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Washington Redskins: Why the Post-Draft Hogs Are Not as Bad as Advertised

Tom TothContributor INovember 24, 2016

Washington Redskins: Why the Post-Draft Hogs Are Not as Bad as Advertised

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    ASHBURN,VA - JANUARY 6:  Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, Mike Shanahan the new Executive Vice President and head coach, and Bruce Allen Executive Vice President,  before a press conference welcoming Shanahan to the Redskins on January 6, 201
    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    As whispers of a new CBA ring louder and louder by the day, football fans (myself included) are as giddy as school girls hoping to soon be asked to the prom.
    I for one can't wait until there's more to talk about in the sports' world beyond women's soccer and disgruntled litigation.

    As a new deal gets closer to finalization, you can be sure the Washington Redskins are ready for the mad house that will be the 2011 NFL free agency period. There are many holes to be filled and it remains to be seen what course of action the Redskins' front office will pursue.

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    Washington Redskins fans have patiently wandered through the desert of mediocrity, having been led from path to path, being promised at each turn that the fabled "Promised Land" and "Glory Days" are just around the corner. The fact of the matter is since Vinny Cerado took over team operations, this team has been anywhere from bad to dreadfully mediocre.

    But a new day has arrived!

    Today we see a new administration willing to make smart decisions for this franchise (i.e. actually allowing a desired player walk away from Redskins Park without a contract), while making intelligent personnel decisions without breaking the proverbial bank (See: O.J. Atogwe, Trent Williams) and the brilliance that was the 2011 NFL Draft, leaving no one to question the long-term direction of this team.

    Furthermore, the team that is today the Washington Redskins (or will be, once they're allowed back on the team's premises) is not a bad football team.
    Sure the 6-10 record last year was wholly uninspiring. But the football team was competitive all season (excluding the game which will not be spoken of; In which, Mr. Madden Cover '04 made the Washington defense look nothing superior to a video game defense set to "Rookie," but I digress).

    Give the team another touchdown more per game and it's a 12-4 season. Heck, even another field goal per game and 11 of the games are won or taken into overtime.

    The Redskins overcame their first major obstacle this off-season by amassing an unusually high amount of draft pics and using them on players who have the potential help the team greatly moving into the future. With the the draft in the books, the following slides will focus on each position and mark possible improvements which Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen could take advantage of in free agency to continue the development of the Washington Redskins moving forward.

Defensive Backs

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    LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 12:  DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins celebrates a fumble recovery that lead to a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField on December 12, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins lead the Buccaneers at
    Larry French/Getty Images

    Let's face it:
    The "yards allowed" statistical column was anchored by the Redskins throughout 2010. When it came to giving up yards, the Redskins were about as poor as it comes.

    But what were the reasons for instating the 3-4 defense to this ill-talented squad in the first place?
    -Turnovers and touchdowns.

    And those goals were exactly what was accomplished this season by the defensive backfield.

    LaRon Landry played at an all-pro level before getting injured half way through the season. He showed that he is going to be a star in Jim Haslett's defensive scheme and will be an anchor for years to come for this team.

    DeAnelo Hall resurged to the levels of play he was expected to achieve in Atlanta where he was drafted and reached several pro bowls, as well as in Oakland where... Well... Careers go to die. Luckily he was released after only 8 weeks and has been able to give resurgent life to his game. His 6 interceptions and a Pro Bowl MVP show that he is the play maker this defense needs moving forward. (Oh, and lest we forget this moment).

    Signing O.J. Atogwe was a brilliant move by the front office that:
    A. Found a player who's a proven leader and play-maker, and fills a whole in a position which was a liability last season. 
    B. Found him at a reasonable price.

    Finally, Washington cornerbacks will have a true safety net behind them playing free safety, which is something the defense has desperately lacked since the tragic passing of emerging superstar Sean Taylor.

    Finally, with the 146th pick in the NFL draft the Redskins selected Dejon Gomes out of Nebraska. It seems that his versatility and natural talent is what attracted Mike Shanahan and Jim Haslett to him. He doesn't specialize in any particular position. His impressive tackling ability makes him a solid option at safety, but his size (6'1, 190 lbs) makes him a better stereotypical fit into perhaps a nickel corner position. But when free agency is over and all's said and done, Gomes will most likely be a backup and playing special teams, where he has every opportunity in the world to shine and make the football team.

    These players make an already good Redskins defensive backfield the makings of something special. Add a solid player opposite Hall and this group looks elite. 

    Once free agency arrives, cornerback will be addressed directly. There are many good options including:

    -Resigning a solid back in Carols Rodgers. Sure, his hands are... Questionable. But his defending skills are solid and he is a good guy to have opposite Hall. His language of late hints to the idea that he wants a big payday from a team that "appreciates" him more. But once he finds out that he is as hot a commodity as he thinks himself to be, Washington may be his best option moving forward. This could end up being a win-win situation for both sides.

    -Nnamdi Asomugha will demand a hefty contract.
    Being said, he has the potential to be a Hall of Fame quality star for the remainder of his career. First, consider the fact that he was incredibly talented in Oakland, the smelly black hole of professional football in recent years, and now seem to be turning around in no small part to his defensive contributions. Second, imagine a Redskins secondary with Landry, Atogwe, Hall, and Asomugha as the starters... Remember, signing proven, veteran leaders can pay dividends (see: London Fletcher).

    -Johnathan Joseph is three years younger than both Rodgers and Asomugha, and has been a solid performer for Cincinnati the last several years. If the price is right, he could be an excellent compliment.

    -Chris Carr was excellent for Baltimore last year (just in time for a new contract) and at his age, could emerge into an elite starting corner. 

Linebackers

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    Washington's linebacker corps is looking pretty solid with Brian Orakpo's intimidating presence on the outside next to London Fletcher's inhuman ability to be one of the league's most outstanding inside linebackers while ever-nearing AARP eligibility. And now opposite Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan will line up to evolve what was a very average lanebackers corps into one of the most feared pass-rush combinations in the league.

    Now pardon me while I gush over the Kerrigan pick made by Washington with the 16th overall pick in this year's draft:
    First and foremost, this pick represents all that is not the Vinny Cerado culture in the Washington front office. Kerrigan is a high-character, blue collar guy who is known for an under-promise, over-produce mentality to his game. He has a high motor, a passion for causing turnovers, and is a kid who any coach would be proud to feature week-in and week-out on his football team.
    He also landed in a position in Washington in which he can thrive as well as learn from others around him. With Brian Orakpo's experience of converting from a dominant defensive end to outside linebacker and London Fletcher's unquestioned leadership and work ethic, Kerrigan has every single opportunity in the world to be a big-time performer on this Redskins defense.

    Rocky McIntosh is likely gone (not a good fit in the 3-4) and Lorenzo Alexander is the Redskins' jack of all trades, but looks better suited to add depth to the depth chart at this point. 

    Inside linebacker is a much more interesting prospect, however. The talent already on the team in Perry Riley and Robert Henson are set for a fierce competition heading into training camp this year and I look forward to seeing both. H.B. Blades is also capable of adding valuable depth to the position, and could very well be the eventual replacement of London Fletcher.

    And if the front office sees none of these three players to be the answer at inside linebacker, there are several free agent options that could help this team:

    -Stephen Tulloch has been a stud middle linebacker for Tennessee the last several years. Could demand too high a cap number, but would most certainly be a tackle machine next to London Fletcher on the inside, helping the defense immensely.

    -Paul Posluszny amounted 151 tackles for Buffalo last season and he was the single bright spot on that deplorable defense last season. The Bills will try hard to keep him, but if Allen and Shanahan could lure him in for a manageable number, he would also be an excellent fit next to Fletcher.

    -Barrett Ruud could also be brought in with a relatively low price tag. He had an admittedly horrible 2010 campaign in light of his phenomenal '08 and '09 seasons. Not having to be the centerpiece of a linebacker corps could be the right situation to cultivate the excellent play he's demonstrated in past seasons and, at worst, could add more solid depth at the position.

Defensive Linemen

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    LANDOVER - SEPTEMBER 19:  Adam Carriker #94 of the Washington Redskins defends against the Houston Texans at FedExField on September 19, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Texans defeated the Redskins in overtime 30-27. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
    Larry French/Getty Images

    Now here is where it gets messy:

    Adam Carriker had a solid year at D-End and looks like he can be a productive member of the team for a long time. Unlike his role in St. Louis, Carriker looks comfortable in his place on Haslett's defense.

    On the other side, Vonnie Holliday put in great minutes at the end of last season.
    Philip Daniels is another inexplicably old producer who just keeps on playing for Washington. His body-builder physique makes him formidable against the run, but is hardly in his prime of play making ability. Regardless, I expect to see him on the roster as a backup and mentor next season.

    The position was addressed early in the draft, when Bruce Allen and Mike Shannahan used their second puck in the draft (41st overall) on a big man on the defensive front. Jarvis Jenkins was picked out of Clemson to be a formidable addition to the defensive line. His size (6'4, 310 lbs.) makes him ideal for what Jim Haslett wants in his 3-4 defensive ends. With Jenkens likely to line up opposite Adam Carriker, the defensive end position looks alot stronger moving into the future.

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    Now for the nose tackle position. As we've all been told (and told and told, again) the nose tackle position is the anchor of the 3-4 defense. That absolutely no respectable 3-4 defense is without a powerful nose tackle... The fat man in the middle... And unfortunately, I have to agree. It is undoubtedly the Washington Redskins' most glaring position of need, based upon the scarcity of possible upgrades on the roster and in free agency.

    Anthony Briant demonstrated good potential at the position at the end of the season, but is far from being considered elite, or even a lock for a roster spot for that matter. 

    And I need not mention Mr. Albert "$100 million, but I'm just 'not good enough' to play 3-4" Haynesworth.
    He's a bum who must be the first to go. He is nothing but a benign cancer at this point. He needs to be removed before he is once again allowed to become toxic. His conduct is disgraceful, humiliating, and I am one fan who is more than ready to wash my hands of this last Cerado mess once and for all...
    -But again, I digress-

     

    Both NT and DE are likely to be addressed in free agency.

    Possible linemen currently in the league who would be able to contribute are as follows:

    -Cullen Jenkins will be 30yrs old when the season starts and has lingering health issues (missing 17 games the last three seasons).
    That being said, he is a dominant force as DE on the line of scrimmage and has already proven himself in Green Bay's 3-4 defense. If his cap number is reasonable, he could be an excellent asset to this defense.

    -Aubrayo Franklin may be the only legitimate nose tackle option available in free agency. He played very well in San Francisco this last year... Unfortunately, he never had previously played as well as when he was playing for a new contract.

    Concerning as that may very well be, Washington is short on options and could certainly do worse than to pursue Franklin.

    -Marcus Spears is excellent with run defense. Not a pass rusher by any stretch, he could be a nice force on first and second downs. His price tag will most likely be reasonable, and I know I'm not the only one who would love to see a former Cowboy beat up on Dallas twice a year.

    -Similarly, Stephen Bowen who filled in for the the injured Marcus Spears last season, played very well for Dallas. Would be a nice depth pick-up.

Wide Receivers

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 03:  Anthony Armstrong #13 of the Washington Redskins makes a long reception against Kurt Coleman #42 of the Philadelphia Eagles on October 3, 2010 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Get
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Anthony Armstrong was indeed a pleasant surprise 27yr old rookie coming out of the -whatever- Football League, showing a great spark for catching the deep ball and putting up notable numbers in the process.

    Santana Moss is now a free agent, coming off of one of his best seasons to date, and nobody has any real idea as to what his future holds between he and the Washington Redskins. One thing is for sure here, Moss has been a staple on this team, and a rare bright spot on the offense since the Mark Brunell days. Many fans (including myself) would love to see #89 back in the burgundy and gold putting up the slot receiver numbers we saw last season.

    Roydell Williams last season was quite possibly the most unimpressive player I have ever seen suit up at the wide receiver position (and making this claim position-specific is generous).
    He won't be back.

    Terrance Austin is a guy everyone would love to see have a breakout year in Washington. He has a skill set and body type similar to Santana Moss and could eventually play a big role in the offense's slot position. His future success remains a big-time "if," but one that at least offers promise.

    Brandon Banks will be mentioned here, but I'm yet to see much from him as an actual value at receiver.
    He could eventually gain a skill set appropriate for the position, but he's a return man, through and through (and a darned good one when rookies aren't blocking in the back to negate his scores.. But that's water under the bridge and evaporated into the sky).

    Malcolm Kelly may be the X-factor of this group. He has the size and skill to be the excellent receiver Jim Zorn envisioned him being. There's a reason he is still on the team and Devin Thomas is not.
    Kelly has the work ethic to do well buying into the Shanahan offense. The only thing that will determine this is Kelly's health.
    IF (again, another major "if") Malcolm Kelly stays healthy through the season, he could actually be an excellent weapon for the Shanahans to take advantage of.

    And then the draft happened!

    It seems that the front office in Washington has been stricken with the same realization of just how desperately thin the Redskins are at wide-out, and three receiver selections later, it seems that there is plenty of depth to be found in this position come training camp (assuming training camp happens, of course).

    Leonard Hankerson was the first offensive weapon added to the team in the draft. The trend of late is to not draft wide receivers high in the draft, short of a super-star. Hankerson was projected by many to be a possible first round talent, and because he appears to be a step below the A.J. Green and Julio Jones, teams were not interested in risking a first or second choice on him. In Miami, Hankerson displayed the ability to use his great size to block off defensive backs. He also has great hands and is not afraid to go over the top, taking a hit by a safety for the catch. His size and athletic ability makes him an assumed red zone threat and has the opportunity to start day one.

    The fifth round produced Niles Paul, a smaller possession receiver. What I think Mike Shanahan also liked about this guy is his willingness to sacrifice his body to set a block. Much of the reason for his lack of college production: Nebraska's offense was built around the running game, and Paul was coached to place high emphasis on blocking for his good friend and the team's premier back (4th round selection Roy Helu, but we'll get to him later).

    And finally, the sixth round produced Aldrick Robinson, the big-play threat of of Southern Methodist. His size and athleticism are indeed reminiscent of Brandon Banks, but it appears that Robinson will be more of a receiving threat, stretching the field for whoever the quarterback ends up being. 

    If the coaching staff looks at this unit and still wants to add more depth in the team's pass-catching, this year's free agency class is chock-full of options for Washington to take advantage of this off-season.

    -Santonio Holmes is said to be a chief target of Mike Shanahan this once free agency commences. Holmes has proven to be a difference maker wherever he has been. With the Steelers and most recently with the Jets, the prolific receiver has helped Ben Rothlisberger and Mark Sanchez look brilliant with he as a primary target. There are a few "character" issues, but he showed last season that he is nothing like the prima dona attitudes of other well-noted receivers across the league.

    -James Jones is a big receiver who helped get GB a Superbowl championship this last season. He will want to get paid like a #1 receiver, but he should perform very well for the team that picks him up. If his hands improve over the next few seasons, he has the potential be a star receiver in this league.

    -Mike Sims-Walker is a name that has been associated with Washington in free agent speculation all off-season. He is a large, underrated talent who may come to his new franchise at a bargain price and will give good quality possessions the franchise. 

    -Jacoby Jones worked with Kyle Shanahan in Houston and is a dangerous speed threat.

    -Fresh out of a two year, gun-related prison sentence Plaxico Burress is ready to re-enter the league. Teams will be much more apt to sign Burress after the great success of the Michael Vick experiment, but I wouldn't expect a bidding war by any stretch. Expect the red zone threat to put up good numbers in the last few years of his career.

    -Sidney Rice will be pursued heavily by Minnesota, so he will inevitably be overpaid next season wherever he is. He has the ability to be one of the most prolific receivers in the game, but since Washington is clearly without a star QB, I don't see Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan going all-out to sign this guy.

The "Deepest Position" on the Washington Roster

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    All kidding aside, with Chris Cooley, Fred Davis and Logan Paulson all on the roster, the Redskins are not going to pursue a new TE.

    Having two guys with demonstrated ability will prove helpful for whoever ends up playing QB in the fall.

    Further, Logan Paulson showed flashes of play making ability in last season's limp offense and can also be a formidable blocker on the line of scrimmage.

Offensive Linemen

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    LANDOVER - SEPTEMBER 19:  The Washington Redskins offensive line walks up to the line of scrimmage during the game against the Houston Texans at FedExField on September 19, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Texans defeated the Redskins in overtime 30-27. (P
    Larry French/Getty Images

    It is no secret that the Washington Redskins have had a poor offensive line over the last several. Under Vinny Cerado, draft after draft went by without the pick of a single offensive lineman in the first several rounds.

    In their first draft as the leaders of the Washington front office, Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan picked Trent Williams with the fourth overall pick. Since then, Shanahan has offered high praise to the offensive tackle, going so far as to say that Williams has the most potential of any tackle he has coached (which includes Denver all-pro Ryan Clady). All things considered, Williams had a very nice season in 2010, showing that he indeed does possesses the ability to exceed head-to-head against the most talented defensive linemen in the league. If he can indeed live up to the praise offered him by coach Shanahan, Williams could be a star tackle for the team into the next decade.

    Casey Rabach has experienced disappointing on-the-field results to date. He no longer seems to possess the ability to slow down an elite nose tackle, or get the same drive on run blocking that he did in the past. He has always been an undersized player, but now that his age seems to be catching up to him, his days as starting center for Washington are likely over.

    Kory Lichtensteiger played well enough to earn him a starting spot down the stretch last season. It has been speculated that Lichtensteiger may take over the starting center job in the long term.

    Artis Hicks' performance last season was disappointing at best. He will likely not be a starter in 2011, but when healthy can play an effective supporting role.

    Jamaal Brown will become an unrestricted free agent as soon as a collective bargaining agreement is met between the NFL and the players union. Last season, he played right tackle while recovering from injures. He struggled week in and week out, but is a two-time pro-bowler who does have the size and athleticism to be successful in Mike Shanahan's offense if she stays around. There has been no real talk from either Brown or the Redskins regarding whether he will return to the team, however considering the team's need for offensive line depth and Brown's lack of impressive performance the last two seasons, I expect that both sides can come to an agreement which would hopefully be beneficial for both sides moving into the next few seasons.

    Selvish Capers was on the practice squad all last season, and has the physical attributes to be the ideal Mike Shanahan offensive lineman. No one other than the coaching staff actually knows exactly how far Capers has progressed over this last season, but he could be a dark horse candidate for starting along the line this next season.

    Maurice Hurt was drafted out of Florida in the seventh round of the draft last April. It seems like the coaches were attracted to his versatility and his athleticism. Hurt will likely serve a backup position, adding much-needed depth to the interior line.

    The performance of the entire offense is directly related to the performance of the offensive line. As has been well-documented, one of the Redskins' most pressing needs is an effective offensive line.

    Signing an offensive lineman is somewhat more unique of a situation for the Washington Redskins, due to the Mike Shanahan zone blocking scheme. For this reason, looking at which free agents to sign should be limited to players who are talented linemen while being athletic enough to play well in zone blocking.

    -Baltimore guard Marshal Yanda is set to be a free agent who would solidify Washington's interior line for the foreseeable future. Baltimore should be expected to try extremely hard to resign the lineman once free agency begins, but don't be surprised to see Washington lure him in at the end of the day.

    -Tyson Clabo has played a major part in playing the right side of Atlanta's blocking scheme. He is a dominant run-blocker and is has played a major role over the last few years to keep Matt Ryan off his back. If the team ends up parting ways with Jamaal Brown, Clabo would fill a major hole as the offensive bookend opposite Trent Williams.

    -Carl Nicks had a rather impressive pro-bowl season playing at guard for the Saints. He will demand a large contract, but I believe that Washington will be more than willing to pay top-dollar for an elite offensive guard, and Nicks could very well be allured to sign with Washington before training camp.

    -Davin Joseph was probably the best offensive lineman for Tampa Bay last season. He is an outstanding run-blocker and was formitable against the pass-rush. Don't expect Tampa to let Joseph go for cheap, but he will certainly offer a good service for whoever lands the contract for his services.

Running Backs

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 03:  Ryan Torain #46 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 3, 2010 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Redskins defeated the Eagles 17-12.  (Photo by Jim McIsaa
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    For the first time since Joe Gibbs dealt Champ Baily to Mike Shanahan's Broncos in a blockbuster trade, the Washington Redskins backfield will not feature Clinton Portis. On most teams, the departure of the team's most prolific running back over the last decade is usually considered a bad thing, however Mike Shanahan has built his scouting reputation on finding backs who can perform far beyond what the rest of the league expects. After all, Portis himself was a second round pick.

    Ryan Torain took over in the stead of Clinton Portis last season when Portis faced his groin injury. He played admirably for the rest of the season and looks like he can be the formidable player Shanahan first envisioned when he drafted Torain in Denver. Torain is expected to be the starting running back for the Washington Redskins when they first take the field this season.

    Keiland Williams played good enough in Torain's absence at times last season. As an undrafted rookie, Williams received high praise from Mike Shanahan since signing with the team. He is efficient catching passes out of the backfield and can put up pretty good numbers running. He didn't show however, the ability to be a long-term option at the position.

    On the second day of the draft, Mike Shanahan saw the opportunity to make a move for a player who seemingly fits hits scheme perfectly. Shanahan traded up for the first time in the draft to land the Nebraska running back Roy Helu. Helu is a speedy, one-cut back who fits into the well-noted zone blocking scheme run in the Shanahan offense. Due to his own talent as well as Shanahan's stellar reputation when developing lower-round tail backs, Helu is certainly a dark horse candidate to be a break-out back this season. 

    In a side note, Helu is said to be a good friend of other Redskins draft pick Niles Paul. After Paul experienced some personal conduct issues in college, Helu became close with Paul, encouraging him, reading the Bible with him daily, etc. With both finding themselves on the same team in the NFL, the dynamic between the two players could be a neat story to follow in coming seasons.

    Evan Royster was then drafted out of Penn State. Royster, more of a downhill, bruising back, will have to work hard in camp and the pre-season to show if he deserves any substantial playing time this season. But be careful of underestimating a late round back drafted by Shanahan. One never knows who the next Peyton Hilis could be.

    Because of this lineup, it seems highly unlikely that the Redskins will make any notable moves in signing running backs during the shortened free agency period.

The Quarterback Question

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    Look at each team which consistently competes for a Superbowl run. What is the one asset each of these teams share?

    They all have consistent, franchise quarterbacks.

    Now not every team necessarily needs to have a Peyton Manning lining up under center to be great, but in the modern NFL the quarterback position needs to be solidified in order for any given team to compete year in and year out.

    The quarterback situation in Washington cannot be addressed then without first bringing up #5. I am not the only onlooker who was seemingly duped into believing that the Donovan McNabb deal would be the immediate answer as the Redskins' signal caller for the next several years. One year later, all that can be said about the situation can be related to an over-hyped relationship that "just didn't work out." Say what you will about the handling of the situation, but it is readily apparent that McNabb just did not fit properly into the mold of Kyle Shanahan's passing scheme.

    Being said, do not count McNabb out as a legitimate player in the future. His record with the Eagles is well-noted and he is by no means a poor football player. It seems to everyone involved that McNabb is not destined to be in the Redskins immediate future, but he is a darned good football player who is no doubt itching to again prove himself on the NFL stage wherever he lands in the coming weeks.

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    After the Redskins were eliminated from the playoff picture last year, there was no remaining reason to keep McNabb on the field once the season was lost if McNabb was indeed not the long-term starter. Rex Grossman is a former first round pick and starting quarterback for a Chicago Bear's Superbowl team that only lost three games before losing the the Colts. He worked directly with Kyle Shanahan in Houston behind Matt Shaub, learning the offense which he now must master in Washington. Last year he was given the starting role over the last several games of the season as a tryout for the future and performed well at times. He also showed the world (and the coaching staff) that he is what most everyone already has figured about Grossman, he is a good quarterback who is not by any means a great quarterback. Therefore, expect him to be re-signed to the roster, but not as the assumed starter. 

    And then there was one. One of the most examined, criticized, and even scoffed-at situations in the NFL is the potential of John Beck being the starting quarterback of a playoff contending team.

    The offensive leader drafted in the second round out of BYU a few years ago was put into an impossible situation from the inaugural days of his career. Forced to be the starter of a pitifully awful Miami Dolphins team, his predictable lack of success was to this point the defining point of his entire career. His short stint in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco ended in the team practically giving him away to perhaps the last place in which Beck could find legitimacy and a chance to resurrect his career.

    Mike Shanahan has said numerous times that in the year he was drafted, Beck was the number one quarterback on Shanahan's board. He certainly has talent and it remains to be seen how much he has been able to grasp the Shanahan offense and lead this team.

    This off-season has been a good one for Beck; giving him the opportunity to show himself as a leader, organizing team activities in the midst of a lockout. There is no doubt that there will be a riveting position battle happening between he and Rex Grossman for the coveted position of starting for the team.

    But before you shrug off the idea of Beck being a legitimate option as the starter on week one for Washington Redskins, a report released earlier this week from an unnamed source close to the Shanahan's decision-making circle says that head coach Mike Shanahan is "serious as hell" about the possibility of John Beck being the Redskins starting quarterback. To many who have watched the Redskins closely the last several years, this bold statement of confidence is not surprising considering the franchise's consistent position of support for Beck since the team made the move to trade for him and subsequently sign him to a new deal before he even played a down for the team.

    Write off Shanahan and his offense at your own peril. For this Redskins follower, it will remain to be seen if the quarterback of the future is already on the roster or if the team will make a move to sign that fabled franchise leader in the future. Whatever the case, the quarterback question is one that not only must be answered, but answered correctly, or else the team will see itself cast back another several years to the now well-known land of mediocrity.

As the Season Begins

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    If you look at what most NFL analysis says about the Washington Redskins, it would seem that most of the football world gives the Redskins a lame racehorse's chance of being a competitive team this season.

    And if you base this off of the consistency of the team's quarterback play, then perhaps there is a point to be made stating the former.

    But a squandered season is by no means a guarantee for the Redskins this fall. Yes, they face a tough challenge by playing ball in the NFC East, but that is by no means a reason to write this team off.

    It is obvious this team is not yet ready to win consistently against the league's greats, nor realistically make a serious run at the Super Bowl, but what is happening is that moves are being made to make this a team built for long-term success. It seems Dan Snyder has finally figured out that contending franchises are built, not purchased. And if one looks at the actions of the franchise over the last year since the reins were given over to Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan, it is apparent that although the Redskins are dedicated to winning right now, pieces are being put into place to again make the Washington Redskins a respectable, contending franchise for the next decade, not just the next few months.

    And that should be the pride of Redskins' nation. I believe a new day is finally dawning for the Washington Redskins, and although the heat may not yet be scorching, one can most certainly see the light.

     

     

     

    For more NFL and Washington Redskins analysis, follow Tom on Twitter @Skins_Optimist

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