Washington Redskins 2010 Season Preview: Changing, As Always
More than any other team in the NFC East, the Washington Redskins have faced the most turnover from 2009 to 2010. But what else is new?
This Redskins change starts at the top, with former Denver head coach and "mastermind" Mike Shanahan taking the reins of the team. The transformation continues on the offense, where Shanahan's son, Kyle, has inherited the keys to the Redskins' attack, along with new quarterback Donovan McNabb. The longtime Philadelphia Eagle now finds himself battling his former team at least twice in 2010, as he attempts to take the Redskins to the postseason for the first time since 2007.
Offense: The Redskins brought in two former starting running backs to help McNabb and the Washington offense, but neither Larry Johnson nor Willie Parker has shown anything on the field or in practice that would guarantee them a roster spot, much less a starting role on what looks like an improved offense. That No. 1 role falls again to Clinton Portis, Shanahan's former Denver workhorse, who showed severe signs of breaking down from overuse last year. Count on the younger Shanahan and McNabb getting the most possible out of the running game and less inspiring pass-catching options. The key to the whole outlook could be 2010 first-round left tackle Trent Williams, who has already appeared, at times, to be Washington's long-term answer at that critical position. Heat Index: 7
Defense: Amidst trade rumors, Albert Haynesworth is back in Washington and playing defensive end in the Redskins' 3-4 scheme. The highly paid defensive lineman may not be the most talented guy in the front seven, as Brian Orakpo make a strong impact in his rookie season, racking up double-digit sacks. With London Fletcher racking up tackles while Orkapo provides pressure, the linebacker unit is rock solid. Veterans DeAngelo Hall, Carlos Rogers and Phillip Buchanon top the depth chart at cornerback, while LaRon Landry is in the process of earning his lofty draft status a few years back. The team will have to figure out what to do at free safety, where Kareem Moore is sidelined and Reed Doughty makes for a significant weak link to the team's pass defense. Heat Index: 7
Special Teams: After a solid 2008 year in the return game, the Redskins bottomed out in 2009, ranking 30th in the league in punt-return average as well as 24th in kickoff-return average. Graham Gano was effectively awarded the kicking job when Justin Medlock was released this summer and the Redskins brought in no competition. Though he made four FGs late last season while reportedly kicking with a broken foot, Gano is largely unproven. Heat Index: 5
Coaching: This is the area the team focused on improving this offseason, adding Mike Shanahan to run the team. Shanahan has the second most wins amongst active coaches and has won over 61 percent of his games in his career. His son helped the Houston Texans lead the league in passing offense last season. Jim Haslett was brought on as defensive coordinator after an undefeated regular-season run as head coach of the UFL's Florida Tuskers. Heat Index: 10
Intangibles: It's hard to have continuity when Dan Snyder is your owner, and the high-priced talent spinner has landed on Shanahan and McNabb this season. These guys know they must perform immediately or Snyder will send them the way of Joe Gibbs, Jim Zorn and Steve Spurrier. McNabb brings a veteran leader to an offense that needs one. Heat Index: 6
Total Heat Index: 35/50. New names, new faces, same old Redskins. While the team should easily improve on a four-win 2009 season, Snyder must be patient if new leadership doesn't win immediately. Clearing house midway through the season is not the answer, though it wouldn't shock anyone who has followed Snyder's career in the NFL. I like the Redskins to fight for a playoff spot before ultimately settling into a .500 season.