D.C. Spin: Redskins, Jason Campbell Look on the Bright Side
Like many politicians who ply their trade in Washington, D.C., the 2006 Redskins failed to follow through on their promise.
In 2005, the playoff-bound Skins looked to be a team on the rise.
In 2006, the 5-11 Skins fell flat on their face.
Which squad to expect in 2007 is anyone's guess. One thing's for sure, though: Washington is a town built on spin, and it'll take all the P.R. men in the nation's capital to sell the Skins to D.C. fans.
One source of hope is quarterback Jason Campbell, the former Auburn star who took over for an ineffective Mark Brunell midway through last season. Campbell went 2-5 with 10 touchdowns against six interceptions—but the Washington coaching staff thought enough of his potential to stand pat at the QB position this offseason.
Campbell has a strong arm and moves well in the pocket, but the same could be said about Brunell. Campbell will need to show more consistency than the man he replaced if he hopes to keep his new job.
The decision to start Campbell is sure to be scrutinized early, as the Washington offense appears to have all of its other weapons in place.
In 2006, injuries to Clinton Portis allowed Ladell Betts to make a name for himself in the Washington backfield. With Portis returning, the 'Skins have a potent running game that will be hard to stop.
At receiver, the speedy Santana Moss and the shifty Antwaan Randle El resume their spots on the edge, with Brandon Lloyd returning in the slot. What the unit lacks in size it more than makes up for in speed and big play potential.
Provided Moss stays healthy and all three wideouts continue to develop rapport with Campbell, the Washington air attack is in good shape.
Defensively, Washington laid an egg last year, underachieving week-in and week-out and ultimately setting an all-time low for takeaways. Many observers blamed coordinator Gregg Williams, but injuries and subpar performances also played a part.
The 'Skins made two important defensive moves over the offseason: signing linebacker London Fletcher-Baker and drafting LSU safety LaRon Landry.
Fletcher, with help from the always-strong Marcus Washington, should bolster an aging and depleted linebacker corps. And Landry, provided he develops as expected, should team with Sean Taylor to form one of the best young safety duos in the league.
Undoubtedly, the Redskins have plenty of promise on their roster—but looking good on paper is a long way from playing well on the field. The right kind of spin can make any situation look rosy. The real test will come when the season begins—and line play will be crucial.
Defensively, the Redskins lack the ability to consistently stop the run or rush the passer. On the other side of the ball, the loss of G Derrick Dockery will loom large, as the team did nothing to replace him.
And those aren't the only trouble spots. Campbell's uncertain future notwithstanding, several other questions surround these Redskins: Can Portis learn to play nice in a crowded backfield? Has Joe Gibbs lost his touch? Will Chris Samuels' knees hold up?
How old is Shawn Springs?
In a perfect world, Campbell would turn into a franchise quarterback, Portis and Betts would happily share the load, the defense would regain its terrorizing aura of years past, and the Redskins would find themselves back in the playoffs.
In reality, the 'Skins are a 5-11 team. And all the spin in the District isn't going to change that.
Projected finish: 5-11, 4th NFC East
Keep your eyes on: TE Chris Cooley—forgotten in discussions of NFL's best tight ends.
Take your eyes off: DT Cornelius Griffin—when Kedric Golston is pushing you for playing time, you're doing something wrong.
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