Sunday, September 12, 2010

Football ERA 2010 NFC East Preview: Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins

Author: SHAQ

What a coach like Mike Shanahan can do in a short period of time has been documented in previous articles published on The Football ERA.

  Under his direction, the Denver Broncos rebuilt their lines more rapidly than most franchises usually are able to accomplish.  Shanahan is probably the man for the job of shoring up an offensive line that was left in ruins after a season-long series of catastrophic losses last year.

The Chris Samuels era at left tackle in Washington is now officially over, and the ‘blindside’ protection hopes of the ‘Skins premier free agent acquisition—QB Donovan McNabb—rests in the development of the 1st Round-4th overall selection—OL Trent Williams.  Also gone is their longstanding Guard—Randy Thomas who suffered a severe triceps injury in week 2 against the Rams. He was cut on March 4th.  If anyone can rebuild an offensive line—and do it quickly—its Mike Shanahan.

  He will be assisted by offensive line coach—Chris Foerster because, yes—Joe Bugel has, indeed, ‘left the building’—now retired happily in Arizona.  In all fairness, Bugel had his work cut out for him last year as the offensive line was nothing short of a MASH unit all season long. has consistently maintained since its inception that adversity builds depth—and there have been many successful playoff and championship runs based on strength, depth and stability built via adversity suffered in previous seasons—given, of course, in the rare occasions that ownership maintains some level of stability in coaching staffs and management following those adverse seasons.

Shanahan and Foerster will inherit some of this developed depth in backup lineman such as Edwin Williams, Chad Rinehart, and Will Montgomery among other notable new additions.  Washington scored former pro-bowl Tackle Jammal Brown in a trade with New Orleans earlier this summer—June 19 for a 3rd or 4th rounder conditional pick in 2011 (depending on which pick is sent to the Eagles as a part of the trade for Redskins quarterback, Donovan McNabb). Free agent acquisition Artis Hicks will also be among those expected make a contribution--signed from the Minnesota Vikings at the expense of some their veteran depth.

Previously, most preseason reviews of teams published here have been done with defense in mind first—before analyzing offenses.  Ultimately, defense may have been Shanahan’s undoing in Denver although it should be noted that he successfully delegated most of the management of his defenses to his Defensive Coordinator—and that Pat Bowlen was not an entirely hands off owner during Shanahan’s successful regime in Denver.  ‘Skins fans are hoping that Dan Snyder will be hands off in letting Shanahan develop both sides of the ball under his and GM Bruce Allan’s leadership.

The Redskin’s defense will be one of the bigger question marks despite the success that they are hoping to build on from what was leftover from the Greg Williams/Joe Gibbs era that was passed to the stewardship of Defensive Coordinator Greg Blache for the last couple of years.  Shanahan has elected to bring in Jim Haslett  as his Defensive Coordinator—and there will be plenty of adjustments and growing pains to a whole new scheme this season.  All eyes are on Snyder’s 100 million dollar man—Albert Haynesworth, and how--or whether, rather—he will take to the new system, much less get enthused by the exciting new opportunities it brings him.  Much less noticed, though, is the loss of Cornelius Griffin, the longstanding anchor of the defensive line for many years.  (Anthony Montgomery, a regular in the D-Line rotation, is also missing after being released last Spring).

Free agent acquisitions in a couple of notable retreads— Maake Kemoeatu and Adam Carriker—will help to offset this loss if they can live up to their promised potential in a short period of time. Kemoeatu anchored the defensive line for multiple Carolina Panther playoff runs alongside Kris Jenkins for some time—and the Panthers defense was reeling last summer when he went down before camp got into full swing. Carriker was once a highly touted draft choice of the St Louis Rams back in 2007 (13th Overall). Howard Green from the New York Jets was signed in the offseason and adds depth. How the defense will grow into the new 3-4 scheme may ultimately lead to success in this revolving door of additions and subtractions.

Washington fans are hoping that the solid defensive play of 2009 will ultimately find its way back into the 2010 defensive performance if the players Mike Shanahan inherited can gel and adapt to the new scheme quickly—the cupboard is not bare by any means.  The daunting competition in the NFC East is nothing short of stiff, and if the Redskins prove to be a .500 squad once again, then it will be a much more solid 500 record than what ‘Skins fans have had to endure under Jim Zorn.

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