With the acquisitions of Santana Moss and David Patten, the Redskins 2005 offense was designed to emphasize speed. So the Redskins' offense matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense should be a fascinating one.
The Bucs' defense, ranked No. 1 overall in the NFL, is also predicated on speed.
Defensive end Simeon Rice, who will be matched up against left tackle Chris Samuels, is one of the fastest linemen in the league. Linebacker Derrick Brooks can move sideline-to-sideline in blinding speed and attacks the line of scrimmage. Cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly can go toe-to-toe with the fastest of wide receivers.
"Simeon Rice is a great athlete," Samuels said. "He's coming off the edge at full speed. I have my work cut out for myself."
Moss said he was looking forward to the matchup of speed vs. speed.
"I see a skilled, veteran defense that has been together for a while," Moss said. "They fly around and they're fast. We just have to make sure every play counts and we have to take advantage of every play, because they are going to be right there."
In recent weeks, Moss has seen defenses start to roll coverage in his direction to try and minimize his speed after he catches passes on screens.
However, if he's not open, he expects quarterback Mark Brunell to find the open receiver elsewhere.
"That is what you have to expect," he said. "You just have to go out there and play to whoever is open. If it's not, don't try it. I think you pretty much win games by knowing how to make adjustments to whatever a defense shows you. That is what we have been trying to do. If you take away something, we are going to hit you with something else."
-- REACTION TO 'THE U'
LaVar Arrington's nickname for the Redskins' defense--"The U," as in "The Unit"--drew a mixed reaction from Clinton Portis, who attended the University of Miami, also nicknamed "The U."
Said Portis: "Everyone wants to be 'The U' now, but everyone knows what the original 'U' is. People like the concept and want to be a part of it. Whatever they want to call themselves, they can. As long as they go out and get it done on the field, I'm behind it."
-- TACKLING AND TURNOVERS
Williams said the defense continues to put an emphasis in practice on sound tackling technique and forcing turnovers.
"The first thing we do when we go into the defensive period is tackle at every position for 10 minutes," Williams said. "It doesn't matter whether we're in shorts or whether we're in pads. Then, when a particular player has a problem or two, we design drills specifically for them. We even name the drills after them so that they understand they had better fix the problem."
Regarding turnovers, the defense continues to struggle to force fumbles and interceptions, despite Ryan Clark's game-ending pick in last Sunday's 17-10 win over Philadelphia.
"Every single day, we work on that part of the takeaway drills," Williams said. "We even do a drill now with Coach [Joe] Gibbs and the offense where we go over and help them with protecting the football more. We try to turn it into a positive for us so that we're not just serving as a scout team."