A new head coach. A new quarterback. A disgruntled defensive lineman with a $100 million contract. A 4-12 season in 2009. It sounds like the makings for a complete disaster.
But in the NFL, seemingly desperate scenarios like this one of the Washington Redskins often turn from gloomy to golden very quickly.
Just look at the Atlanta Falcons and the Miami Dolphins. In 2007, the Falcons, unexpectedly losing Michael Vick, put up a disgraceful 4-12 season, in which Bobby Petrino, who most likely came to coach Vick, ditched the team after just 13 games.
With the hiring of a new coach, Mike Smith, and a new QB, Matt Ryan, the Falcons improved to 11-5, making the playoffs.
The Dolphins also turned heads. In 2007, under new coach Cam Cameron, the Dolphins put up a horrid 1-15 season, which included three different starting QB's throughout the year.
In the offseason, Cameron was fired, and the Dolphins hired Tony Sparano, who, along with Chad Pennington, led the team to an 11-5 season, a ten game improvement.
The transitions of these two teams look very similar to this of the Redskins. Let's take a closer look:
Head Coaching Change:
Atlanta- did not renew interim coach Emmitt Thomas, hired Mike Smith
Miami- fired Cam Cameron, hired Tony Sparano
Washington- fired Jim Zorn, hired Mike Shanahan
Atlanta- released Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and Byron Leftwich, drafted Matt Ryan
Miami- released Trent Green, signed Chad Pennington & drafted Chad Henne
Washington- released Jason Campbell, traded for Donovan McNabb
One other major thing to keep in mind is that all of these teams seemed to hit rock bottom in the season before.
In the case of the Dolphins, winning one game is incredibly embarrassing, especially after the whole Nick Saban era came to an end.
The Falcons lost arguably the most exciting player in football and the most dynamic player the team has ever seen and had their own coach quit on them mid season.
The Redskins slowly started taking away some of Jim Zorn's duties, such as play-calling and running the offense, and you could tell that he simply didn't have control of the team anymore.
Albert Haynesworth was an absolute mess last season, and there is no way to explain the whole saga that was training camp 2010.
But looking at the similarities of all three teams, and the fact that the Redskins have Donovan McNabb, who still appears to have something left in the tank, something tells me that the Redskins can turn a lot of heads this season.
They have one of the most respected head coaches in football, and if this team does what it is capable of doing, they could be in store for a 10- or 11-win season.