Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Off Season Questions: Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins

1.     So…John Beck
Who is this guy? Well John Beck was drafted in 2007 and apparently Mike Shanahan known in some circles as “That guy who benched a first ballot hall of famer in favor of Rex Grossman” thinks “the world of him”. Putting aside for one second my deep seated dislike and lack of respect for Shanahan I think we need to ask why exactly Shanahan thinks he’s so awesome that he deserves to be the starter. Shanahan says, according to ESPN, that he had Beck rated the highest in the 2007 draft class as far as quarterbacks were concerned. High praise right? Well let’s look at that star studded class of JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Kevin Kolb, Drew Stanton, Trent Edwards, Troy Smith, and Tyler Thigpen. Pretty epic draft class, their entire career records are so poor that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is one win short of having more wins than all of them put together. So going back to Shanahan’s opinion, because that’s what it is…an opinion. Beck was not rated the highest in that draft class, that’s Shanahan’s opinion, he has not enjoyed anymore success than anybody in that draft class and has yet to win a single game in the NFL. He’s paired with a lunatic coach and one of the most dysfunctional organizations in the league second only perhaps to the Bengals.

2.     Which Leads Beautifully Into…
My next question! How far away from legitness are the Redskins? Answer: A long way, a really long way. The problem starts at the top, owner Daniel Snyder. Snyder has developed a nasty habit of throwing money on free agents and creating a tidal wave of hype that the player cannot hope to live up to. A perfect example of this is quarterback Donovan McNabb who is in limbo as waits to flee DC and never look back. McNabb, as I’ve talked about in earlier articles, was traded midway through last offseason from his beloved Philadelphia Eagles to division rival Washington. So of course several members of the media blew McNabb’s impact so far out of proportion that it was difficult to tell whether the Redskins had acquired McNabb or Gandhi. That the Redskins were viewed as being in contention for the NFC East last season is laughable. The Redskins organization has done this year after year bringing in high price free agents and swearing that this time is different. Back in the day this strategy had some merit and if the ‘Skins think that they’ve uncovered the next Matt Cassel then that’s great for them but I have my doubts. The Redskins this year showed signs of what the Raiders did last season, the beginnings of understanding that teams are built by the draft not by free agents. For instance last year I had the Raiders taking offensive lineman Bruce Campbell because he was fast, the Raiders always draft the fastest guy. Al Davis drafted Darrius Heyward Bay over the far superior prospect, Michael Crabtree due to 40 time. But then the Raiders shocked the world (and perhaps more importantly my mock draft) by taking Rolando McClain who was a solid prospect who instantly improved a pretty suckish Raiders defense. My point being that this season (with no free agency) the Redskins traded down and seem to have taken substance over style in solid pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan and running back Roy Helu (we’ll talk about him in a second). Teams have to be built through the draft especially when you have as many needs as the Redskins. If they continue to build through the draft and ease themselves off the crutch of free agency they should be contenders, till then the East belongs to Dallas, New York and Philly.

3.     The 100 Million Dollar Man
The Redskins have themselves a problem, about 100 million dollars worth of problems. Luckily (and by that I mean unluckily) for the Redskins those problems come nice and wrapped up in the behemoth that is Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth is a diva defensive tackle who has made a few things abundantly clear. 1. He has no intention of playing nose tackle. 2. He has no intention of being a Redskin. 3. The sooner he leaves the happier everybody (with the possible exception of his new team) will be. Haynesworth is gonna be a tough sell to numerous teams due to his well publicized feud with Shanahan during last offseason, his ridiculously high pay isn’t exactly helping. But like it or not, the moving of Haynesworth will dominate the Redskins organization until he moves.

4.     Helu, Goodbye
Yes that is a Roy Helu name pun, it is my first and probably will not be my last. Helu is a solid runner out of the University of Nebraska whose had back to back 1000 yard seasons and had some very strong showings last season. Meanwhile in the Redskins signed backfield there is Ryan Torain who showed flashes of potential last season after Clinton Portis suffered an injury to his groin that made me wince just hearing it. Which one of these men emerges as the featured back of this Redskins offense may prove to be a bigger deal than most people are treating it as. Think about this for a second, the Redskins are starting John Beck at QB (unless Shanahan is just yanking our chain) with possibly Rex Grossman as his backup. This star studded QB line up comes into a suspect offensive line with one real receiver and two good tight ends. That’s it. There’s definite talent on defense (Brian Orakpo is a monster. Fact.) but there’s not enough talent to be on the field most of the game, and if Beck and Sexy Rexy struggle to find their one receiver while DeMarcus Ware rides them to the turf then the ‘Skins better find a damn running game or perish. So which will it be? Helu? Torain? A mysterious stranger from the ranks of the undrafted? Nobody will know till the season gets started.

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