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Bills/Redskins: Hogs Haven's Take

Hogs Haven: SB Nation's Washington Redskins blog

With the Buffalo Bills' 2008 pre-season opener less than three days away, today we're honored to be joined by Skin Patrol of Hogs Haven to talk about the upcoming matchup between his Washington Redskins and our Buffalo Bills.  Sure, it's just a pre-season game, but that doesn't stop me from having to pull out the bleep button for a jacked up Skin Patrol.

Washington has had one of the more intriguing off-seasons of any NFL team, so we decided to dive right into the hot-button topics surrounding the 'Skins as they look for a second straight playoff berth.  And if you're looking for the reciprocal interview that I did with SP, look no further - you can find it right here.

Without further ado, here's the interview (my questions in bold, his answers... not):

Is there a QB competition brewing in Washington between Jason Campbell and Todd Collins, or has Campbell been handed the job?

HH: As thrilled as I was to see Collins come in last year and perform so well to carry us into the playoffs, his real strength was knowing the Al Saunders offense. Sans Al Saunders, Todd Collins really loses a lot of his edge (or relative edge) to Jason Campbell. To answer your question, I doubted whether there was really a controversy last year and that would be even more true today given that Collins' mentor has since left for St. Louiser pastures. Coach Zorn has said on a number of occasions that the job belongs to The Mustache and I don't see him lightly flip-flopping. Having said all that, if JC doesn't improve substantially on his numbers from the last two years (which he will) and the team takes a nose dive as a result, anything is possible. As of this moment, though, 'tis no controversy.

What were your reactions to Colt Brennan's wildly successful NFL pre-season debut?  I'm sure visions of Dan Marino were popping into your head.

HH: My reaction was HELL TO THE MUTHA [edited by Rumblings] YEAAAAYAAA. That's pretty much how things went down. I'm a big Texas Tech Red Raiders fan so I hate hearing the "system quarterback" claim ad nauseum leveled at successful collegiate quarterbacks. Colt Brennan put up sick numbers at Hawaii and, granting the very reasonable points regarding his easy schedule and system passing tendencies, proved, if nothing else, that he was an incredibly accurate passer. We saw a bit of that on Sunday; some of the completions he made were simply artistic, especially that one into traffic that sailed just over the safety's hands. The jury is still out whether Jim Zorn will be a successful head coach, but I think his record developing quarterbacks is well beyond reproach at this point, and Brennan will improve under that tutelage. Brennan certainly looked, at least briefly, like an NFL quality quarterback. You asked me about controversies... I've got at least one reader who is already claiming Colt Brennan as a legitimate challenge to the starting job by the year's end. He is, after all, the only QB on the roster that is really a Jim Zorn guy (Campbell drafted by Joe Gibbs, Collins is an Al Saunders guy, who knows about Derek Devine).

Which of the Redskins' three rookie offensive threats do you expect to have the biggest impact: Devin Thomas, Fred Davis or Malcolm Kelly?

HH: Had you asked me that yesterday I'd have probably said Malcolm Kelly because I would've been inclined to go with a receiver and Devin Thomas is more injured. Also, Fred Davis has that whole playing behind Chris Cooley thing working against him. Today, though, comes news that both Kelly and Thomas showed up to training camp soft (more on that here; I'll probably write about it later this week as well). The word is they couldn't handle TC because they weren't properly conditioned coming into camp, which is troublesome. Strange how that works out, since it was sleepy head Fred Davis who was getting all the work-ethic related mini-camp criticism. Answer: I have to go with Fred Davis at this point. I think the team is going to really utilize the two TE set to perfection. Davis' impact won't only be receptions (which he'll get) but also blocking, which he'll be in a much better position to do than either Kelly or Thomas. It's too soon to make confident predictions but, based on the limited data available, Fred Davis looks to have a bigger impact in '08 than either Kelly or Thomas. Because I have so much invested in the latter two emotionally -- the Redskins need, need, need reliable 2nd and 3rd receivers to emerge from this draft class -- I hope I'm wrong.

The Redskins went through a pretty interesting hiring process this off-season by hiring Jim Zorn as the offensive coordinator, entertaining the idea of a head coach, and then just promoting Zorn to head coach.  What are your impressions of Zorn to date?

HH: He's a very entertaining guy. His quotes are funny and the players seem to really enjoy him. He just brings an entirely new energy (cliche alert) to the team that was somewhat lacking under Coach Gibbs, who is more of a stoic coach. Frankly, a coach's personality is really unimportant to me as are other esoteric minutiae. My opinion of Jim Zorn is high right now because he's given me many reasons to praise him in the preseason and none to really criticize him.  However, the way I feel about him now will be tempered ultimately by what happens with W's and L's. He might be the greatest, neatest guy on the planet but if we're 0-16 next year, so what? As far as predictions go, I think the Redskins have a roster capable of making the playoffs and I think Zorn comes from a coaching tree that produces good offenses. We have enough coaching continuity on defense where I'm confident this is still a top 10 unit (defensively) and probably won't be the reason we fail. My impression of Zorn is that he's a guy who understands offense, particularly the quarterback position, and that the Redskins will benefit from that knowledge. I'm very excited for our upcoming season.

As a Bills fan, I'd like to, through your community, personally thank your franchise for taking Jason Taylor out of our division.  What type of impact do you expect him to have in the NFC East, the toughest division in the NFC?

HH: I think it was a division rival that really demonstrated the importance of a pass rush. I don't know if anyone gave the Giants a serious chance against the Patriots in the last Super Bowl, but the strength of that front four proved to be the greatest equalizer in football. The Patriots were, top to bottom, a far superior team. But if you can rush the opposing passer and take them off their game plan (and generate some sacks -> turnover) then all the offensive weapons in the world really won't save you. Whenever I'm asked what is, in my opinion, the most important position on a football team, I quickly answer: defensive line. Jason Taylor has been one of the best at that position for much of the last decade, and I hope he continues at least some non-trivial amount of that success in Washington. I think he's at least as good, today, as Phillip Daniels is, so I have to think the defensive line will perform as well in 2008 as it did in 2007. Andre Carter is a 10+ sack guy on the other side, and now he'll be dealing with even fewer double teams. Last year a guy you've probably not heard much about, Chris Wilson, was really coming on fire on (now Taylor's) side and I have to believe that was because of all the attention Carter was getting elsewhere, as was Cornelius Griffin. Jason Taylor is going to have many opportunities to rush the opposing passer -- this is a passing division in many ways -- and he'll get to do so one-on-one frequently enough to have a huge impact. I anticipate 10 sacks.


We'll have much more on the Bills/Redskins matchup over the next few days.