Washington Redskins 2009 Preview

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Washington Redskins 2009 Preview
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
2008 Summary:
They say football is a game of inches, and that cliche really rang true for the Washington Redskins in 2008.

While it's hard to blame their entire season on a single event, it's hard not to wonder what the season would have been like had the Redskins not taken a game off midway through the season.

Under the direction of new coach Jim Zorn, the Redskins were flying high to start the season. Sure they had lost a tough NFC East opening night game against the then defending World Champion Giants, but following that loss the Skins went on a 4-game winning streak, highlighted by back to back come from behind victories against hated rivals Dallas and Philadelphia, leaving Washington at a 4-1 record and having all the looks of a surprise team.

Then a contest against a downright awful St. Louis team at home, loomed on the horizon. The Rams had just fired their coach Scott Linehan and through the first five games of the season looked miserable.
Entering the contest against 4-1 Washington, the Rams had lost their first four games by an average score of 37-10. They looked like they had already quit on the season. And no one would have guessed that the Rams could walk into FedEx Field and come out without another blowout defeat, much less winning straight up.

But they did just that. And the rest of the season would unfold, almost as though it were drawn up that way, in that one fateful loss on a nice October afternoon would prevent them from possibly clinching the sixth and final playoff spot over their division rivals Philadelphia.

Entering the bye week the Redskins were 6-3 on the season. They would go on to lose five of their last seven contests, in large part because of injuries that began to plague star running back Clinton Portis.
Portis was the catalyst of the new Jim Zorn attack, rushing for over 100 yards in five consecutive games before the Pittsburgh Steelers would leave him battered and bruised and never quite the same player the rest of the way.
Following the loss to Pittsburgh, Portis would only eclipse 100 yards one more time the rest of the season, and the rest of the offense would quickly unravel with the Redskins playoff chances.

In 2008, the Redskins defense played outstanding and kept its sluggish offense in many games down the stretch. As a unit the Skins only allowed 18 points a game and had the 4th best total defense in the league.
Their offense on the other hand, while ranking 8th overall rushing the ball, could not put the ball in the end zone. They would only score 16 points a contest, good for 28th in all of football.

The discrepancy in their offense and defense, and a terrible loss to St. Louis would be the ultimate deathblow to the Redskins and their 2008 season.

2009 Free Agency Additions:
DT Albert Haynesworth (Tennessee)
P Hunter Smith (Indianapolis)
G Derrick Dockery (Buffalo)
RB Anthony Alridge (Denver)
WR Roydell Williams (Tennessee)
LB Robert Thomas (Oakland)
G Jeremy Bridges (Carolina)
RB Marcus Mason (New York Jets)
T Mike Williams (N/A)

2009 Trade Acquistions:
None

2009 Offseason Departures:
DE Jason Taylor (Miami)
CB Shawn Springs (New England)
DE Demetric Evans (San Francisco)
DT Ryan Boschetti (Oakland)
T Jon Jansen (Detroit)
P Ryan Plackemeier (Cincinnati)
P Dirk Johnson (Pittsburgh)

2009 NFL Draft:
1-13. Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
3-80. Kevin Barnes, CB, Maryland
5-158. Cody Glenn, OLB, Nebraska
6-186. Robert Henson, OLB, TCU
7-221. Eddie Williams, TE, Idaho
7-243. Marko Mitchell, WR, Nevada

2009 Outlook
The Redskins, and in particular owner Daniel Sydner, went back to his roots to kick off the 2009 offseason by signing Albert Haynesworth to a $100-million dollar contract with $41 million of that guaranteed.
They then followed that up by giving cornerback DeAngelo Hall $54-million with $22.5 guaranteed and guard Derrick Dockery $26-million with $8.5 guaranteed.

They also entertained the idea of acquiring Jay Cutler from Denver or moving up in the draft for Mark Sanchez, leading many to believe the days of Jason Campbell as a starting quarterback in the District of Columbia are running out.

Since they were unable to do either thing, the Skins will once again hand the keys over to the former Auburn quarterback, and the usual gang of suspects will once again be in the Redskins lineup.
Clinton Portis hopes to regain the health he had in the first half of the season and pick up from there, and it's safe to say this team will go as far as he can take them. Backup Ladell Betts is a fine change of pace back, but far from the same type of talent as Portis.

Campbell will have Santana Moss at wide receiver yet again, and should figure to see more of young WR's Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly in 2009. Tight End Chris Cooley will also be a pivotal part of the Redskins offense in both the run and passing game as he is as excellent a run blocker as he is a weapon in the passing game.

The offensive line, as mentioned previously, will see Derrick Dockery come back to the Redskins after leaving for a mammoth deal with the Buffalo Bills a few seasons ago, and Dockery will be joined by tackle Chris Samuels on the left side of the Redskins line. Casey Rabach, Randy Thomas will be the main pieces on the right side of the line and Mike Williams makes his return to the NFL in hopes of seeing some playing time at either guard or tackle for the Skins.

Defensively, all eyes will be on the Redskins big-money nose tackle Albert Haynesworth, a player that can completely dominate an offense if he is on top of his game. The rest of the Redskins line looks very good on paper with Andre Carter and first round pick Brian Orakpo manning the defensive end positions and Cornelius Griffin playing alongside Haynesworth.

In the Redskins linebacking corps, London Fletcher will again be the man in the middle with outside linebacker Rocky McIntosh also figuring to be a major part of the Skins attack.

The Skins secondary will be headlined by playmaking safety Laron Landry, along with corners DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers. Hall had a disastrous stint as an Oakland Raider but played fairly well as a Redskin. Still it will be interesting to see how both he and Albert Haynesworth play following their huge paydays in this offseason.

2009 Schedule:
Sun 9/13 at NY Giants
Sun 9/20 St. Louis
Sun 9/27 at Detroit
Sun 10/4 Tampa Bay
Sun 10/11 at Carolina
Sun 10/18 Kansas City
Mon 10/26 Philadelphia
  bye
Sun 11/8 at Atlanta
Sun 11/15 Denver
Sun 11/22 at Dallas
Sun 11/29 at Philadelphia
Sun 12/6 New Orleans
Sun 12/13 at Oakland
Mon 12/21 NY Giants
Sun 12/27 Dallas
Sun 1/3 at San Diego

2009 Prediction
The Redskins certainly grabbed a lot of attention early in the free agent signing period with their mammoth contract given to All-Pro Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth, but for much of the Daniel Sydner era, more noise has been made by the Redskins in March than it has been in the fall and winter.

It's hard to see how this will not be the case yet again in 2009, as when you look at the rest of a very strong division, the Redskins seemingly were content with adding the big named Haynesworth and not much else.
And even though Haynesworth was one of the most dominant players in football a year ago, the serious question will remain with him for the next several seasons in that how much of Haynesworth's dominance came as a result of his talent, and how much came as a result of him wanting to get paid.

In any other division, the recipe of a solid rushing attack with a stingy defense could be enough to net the Redskins a playoff berth or a division title, but not in a division like the NFC East.

Predicted Finish: 7-9, 4th NFC East
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Hassellbeck - VSN Writer
www.virtualsportsnetwork.com
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