The 2011 Washington Redskins season has tail-spun into a disaster.
There's no easy or kind way of putting it. However, I do not believe that the record directly corresponds with the talent on the field.
Half of the team's problems are related with the injuries they have received at the beginning of the season, including the preseason. These injuries have hindered the effectiveness of the offensive line, which in turn drags down both the passing and running schemes.
The other half belongs solely on the shoulders of the quarterback (whoever it may be). Poor QB decisions have crippled this team's ability to move the ball.
Between an inability to effectively deliver the ball to open receivers quickly and poor decisions leading to turnovers in critical moments of the game, both John Beck and Rex Grossman have driven this team into the ground.
Defensively, the Washington Redskins have played at a level far above their performance last year. This is a result of familiarity with the aggressive 3-4 defensive scheme of Jim Haslett. The have found the right players for the system, and they are playing at a high level—not quite elite, but they have shown significant improvement.
The fault lies with the offense and its inability to sustain drives long enough to give the defense sufficient rest.
The team must now look to next year and evaluate which players have the potential to improve the team and which players need their starting jobs ripped from them.
As mentioned before, the poor quarterback play of Rex Grossman and John Beck are the reason for much of the failure this season.
Grossman, while showing that knowledge of the offensive system results in good ball movement, has failed to lead the team to score.
Rex has been unable to lead the offense into the end zone and has continuously left them settling for field goals.
At this point, Grossman has reached his peak in this offense. He has shown the coaches and fans how far he can take this team—and frankly it is not enough.
John Beck has shown some signs of potential, but not enough to lead anyone to believe he can be a full-time starter in this league.
He is far too hesitant to throw the deep pass and is too comfortable dumping off the check-downs. He looks for the perfect pass when it isn't there.
John Beck has played worse than Rex Grossman, which is not a place anyone would ever hope to be.
Quarterback is this team's biggest problem, and this gaping hole must, must be addressed in the draft. This year's draft class of quarterbacks is one of the best in many years, and the Redskins must take advantage of it.
Although Andrew Luck is likely unattainable for Washington, either Landry Jones of Oklahoma or Matt Barkley of USC would probably be available for the Redskins. Barkley looks more of Shanahan's style of QB, and I would not be surprised to see the Redskins take him off the board.
Regardless of whom Shanahan might pick up, he must name him the starter. Uncertainty at quarterback is not a recipe for success.
Draft a quarterback, teach him the system and trust him enough to let him play.
Tim Hightower is by far the most efficient back the Redskins have.
Roy Helu has shown promise as a flex back with potential in the passing game, but he isn't the every-down back that Hightower is.
Shanahan has also played the uncertainty game at running back.
It's OK to have a two-back attack, but a clear starter should have the confidence of his coach and teammates.
In his time running the ball in 2011, Hightower showed he has the ability to thrive in Shanahan's one-cut zone blocking scheme. He has the speed to gain yards quickly with the power to break tackles.
Hightower earned the right to be the starter for Washington, even in his limited time in the backfield.
Another plus for Hightower is his upside in pass-protection. He is the best blocker the Redskins have among their running backs.
Helu has also been effective in the passing game, and the running game and has earned the right to back Hightower and receive touches in every game.
Unfortunately, Ryan Torain has been a big disappointment in 2011.
I can't completely blame him, because the offensive line has not been able to manage their zone blocking properly, and it is crippling the running game.
However, Helu has had much more success with the same blocking.
Hightower and Helu should be the two backs in Shanahan's arsenal in 2012.
When Santana Moss went down to injury with a broken hand, it clearly showed.
The offense looked inept and lost.
Fred Davis appeared to be the only weapon on offense that Washington had in their receiving corps—and he's not a wide receiver.
Moss offers quarterbacks the option of both the check-down and the mid-range pass down the field. He has not aged in his ability over the years and has developed into the textbook definition of the slot receiver.
Moss has been the team's No. 1 for years, but that title might be given to Leonard Hankerson in 2012.
A lot of responsibility for a player in their sophomore season, but Hankerson has looked awesome in Moss's absence. He has the size, speed and upside to be given a chance to be the team's No. 1 receiver next year.
Players like Gaffney and Austin have given the Redskins some more depth than they have possessed in past seasons, but they shouldn't be starters.
This team has receivers, they just need to mature and stay healthy in 2012.
Thankfully, the 2008 Redskins draft wasn't a complete bust.
Fred Davis has been the one constant on offense in 2011.
That's even more incredible considering the ineptitude of the quarterbacks delivering the ball.
Davis made the most of the lockout this summer and got into incredible shape.
He dedicated himself to have a great year this year and has not disappointed. He is the team's leading receiver and turned into a player that defenses scheme against (the Redskins don't have very many of those).
As much as Chris Cooley has done for this team over the years, it's time for him to take a step down the depth chart. Davis offers the offense a younger, faster and better tight end than Cooley does.
Cooley should stay on the field in 2012 as the other tandem in the many two-tight end sets the Redskins run on offense.
The Redskins should lock up Davis as fast as they can and keep him around as long as they can.
He's a definite playmaker.
Remember this guy?
Not many do.
Jenkins gave opposing offensive lines nightmares through the first two games of the preseason.
He showed exactly why the Redskins drafted him in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft.
He was strong enough to push back the pocket and open the doors for the linebackers to generate pressure on the opponent's offense.
Jenkins should be back to full strength in 2012, and between him and Adam Carriker, the left end position would have a lot of depth.
Carriker is due to become a free agent, but I trust that Haslett will likely bring back one of the most productive players in 2011.
Barry Cofield is another player who has made an impact on defense in 2011.
Many suspected the addition of Cofield to the defensive line due to his size, but he has quieted his critics with stellar play.
He has been able to generate a push on offensive lines and been a nuisance getting in the face of opposing quarterbacks.
Cofield has also shown leadership presence in the locker room this season on defense.
This is his first season playing in the 3-4 scheme as a nose tackle and should play at an even higher level in 2012.
While Stephen Bowen hasn't quite lived up to the money he was given, he has been an upgrade over Kedric Golston.
He hasn't been as effective in pass-rushing as desired, but he has been good in run defense.
Bowen is a young player and will be back in 2012, hopefully more mature in his second year under Jim Haslett.
Golston isn't a player with the talent to start, but he is a good depth on the right side of the defensive line, and also a good player on special teams.
Not enough can be said about the level of play of Ryan Kerrigan.
He has turned in one of the best performances on defense this year around the league.
If not for Cam Newton's incredible season, Kerrigan would be a strong contender for Rookie of the Year.
Through nine games, Kerrigan has 35 tackles, 5.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, an interception and a touchdown.
If the Redskins were looking for a bookend for Brian Orakpo, I think they found one.
It's incredible to think that the experts didn't think Kerrigan would be a good fit in Washington, claiming that the transition to linebacker would be too much for the rookie.
Funny—they said the same about Clay Matthews.
Kerrigan will definitely be a starter in 2012, and it's hard to imagine him playing any better than he is right now.
The constant that Fred Davis is on offense is mirrored by London Fletcher on defense.
He is the one player that is always around the ball and playing on top of his game each week.
It is hard to keep a defense motivated when the the team has played so poorly, but Fletcher manages to keep the defense efficient each week.
Through nine games, Fletcher has an incredible 72 tackles, good enough for seventh-best in the league. There is no reason why Fletcher should be denied another Pro Bowl selection.
He is the definition of a middle linebacker. He has six pass deflections and two interceptions in 2011.
Perry Riley has also shown his ability to thrive in the 3-4 system. Riley looks like a good replacement for Fletcher when he chooses to retire in the near future.
If Fletcher retires in 2012—which is unlikely—Riley would likely play in his stead.
However, Fletcher will probably be back next season, and it would not be surprising to see Riley beside him.
Yes, Brian Orakpo is that high off the ground, and he has played very well in 2011.
Through nine games, Orakpo has 31 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
While his stats are good, his ability to generate pressure on nearly every snap is even better.
For Orakpo, creating pressure is just as good as compiling stats.
With Kerrigan on the other end, he has sometimes been unaccounted for and blind-sided quarterbacks. Orakpo will definitely be back next season, and in just his fourth year, he has already become one of the leaders of this team.
Backed by Rob Jackson, the Redskins pass-rush from the right outside linebacker position is in the right hands.
This picture says it all. I will not be kind in my assessment of DeAngelo Hall in 2011.
He has failed on so many assignments this season and then doesn't help his case by failing to tackle.
A player that prides himself on forcing turnovers, he has whiffed on nearly all of them.
He has only put together one interception and one forced fumble this season—a huge disappointment for last year's Pro Bowl MVP.
DeAngelo Hall will continue to fail on his assignments until he learns to play coverage instead of whiffing on interception attempts.
Josh Wilson has been OK alongside Hall this season.
While playing decent coverage, he has also been flagged on multiple pass-interference penalties.
Wilson and Hall will likely be back in 2012, but they both need to step up their game in coverage next year.
Atogwe has been somewhat disappointing due to his inability to stay healthy this year.
When healthy, he does a much better job than Kareem Moore did, and he is a significant improvement over Reed Doughty.
Atogwe needs to stay on the field and away from the trainers.
If he can do that next season, the Redskins will be set at free safety.
Kareem Moore will probably back up Atogwe next season when he comes off the IR and will probably serve as a better player than Reed Doughty has been this year.
LaRon Landry is set to become a free agent at the end of this season.
The Redskins need to secure his contract for years to come.
He is one of the better strong safeties in the league and has plagued opposing backfields in his limited play in 2011.
Landry has been more effective in pass-rushing than in coverage, but he is still a younger player that the Redskins can claim as a draft success.
I can't see Haslett parting ways with Landry, and the Redskins should have Landry back on their roster in 2012.
Gano didn't have his best game against Miami, but there were heavy winds and both of his misses were from 50 yards or longer.
Gano has shown much improvement over his 2010 performance and hasn't been bad enough to lose his job next season.
He is only in his third season in the NFL—and only his second as a full-time starter.
The Redskins also have benefited from Gano's strong leg when it comes to kickoffs, and thanks to the new rule, touchbacks are abundant for Washington.
Gano has still shown the potential to be the long-term kicker in Washington, and his significant improvement from 2010 to 2011 is only testament that he still has more growing to do.
The Redskins would be foolish to allow Sav Rocca to leave the team, unless due to retirement.
He has been very efficient at pinning opponents inside the 20-yard line this season.
They would not find a punter in free agency that would offer them any more than Rocca has this season.
Rocca should be a Redskin in 2012.
No, not Brandon Banks.
I was a big fan of Banks in 2010 and was a full advocate for bringing him back this season, but he has failed to come through with production.
Terrence Austin offers them a player with more ability than just being a special teams player.
Austin has also been used as a receiver with Moss out and has shown some potential at the position.
He also was the primary kickoff and punt returner for UCLA during his college career.
While he might not have the speed and big play potential that Banks does, he offers the Redskins a player with more skills for his roster position, and one that is very talented on special teams.