Washington Redskins: 10 Impact Players for the 2010 Season
Coming off of a 4-12 season in 2009, the Washington Redskins are eager to put the Jim Zorn era behind them as they start afresh with a new front office, coaching staff, and roster.
There's plenty of new faces in our nation's capital and that is probably a good thing, considering last year's roster lacked playmakers.
If you looked across the Redskins' roster in 2009, you couldn't point to many players who were "impact" players. The team was a collection of individuals without much chemistry.
In 2010, the Redskins have acquired several of those all-important "impact" players, and have a few holdovers from last year poised to take their games to the next level.
Some of these players have been making their presence felt for years while others haven't yet established themselves as impact players. Either way, I feel that the following group is poised to be the core of the 'Skins this upcoming season.
So without further ado, here's a look at the top 10 impact players for the Washington Redskins in 2010.
No. 10: Albert Haynesworth, NT
Like him or hate him, Haynesworth is an integral piece to the Redskins' new 3-4 defense.
With him, Washington will benefit from a much stronger push up front. The linebackers will have more space to stop the run or blitz off the edge because Haynesworth commands a constant double team.
Without him, the 'Skins have rely on Ma'ake Kemoeatu, who is coming off an Achilles injury, and Howard Green who has never started at nose tackle.
Neither player is anywhere close to Haynesworth's caliber.
Nose tackle is the anchor of the 3-4 defense. The Redskins may not admit it, but they need Haynesworth.
The only reason he's so low is that he still isn't a lock to play in Washington this season.
No. 9: Trent Williams, T
Welcome to the NFL, buddy.
Trent Williams will get his licks in early after being selected by the 'Skins with the No. 4 pick in this year's NFL draft.
Washington's offensive line was abysmal in 2009, and Williams is expected to make an instant impact in 2010 at left tackle.
He'll have some tough tests right away as he'll line up against DeMarcus Ware, Mario Williams, Trent Cole, Clay Matthews, Dwight Freeney, and Julius Peppers; all in his first eight games as a professional.
The early word is that Williams is adapting nicely to the pro game, but we'll see for ourselves right away.
No. 8: Santana Moss, WR
Moss is the Redskins' only proven receiver, and as such he'll need to have a big year.
Moss had undergone a rough offseason and has been linked to an HGH ring. There is still a chance he could be suspended for several games in 2010, but it appears that that possibility is decreasing.
As for his on-field performance, Moss has struggled with consistency the past few years due to injuries and double teams, but he has always possessed that ability to take over a game with his speed.
Now paired with Donovan McNabb, Moss could end up having a season comparable to his 2005 campaign when he caught 84 passes for 1,483 yards.
No. 7: LaRon Landry, S
Landry has always looked the part, but thus far has been a disappointment during his career.
Maybe it's because of the pressure he has dealt with in terms of trying to live up to replacing the late Sean Taylor at safety. Landry hasn't been the ballhawking presence the Redskins envisioned when they drafted him in the first round in 2007.
Last year, Landry may have actually regressed as a player in former defensive coordinator Greg Blache's scheme. Blache's ultra-conservative approach left Landry dazed and confused as he fell victim to the double move time after time.
Now with new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, Landry is in a more fluid scheme that should allow him to just play instead of process information as the deep safety.
All Landry needs is a push in the right direction. He has the talent to take it from there.
No. 6: Clinton Portis/Larry Johnson, RB
One of these two backs is expected to assert himself as a go-to-guy.
Johnson was signed in the offseason to compete with Portis for the starting job. Early reports indicate that Johnson is making a convincing case to be the No. 1 back.
Portis has battled injuries and poor work ethic since Jim Zorn arrived two years ago. Johnson is looking to resurrect what once seemed to be a bright career.
Johnson is a downhill back while Portis is a patient runner who picks his holes. Both will likely be called on over 100 times each to carry the ball in 2010.
The Redskins' running game was ranked 27th in the NFL last year. They had just one back run for over 100 yards in a game (Ladell Betts).
It can only get better.
No. 5: Fred Davis, TE
Davis will have to compete for time at tight end with Chris Cooley, but he displayed plenty of talent filling in for an injured Cooley last season.
Davis has enough speed to occasionally line up at receiver, and he is a great red zone target. He is more athletic than Cooley and a threat in the seam down the middle of the field.
Donovan McNabb loves throwing to his tight ends, and since the Redskins are lacking depth at receiver there will be enough balls to go around for both Davis and Cooley to flourish.
No. 4: London Fletcher, MLB
Fletcher is the heart and soul of the Redskin defense. He may have lost a step last season (arguable), but without him the Redskins don't have a leader on defense.
Fletcher brings it every play and, with a new coaching staff, he will be the middle man between Jim Haslett and the defensive players.
In 2009, Greg Blache was out of touch with the players and as such, the defensive players were out of touch with each other. Fletcher had no ability to unite the team because of the lack of communication between the staff and players.
This year, the 'Skins are operating under a tighter ship, and Fletcher will have control of his locker room.
Along with that leadership, Fletcher will contribute his typical 130+ tackles and remain the plugger in the middle of the linebacking corps.
No. 3: Chris Cooley, TE
An injury derailed the second half of the 2009 season for Cooley, but he is a tight end who has a nose for moving the chains.
Cooley has a sixth sense when it comes to locating soft spots in coverage, and his hands are the most reliable on the team. He may lack breakaway speed, but that's why the Redskins have Fred Davis.
Davis will handle the deeper routes while Cooley will take care of the dirty work over the middle.
The best part about this tandem is that each is versatile enough to line up in the slot or at tight end, giving offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan tons of options when it comes to matchups and gameplanning.
Opposing defensive coordinators, beware.
No. 2: Brian Orakpo, OLB
Every 3-4 defense needs an explosive pass rusher off the edge. The Skins have one in Orakpo.
Orakpo notched 11 sacks during his 2009 rookie campaign, and he managed that while only rushing the passer half the time.
Orakpo struggled in coverage at linebacker last season, but when he lined up at defensive end to rush, he was beastly.
With the transition to the 3-4 defense, Orakpo won't have to worry much about coverage as he steps into a full-time pass rushing role.
The Redskins have made it clear they want to be aggressive this season on defense. Jim Haslett has placed an emphasis on creating turnovers and pressuring opposing quarterbacks.
Orakpo is the primary facet of this chaos, and as such expectations are high for his sophomore campaign.
No. 1: Donovan McNabb, QB
What a surprise. The new signal caller in town is the No. 1 impact player for the Redskins.
McNabb brings to Washington the most impressive resume that any QB in decades has brought.
McNabb, together with head coach Mike Shanahan, make up the new face of the Redskins franchise, but he is even more than just a big name player.
McNabb gives the Redskins a legitimate chance to contend for a postseason berth in 2010 and beyond (provided he resigns with the 'Skins).
The Redskins offense, often an ineffective mess, receives instant respect around the NFL while the skill players on the team will be re-energized by the addition.
Obviously, McNabb doesn't come with any guarantees, but it gives the team and its fans hope that the offense can finally overcome a decade of ineptitude and pull its weight on a team that has long been carried by its defense.