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Life is a Highway

Sunday, September 13, 2009

CBS Sports: Previewing The 2009 Washington Redskins

When I look at the 2009 Redskins I see a team with a lot of potential, but with as many questions as potential. I see a team that if they answer these questions correctly could win 10-12 games and compete with their long-time hated rival the New York Giants for the NFC East title. The best division not only in the NFL, but in Pro Sports in general. And if not win the NFC East at least win a wild card berth with an excellent chance of advancing to the next round. But I also see a team if these questions aren’t answered correctly could only win 7-9 games & probably barely miss the NFC Playoffs again and once again prove to be a disappointment to their great and enthusiastic fans.

Defensively, I see a team that had a great 2008 defense finishing 4th overall in the NFL that only got better with the additions of DT Albert Haynesworth from Nashville. Who’s a solid 6’5 320 LBS and led NFL DT’s in sacks the last two seasons and who’s also stout against the run. Alongside Haynesworth at the other DT you got 6’3 310 LBS Cornelius Green who’s also stout against the run and can rush the QB a little bit as well. If Haynesworth and Griffin both stay healthy, you’re looking at an awesome duo inside and could provide the Redskins with the best run defense in the NFL outside of Minneapolis with the Williams Brothers. With Haynesworth and Griffin starting at DT.

Then you have two solid 320 pounders coming off the bench to spell Haynesworth and Griffin and providing the Redskins with much-needed quality depth with Kendrick Golston and Anthony Montgomery. Who are both stout against the run and in Golston’s case can provide additional pass rush off the bench. On the outside, the Redskins still have DE Andre Carter who’s been solid in his three years in Washington, but has yet to live up to his potential. And with the addition of Albert Haynesworth and RE/OLB Brian Orakbo from Texas, Carter should have a lot more room to operate and take advantage of his speed, strength and athleticism.

The addition of Haynesworth and Orakbo should also help DE Phil Daniels, or whoever the Redskins decide to go with at the other starting DE. The Redskins have a few options there. At LB the Redskins drafted Texas DE/RE Brian Orakbo who will be used as a Hybrid RE/OLB with the Redskins and has already shown in the preseason that he’s going to be a beast showing tremendous power and speed of the edge. Then you also have Hybrid RE/OLB Chris Wilson who will be moved from a full-time undersized 245 pound DE, who comes in on passing downs to rush the QB. Who will be moved to a Hybrid OLB/RE to take advantage of his quickness off the edge.

Both Orakbo and Wilson should also be stout against the run with there size. Then you have MLB London Fletcher who’s back at the MLB who can cover a lot of ground, hit, is a sure tackler and can play against the run or pass. Then at the other OLB you have Rocky McIntosh, who’s a sure tackler, can play against the run or pass and rush the QB. He and Wilson, will probably split the time there. So up front the Redskins should be better with a much better pass rush and with more pass rushers and should be able to to force more takeaways. Two areas where the Redskins struggled last year and were towards the bottom of the NFL were rushing the QB and takeaways. They should be much better there in 2009.

The Redskins secondary, probably the strength of the defense last year returns and if anything should be better with Deangelo Hall moving into a starting position full-time at on corner. Who can cover, tackle and take the ball away. Then you have Carlos Rogers returning as the other starting corner, who’s another solid cover corner who can tackle and take the ball away. Then you have Leron Landry and Chris Horton returning as your starting safety’s. Who can both hit, tackle, cover ground and again take the ball away. With the improved Redskin pass rush the Redskins secondary should be even better and be able to take more chances because the opposing WR’s won’t have as much time to run their routes. And then you have Fred Smoot who could start for most teams as your third CB, who you’ll see in nickel situation’s and covering the Slot who again is a sure cover corner, tackler and can take the ball away.

On offense, I see a lot of potential, but probably at least as many questions that are going to have to be answered correctly for the Redskins to reach there full-potential in 2009. And be a legitimate playoff threat that can advance. It’s about the OL for the Redskins this is where it starts. For the Redskins to consistently move the ball in 2009 and score points, the Redskin OL is going to have to stay healthy and play well. The Redskins signed OG/OT Derrick Dockery from Buffalo who played in Washington earlier this decade, who at 6’6 345 LBS is a massive OG in a OT’s body with the quickness of a OG. He should give the Redskins a much needed push in the middle of the OL as well as being able keep inside pass rushers off of QB Jason Campbell.

Then you have 6’5 310 LBS OG Randy Thomas at the other OG. Who’s strong and quick, but needs to stay healthy. At C, the Redskins will have Casey Rabach who’s nothing special, but who’s solid. Then you have Pro Bowl OT Chris Samules at LT. Who at 31 is going into his 10th year in the NFL & has been injury prone the last few seasons. Samules needs to stay healthy for the Redskins OL to have a solid year. Then you have 6’6 320 LBS OT Stephon Heyer, who’s a beast physically and has quick feet, but has yet to proven he can be a full-time starting OT in the NFL at RT. So the Redskins have some potential here, but not a lot of depth and the Redskins offense will only be able to go as far as the OL will take them.

Football is about the line of scrimmage. The team that controls the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense is the team that wins. For the Redskins to reach there potential this year they’re going to have to consistently do that. Another question mark on offense for the Redskins is WR. Where Santana Moss will return as the go to WR and Antawn Randle El will return as the other starting WR. Moss is probably more of a big play deep threat in the mold of a Willy Gualt, who played for the Bears in the 1980’s and Alvin Harper who played for the Cowboys in the 1990’s, then he is a Terrell Owens go to guy.

Antawn Randle El ,is more of a Hybrid KR/RB/slot WR, who’s never caught more than 52 passes in a year than he’s a second WR. And then you still have those two big WR’s the Redskins drafted in 2008 who only combined for 18 REC’s last year and were both injury prone coming back. But both looked good in preseason. If Devon Thomas, or Fed Davis, or both of these WR’s comes through this year, you’ll see a lot more big plays in the passing game and a lot more 3rd down conversions. Then at QB you have Jason Campbell who proved he can play the whole season which is a step in the right direction. But was sacked over 40 times last year due to poor pass protection. Which is awful for a team that has a power running game and a possession passing game.

Campbell, is an intelligent, big, athletic, strong-arm and accurate QB, who looked solid in the preseason. Chris Cooley, is returning at starting TE, who’s one of the top 3-5 TE’s in the NFL. Clinton Portis, returns as the starting RB again another top 5 caliber RB in the NFL, but needs to stay healthy and you have Ledell Betts as a solid backup. So defensively the Redskins 4th ranked defense should be even better with a solid pass rush and more takeaways. But on offense, the Redskins have some questions they’re going to have to answer correctly for the Redskins to consistently move the ball and score points. And for the Redskins as a team to reach their full-potential in 2009. If they do that, the Redskins could win 10-12 games and be a serious threat to the Giants in the NFC East and the NFC Playoffs.

But if the Redskins don’t, you’re looking at a team with an excellent defense, but a conservative offense that plays in a lot of low-scoring close games like in 2008 and has to rely on a shaky kicking game in the end. And struggles to win 7-9 games, barely misses the NFC Playoffs again and winds up being a big disappointment to their great fans.