Bottom Line: It’s a tough year, tough schedule. It’s possible that the Redskins go 7-9, but a more likely scenario is a 6-10 year that raises questions about how to get younger and continue to transform this team in Mike Shanahan’s vision.
Early September is an easy time to be positive in a football preview. The flaws that would ruin a season have yet to reveal themselves.
But for the 2010 Washington Redskins, the consensus falls in the middle. Confidence in this year’s team must be followed with a chaser of timidity.
There’s confidence in the system, the coaches, and Donovan McNabb and then there’s the other stuff: the lack of skill players on offense, the porous secondary that is the same from last year, and an unforgiving schedule.
When everything shakes out, many fans have the Redskins as an improved football team, one that puts out a respectable product.
The Redskins won four games last year. They barely beat the Rams and the Buccaneers and managed to beat the Broncos and Raiders, in part, because both teams lost their starting quarterbacks to injury.
That doesn’t sound like the launching pad for greatness to me.
There’s no doubt this season is the start of a new era, just like the Martyball era, the Osaka-fueled jubilation of the Spurrier era, and the second coming of Joe Gibbs were all new beginnings. Forgive my cynicism.
All of the exuberance over Mike Shanahan needs to be put into the context of a final hammer stroke in the indictment of Jim Zorn. The Redskins have an actual NFL head coach now; so, it’s a start.
There just seems to be a disconnect that occurs when fans are away from the team for a summer. Like football fans have no long-term memory. Just because a name is freshly printed on the 2010 depth chart, doesn’t mean he’s got a clean slate.
The Redskins secondary made fatal mistakes last year, costing the front seven the little bit of glory that can come from a 4-12 season. The secondary hasn’t changed, unless you consider Phillip Buchanon a huge upgrade over Fred Smoot.
DeAngelo Hall is still the same great cover corner with huge deficiencies in the run game, tackling and overall effort. Carlos Rodgers had enough trouble staying in front of double moves last year, so it’s hard to know if you can expect consistent play from him.
The team still lacks anyone at safety who can play off the line of scrimmage until Kareem Moore comes back. These aren’t problems that magically disappeared in the offseason.
The improvements on offense, though, cannot be understated. The offensive line, which hamstrung last year’s offense, was overhauled with the additions of Trent Williams, Jammal Brown, and Artis Hicks.
An expanded offensive repertoire, especially with McNabb’s ability to throw it deep, necessitates a better offensive line.
Clinton Portis looked done last year and Santana Moss isn’t the same receiver who can separate from defenders at will. An improved offensive line could help extend their careers.
It’s hard to look at this team and not see the same deficiencies that plagued the 2009 Washington Redskins. Having faith in the coaches and the system may be the safest place for that little nugget of hope.
Because when you honestly assess the talent on this year’s team, while improved, it has a long way to go from the embarrassment of 2009 to the respectability of 2010.