Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Washington Redskins 2010 Preview
2009 was expected to be a big year for Washington Redskin football. So was every season from 2008 back to 1999, back when owner Daniel Snyder first bought the team. Under Snyder's helm, the once mighty, and still proud franchise has managed a less-than-mediocre 80-96 record, only three playoff appearances ('99, '05, and '07), and no playoff wins.
Safe to say, expectations are not being met.
The blueprint for "success" has usually been the same: spend big money on veteran free agent pro-bowlers, tout the usually high draft picks, put the head coach on the hot seat, and watch the wins happen. They're super at doing everything but that last part.
This season, things will be different, allegedly. New GM (Bruce Allen), new head coach (Mike Shanahan), and a new quarterback (Donovan McNabb). Allen was brought in to make sure Snyder didn't overspend on free agents. Shanahan was brought in because Jim Zorn was incompetent. McNabb was gift wrapped and shipped from Philadelphia, probably for this.
Hope springs eternal.
Shanahan is known for using a stable of running backs, dating back to his days with the Denver Broncos. The Redskins will give him plenty of options, having signed former Pro-Bowlers Larry Johnson and Willie Parker to team up with former Pro Bowler Clinton Portis in the backfield (So much for not over spending on free agents). McNabb will probably have his most solid passing options at tight end with Pro Bowler Chris Cooley and third year USC alum Fred Davis. Davis filled in admirably last season after Cooley was injured, catching 48 passes for 509 yards and 6 TDs.
Washington will be looking for either Devin Thomas (11) or Malcolm Kelly (12) to step up at wide receiver. Sanatana Moss has led the team in that category for the last five seasons, but at 31 has seen his yards per catch drop each year (from 17.7 in '05 to 12.9 in '09). Both Thomas and Kelly were second round picks with high expectations that neither have lived up to (3 career TDs combined). Jamal Brown and rookie Trent Williams were added to an offensive line will also need to improve greatly this season as well. The 2009 Redskins allowed 46 sacks, fifth worst in the NFL.
Believe it or not, the Redskin defense was actually pretty stout. Their $100 million man, Albert Haynesworth, didn't light the world on fire statistically, but his presence was felt on a defense that allowed only 4 yards per carry rushing, and sacked the quarterback 40 times. The main problem with the Redskin defense was overuse, and the inability to force turnovers (17 total, dead last in the league).
Haynesworth has made the news a lot this off-season due to contract holdouts and conditioning issues, but having him on the field would make this defense that much more formidable. MLB London Fletcher is coming off his first Pro Bowl season at the tender age of 34, but he's surrounded by young players entering their primes. Linebacker Brian Orakpo (23) made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season last year, defensive end Andre Carter (30) had 11 sacks, DeAngelo Hall (26) has resumed the form that at one time had him ranked as one of the top cornerbacks in the league. This is a very formidable group.
At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I believe they made the right moves this time, even if they seem to have done the same thing as every other off-season under Snyder. The Shanahan-McNabb combination > the Zorn-Jason Campbell combo. They could be just what the offense needs to score the extra TD a game that could've made last year's 4-12 team a potential playoff team. Their average point differential was 4 per game. This could be the year.
Just don't "expect" too much.