Ask the average football fan their thoughts on the Washington Redskins and they will give responses such as "they can't win with Jason Campbell", "they aren't good enough to win their tough division", or "they have a solid defense but lackluster offense."
Recently, I asked members at a popular NFL message board to predict the NFC East rankings in 2009. Of the 41 posters who responded, 34 of them had Washington ranked third or worse, with fourth being the most common.
I can understand why so many think the Redskins will be in the bottom half of the division this year. After all, it's arguably the toughest division in the league. Dallas, Philly, and the New York Giants are all solid playoff caliber teams led by big name, highly productive quarterbacks.
The Redskins defense, which was surprisingly in the top 10 in the league in points and total yards allowed, looks to return even stronger. However, a Jason Campbell led offense with an inconsistent Santana Moss, a battle-worn Clinton Portis, and a struggling offensive line shouldn't be able to even sniff the playoffs, right?
Not so fast, hot shot!
The Redskins do not need a great quarterback, or a top notch offense to have 2009 success. The myth has been exposed.
They just need a quarterback that can manage the game and not turn the ball over. If they just had someone like Titans QB Kerry Collins, they could do big things.
Hello, readers of Bleacher Report, meet Jason Campbell. Jason Campbell, meet the readers of Bleacher Report.
In comparing Campbell and Collins' 2008 seasons, Campbell threw 80 more passes yet had a better completion rate, higher QB rating, greater yards per pass average, and one less interception than Collins.
Campbell also had the least interceptions out of all 500+ attempt passers, and amazingly had only one lost fumble all year.
This year, Campbell could become "the man", and the game manager that the Redskins need. His stats have steadily improved in each of his three years in the league, and now for the first time he will enter a season without having to learn a new offense.
Factor that in with second year pass catchers Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas, and Fred Davis looking to make their marks on the offense after disappointing rookie seasons, and you could see Campbell improving his red-zone accuracy, high sack rate, and dreadful third down conversion percentage.
But do the Redskins have a defense capable of dominating?
Though they were one of the best in the league at not allowing yards or scores, the Redskins' defense in 2008 were only average at causing interceptions, and downright awful at rushing the passer.
Then, they met Albert. Large, agile, and unstoppable. A monster.
Al Haynesworth is nothing short of a difference maker on defense—a fierce, hungry player who can gobble up a running-back or make a passer wish he played in the Arena League. He has given up stomping faces and is now focused on stomping on offensive coordinators' souls.
Haynesworth can rush the passer, and will command double teams which can free up other players to do so. Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo should both become Al's best friends after seeing the freedom they will have on the field with the opposing offensive lines preoccupied with the large man wearing No. 92.
Better pass rushing amounts to poor throws, which amount to more interceptions.
Do you see how this puzzle quickly comes together? Maybe you should rethink your NFC East rankings, there is a sleeper team amongst you.
The Redskins are in my opinion one of the most underrated teams in the league. Ten or more wins are finally more than just wishful thinking.