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2007: Year of the Carlos

As much as the offseason analysis and prediction for the upcoming '07 season have focused on Jason Campbell, the truth is our offense wasn't all that bad in '06. We lost 11 games because the defense was all that bad and a whole lot worse.

I've already taken for granted that we'll get better, if only because we can't get worse, but honestly it doesn't matter how good Jason Campbell plays if we only improve from the worst defense in the league to the 2nd worst defense in the league. Enter: Carlos Rogers. He's The X Factor:

Carlos Rogers was much-maligned last year with legitimate critizism ranging from giving opposing receivers too much of a cushion to not having the recovery speed to get burned deep.  But while the reasons to be pessimistic about this defensive unit, run rampant, the 2006 metrics show that even while the team imploded, Rogers' progression stayed right where it should have been...

Although he wasn't as dominant against the run as he was a year before, Rogers was targeted on 103 passing plays last year, 4th most in the NFL.  He defended nine passes, and allowed less than seven yards a pass on plays where he was in coverage.  Despite being the most picked on corner on the team, he stopped a successful play half of the time.

The reason he is such an "X" factor is because the Redskins need Carlos Rogers to improve.  He has to be the leader of this secondary heading towards the future, and theres really no more spare time for him to mature.

And that's the tooth. Unless genetically talented Byron Westbrook turns out to be a diamond-in-the-rough, Rogers is the only reliable cornerback on our team born after 1980. If he doesn't become a starting quality #1 cornerback in the next year or so, we're going to have to rebuild the secondary. If he is that guy, we could have a functioning secondary -- with little personnel tweaking necessary -- for years.

Step one is beating Fred Smoot for the #2 cornerback spot this Training Camp:

When your secondary consists of a 32-year old corner coming off a season filled with injuries plus two hard hitting safeties who take too many chances ... having a solid corner on the other side is important. Carlos Rogers has been that guy, but he has been making his own mental mistakes [hence the reason the Skins gave up a ton of big plays last year]. It also seemed that teams would "pick on" Rogers all game long to see if when he breaks.
The good news is that we're pretty deep behind both those guys, so our secondary won't be as disastrous as it was in 2006 regardless.

Speaking of training camp... Five Players to Watch per the official site. Here's your surprise:

With Nehemiah Broughton sidelined due to a knee ligament injury, the Redskins do not currently have a veteran backup to fullback Mike Sellers.

That means there's an opportunity for undrafted rookie Pete Schmitt. If he impresses during training camp, he could earn a spot as Sellers' backup.

Schmitt signed with the Redskins shortly after the NFL Draft. As a tight end at Wisconsin-Whitewater, he grabbed 91 passes, including 14 touchdowns, the last two years. He helped lead Wisconsin-Whitewater to two straight NCAA Division III championship games.

The 6-1, 248-pounder has never played the fullback position before, but coaches like his blocking skills and his versatility as a receiver.