

This is where we miss Jasno. He would call assorted "league executives," "talent evaluators," and "NFL sources" (Ozzie Newsome, Charley Casserly, Leigh Torrence, and a few players' agents) until he had enough negatives and then he'd run them. This new guy just doesn't seem to be able to do this same type of "informed, detailed reporting" when we need it.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 1, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

beep beep

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 1, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Go Joe Bugel ! Coach em up ! I am thinking positive that this o-line is going to come together and play well all year. God Willing.When the other teams figure out what Jim Zorn is doing then change the play calling at halftime so they wont know what Jim is going to do! Adjustments!

Posted by: vexed50verizonnet | August 2, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

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