2011 Washington Redskins: An Optimist's View of the Redskins Offseason

KC ClyburnCorrespondent IIApril 20, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 26:  Head coach Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins watches the action during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 26, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Where there's smoke, there's more smoke.

I imagine that Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has to be feeling pretty good about things right now.

As the Official Washington Redskins blog pointed out, the Redskins have projected to take as many as 27 different players in the various mocks floating around the Internet, and it seems like every couple days, there has been a new flurry of rumors about who the Redskins will take with the 10th selection overall.

The Washington Redskins worked out Julio Jones a couple days ago. On Monday, a flutter of rumors surfaced that Ryan Mallett was in play for the 10th pick overall. This practically came on the heels of a weekend full of speculation, as John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported that he'd heard that the Redskins were "trying like crazy to move up and grab one of the quarterbacks", in particular Missouri prospect Blaine Gabbert.

That rumor lasted about a day before yet another report surfaced, this time from CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco, alleging that the Redskins wanted to move down in the first round and grab Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder or TCU quarterback Andy Dalton in the second.

This amongst Mike Mayock saying he thinks Jake Locker is a good fit for the Redskins, Michael Lombardi saying he likes Mallett with the Redskins and numerous mock drafts claiming the Redskins will grab either Cam Newton, Mark Ingram, Robert Quinn or Julio Jones.

The Redskins have been deadly quiet all offseason, the workouts they've scheduled haven't gotten much attention, and the speculation is at an all time high. With Vinny Cerrato at the helm, we probably would already know exactly who the Redskins were drafting, and be vigorously debating what number they should wear.

There's so much smoke going on, and that's how Coach Shanahan likes it.

Last year at this point, rumors were they would draft Russel Okung or Anthony Davis. They more or less shocked everyone when they selected Trent Williams with the fourth pick overall, and for all intents and purposes, the coaching staff has been very happy with their selection. No one had even considered Trent Williams being taken with that pick, but alas, he was the one wearing the burgundy and gold on Opening Day.

As the draft draws ever closer, the Redskins smoke screen is in full effect. There's tons of speculation, but don't be surprised if at the end of the day, none of the players talked about end up being drafted at all.

Players Hold Voluntarily Mini-Camp

By now, most Redskins fans already know that, over the past two days, the Washington Redskins have held a voluntary work-out, mainly to get back in shape and to get back together in the spirit of team unity.

Led by middle linebacker and team captain London Fletcher, the linemen mostly participated in drills, while the offense and defensive skill players worked off an old game plan to get back in shape. Players bought their own balls, shirts, socks, sneakers and the like for the whole team as the team seeks to keep as much continuity as possible.

Several of the Redskins potential free agents showed up, including Rex Grossman, who split snaps with John Beck. Though many boo-hoo the thought of Rex Grossman possibly starting next season, it's pretty refreshing to see the quarterback who is scheduled to be a free agent come up and practice with the team. Grossman has no obligation to the team, but he still came up and practiced with his teammates, which, in this writer's mind, instills just a little bit more confidence in his ability to lead. (Then again, I like Rex Grossman more than pretty much anyone).

The same could be said of John Beck. Beck is the only quarterback on the roster signed to a long term deal, and has spent his offseason training with the past two Super Bowl MVPs, Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees. Though Beck struggled in preseason and didn't see a snap on offense in the regular season, it's nice to know he's working just as hard as a starting quarterback in the league.

If the door is wide open as to who's going to be the starter, Beck is preparing hard for any possibility, and you can never dock a hard worker.

Perhaps most encouraging (to yours truly, anyway), was the wealth of young players that attended the camp, some of which were flying from across the country.

The Redskins young receiver corps of Anthony Armstrong, Terrence Austin, Brandon Banks and Malcolm Kelly all showed up (I could be mistaken, but in this video, I believe practice squad receiver Taurus Johnson is there as well), tight ends Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen were on tap, the active running backs (Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, Darrel Young and Andre Brown) all showed up. Our young kicker Graham Gano was there as well. On the defensive side of the ball, linebackers Perry Riley and Rob Jackson, safeties Macho Harris and Anderson Russell and cornerback Kevin Barnes all attended as well.

Seeing as though the younger players don't get a whole lot of reps during training camp, it's nice to see the young guns come out and practice. On top of that, all the team captains were present, except for one: Donovan McNabb.

For someone who has repeatedly said he wants to stay in Washington, he sure was ghost during this...

It's good to see the team has stayed together during the offseason, and even though London Fletcher only scheduled two days, players have begun to organize more workouts for this week and more workouts for the future.

What helped the Redskins win two Super Bowls during their strike seasons was them sticking together, working out, practicing and being prepared for whenever football started. The Redskins are far away from a Super Bowl, but that kind of togetherness will serve them well going into next season.

The Washington Redskins 2011 Schedule

After having one of the hardest schedules in the league in 2010, the Redskins end up with the 8th easiest schedule.


That's not to say than anything about it will be easy, but in theory, it'll at least be easier. The beginning of the Redskins schedule is fairly balanced, with the last five games being brutal. But, for a team that will be younger, that (one way or another) will probably be starting an inconsistent quarterback, and that will be experiencing some growing pains, a winning season isn't completely out of the question.

It's easy to expect gloom in doom, but I'm being optimistic. Of course that means that the chances of being bummed if things don't pan out is increased, but I'd rather be optimistic and be let down, then expect to lose and somehow start complaining with the team actually starts to lose.

Stay tuned, as I'll breaking down the Redskins schedule soon.

As unconventional as the offseason is, the Redskins seem to be right on a track. In the front office, Mike Shanahan has sent out a series of smoke signals that could benefit him in the draft. On the field, players are getting together and working out and trying to keep unity and continuity high.

For reasons unknown to me, I continue to look at the upside of the Redskins rather than the downside. And if the Redskins can pull it altogether, the season has the potential to be a bright one.

Or at least, I'll keep telling myself that.


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