With minicamp just wrapping up a week ago, OTAs starting June 1st, and training camp only two months away, lets look at the upcoming season for the Redskins, and what it might bring.
Theoretically, with this team keeping the majority of the coaching staff in place, something that rarely happens with this organization, things should be looking up in “Synderville”.
Too bad theoretically isn’t quite the same as realistically. Realistically, they will probably finish about the same as last year due to several different factors, and too many questions on the offensive side.
Jim Zorn is back for his second season as the Redskins head coach, which should bring some stability for Jason Campbell, and the ‘Skins offensive system.
With his second minicamp under his belt, Zorn was quoted as saying the team was “further ahead” than last year.
Unfortunately, for guys like Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, it may seem like they’re in the movie “Groundhog Day”, with both of them missing minicamp again. Thomas re-aggravated his hamstring injury that kept him out of last year’s minicamp, and Kelly was still healing from February microfracture surgery on his knee, the same knee that sidelined him for much of last season.
The good news is that Fred Davis’ alarm clock was working this year, and he did participate. All reports out of Redskins Parkstate that he is one of the most athletic guys on the field, and that he could create all kinds of problems downfield for defenses.
If the Redskins are going to improve on last season’s 8-8 record, one or two of these guys will have to step into the starting line-up and make a big impact.
Once that happens, Zorn will be able to truly run his “west-coast” style offense, which requires two tight-end sets, as well as three and four wide-receiver sets.
On the defensive side, where there’s much less work to be done, the Redskins will still look to improve on their fourth ranked team defense from last season, their first under coach Greg Blache.
With the additions of Albert Haynesworth on the defensive line, and the re-signing of DeAngelo Hall in the secondary, the defense could be the heart and soul of the team this year, and what defines their season.
If Chris Horton can build on his surprising rookie campaign, and rookie defensive-end Brian Orakpo can step in and provide a pass rush. Those two, along with veterans LaRon Landry, London Flecther, Carlos Rogers, Haynesworth, and Hall could provide the necessary mix of young talent and experience to propel this defense to the best in the league.
But let’s be honest, making the playoffs will hinge on several different factors, the most important being the play at the quarterback position. The Redskins will only go as far as Jason Campbell takes them.
With everything that’s happened in the past couple of weeks concerning his job security, it will be very interesting to see how he reacts, as well as Zorn, once the season starts.
He seems to be handling it very well off the field, especially with all the questions surrounding the situation, but will it be a different story when he steps on it?
If he has a couple of bad games to start the season, does Zorn pull him in favor of Todd Collins, or possibly second year man Colt Brennan?
The offensive line will be another key to the Redskins’ success or failure, depending on whether your glass is half-full, or half-empty.
Bringing back Derrick Dockery at the guard position was a good start.
They also added some depth at the tackle position with the off-season signings of Jeremy Bridges and Mike Williams, but there’s no guarantee that either of these guys will make the 53 man roster.
Not to mention, long-time ‘Skin Jon Jansen isn’t getting any younger, and last year’s draft pick, Chad Reinhart, hasn’t shown he can step into a full-time role yet.
They will need a couple of these guys to pan out if they plan on making this a season to remember.
And probably the two most unpredictable of all these factors, injuries and schedule, which always play a big role in a team’s success.
The ‘Skins start off the season with a very favorable schedule, with three of the first six games against the St. Louis Rams, the Detroit Lions, and the Kansas City Chiefs, teams that were a combined 4-44 last season.
The fun starts after week 6, when they have to play 5 division games, including the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys twice, and games against the Atlanta Falcons, the New Orleans Saints, and a cross country trip to play the San Diego Chargers the last week of the season.
Now, we all know things change from season to season in the NFL, and some of these teams have lost key players, so I don’t put much thought into the schedule. It’s very possible their records from last year, won’t reflect the product that will be out on the field this year, especially two of the teams in their own division.
If by chance that’s the case, and a couple of these key factors go in the Redskins favor, they could be looking at a great year.
Or, what happens to the Redskins most of the time could happen. Haynesworth and Hall could be two more in a long line of high priced free-agent busts, Orakpo could have fallen to the ‘Skins at the 13th pick for a reason, they could play down to several of the easy opponents on their schedule, and injuries could deplete the offensive and defensive lines.
Then, all the Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan talk can start.