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Roster gives peek at the Zorn Identity

Roster gives peek at the Zorn Identity

A look at the final roster for the Washington Redskins tells me that Jim Zorn is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst when it comes to the team's offensive output in 2008.

Zorn and company kept 24 offensive players and 26 defenders. They kept five wide receivers when most thought it was certain that they would keep six, choosing instead to go with a sixth defensive end. And the luxury of having a fourth running back on the roster to stockpile some talent there was sacrificed in order to keep an extra defensive back around.

And, in reality, a number of offensive players either aren't ready to play or won't play if all goes as planned. Colt Brennan and Todd Collins go into the latter category while the likes of Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas, Chad Reinhardt, and Justin Geisinger fall under the designation of those who aren't playing at prime-time levels yet. That leaves just 18 players to man the 11 offensive positions.

On the other hand, most of the defensive players will be counted on to contribute, either in situations from scrimmage or on special teams.

Zorn, the offensive-minded head coach, the ex-quarterback, is being practical. Instead of collecting extra weapons for his side of the ball, he opted to give Greg Blache and Danny Smith a couple more tools with which to do their jobs.

It seems that Zorn knows that he has his work cut out for him in crafting this offense into a well-oiled machine. He knows that in order to stay in games while the offense is in on the job training mode he'll need a defense that can constantly rotate in fresh linemen to keep pressure on the other team's quarterback and that he'll need plenty of hands in the backfield to cover multiple-receiver sets.

The West Coast offense is supposed to replace a lot of running plays with short passes. I don't see Zorn doing that to the extent that, say, Andy Reid does in Philadelphia. While we won't see a Gibbs-like power running game, it's safe to say that Zorn will rely heavily on Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts to move the chains. Still, there will be a high number of three and outs and the defense has to be ready to take the field after only a short rest on frequent occasions.

In other situations such as this, many new head coaches would be uncomfortable going in with a relatively small number of players on the side of the ball that represents his specialty. It looks like Jim Zorn has checked his ego at the door and is dealing with the reality that his offense isn't likely to score points by the bucket in 2008.

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.