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Updated Redskins '05-'06 IDP Thread

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More of the same: this AP article suggests strongly that Lemar Marshall figures to be the MLB going into the season.


Reports out of camp also indicate that Shawn Springs looks to be in top form, and is head and shoulders above all of the other CB's in coverage. This sounds like he may have returned to the top form people expected out of him when he was a young player out of Ohio State.

Edited by redman

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I thought this was an interesting group of answers from the Def. Coordinator, Gregg Williams about the linebackers and how he plans to use them.

Q: The roster is loaded with linebackers. How do you see the position shaking out?


A: "We like that because we have a lot of ways to spread the wealth around, spread the fatigue around, to play as many of those guys as possible. We have a couple of new packages this year to highlight linebackers, too. The fact that Lemar (Marshall) starts out in the middle linebacker slot--we're still going to move that around a lot. We don't really have starters. If Coach Gibbs allows us to have 25 guys on the active roster on defense, all 25 are starters."


Q: Why does Lemar Marshall start out at the middle?


A: "Lemar has the quickest strengths and learning curve to know exactly how we want things done. Warrick (Holdman) is still getting adapted to what we do and how we do it. Warrick could be a guy that moves in and plays middle linebacker. He has those skills. We want those linebackers that can play more than one position. We're trying to be as flexible as possible and get the right guys in the right spots to cause confusion in the opponent's offense."


Q: Do you seek out linebackers flexible enough to play at different spots:


A: "Guys I've always enjoyed coaching are the guys that are those linebackers that have defensive back skills and defensive back movements, but linebacker personalities. Give Dale Lindsay a lot of credit. How many of you knew Antonio Pierce before last year? How many of you knew Lemar Marshall last year? How many of you knew a lot of these other guys that are all of a sudden phenoms? One consistent thing with Dale Lindsay is wherever he's been, tough guys start to surface."

Based upon this it looks like Marshall will start the season as the MLB, with a chance that Holdman will take over or platoon with him on rushing versus passing plays.

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Here's a quote from Rich Tandler, a respected Redskins observer/reporter/blogger regarding Lemar Marshall from today's week 1 recap of training camp:

I don’t know if Lemar Marshall if big enough to make it at middle linebacker, but it’s sure easy to root for him to do so. The other day he has his jersey and pads off and was talking to a group of reporters and, looking from 15 yards away, I thought, “Who is this receiver all these guys are talking to?” He not tiny, mind you, but standing there in his sweat-soaked Under Armor shirt, he just didn’t have the look that one associates with the likes of classic MLB’s like Butkus or Singletary. In talking to him, though, he seems to have the mental side of it down. Marshall has a quiet, intense personality like those of his new teammate David Patten and, going back a little further, Art Monk. Since Gregg Williams’ scheme doesn’t place as much importance on the size of the Mike man, emphasizing instead smarts and toughness, Marshall’s lack of stature and bulk doesn’t preclude success for him. As Marshall said, “It's not about your weight, it's about your heart."

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More confirmation of Lemar Marshall's status as front-runner for the MLB job:

Marshall becomes man in middle

By Ryan O'Halloran



When he was starting last preseason for an injured LaVar Arrington, Lemar Marshall thought his standing was temporary.


Marshall knew Arrington had proved to be durable during his NFL career and when the Washington Redskins started the regular season, No. 56 would be back at his outside linebacker position.


And Arrington was. For two weeks.


"The first game, he was ready," Marshall recalled. "The second game, he was questionable but played. The third game, I was in there."


A year later, Marshall is still a starter, armed with a new contract, a new position and new responsibilities.


Impressed with the way he filled in for Arrington in 13 starts last year, the Redskins coaches moved Marshall to middle linebacker during the offseason to replace Antonio Pierce, who signed as a free agent with the New York Giants.


Marshall, 28, is getting the first shot at middle linebacker, whose job includes running the huddle, directing the presnap traffic and anchoring the middle of the field.


"He stepped in last year and really saved us," coach Joe Gibbs said. "He had a heckuva season, and to his credit he got a good contract [three years, $2 million] out of it. He's an example of a guy blossoming and becoming a key part of what we're doing. Now we're counting on him at middle backer."


Before training camp, Marshall's main competition for the starting job -- Mike Barrow -- was released. Also working at the position are Warrick Holdman, Clifton Smith and Robert McCune.


If Arrington is slow to return, it's possible Marshall could be moved back outside by necessity. For now, he's adjusting to his new leadership role.


"I'm used to making the calls," he said. "It's one of those things I've always tried to familiarize myself with."


A quick study under assistant coaches Gregg Williams and Dale Lindsey, Marshall was far from an instant NFL standout.


Undrafted out of Michigan State, Marshall was signed and released by Tampa Bay (1999), Philadelphia (2000) and Denver (2001) before joining the Redskins late in the 2001 season.


In 2002-03, he played primarily on special teams in 28 games (no starts), forging a close friendship with Pierce.


Entering last season, Marshall and Pierce figured their roles would be similar, what with Arrington playing outside and the newly acquired Barrow manning the middle. But Barrow never played a snap because of a knee injury, opening the door for Pierce to start every game. Arrington's knee injury forced his exit after Week 2, creating a spot for Marshall.


Marshall finished sixth on the Redskins' third-ranked defense with 82 tackles and had seven or more tackles in seven games.


When Pierce went to the Giants, Williams and Lindsey opted for the in-house replacement.


"Lemar knows exactly how we want things done, and [Holdman] is still getting adapted to what we do and how we do it," Williams said.


After observing Pierce for a season, Marshall said the best thing he learned was how to adjust on the fly.


"You have to be ready for the adversity and the challenges that will come up, and you have to be quick on your feet," he said. "I know I'll be more technique-oriented this year and make sure I have all the little details covered."


Marshall is also prepared to be more vocal on and off the field.

"If something needs to be said, you want it from anybody who feels they've got something to say," he said. "It has to come from somebody who wants to speak the truth. The [middle] backer means being the quarterback out there, and it means being vocal."

Sorry to seem like I'm beating this to death, however everyone should remember that Antonio Pierce came out of nowhere to become a top-10 LB for the 'Skins last year in Gregg Williams' defense, so . . . Edited by redman

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- WTEM, local sports radio in the DC area, is reporting on 8/15 that LB LaVar Arrington (knee), DT Brandon Noble (knee infection), and CB Carlos Rogers (ankle), all passed physicals this morning and will return to practice in pads this afternoon.


- CB Walt Harris reportedly suffered swelling to the calves following the 8/13 preseason game with the Panthers. There were no other injuries reported.


- 2 players who shined during the 8/13 scrimmage vs. Carolina were DT Ryan Boschetti (playing because Noble and Salave'a were held out of the game; 2 pass deflections & blocked kick), and Rookie LB Zach Keasey. As he showed last year, defensive coordinator Greg Williams is a master of getting lesser players into positions where they can contribute. While Boschetti figures to make the squad, he's still only a backup though. Keasey, a UDFA rookie out of Princeton, remains a longshot to make the squad.

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Redskins signed veteran strong safety Eric Brown. Don't read anything into this except that they're having a look at someone who would add depth, and Gregg Williams' defense uses a LOT of DB's.

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Where is SS Bowens in this tangled defense?






Right now he's strained or possibly sprained the knee that was injured and cost him last season. He's downplaying the latest injury, but it appears he'll be rested over the weekend and will miss the next preseason game vs. the Bengals.


Overall, he's the starting SS and Williams seems to believe that he's the best man for the job. I do too although some 'Skins fans disagree. His speed and hitting and blitzing ability are prized in this defense. Ryan Clark, however, is a capable backup as he showed last year.

Edited by redman

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Bowen update: it's just a mild sprain, albeit to the same knee that suffered a torn ACL last year in week 3, keeping him out the entire rest of the season. He's listed as day to day and is expected to return to practice soon, but he'll certainly miss the 8/19 game vs. the Bengals.

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- By most accounts, Carlos Rogers looked on Friday versus the Bengals like every bit of the CB that the 'Skins hoped they'd get when they drafted him 9th overall. He showed excellent coverage abilities and was beat on a couple of plays only after he became winded, due to being unable to practice over the last couple of weeks. It's been Gregg Williams' tendendcy to leave rookies in preseason games to get burned in order to teach them the speed of the game; that happened last year with Sean Taylor . . .


- Cornelius Griffin looks like he's going to be a beast again at UT. With him playing at that level, and with the quality depth they have at D-line overall, Washington's linebackers figure to have another solid year waiting for them statistically.

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This good news regarding Arrington's recovery from KFFL:

Redskins | Arrington Stepping It Up

Tue, 23 Aug 2005 06:38:28 -0700


The Washington Post reports Washington Redskins director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said LB LaVar Arrington (knee) had his most intense practice of preseason Monday, Aug. 22.


Also, backup CB Artrell Hawkins was put on IR.

Edited by redman

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You can hear Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams talk about Arrington's return to the field and the defense as a whole here.

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redman Week 1 analysis/predictions: Rookie 4th rounder Kyle Orton is making his first start on the road against Gregg Williams blitzing defense. This would seem to be an IDP opportunity tailor made for sacks and turnovers. I like DT Cornelius Griffin and DE Phillip Daniels (in his first game versus his former team) to get sacks from the D-line, along with LB's Arrington, M. Washington, S M. Bowen and CB Springs. (I exclude Sean Taylor from the sack list because his coverage skills are so good that it's better to send one of the other guys and leave him in single coverage in response. And yes, I'm expecting about six sacks.


In addition, I think the pressure will result in some turnovers by a rookie unaccustomed to NFL game speed and pressure. I'd estimate perhaps 3 INT's spread among the four DB's starting the game. In other words, if you have Shawn Springs, I'd definitely start him because he looks good for both a sack and an INT. Note that Springs was the 'Skins sack leader with 6 last year from the CB position.


Injury Notes:


LB Chris Clemons and S Ryan Clark are both Out of this Sunday's game; Brandon Noble appears to have perhaps torn some cartilage after landing awkwardly in practice on the knee that was surgically reconstructed last year, so he's listed as Questionable.

Edited by redman

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Here's a good article on Gregg Williams and the Redskins defense. It reads like a fluff piece, but it's from Pro Football Weekly which is usually hard on the team

Washington's 'D' chooses short end of the stick

By Jeff Reynolds (



What makes Gregg Williams the coach he is today are the eight years he spent molding the lives of teenagers as a high school coach in Missouri from 1980-87.


He learned about being humble, about humbling others. How to coach and be coached. Most importantly, Williams learned these two things: Never stop learning and never accept “good enough” — great is always possible.


Williams, in his second season as Washington’s defensive coordinator — officially, the Redskins call Williams, who is among the highest-paid defensive coaches in football, assistant head coach/defense — is imparting those lessons to his new students and continues to apply them to himself.


In a 2004 season in which scoring rose to a record pace, the Redskins gave up more than 21 points just twice — 28 apiece to Philadelphia and Green Bay — and allowed just 16.6 points per game (fifth-best in the NFL). Overall, the defense ranked second and finished in the top five in nine defensive categories in Williams’ first season in the nation’s capital.


“I told them, ‘Hey, pat yourselves on the back. You did some things we haven’t done around here in a while,’ ” Williams said.


No, the outwardly mild-mannered but intense, tough-love coach wasn’t going for positive reinforcement. Cancel the party and don’t pat anyone on the back unless you are refining a swim move. Williams was just getting started.


“But it wasn’t good enough,” Williams said. “We didn’t help our offense enough. Six wins isn’t good enough.”


Any average offense would have been pure gold if it could call on Williams’ defense for backup. For the sake of argument, we’ll use the Saints, the No. 15 offense in the league last season, which averaged 21.8 points and would have outscored Washington's opponent in 14-of-16 games in 2004. The Saints posted an 8-8 record last year, but let’s get one thing straight — it wasn’t the defense lagging behind in Washington last season.


Washington needs to be nearly flawless on defense to win against top competition. In Week One, it held Chicago to seven points to start the year 1-0 for the second straight season. But it wasn’t as easy as maybe it should have been. The defense needed an interception at the goal line to avoid being knocked off by the Bears, instead holding on for a 9-7 victory.


Williams doesn’t want to create an offense vs. defense rub, or any situation where his 11 must declare superiority to the other side of the ball. As inept as the Redskins were (scoring fewer than 17 points 11 times in ’04), Williams put the onus on his defense. Williams wants each of his players, and the defense as a whole, to be responsible for making the Redskins winners.


“Any defense is measured by points allowed and takeaways,” Williams said. “We have to do a better job helping our offense by taking the ball away.”


The Redskins don’t have a star-studded defense. LaVar Arrington, arguably the most talented player on Williams’ defense, was limited to four games and recorded just 11 tackles in ’04. Arrington, who signed an eight-year, $68 million contract in December 2003, remains a virtual unknown to Williams (Arrington recorded one tackle in the season opener vs. Chicago).


“Everywhere I’ve ever been — and the same goes for everywhere (DL coach) Greg Blache has been, (LB coach) Dale Lindsey, (secondary/passing game coach) Steve Jackson — I’ve been able to get people to play harder than they’ve played before,” Williams said. “There is no discount on how hard you have to play. I’m not going to tolerate anything but the best (effort). I don’t care where you were drafted or how much money you make. I’ll run you out of here faster than you came in.


“We had 11 injuries to key personnel, used 15 street free agents last year. We’re looking for smart, tough football players. I don’t think you can overlook how smart and tough a (player is). There are a lot of people in this league who prostitute themselves on change of direction, flash in the pan, 40-yard dash, vertical leap … it’s so much more important to watch a player on the football field than watching them run a 40-yard dash.”


That idea comes from the top. Head coach Joe Gibbs made sure upon his return that his personnel department and scouts didn’t fall in love with “measurables.” Gibbs told the coaching staff, which aids in scouting in Washington as much with any team in the league, to remember character and football smarts. Those are the kind of players known as “Gibbs guys.”


Those players are also proven to be the most coachable. Gibbs has 22 years of NFL experience, while assistant head coach/offense Joe Bugel has 28. Williams (15), Blache (18) and Lindsey (28) are also vastly experienced. Such an assembly was possible because of Gibbs’ reputation and, perhaps as critical, owner Daniel Snyder’s wallet.


“What a breath of fresh air,” Williams said. “He is not afraid to be proactive in anything that deals with winning. Any situation. He’s not afraid to spend money. All he wants is wins. He has to surround himself with as many good decision-makers to do it the right way. Hopefully he did that when he signed Joe Gibbs to coach.”


Williams’ defense thrives on pressure. He estimates the Redskins blitzed 70 percent of 974 defensive plays in ’04, and that number might have gone up in Week One against the Bears. When asked if the Redskins blitzed on all but two second- and third-down plays vs. Chicago, Williams said bluntly, “That might be a little bit low.”


Low, as in under the radar, is Williams’ modus operandi. He wasn’t fired in Buffalo, but on Dec. 29, 2003, the Bills told Williams his 17-31 record with the team wouldn’t cut it and chose not to renew his contract. Williams wants another shot. He’ll have chances at the NFL level, perhaps as soon as January. But he wants the right shot.


“People keep saying I’m leaving,” Williams said. “I’m not leaving. I had chances to leave in (January). I told Coach Gibbs, ‘I will get this on track.’ I had three coaches on this staff turn down jobs to stay here. There is something to be said for what we have from an enjoyment standpoint.


“I’ll do it again. But I’ll make sure it’s the right place. Everyone will know when it’s the right time. Right now the best place in the NFL for me is with the Washington Redskins.”

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Week 2 comments:


Obviously, that was a ridiculous win. The defense held and gave up only one big play. What I paid attention to for IDP purposes is that they: failed to really pressure the QB at all (0 sacks was reflective of that) and they didn't generate any turnovers. I saw a lot of holding that wasn't called yesterday - it was particularly egregious on RDE Daniels and DT Griffin IMHO, but the fact was that neither one really made a play although Griffin did end up with 5 solos on an otherwise quiet night.


I continue to stand by my observation that CB's in the 46-defense, and certainly in Gregg Williams' incarnation of it, are among the most valuable CB IDP's in the game because they are expected to - and do - tackle. Walt Harris (7 tackles) and Shawn Springs (4 tackles) also can be counted on during the course of the season to blitz and get some sacks.


SLB Marcus Washington (8 tackles, 3 assts, 1 sp. teams tackle), at least for now, is the LB to have on this defense. Warrick Holdman (2 tackles, 1 sp. teams tackle) is simply keeping the seat warm at WLB for Lavar (1 tackles) when he returns from injury; Lemar Marshall (3 tackles, 1 asst) isn't quite the tackling dynamo at MLB that Pierce was last year.


SS is up in the air. Prioleau started yesterday again, but it's unclear to me whether that's occurring because the coaching staff has determined he's the best SS, or because both Bowen and Clark are coming off of an injury. Now Prioleau's injured too (hammy?), but Bowen looked good yesterday so I'll assume he's the starter given that Clark was inactive. Their only other option right now at SS is Omar Stoutmire, who's really a special teamer.


At FS, Sean Taylor (4 tackles) is probably more exciting to watch play than he is to have on your fantasy squad. His athletic ability in coverage is so valuable that that's where they keep him, opting instead to blitz the SS and even the CB's before they blitz him. This also means that he won't get as many run tackles as some FS's do. If your league rewards passes defensed, he'll be more valuable there. He will also end up with some INT's given his size and athleticism, and don't forget that the team is using him on offense as a WR in some red zone packages.

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DT Brandon Nobel put on IR; DT Aki Jones activated from the Practice Squad to replace him. Don't expect much from Jones. The only DT to have from this defense is still Griffin.

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From the AP:

As expected, the Redskins downgraded place kicker John Hall (quad), starting cornerback Walt Harris (calf) and starting safety Pierson Prioleau (hamstring) to doubtful for tomorrow's game.


Hall likely is at least a few weeks away from playing, Coach Joe Gibbs said this week, and rookie Nick Novak will handle the field goals, extra points and kickoffs against the Seahawks.


Harris and Prioleau missed practice all week and although they will work out tomorrow morning, Williams said he is not counting on them being ready.


Williams said he is comfortable with the decision to carry only four cornerbacks, and can rotate several players into the nickel role. Safety Ryan Clark is ready to play after missing much of the past month, and Matt Bowen is expected to start in Prioleau's spot.


Safeties Sean Taylor and Omar Stoutmire could line up in the slot as well, with Ade Jimoh the only extra cornerback currently active. Williams did not rule out activating a defensive back -- either Dimitri Patterson or Curry Burns -- from the practice squad by tomorrow.

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- The big controversy this week has been Arrington's lack of playing time - he played only 2 snaps on Sunday. The coaches are saying that his packages are simply not being called, however it's clear that his role is being minimized. The question is why. It would appear that they are trying to force him to become more disciplined and not free-lance as much, but even that seems not to completely explain how a 3-time Pro-Bowler who says he is healthy can't seem to get onto the field. For now, I've penciled in Holdman - who's been playing pretty well at WLB - in as the starter. Continue to monitor this situation.


- Walt Harris and Pierson Prioleau didn't play on Sunday vs. the Seahawks. Prioleau (hamstring) sounds like he's healing faster and is more likely to play on Sunday at Denver than is Harris (knee) according to Gibbs. I'd expect rookie CB Carlos Rogers to get the start again at CB this week.


- It's been revealed that Shawn Springs has been playing with an injured shoulder since midway through the Dallas game in week 2. While he missed time in the Seattle game during a critical scoring drive late in the game, he's expected to play on Sunday.

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Here's the best and most complete article I've come across regarding Lavar Arrington.


By Jason La Canfora

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, October 16, 2005; Page E01


He marched from one damp end of the sideline to the other, often standing alone in his unblemished uniform while a frenetic football game unfolded before him. Eventually, the helmet came off, and unused linebacker LaVar Arrington procured a more permanent residence atop a water cooler, draped in a coat as the chilling rain fell from the Rocky Mountain sky.


The linebacker tried to remain upbeat last Sunday afternoon, greeting teammates with an animated fist bump during substitutions. But for the first time in his career, Arrington was benched for an entire game -- the Washington Redskins' 21-19 loss to Denver -- when he was healthy enough to play. To his ardent supporters, and there are a great many in these parts, the scene had the air of a public humiliation and detracted from the joy of Washington's surprising 3-1 start.




Gradually, a love affair between player and team has deteriorated into a shattered relationship full of contradicting statements. Arrington, 27, the second overall pick in the 2000 draft and a three-time Pro Bowl pick, is the highest-paid spare part in the NFL going into today's game in Kansas City, having endured a precipitous drop in stature unseen in Washington sports. Arguably no athlete this popular has fallen so far, so fast without a severe injury or an obvious decline in performance. The development baffles many fans, and intrigue about the situation remains high as the player who was once the face of the organization now has the starring role in a weekly soap opera.


"You've got a young guy who has been to three straight Pro Bowls, and he's healthy, and he never gets into the game," one NFL general manager said. "Boy, I've never heard of that. I'm sure there are some subplots going on there, but I've been in this league a long time, and that's a new one for me. I think that's pretty unheard of."


How did it come to this? Interviews with former and current players, coaches and sources around the league provide a portrait of a player who might have fallen out of favor with coaches because of the reckless playing style and candor that made him so popular with fans. Those close to Arrington see something more sinister, a vendetta by the Redskins because of a recently settled financial dispute.


Although the season is young, an amicable resolution appears unlikely after a tense week of charges and countercharges. Arrington said he is resigned to his plight, and eventually the Redskins could very well wind up jettisoning a player who in 2003 received an eight-year, $68 million contract extension that made him among the highest-paid players in the history of the NFL.


It started off so wondrously. Hours after being drafted in April 2000, Arrington touched down at FedEx Field in a helicopter, the chosen one who would reinvigorate a long-faltering franchise. At 6 feet 3 and 255 pounds, and with explosive speed, the rookie immediately displayed a penchant for eye-popping plays and bone-jarring collisions. He made his first start in the fourth game and finished fifth on the team in total tackles and third in sacks, with four that season. In a loss to Dallas on Dec. 10, Arrington ended quarterback Troy Aikman's career with a concussive blow on a clean hit.


Coach Marty Schottenheimer took over in 2001 and, although usually a stickler, allowed Arrington the freedom to make plays. Arrington responded with his first Pro Bowl season, registering 100 tackles, intercepting three passes (returning one for a touchdown) and recovering two fumbles. Schottenheimer was looking at an 0-6 start when a late Arrington interception sparked a 17-14 victory over Carolina. The Redskins finished 8-8, the best record they have compiled over Arrington's career.


Arrington became established as a fan favorite, despite the team's lack of success. Arrington has a natural charisma and charm, an ebullient personality and was a regular presence at malls, charity functions and sporting events all over the area.


But the first sign of trouble came after Marvin Lewis took over the defense under Coach Steve Spurrier in 2002. Lewis and Arrington clashed over his role. Ultimately, Arrington thrived as a pass-rushing down lineman, posting a career-best 11 sacks. In a game against St. Louis, he sacked Kurt Warner and forced a fumble to clinch the victory. But privately, Lewis said Arrington was ill prepared to handle coverage duties. Lewis, who declined to comment for this story, later told Sports Illustrated that Arrington was the most "undisciplined" player he had ever coached.


In NFL circles, Arrington began to gain a reputation as a "freelancer," or someone who does not always adhere to the letter of the game plan in his desire to make plays. Joe Paterno, Arrington's coach at Penn State, had expressed similar sentiments, but Arrington has long rebuffed the notion.


"I'm hungry to make a play, and sometimes I might overrun a play," Arrington said. "I'm not above saying that. Who doesn't, you know? Who doesn't? I don't know, the last time I checked people make mistakes. I don't know one person who has played a perfect game yet. For Marvin to say I drove him crazy and didn't know my scheme, for the record, I did lead all linebackers in the National Football League with [11] sacks. . . . I don't know if that's doing too bad for not knowing what you're supposed to do."


Lewis left to become head coach in Cincinnati and was replaced by George Edwards in 2003, giving Arrington four defensive coordinators in four seasons. According to former Redskins, Edwards allowed linebackers such as Arrington and Jeremiah Trotter abundant leeway to roam. Arrington had six sacks, forced seven fumbles and recovered two.


One teammate, who asked not to be identified yet remains a supporter of Arrington and believes he should be playing more, said the linebacker "cost us three games" because of mistakes, and it became a subject of conversation in the locker room.



In the third game, Arrington was caught out of position and fooled on a play-action fake involving Giants tailback Tiki Barber, leaving fullback Jim Finn alone to catch a swing pass and gain 27 yards to set up New York's game-winning field goal in overtime. "Arrington bit on Tiki's play action," Finn told reporters after the game. "When I went in motion and got to the end of the line, I saw he was playing inside the tackle, and I knew I had to get out right away because I'd be wide open."


By then, Arrington and owner Daniel Snyder had cultivated a strong affinity for each other. The two were seen together often and appeared to enjoy each other's company. Snyder had developed a reputation for spending heavily on big-name players, and Arrington became the constant homegrown star among the new arrivals.


On the day after Christmas 2003, he was rewarded with the massive contract extension that included a signing bonus reported to be approximately $15.5 million, the largest in team history. Snyder issued a statement saying that "LaVar Arrington is a Redskin through and through. His passion for the game, his punishing style and his determination to win are what make him a great linebacker and a great Redskin. We are happy he'll be wearing burgundy and gold for a very long time."


In early 2004, Arrington's agent, Carl Poston, told the Redskins he believed his client had been shortchanged $6.5 million in the extension. In March, after the reins of the organization were handed over to Hall of Fame Coach Joe Gibbs, Arrington filed a grievance with the NFL over the missing money. The Redskins denied any wrongdoing and at one point issued a statement saying "the business ethics" of Arrington's agent "should be questioned and looked into."


Arrington said he was "disappointed" but remained committed to the team. "I thought there was a relationship. I considered Dan Snyder a friend," Arrington said later that month. "But he's made it like it's his guys versus me and my agents. I'm confused as to why he's handling it like that."


Meantime, Gibbs had moved quickly to build his coaching staff, landing fired Buffalo Bills coach Gregg Williams to run his defense. Williams, in turn, assembled a staff of well-respected, hard-nosed coaches who shared his philosophies and demand for discipline to a detailed scheme.


Williams's defense is predicated on speed and smarts, with linebackers as its lifeblood. They are required to stay in their gaps and must be well versed in pass coverage to compensate for ample blitzing from the secondary. Williams shifts frequently from his 4-3 base package, using as few as two defensive linemen, and devises new fronts each week. While some systems ensure glory for linebackers, this staff is more concerned with who provides intangibles -- handling double teams, reading the play well, providing pass pressure -- than who benefits from those efforts with the final tackle or sack.


Williams spoke candidly about the need to change the culture, and set about deconstructing the star system that the coaches believed had festered under their predecessors. They had no interest in individual glory, only collective achievement, and overhauled the roster with journeymen to create a no-name defense. Only one defender who started for Washington before Williams's arrival remains in that role -- workmanlike end Renaldo Wynn.


That fall, Gibbs returned with a flourish as the Redskins defeated Tampa Bay in the opener. Arrington started at outside linebacker knee and had six tackles and the game-clinching sack despite straining his right knee. But one former Redskin said Arrington made a few significant mistakes by not sticking precisely to the system. In the week after the team's next game, a loss to the New York Giants, Arrington underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.


"This defense didn't come easy to him," the former Redskin said, "and he's had five coordinators and been through a lot of different defenses and had a lot to learn. With these coaches, there's no slack. Other coaches here were really patient with him and worked with him, and these coaches, if you don't know all of your stuff, you're not going to play. That's not their problem. That's how they look at it, and everyone there knows it. And then he got hurt, and they felt other guys did a great job, and that group had everything down, and that's who they're going with."



Doctors repaired Arrington's meniscus during the surgery, and he was originally estimated to be out two to four weeks. He was inactive for the next 11 games. The unit thrived in Arrington's absence -- it finished the season ranked third overall and was tops in the NFC -- with previously undrafted free agents such as linebacker Lemar Marshall ascending to starting roles. When Arrington pushed to practice in October, he slipped on a slick field in his first session and suffered a bone bruise that set back his recovery significantly.


By the time he got back in a game in December, Arrington was backing up Marshall. In what would become a harbinger, defensive coordinator Greg Blache told The Washington Post: "If [Arrington] wants to be on the field and compete, he'd better be where he is supposed to be, and he's got to understand that. We've had success because everybody has done their job. We don't need somebody to be a 'superstar.' "



Arrington's right knee never healed, and he was placed on injured reserve Dec. 29. After repeated visits to specialist James Andrews in Alabama, Arrington underwent a second knee surgery, which the team did not initially reveal (Gibbs said repeated messages left for Arrington seeking his approval for releasing the information went unreturned). When Arrington arrived back at Redskins Park on crutches in April, he ripped the organization for its handling of his injury.


"He's the most outspoken guy on the team, and he said a lot of stuff that rubbed the coaches the wrong way," the former Redskin said. "And they're old-school coaches."


Grievance a Lost Cause




The grievance hovered throughout this past spring and early summer. It was sent to arbitration when meetings between Snyder and Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, failed to settle the matter. Hearings were repeatedly scheduled and then postponed, with Arrington periodically accusing the team of stalling.


Privately, officials around the league said they believed Arrington had no case. By late July, the framework of a settlement was completed, but it took weeks to sign the deal. A source close to Arrington said Poston requested permission to contact other teams because he was unsure if the linebacker still figured prominently in Washington's plans. That request was denied, the source said. During grievance negotiations the Redskins also sought to include a clause restricting Arrington from making disparaging remarks about the club, the source said, but that could not be confirmed by team officials on Friday.


Poston declined to comment for this story, and Gibbs declined to confirm or deny the trade requests through a team spokesman, saying he is no longer speaking about Arrington-related issues.


About that time, the team reported to training camp. Arrington was limited to working individually with the athletic trainers for the first half of camp. He made his preseason debut in the third of four games -- Aug. 26 against Pittsburgh, his hometown team -- and played with the reserves in the preseason finale.


On Aug. 25, terms of the settlement were announced. Arrington received no additional financial compensation. He was granted the right to exit the contract early if he reached the Pro Bowl in two of the next four seasons. League executives took the settlement to be a token gesture, and the events of this season appear to have rendered it irrelevant.


With blitzing linebacker Chris Clemons injured for the regular season opener, Arrington played with some regularity against Chicago, although Warrick Holdman was now the starting weak-side linebacker. Arrington participated in five plays in Week 2 against Dallas and two plays against Seattle.


After the Seattle game, the source close to Arrington said Poston made a second request to be allowed to shop Arrington to other teams but was denied.


No Time for LaVar




Then came the game against Denver, when Arrington never made it onto the field.


The source close to Arrington said yesterday that Arrington believes he isn't playing because Snyder is exacting some sort of retribution for the grievance. Arrington declined to comment when asked if he believes his benching is related to such matters. As to why precisely he is not playing, Arrington said cryptically: "I'm not for sure. What I may suspect . . . it may be."


The coaches say Arrington's performance is keeping him off the field. They can point to the unit's success -- the Redskins rank fifth in the league in total defense -- as proof that they are doing the right thing.



"The one thing people have to understand is there is no vendetta here," Blache said. "We want to win, and we've all been around long enough to know what it takes to win, and you can't talk your way into a win in this league, you got me. You can bust your hump and do as much as you can and still lose. So we're trying to stack everything we can in our favor to get it done, and hype ain't going to do it; reputation is not going to do. You've got to do it based on what you do on a daily basis."


The teammate who asked not to be identified said he doubts there is any sort of vendetta involving Snyder and sees this as the coaches' decision, albeit an extreme one.


"I think they are sending a message here," he said. "I think that hits the nail on the head. There's things he's done that have rubbed them the wrong way, and there are things they've done that have rubbed him the wrong way, and now it's a pissing match. In these cases usually the players loses, because you can't put yourself in the game."


Several players said privately that they are shocked by the drastic turn of events, and that coaches might want players to believe no job is ever safe and thus play harder.


One former Redskin sees blame on both sides.


"I don't think it's all LaVar," the former Redskin said. "I think it's a little bit of them, too. LaVar is still LaVar. He loves to play and works hard, and I think he's still one of the 10 best linebackers in the league. He can still make things happen, which is all the more reason to play him on third down. In this system, third and long is just: 'Go.' There's no read and react, it's just, 'Get after the quarterback.' "


The source close to Arrington said the linebacker is most surprised by not at least playing on third-and-long situations. "That's when it really gets personal," the source said.


The Redskins have just two take-aways and have only four sacks in four games, making last Sunday's events all the more difficult for Arrington.


"Everybody watching that game knows whose got [big plays] in them," Arrington said. "Everybody playing in that game knows whose got that in them, but what can you do? I know what I'm doing in this system. I'm not going to sit here and start reciting my assignments to prove a point. I'm tired of trying to defend my intelligence level."


With 12 games to play, things could still change. Injuries are inevitable, and Arrington might find himself needed as soon as today. He is eager for the chance, but doubts it will come and is bracing for an early exit from the only franchise he has ever known.


"I'm always hungry," Arrington said, "and I've always got a chip on my shoulder, but I've lowered my expectation level now. I don't want to keep disappointing myself."


Arrington said there is little opportunity to improve his position, given his limited plays in practice, while Williams said Arrington "gets his fair share" of practice time, as much as the other second- and third-team players. Arrington is still adamant that no one has explained his status to him -- Williams and Gibbs say that is untrue.


"There's a whole team of coaches, what am I supposed to do?" Arrington said. "I'm one player. What am I supposed to do? And quite frankly, what is it that I'm doing that has me in the situation I'm in? What do you see me doing other than going to work every day, coming off the field, being good to my teammates and them being good to me?"


Unable to show his talent in games, the onus is on Arrington to raise his stock via other avenues, coaches said.


"It's very simple to earn the trust," Blache said. "The ball is in the player's court. We have an audition every day. Show me something."


Both sides may be hampered in trying to make peace by their hardened positions. Arrington, some at Redskins Park say privately, could do more to stand out in the classroom and the practice field, and cultivate trust from the coaches. An admittedly hard-line staff not prone to making exceptions could perhaps find a way to involve Arrington in at least some of the third-down situations, where there are fewer restraints on players.


"I think both sides need to meet in the middle somehow," said the teammate who asked not to be identified. "He needs to make more of an effort, mentally, to find his place in this system, and somehow they've got to find a way to get him on the field at least in certain situations. I think they can find a way to play him a little more, but you have to earn that trust on every play, and it's not there yet, and I can understand that, too. Everyone here knows he's a big turnover guy and can make those plays, but there has to be that trust that there won't be a big play back the other way, too, and that trust is not there yet."


My conclusion: he won't be anything better than a 3rd down pass rushing LB unless there's an injury to Holdman, and he may not even get that much action.


I'd hold onto him if you have him into the offseason and see what his situation is next year; his value now is too low to trade, and he has too much potential to cut right now.

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Here's the best and most complete article I've come across regarding Lavar Arrington. 

My conclusion: he won't be anything better than a 3rd down pass rushing LB unless there's an injury to Holdman, and he may not even get that much action. 


I'd hold onto him if you have him into the offseason and see what his situation is next year; his value now is too low to trade, and he has too much potential to cut right now.






i moved him 2 weeks ago for kennison due to a bye problem at recvr since burleson was out but I do think lavar will be a top producing LB again just in a different uni next yr is all

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i moved him 2 weeks ago for kennison due to a bye problem at recvr since burleson was out but I do think lavar will be a top producing LB again just in a different uni next yr is all






He better be. :D

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Redskins | R. Clark OUT for Week 6

Sat, 15 Oct 2005 20:23:12 -0700


Gary Fitzgerald, of, reports Washington Redskins S Ryan Clark (spleen) will not play in Sunday's game, Oct. 16, against the Kansas City Chiefs due to a bruised spleen suffered Friday, Oct. 14. Clark did not make the trip to Kansas City with the team Saturday, Oct. 15.

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