In honor of my beloved WASHINGTON REDSKINS, we’ve turned this post over to MrDCsports. Check him out on twitter @MrDCsports and on his blog: www.mrdcsports.blogspot.com
2011 Redskins Preview
WE WANT FOOTBALL! Surely the Redskins want football too after a dismal 6-10 season, that had just as many headaches off the field as it did on the field. Mike Shanahan has already put last season in the rearview, having released three veterans & drafting 12 new players. The draft brought a great deal of surprise to Redskins fans, who had become accustomed to the Redskins coming out of the draft with about 5 players (Thanx Vinny). Still the Redskins have a lot of questions to be answered whenever the league resumes play.
The offense was 25th in the league in scoring last year & 18th in total offense. Shanahan looks to improve those numbers with a cast of new faces. Shanahan is assembling a team that as he likes to call it “Every job is up for grabs”.
QB: With McNabb’s status in question, Shanahan may look to John Beck to lead the offense. Beck has only started 5 games in his career, all back in 2007 with the Dolphins. There will be a QB battle for regular season starting job. The only known fact is that Beck will be one of the QB’s competing for the job.
RB: Veteran Clinton Portis was released after an injury riddled season, the Redskins will now look to Ryan Torain & 4th round draft choice Roy Helu to man the backfield. Torain had a productive season last year when healthy, racking up 742 yds in 10 games played. Helu is a classic Shanahan style back, thrives in a one cut & go system, a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. There will be a fight for the 3rd running back spot between rookie Evan Royster, Keiland Williams, James Davis, Andre Brown & Shawnbrey McNeal. At fullback there is likely to be a battle between veteran Mike Sellers & 2nd year player Darrel Young.
WR: Anthony Armstrong heads the group of young wide receivers going in to the year. Armstrong emerged as a very reliable pass catcher & deep threat for the Skins last year. He will get help from 3rd round draft choice Leonard Hankerson, one of 3 rookie receivers the Redskins drafted. Hankerson gives the Redskins much needed size at receiver & comes in having broke the University of Miami record for most receiving touchdowns in one season. The other two rookies Niles Paul & Aldrick Robinson figure to battle it out for one of the last few WR spots, with special teams likely being the deciding factor. 4th year injury plagued WR Malcolm Kelly looks to fight his way on to the field. Have to think Shanahan likes him to keep him around after missing all of training camp with a hamstring issue before being put on injured reserve. There’s also a possibility of Santana Moss being brought back.
TE: Would like to see a battle with Chris Cooley & Fred Davis for the starting job, but either way this position is not one of concern for the Redskins.
OL: One of the biggest question marks on the team. The Redskins opted not to address the line until the 7th round of the draft, selecting Maurice Hurt from University of Florida. Trent Williams returns for his 2nd season to anchor the line, hoping to improve on an up & down rookie year. Derrick Dockery was released after being on the inactive list for most of the season last year, he clearly didn’t fit Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. Jamaal Brown likely won’t return for another year with the team, leaving a hole at right tackle. Kory Lichtensteiger & Will Montgomery showed promise last year in the interior of the line. Shanahan will likely look to free agency to add a couple of players, possibly Davin Joseph.
Clearly the biggest concern on the team last year, finishing 31st in the league. Jim Haslett had the duty of switching the defense from the traditional 4-3 defense to a hybrid 3-4 look. The problem was fitting square pegs into round holes, the Redskins didn’t have the personnel to successfully run the 3-4. One of this off-season priorities has been to give Jim Haslett the right tools for the job.
Defensive Line: Nose Tackle is the most important position in the 3-4 & the leading candidate to start is 5th year player Anthony Bryant. Maa’ke Kemoeatu had a very subpar season manning the NT last year. He may be fighting for a roster spot. 7th rounder Chris Neild could surprise & make a push for the starting job. There is a lot of depth at the defensive ends spots. Adam Carriker appears to have starter one spot, while 2nd round draft choice Jarvis Jenkins is the leading candidate for the other. 16 year vet Phillip Daniels will be fighting to get in the rotation as well.
Linebackers: Headlined by Brian Orakpo with 19.5 sacks & two pro bowl appearances in his first two years in the league. He finally received help on the opposite side of him when the Skins drafted Ryan Kerrigan with the 16th pick in the first round. Kerrigan had a very successful collegiate career with the Purdue Boilermakers. He is a relentless pass rusher that should help elevate the 29 sacks total that the team accrued last year (tied for 25th in the league). The inside linebackers will have a familiar face in London Fletcher. Fletcher still doesn’t look to have lost a step, racking up 136 tackles, 3 FF, & 1 int. last year. Rocky McIntosh is a free agent & may not be brought back next year. In that case the Redskins will look to H.B. Blades or Perry Riley to start at that spot, or opt for someone in free agency.
Secondary: Big move was made when the team was able to sign FS O.J. Atogwe before the lockout. Atogwe has been a top 10 safety in the league for a few years now. His signing will give Jim Haslett more flexibility with his blitzes, as he doesn’t have to worry about getting beat too often with a ball hawk like O.J. DeAngelo Hall is coming off one of the best seasons in his career. Had the epic 4 interception game against the Bears & was probably responsible for two of the Redskins wins last year. Safety LaRon Landry was having a Defensive player of the year type of season before he went out with an injury. Carlos Rogers doesn’t look to be back, he’s looking to be paid & the Redskins more than likely won’t shell the money out for a CB that has baby oil on his hands. The job opposite of Hall may definitely have to be addressed in Free Agency, Kevin Barnes looks ready to take over the Nickel spot.
Special Teams: The little engine that could Brandon Banks gave the Redskins a welcomed spark on special teams last year. Had 2 touchdowns called back for unnecessary penalties. But managed to successfully return one kick for a score. But it’s looking like a numbers game with Shanahan bringing in Niles Paul to possibly push at special teams. Kicker Graham Gano had a very inconsistent year. Missing eleven field goals this past year with 5 being under 40 yards. A couple of those field goals were the difference in losing efforts. Punter will probably see a battle with Josh Bidwell & Sam Paulescu. There hasn’t been a stable punter in DC since Matt Turk.
1. What to do with Donovan McNabb?
A lot of questions surrounding McNabb’s future in DC after the rough season he had with the Shanahans. This offseason we’ve heard he could be traded to Minnesota or Arizona. McNabb hasn’t been to any of the team’s unofficial workouts. Pretty sure he won’t be in a Redskins uniform next year.
Do you release him ASAP? Does he even have any value to trade at this point? Whatever the case may be, the Redskins have to get rid of Albert Haynesworth. You just have to chalk it up as an L with this guy.
3. Will a year be enough for Haslett to turn around the 31st ranked defense?
A lot of Redskins fans called for a switch back to the 4-3 defense after watching last year’s train wreck with the 3-4 defense. But another year in the system should always help. The team was able to focus on bringing in guys that fit the 3-4 this year & with Free Agency still to come, they’ll look to add a couple more guys that can fit. But jury is still out on whether Haslett can get it done.
Outlook: Like it or not, Mike Shanahan has brought a much needed no-nonsense disciplined approach to the Redskins. You don’t perform, you don’t see the field. Him & Bruce Allen appear to be making strides in the right direction. Can’t wait to see the finished product hit the field! End the Lockout!