Quarterback: Jason Campbell's numbers didn't necessarily impress last week on 12-21 for 222 yards and 0 touchdowns on 2 picks. Also, 54 of those yards came off a freak hail mary tipped pass that Antwaan Randle El somehow snagged at the end of regulation. Still, even without that 54 yarder he's throwing about the prettiest deep ball I've seen and completing longer passes than we're used to; against Miami he was 8.4 YPA without the freak hail mary. Even his picks weren't that frustrating; the first he missed a guy in coverage though it was close enough to Cooley to be defensed. The 2nd was single coverage in the end zone and Brandon Lloyd misjumped. I have no problem with our quarterback throwing one on one into the endzone so long as the receiver is Santana Moss. Still, Campbell is a young quarterback. Conventional wisdom says you want to pressure him.
Running Backs: Clinton Portis isn't hurt and probably won't be much this season. He looked very sharp (17 rushes for 98 yards, 5.76 YPC) against a Miami defense that finished 3rd in fewest YPC allowed. Betts got in on the action as well with 17 carries and will likely see a good amount of action against the Eagles. Overall the team had 191 yards on 41 carries, for an efficient 4.7 YPC. Mike Sellers is a beast of a fullback and difficult to avoid.
Wide Receivers: Big news last week was the emergence of Antwaan Randle El as a legitimate looking #2 wide receiver. Him and Campbell hooked up a couple of times on clutch deep passing plays and the two appear to be on the same page. His 5 receptions on 162 yards is deceptive due to his 54 yard hail mary reception, but that's still 4 catches for 108 yards; over 25 ypc. He didn't break 100 yards once last season. Santana Moss was quiet last sunday but he's a ninja and prefers killing through stealth anyways. He could've had a whole lot more yards had JC not just missed him on a mid-range pass where Moss was open in space. Brandon Lloyd may not be our #3 wide receiver anymore now that the team has added Reche Caldwell, though neither looks to make a terribly large impact this week.
Tight Ends: Chris Cooley. He had just one reception last week for 10 yards. He had a slow start in 2006 yet still managed 57 catches for 734 yards and 6 TDs. Al Saunders has successfully improved Cooley's YPC to 12.4, a career high, including him in a lot more deep patterns and giving Johnny White Guy the opportunity to catch footballs in space, where he's surprisingly dangerous. Surprising cause he's a large guy at 249 pounds, runs faster than that, and breaks tackles bigger than that.
Offensive Line: Don't ask. Jon Jansen is out with a painful sounding dislocated ankle. Stephon Heyer got gameday replacement duties against the Dolphins but has since lost that job to Todd Wade, who performed admirably as a backup last year. Wade was originally re-signed to take over Derrick Dockery's spot on the line, but lost that when the team signed Pete Kendall. Overall this is still a very strong line, as Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas are both pro bowl caliber players. Casey Rabach is a reliable and underrated center and Pete Kendall is a veteran. The issue will be how the line responds to the absence of Jansen, a loss that cannot be overstated. I am concerned about Jason Campbell's protection this week.
Defensive Line: There was a question whether or not we'd get the Andre Carter that played in the first half of last season (he had 2 sacks through November) or the guy who lit things up in December, by accumulating 5 sacks over 6 weeks. Sure enough, on the Dolphins second drive Carter got after Trent Green for the first sack of the season. So many of our defensive woes from last year were the result of an anemic pass rush which will have to improve with the front four. Surprise for me was that Anthony Montgomery got the start at Defensive Tackle over Kedric Golston, though he also played. The Redskins rotate a lot along the line so expect to see a good bit of Golston, Demetric Evans, and Chris Wilson to augment the elders Phillip Daniels and Cornelius Griffin.
Better here than we were a year ago by matters of degree. Rocky McIntosh finally, mercifully replaced Warrick Holdman and London Fletcher is a huge upgrade in the middle. Those two alone accounted for 19 tackles and 4 assists last week. Marcus Washington doesn't look like he's recovering from injury, though he is. Subs will be Khary Campbell and H.B. Blades, a/k/a The Hamburglar, who looks to inherit this defense from London Fletcher when his robotic components cease functioning sometime next century. Expect blitz from this unit, or I'm hoping for it at least, especially from the strong side, Marcus Washington.
Secondary: Starting with cornerbacks, Smoot was apparently playing in front of Shawn Springs. Per Post Game Heroes (http://www.postgameheroes.com/?p=591) he was targeted on 15 passes, or 33% of the time. It's still too early to decide whether we have the reliable Carlos Rogers of 2005 or the uneven one of 2006, but there's a good cornerback in there somewhere. Having Shawn Springs as a #2 or even nickelback is a good place to be, as he's painted on defenders in coverage. Our safeties need little introduction. Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry are both bash brothers, and Redskins bloggers are frantically trying to think of different names for their combined terror. Landry is spending some quality time in the box and will be used heavily against the run and pressuring your quarterback.
To sum up, your best matchup I imagine would be against our offensive line where we're a player short. In coverage we are probably misusing Shawn Springs, so you could have a big game against either Rogers or Smoot. Passing over Rocky McIntosh's head in the middle also appears to be a popular and successful option. Our front four aren't the scariest in the league, but Andre Carter could surprise and deserves a close eye. I know the above is fairly general though I hope it helps, and should you have any specific questions about the team heading into this week's game I would be more than happy to answer them in the comments section.
[editor's note, by BleedGreen] haha