By:Kevin Jones. 9/8/2011. 3:46 PM
Much to some Washington fans dismay, the Redskins are going to produce more wins than the Donovan McNabb led 2010 squad who finished 6-10. Dismay you ask? That’s right.
I live in the DC area and there is a good portion of the Redskins faithful – for once – who wouldn’t mind seeing this team finish with four or five wins. If you look around the NFL, nearly every team who makes deep runs into the playoffs has drafted a quarterback in the first round. Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez and Ben Roethlisberger were all first round picks under the age of 28. And look at how Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford have blossomed. Drafting a quarterback early seems essential these days.
A season with seven or eight wins would mean another second-rate draft pick, otherwise known as missing out on the likes of Andrew Luck, Landry Jones and Matt Barkley, unless the ‘Skins trade up. An 8-8 campaign under the Rex Grossman/John Beck tandem may even justify another season from one of the 30-year-olds, which will continue to delay the inevitable.
With that being said, the new personnel brought in by Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan seems to be more than just plugging a few holes with band-aids. Running back Tim Hightower was able to outshine expectations in the preseason, averaging 6.8 yards on 25 carries against first team defenses.
Critics say new Defensive linemen Barry Coefield and Stephen Bowen were overpaid being rotational guys on their previous teams. Still, people who follow the Redskins closely know that last season’s 31st ranked defense was a direct reflection of the defensive line (cough..Albert Haynesworth..cough). The pair of former NFC East 300-pounders along with centerfield safety OJ Atogwe could potentially vault this Redskin defense into the bottom half of the top 10.
Who I am watching on offense: Left Tackle Trent Williams
Williams was solid in his rookie season, but not spectacular. The 23-year-old has a chance to flourish into a perennial pro bowler, but this season needs to be his breakout year. No longer is he protecting one of the best scramblers in NFL history. Williams will go up against the following: Osi Umenyiora twice, DeMarcus Ware twice, Trent Cole twice, as well as the Jets, Patriots and Vikings ambush of pass rushers. The Redskins were 25th in the NFL in sacks allowed last year. If Trent Williams can handle the blind side that number will hastily improve.
Who I am watching on defense: Outside Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan
It is extremely rare for the Redskins to start a rookie on defense. Not even Brian Orakpo was given that privilege two seasons ago straight out of Texas. But Kerrigan is showing how much confidence the coaching staff has in his pass rushing abilities. Is seven-plus sacks too much to ask for from the rookie? The Redskins were tied for 20th last year in turnover margin and desperately need Kerrigan to become a playmaker.
The Redskins season all boils down to the Shanahan’s system. There were plenty of veteran quarterbacks to choose from during the brief 2011 offseason, but Kyle and Mike are confident that their play calling can mask the blatant predicament at quarterback. I do like the system that McNabb was running early last season, before he started freelancing after feuding with the coaches. I just don’t think it is good enough to make a push in the NFC East.
Final prediction: 7-9