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Smith: Offense Up To Speed -- And Watch Betts

Redskins Coach Jim Zorn and his staff have now had more than a full calendar year to install their offensive system -- based in the old West Coast principles made famous by the San Francisco 49ers of the 1980s -- with the current personnel. Though the offseason workouts that conclude today for this week -- and continue with four more sessions next week -- are held without pads, offensive coordinator Sherman Smith said the team is much more adept at running the system now than it was at this point a year ago.

"It makes it better, easier," Smith said Wednesday. "And I think it's better for the players because they understand. You go out and call a play, and they understand the play -- the quarterback in particular. So I think everybody just understands. They're moving faster, not thinking as much. It's going to show itself during the season."

Even during the 2008 season, Zorn spoke frequently about his desire to see the Redskins run plays at a high speed. That, perhaps, is the biggest change in a year's time.

"They're doing it now, because they understand a lot better," Smith said. "When you're not thinking, you can just go out and play, then you play fast. So the guys are playing faster, because they're processing a lot better. They can visualize what we're doing, what we're talking about. Z-Man said something to me at practice today. He said, 'Man, we're so much further ahead.' I can tell that because of how we're moving."

That does not mean, however, that the Redskins will move on and begin learning more plays. Given how the offense sputtered most of the season and contributed mightily to a 2-6 collapse that left Washington out of the playoffs, the idea, Smith said, is to get better at what the Redskins already know.

"We're going to perfect what we have," Smith said. "Honestly, we don't have another playbook somewhere where we're saying, 'OK, let's go get this other playbook.' Here's what we have. Here's what we do. Let's go do it now."

I asked Smith who, after one previous set of organized team activities and a mini-camp, stands out to him offensively.

"The guy that's been standing out to me is Ladell Betts," Smith said of the running back who serves as Clinton Portis's backup. "To me, he's stepped his game up. He's preparing like he's a starter. He's taken a leadership role, which I'm not saying he wasn't a leader before, but I just think he's a very good player. He's jumped out to me.

"Chris Cooley, I mean, he's Chris Cooley. He's a football player. There's a difference between a guy who plays football and a football player. He's a football player. I love him."

"Malcolm," Smith continued, speaking of second-year receiver Malcolm Kelly. "Just seeing Malcolm running around, boy that's better. And no question, the quarterback. No doubt. His game is taking off. And what he went through this offseason, my respect for him, I can't even measure it."

The message: Jason Campbell will be better, Smith believes. And don't be surprised to see Betts get more carries this year, easing the burden on the heavily used Portis.

By Barry Svrluga  |  June 4, 2009; 9:48 AM ET
 
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Next: Fletcher, Sellers Are on the OTA Scene

Comments

Good stuff, hope all of it turns out to be true....more betts can't hurt I imagine.

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | June 4, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Good stuff, hope all of it turns out to be true....more betts can't hurt I imagine.

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | June 4, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Unless he's putting the ball on the ground in the 4th quarter again.

Posted by: Original_etrod | June 4, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Like everything else with this team, I'll believe it when I see it. We say the same things every summer and it usually amounts to bupkus.

Posted by: Rypien11 | June 4, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

oe, I think if he's utilized more, and in a more consistent basis, we'll see better results. Lessening the burden on Portis can't be a bad thing. Sellers fumbled on the goal line, but no one carries a grudge against him, like they do against betts.

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | June 4, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Here comes the "Betts sucks" crowd....

Posted by: dlhaze1 | June 4, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Shoot the video first, write the song later.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XkD5sJwwrE

Posted by: dcsween | June 4, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Wow, the QB is looking better, the RB is looking good, the WR is showing signs of life, the TE is getting love ... what could go wrong?

Ohhhhhhh

Posted by: zcezcest1 | June 4, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I have a more nuanced approach to the Betts crowd that I'm in. I don't think he sucks. I think he has racked up some solid yardage numbers ... in games that the Skins lost. Numbers-wise, his fumbles are no worse per carry or per yard than Portis or any other back in the league who gets a high number of carries. The problem is that Betts' fumbles have tended to come at the absolutely worse time ... soul crushing moments that have caused bigger momentum transfers than other fumbles. That said, I do think he can be a number one back and have thought for a long time that he would win that role with most other teams ... hence, good trade bait.

Posted by: dcsween | June 4, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"prove it" is my official position with the Skins

is betts the ultimate practice player or what? I feel like i read this every off season.

Posted by: chrislarry | June 4, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Wow - someone mete out Sherman Smith's Adderol.. that's some sunny disposition alright...

And that's AWESMoe, Sween!

Posted by: DikShuttle | June 4, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Here comes the "Betts sucks" crowd....

Posted by: dlhaze1 | June 4, 2009 10:19 AM

Y-y-ya know it. All on our own.

He's not going to get 3-4 carries in a row. As a back up he has to come in and make it happen on a limited number of plays. That's how he will get more touches and consistent playing time. Guys like Sproles and Washington come in the game and make plays on their limited touches in a series of downs. Betts has to be that kind of weapon.

Posted by: learnedhand1 | June 4, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

beantown, I would agree with that. Hopefully more workload will allow him to be in the flow of the game and not cough it up.

The reason we don't rail against Sellars for his goal line fumble is that it was an isolated incedent. Betts has established a pattern of doing it. Betts is a good running back but the fumbles are a legit concern.

Posted by: Original_etrod | June 4, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Why is JLC's mug still up? Did they hire someone to run thing, because earlier this week it was someone else, now it's Barry somebody.

Posted by: bostskin | June 4, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I also think Betts is a more consistent (better hands) short yardage receiver out of the backfield than Portis.

Posted by: dcsween | June 4, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

There’s also a feeling that Campbell and coach Jim Zorn have developed a strong bond, given that both men’s futures with the Redskins will be determined in large part by their ability to succeed this year.

In our view, anything less than a playoff berth and an appearance in the divisional round or better will result in Campbell leaving via free agency, and Zorn leaving via termination.

And if Zorn goes, look for the Redskins to make a serious run at one of the two Mikes who’ll be on the market come January — Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren.


Posted by: brownwood26 | June 4, 2009 7:06 AM

What a pile of crap. Don't think Danny has high expectations for his offense in 2009 given how he tried and failed to upgrade QB, the seat of many of the problems. Campbell is definitely headed out the door unless he comes up with a big leap forward. Snyder is unlilkely to hire Shanahan or Homegrin inasmuch as (a) they would want control and (b) they ain't prexactly coming off of good years themselves. He has a nice working relationship with Zorn. Zorn lets him mettle. The coaches that really have to worry are Bugel and Blache. Bugel really screwed the pooch with Jansen - he obviously was cooked after his injury in 2007 and should have been cut in 2008 - and he hasn't done too good with Rhinehart either. Blache has to find a way to use AH and Rak creatively or he is gonso also. And that will not be easy for him. He is a good motivator and communicator but he is often outcoached by his offensive counterpart when is comes to scheming and moves and countermoves. I don't see how the Skins will even begin to exploit AH's skills comparable to what the Titans did with him. After a year of AH frustration Blache is out the door as well.

Posted by: AntonChigurh | June 4, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Aaack - flying choir boy!

Posted by: DikShuttle | June 4, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Shoot the video first, write the song later.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XkD5sJwwrE

Posted by: dcsween | June 4, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse


Holy Shti! That's funny.

Posted by: Original_etrod | June 4, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Dik, "... I think the effing angel just felt me up ..." and "mullet with headlights"

Posted by: dcsween | June 4, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

sounds good except for the biggest offensive problem last season: Offensive line....... we really have a chance to do well, as the schedule is even weaker than last season. I know JC can lead us to the big dance if the line holds up, Zorn can adapt to changes with his play calling, and Zorn can do adequate clock management. we also must improve on special teams because it can be both a pos & neg game changer. I am really looking forward to this season, especially with all the drama involved this offseason. HAIL SKINS!

Posted by: jenksredskins | June 4, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I can't even tell you how 70s that damn Z-Man crap is...I mean really, give Zorn a worthwhile nickname, Sherman!

Posted by: brownwood26 | June 4, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I can't even tell you how 70s that damn Z-Man crap is...I mean really, give Zorn a worthwhile nickname, Sherman!

Posted by: brownwood26 | June 4, 2009 10:40 AM

I'm guessing the nickname goes way way back to when they were both playing in the Seahawks backfield ... like during a ride home when one of them popped in an 8-track tape.

Posted by: dcsween | June 4, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Good to hear a little optimism.

They cant help but get better after keeping the smae squad for a year (and staff)

Posted by: CheyenneWY | June 4, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Betts Sucks!

Satisfied?

Posted by: 4thFloor | June 4, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Ernest Byner was run out of Cleavland for one fumble, came here and continued his career as a very good RB. Betts is a good back. Don't make the same mistake by kicking him to the curb now. I don't want to see him playing well for sombody else this season, because if we get rid of him that's surely hat he'll be doing.

Posted by: kaasmaster | June 4, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I'll accept Z-man as long as Smith's nickname is Shermanator X.

Posted by: Original_etrod | June 4, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I don't believe he was talking about Betts. He was really referring to BeantownGreg's favorite, Marcus Mason. That's the guy who's stepping up, not Betts.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | June 4, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I don't want to see him playing well for sombody else this season, because if we get rid of him that's surely hat he'll be doing.

Posted by: kaasmaster | June 4, 2009 10:47 AM

Maybe we could trade him, plus a pick, to Miami for Jason Taylor? Taylor has a much more cap-friendly contract now.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | June 4, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

... Betts is a good back. Don't make the same mistake by kicking him to the curb now. ...

Posted by: kaasmaster | June 4, 2009 10:47 AM

I'd never suggest that. I think the Skins have (or at least, should call plays and personnel as if they have) one of the best 1-2 back combos in the NFL. What I'm saying is that if a crisis arises at RT and some other team has a crisis at RB* ... then I'd root for the jersey and not the guy wearing it.

* Except Denver ... Denver is where RBs go to get injured and out for the season ... Betts has earned the right not be sent to the meat grinder.

Posted by: dcsween | June 4, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Etrod, Don't... don't, don't , don't
don't believe the hype.

Jenks, you're being sarcastic, right?

Posted by: DikShuttle | June 4, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I'd trade Betts for a good O-Lineman & some pics. But that's it. He's fine as a 'talent' player. Gives CP his rest. I hope his blocking improves, though.

Posted by: DikShuttle | June 4, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Maybe we could trade him, plus a pick, to Miami for Jason Taylor? Taylor has a much more cap-friendly contract now.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | June 4, 2009 10:49 AM

Burn me once ....

Posted by: kaasmaster | June 4, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I truly hope our running backs will be good - I have to hand it to our bitter enemy the Cowboys - they have 3 great RBs.

Posted by: Lisa_R | June 4, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I'd trade Betts for a good O-Lineman & some pics. But that's it. He's fine as a 'talent' player. Gives CP his rest. I hope his blocking improves, though.

Posted by: DikShuttle | June 4, 2009 10:56 AM

True enough. I'd just about trade my mother for a good O lineman right now.

Posted by: kaasmaster | June 4, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I have to hand it to our bitter enemy the Cowboys - they have 3 great RBs.

Posted by: Lisa_R | June 4, 2009 10:59 AM

Huh? Name them. None of them have done anything agaianst us, save for the 2nd half of last years game @ our house. Marion the Non-Scaryman averages something like 40 yards against us...

Felix Jones has only played half a season, which earns him SJK. I forget the 3rd.....

Posted by: 4thFloor | June 4, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm here WAAAY too often to not know this, but remind me what SJK is somebody!

Posted by: brownwood26 | June 4, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't call Barbarian a great running back, Lisa. After Julius Jones left his output was mebbe just above average if not worse than. I think his status was really built on JJ's back.

We don't know enough about Felix Jones yet, though he does appear to be the real deal.

Who's the third great rb in dallass?

Posted by: DikShuttle | June 4, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

There goes 4th, stealin' mah thundaaa. lol. Srry Lisa, didn't mean to harp!! lol.

SJK = Sorry Jack's Kids

Posted by: DikShuttle | June 4, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: 4thFloor | June 4, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I'm here WAAAY too often to not know this, but remind me what SJK is somebody!

Posted by: brownwood26 | June 4, 2009 11:05 AM

SJK = Sorry, Jack's Kids = &$%#@ in comic strips

Jack complained about the vulgarity on RI saying that his kids read RI and were offended. Hence, SJK.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | June 4, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Running Backs:

39 Alridge, Anthony practice squad/ camp body/ cut

46 Betts, Ladell cp's back but could be traded

31 Cartwright, Rock the team captain makes the team and continues to be 1 of the top all purpose yards guys in the nfl

32 Dorsey, Dominique practice squad/ camp body/ cut

24 Mason, Marcus has to show he can block if he wants to make the team

26 Portis, Clinton pro bowl this year


Fullbacks:

35 Evans, Jonathan cut

45 Sellers, Mike goes to pro bowl again

36 Williams, Eddie groomed as sellers replacement

Posted by: jimmy_the_crickett | June 4, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

SJK = Sorry Jack's Kids

Posted by: DikShuttle | June 4, 2009 11:07 AM

Dik, you left the comma out. Sorry Jack is probably more accurate, anyway.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | June 4, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Why is JLC's mug still up? Did they hire someone to run thing, because earlier this week it was someone else, now it's Barry somebody.

Posted by: bostskin
Um his face has been off here for 3days.

Posted by: alex35332 | June 4, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

She's probably referring to Choice.

Posted by: learnedhand1 | June 4, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: alex35332 | June 4, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

O! Good ol Tanard Choice, how could I have forgotten him! He is a GREAT RB, DEF!

(Editor's note - If you didn't realize, I was/am being sarcastic)

Posted by: 4thFloor | June 4, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

DikShuttle - What amzes me is that we harped on the same points.

* Marion over-rated
* Jones only played 1/2 a season
* And couldn't recall 3rd RB

Along with Betts, Dallas will suck as well this year.....

Posted by: 4thFloor | June 4, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

breep, bneep

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | June 4, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

get out of my HEAD, man!! lmao

Posted by: DikShuttle | June 4, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't call Barbarian a great running back, Lisa. After Julius Jones left his output was mebbe just above average if not worse than. I think his status was really built on JJ's back.

We don't know enough about Felix Jones yet, though he does appear to be the real deal.

Who's the third great rb in dallass?

Posted by: DikShuttle

Well, IMO, Marion Barber has looked great against most teams. The Skins were pretty successful in keeping him in check - but not during the FINAL Skins/Cowboys game last season. Felix Jones (to me) looked great before he got hurt. And last but not least Tashard Choice looked good in his limited role last season.

Just my opinion...

Posted by: Lisa_R | June 4, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Betts is a slower version of Portis, no explosin or change of pace. I think the team has waited long enough for him to step up. It is my hope they take a long look at available alternatives!

Posted by: Spanglerg | June 4, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Well, Jason's mug may be gone from the web-site, but at the top of the page, it still tells us to "E-Mail Jason" with your questions and comments...

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | June 4, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Best to hear these props about Kelly and Campbell. Portis is the best player on the team and maybe in the league. When he needs a blow fine, but let him win the game. He will...

That said, I think Betts might be the better receiver.

Posted by: ElYeah | June 4, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised he didn't say that Thrash looks fantastic - Thrash always looks great during OTA's. I remember Zorn saying that Thrash going to catch a lot of passes last year.

Posted by: coparker5 | June 4, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Along with the fumbles at the most crucial moments, what I don't like about Betts is, he doesn't have the vision of Portis, and he is not elusive, so he really needs the help of the o-line more than Portis. He doesn't have breakaway speed(at this point Portis doesn't either).

Also Betts doesn't have the nose for the endzone like Portis. I do agree he appears to be a better receiver out of the backfield.

Tiki Barber fumbled a lot early in his career until he changed how he held the ball(chest high). The coaches need to implement that with Betts.

Having said all that, I think after this season the team needs to get a featured back, along with O-line, since most of the quality upgrades this offseason were for defense.

Posted by: 72Redskins | June 4, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Hold on! Wasn't Portis (and yes I'm a Portis fan) complaining about the few carries that Ladell did get last year, when he wasn't hurt. I clearly remember the sideline antics. So how is this going to work with Ladell getting better this offseason. I just hope skill outweighs egos and pressure from Danny to keep "his guy" Portis happy.

Posted by: Law_Dog79 | June 4, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The reporting seems better around here lately. Nothing against La Canfora, except for his incessant negativity, but it seems we're getting more info since he left.

Posted by: lordtwang | June 4, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

1. This is a west coast offense. That means short passes. That's likely why Betts impresses. He catches passes and he does have a "nose for the endzone" catching those swing passes.

2. Portis did not have much of a "nose for the endzone" after the OL collapse. Have to assume the line could turn out to be worst this year given Samuel's and Thomas's injuries. If Mike Williams steps up and becomes the ghost of Runyan the younger ... that's like Manna from heaven because you can't rely on it. Who can you rely on OL wise? Dockery? Rabach? That's why they probably should try to sign "Levon" Lewis and anyone else with potential as a part of that "80".

3. Campbell and Colt will surprise a lot of people I think. But they still need wide receivers ... and a tight end. Beyond Cooley and Moss, again its the big unknown.

Lots of questions personnel wise ... no answers yet.

Posted by: periculum | June 4, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Due to illness and err. ... retirement, the part of Joe Montana will be played by Jason Campbell

Since when do they transfer your posts?

Posted by: ElYeah | June 4, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

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