|(Can the 2011 'Skins add another Lombardi to the trophy case? photo via).|
So, without seeing a single live game snap or watching a single preseason game here is my season prediction for the Skins.
That's right and I'll tell you why. I think that it's a fair statement that most Redskin fans feel that the 'Skins are headed in the right direction under the leadership of Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen. They've gotten rid of most of the distractions that have plagued the team over the last few seasons (well, except for the upcoming Beck vs. Grossman QB battle). The team (that was here in 2010) and the coaches have had a year to get used to the schemes put in place. Most importantly, Mike Shanahan is building a team with his players. Players that he wants that share a certain attitude, that are leaders, that want to play and most importantly win. The team is in the middle of a youth movement with 12 draft picks and most of their re-signed and free agent re-signs under the age of 30. Of course with a younger team, there will be growing pains but I think many have expected that going into 2011.
I think the team has improved, especially on the defensive side of the ball. What was clearly a liability in 2010 has become what appears to be a strength in the D-line. At this point, the Skins have a starting rotation and a good deal of depth at both DE and NT positions. They lacked this in 2010. While it may not be considered an elite group, I would expect the run defense to be much improved and to possibly see more collapsing of the pocket. As for the linebackers, Fletcher and Orakpo will be solid again (although, I've heard that Orakpo has looked even better this season than previous years). Of course there will be concerns at the other OLB and ILB spots but like I said earlier, there's going to be growing pains with a young team. I also like the upgrades in the secondary. Out is Carlos Rogers and Kareem Moore. In is Josh Wilson and OJ Atogwe.
What still scares me is the offense. Jammal Brown was the right move in re-signing the RT but he has injury concerns. Chris Chester is unproven in the ZBS and I'm not fully convinced that Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery are true starters. That said, this group of 5 look better than last year's starting 5. Both the RB and WR corp have gotten better in depth but are very young when it comes to NFL experience (with exceptions to Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney). Then we come to the QB battle. Rex Grossman will guarantee the 'Skins an opportunity to score at least 20 points per game. But, he has a tendency to make critical turnovers (both fumbles and interceptions) that helps the opposing team score more than he can help produce. "What about John Beck" you ask? Well, I'm rooting for him, but I have no clue what he can do on the field and I'm not sure anybody really does. The odds are generally not good for a 30 year old QB whose only played in about 5 games in his career. That said, I still think that at least Grossman may be more productive than the 2010 version of Donovan McNabb.
So personally, I think this team is better than last year's team. Of course if the QB play is lousy, LaRon Landry and others can't stay healthy and whomever is the kicker misses key FGs then the Skins could be as bad or worse than last year's dreadful 6-10. It's possible but I just don't see it. Sorry, people who thought we're only going 2-14 on purpose to draft Andrew Luck.
A 'Skins Fan Yells At Me About My OptimismI enjoy talking football with most football fans. You'd be surprised how knowledgeable many of the fan bases in the NFL are when you talk football with them. Although sometimes it's not pretty. Almost every time I'm out in public wearing 'Skins gear, I have somebody (not always a Redskin fan mind you) come up to me and talk football. Sometimes my co-workers (at the real job) know about my love for the Skins, so one of them decided to point me out to a customer who was wearing a Redskins hat. This was the conversation:
Me: I think they'll be better this year.
Guy With Redskins Cap: TELL ME SOMETHIN'!!! WHAT HAVE THEY DONE? THEY GOT RID OF MCNABB! THEY HAVE NO D-LINE! THEY HAVE NO O-LINE! SHANAHAN GOT RID OF HAYNESWORTH....not really his fault though. HOW DO YOU THINK THEY'LL BE BETTER? HOW?
GWRC: AND SNYDER IS ALWAYS MEDDLING.... (He said some more things about Snyder but to be honest I can't remember what it was.....I think he said twerp at one point).
Me: Well I can't agree with you on most of that stuff. I don't think they're going to the Super Bowl or anything, more like 8-8.
GWRC: I DOUBT IT! But, I hope you're right. (Guy walks out the door)
Co-Worker: I'm really sorry......I'll never do that again.
And this ladies and gents is a reason why I don't wear Skins gear out in public nearly as much as I used to. Funny thing was that I wasn't wearing any Skins gear at the job when this happened.