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Spurrier & Ramsey

In contrast to last year's bravado, Steve Spurrier is reserved in his predictions of how the Redskins will perform this season. The external predictions of the Redskins performance this year are also quite different from a year ago. Many NFL observers are predicting that the Redskins have a shot at a winning record and, perhaps, the playoffs.

These prognostications come with caveats, of course. The biggest key is how well and how quickly the team's new players will gel with the system and their new teammates.

The early indications are that chemistry will be but a minor issue. Laveraneus Coles has adjusted extremely well and very quickly to the offense and quarterback Patrick Ramsey. Incumbent standout offensive tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen will undoubtedly help new guards Randy Thomas and Dave Fiore in learning and executing the blocking schemes.

Offensively, the key is the performance of second-year QB Patrick Ramsey, the pundits say. If he can absorb the offense and run it effectively, the team's number 20 offensive ranking will improve dramatically. If he doesn't, it won't.

Just as the offense must improve, the defense must not slip far from its number five ranking of last year. The conventional wisdom is that it will be tough to overcome the loss of coordinator Marvin Lewis (went to Cincinnati to become head coach there) and tackle Daryl Gardener (moved to Denver as a free agent). The strength of the unit is the back seven and the pressure will be on the likes of new safety Matt Bowen and third-year corner Fred Smoot to bolster the team's pass defense.

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