5 Washington Redskins Who Aren't Getting the Respect They Deserve
After five weeks the Washington Redskins are atop the NFC East at 3-1.
For a team that most expected to be one of the worst in the NFL and in the running for Andrew Luck, it has been a surprising start.
While stars like the outside linebacker duo of Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan have emerged, it takes a total team effort to win in the NFL.
Here are five players who aren't getting the respect they deserve when discussing the impressive start by the Redskins.
5: Will Montgomery, Center
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Will Montgomery has been a stabilizing force at center for Washington this season after taking over for the nightmare that was Casey Rabach.
A seventh-round draft pick in 2006, Montgomery moved from guard to center under Mike Shanahan and has taken to the position nicely.
While it's hard to judge the true value of Montgomery because Rabach was so unbelievably bad, the Redskins have been noticeably better along the middle of the offensive line in 2011, and Montgomery has been a big part of that.
For a late round draft pick and a guy labeled as a career backup, Montgomery has developed a niche for himself in Shanahan's zone blocking scheme and has been an integral part of the Redskins 3-1 start.
4: Jabar Gaffney, Wide Receiver
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Through four games Jabar Gaffney is averaging 59.5 yards on 4.25 catches per game. Nothing flashy, nothing that screams add me to your fantasy team, but consistent.
Consistency is exactly what the Redskins have lacked at the wide receiver position across from Santana Moss the last six years, and Gaffney fits the bill.
Acquired for defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, a player who didn't fit the 3-4 scheme in Washington and who has since been released by Denver, Gaffney is proving to be a steal.
Gaffney will never be mistaken for a game-breaker, but he runs solid routes and makes the catch when the ball is thrown his way.
On a team that has severely lacked receivers in the past, he stands out as a proven veteran who provides value in the passing game.
3: Stephen Bowen, Defensive End
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When free agency began, everyone assumed Cullen Jenkins would be headed to Washington with a large contract. Instead, the Skins signed the unheralded Stephen Bowen away from the Dallas Cowboys for a contract many believed too large for an unproven player.
While Jenkins has certainly earned his payday in Philadelphia, Bowen has proven his value as well. Bowen has been an integral part of a revamped defensive line for Washington, and has 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks thus far. More importantly, he is occupying blockers so that the talented linebackers of the Redskins can wreak havoc.
In addition to his play on the field, Bowen, along with other free agent signings Barry Cofield and Josh Wilson, represents a culture change in Washington. Gone are the days of paying 30-something year old veterans huge contracts. Instead, the Redskins have chosen to go after young, hungry players who fit the scheme and won't disrupt the locker room.
Many balked at the five year, $27.5 million dollar deal Bowen received in the offseason, but through just four games, he has already proven his worth.
2: Graham Gano, Kicker
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Since missing his first kick of the season, Graham Gano has made 7-of-9 field goal attempts, with both misses coming off of blocked kicks, one due to the fault of holder Sav Rocca.
He kicked a 34-yard game winner against the Cardinals and a 50-yard field goal against Dallas.
The Redskins brought in Shayne Graham to compete with Gano during training camp, and it wasn't even close. He seems to perform better when there is competition for the job.
The much maligned Gano appears to have settled in as the Redskins kicker, and at just 24, he has the potential to lock up a position that has been a revolving door in Washington for a long time.
1: London Fletcher, Linebacker
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London Fletcher has been one of the most underrated middle linebackers in football since entering the league. In 212 career games since the 1998-99 season, he has never missed a game. He has recorded at least 119 tackles in 11 straight seasons, and in his four full seasons in Washington, he has averaged 135 tackles.
Despite all this, Fletcher is never talked about when mentioning the games best middle linebackers, and he has reached the Pro Bowl just twice as an alternate in his career, and not until the 2009-10 season did he make it.
When the Redskins switched to the 3-4 defense before the start of the 2010 season, many were concerned about Fletcher's ability to switch this late in his career. All he did was record 136 tackles, three sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception.
This season, at the age of 36, Fletcher has become even more of a playmaker, having already recorded a sack, an interception and a forced fumbled through four games.
He is the unquestioned leader of the Redskins defense and in the clubhouse, and one of the most disrespected players in the NFL.