- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2005

1. Win Sunday

Period. There is such a thing as a “must win” in Week 1. The Bears will be starting rookie Kyle Orton at quarterback and aren’t good enough to run the ball consistently against the Redskins. If the offense scores two touchdowns, that will be enough. A loss and the Redskins are staring smack dab at an 0-2 start heading into the bye.

2. Anti-patience position

Joe Gibbs didn’t stand pat. He acquired two receivers and a center, avoided a quarterback controversy, added the shotgun and changed the run block schemes. That not-afraid-to-change attitude has to carry over to the regular season should any player (namely the quarterback) struggle early.

3. Calling on playmakers

Among the several pathetic offensive stats last year, two stick out: The Redskins had only one run more than 28 yards and one pass more than 50 yards. The local baseball team struggles hitting home runs; the local football team has to hit more long balls. That responsibility falls on Clinton Portis and Santana Moss.

4. All about LAVAR

LaVar Arrington’s 2004 season consisted of four games and 18 tackles. He’s back from a knee injury, and seeing how Arrington will be used as a linebacker/defensive end is one of the most intriguing defensive subplots. Gifted athletically and motivated to prove he can return to his Pro Bowl form, a healthy and effective Arrington makes a strong defense even better.

5. End division futility

The Redskins were 1-5 against the NFC East (3-15 the last three seasons) and they enter the year having lost 14 of 15 to Dallas and seven straight to division power Philadelphia. That has to improve, at least at FedEx Field. The Redskins finish with three division games and at that time of the year, it takes a running game, a defense and minimal mental errors to win.

6. Encore performance

The Redskins’ defense ranked third in yards allowed last year and got career years from players who were unwanted by the rest of the league or weren’t considered worth the money. Their work ethic suggests players like Marcus Washington, Cornelius Griffin and Lemar Marshall haven’t gotten complacent, but are they good enough to carry the defense again?

7. Pace Portis

In his last four seasons — his last in college and first three in the NFL — Portis has 1,126 carries, including 343 last year. It would be wise to limit his contact by subbing for him every so often with Ladell Betts and using Portis in the slot or on screen passes. Less wear in September and October could mean more production in November and December.

8. Touchdown Taylor

Safety Sean Taylor is the Redskins’ best player, and he will need to be this year if Washington is to make a playoff run. Fans should get used to his high-risk, high-reward style of play. With a year of experience, expect Taylor to return a couple interceptions or fumbles for touchdowns.

9. Ramsey’s time?

We didn’t forget about Patrick Ramsey, the quarterback some fans wanted benched after the first preseason game. Ramsey finished the preseason 29 of 49 for 418 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. He has to iron out the inconsistencies (INT one drive, TD the next) to last 16 games.

10. Cornering the competition

Last season, Shawn Springs was the first defensive back in NFL history to lead his team in interceptions (five) and sacks (six). Springs and rookie Carlos Rogers have to be large this year against the likes of Drew Bledsoe, Eli Manning, Donovan McNabb, Trent Green, Kerry Collins, Drew Brees and Marc Bulger.

Ryan O’Halloran

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