You know, it’s hard to be excited for the Redskins this year; I know.
You look at our roster and it feels like a scene from the movie “Major League.”
Malcolm Kelly? Devin Thomas? Ricky Vaughn? Willie Mays-Hayes? Who are these effin guys?
Using the pre-season as a barometer, the fan excitement seemed to peak in the first half of the game versus the Patriots.
There are some things to keep in mind as we start this new season. While it’s true, the Redskins’ didn’t go out and land a big-name free-agent QB, or really any new big-name talent on the offensive side of the ball, there is some glimmer of hope here for the offense.
An offense that’s not offensive
The Redskins offense in the first eight games of last year showed some real promise. Many are ready to dismiss that as an anomaly but really, the Redskins offense was really clicking, with largely the same players they have now. They put up 20+ points in five of the first eight games and won six of those eight..
As far as the second half of the season went, they only scored 20+ points in two games while only winning two of their last eight (one of their 20+ games was a loss; San Fran 27-24). If they had consistently scored 20+ points in each of their last eight games, they would have finished with a record of 10-6…not 8-8.
Most of the blame for this falls on the offensive line. With Jansen, Heyer and Thomas all injured, the right side of the line became an Achilles-heel for the Redskins’ offense. Defenses could pour through that right side and the game plan began to center around shorter quick passes, and running plays that went to the left.
If the Redskins’ offensive line can stay healthy, we should see the team return to the form that it was in at the beginning of last year.
Not just a passing fancy
Last year Devin Thomas was an after-thought in the passing game. He was the only healthy rookie leaving Moss and Randle-El as the only viable receivers not lining up at tight-end. This year Kelly is finally healthy and turning heads in camp, and Mitchell, the Redskins 7th round draft pick has quickly won over many of the fan-base.
This should mean that Randle-El should be able to line up as the slot receiver (where he belongs, IMO) with Kelly and Moss to the outsides.
Wind him up and let him go
If the Redskins’ passing game becomes a viable threat it will take a lot of the pressure of Clinton Portis. Without a viable passing attack, defenders can simply line up shallow and stuff the run, but if they have to worry about play-action, then you can keep ‘em honest with a downfield pass or two.
Clinton has already shown that you don’t have to give him much in the way of day-light for him to squirt through into the secondary. He was on par to break the single season rushing record last year when the O-line failed. Again, if the line can stay healthy, we should see Portis break the Redskins’ all-time rushing total.
A little more defensive
The Redskins’ defense may have been ranked 4th overall last year, but I’ll be damned if I know how. The one thing they did well was stuff the run. They didn’t make a lot of sacks, they didn’t get many turnovers and when the team had a lead, they seemed to let the other team march down the field at will.
They picked up D’Angelo Hall and that seemed to spruce up the coverage a little bit, but there still really wasn’t a pass-rush to speak of.
This year the Redskins committed to focusing on the pass rush by acquiring Brian Orakpo and Albert Haynesworth. Even if these two monsters don’t get to the QB, maybe they put enough pressure on him that he throws an ill-advised pass resulting in a pick.
The keys for the Redskins’ defense are going to be:
1) Can they stay healthy?
2) Keep the pressure on
It drove me absolutely crazy seeing the defense let up last year as soon as they had a lead. If you go back and look at those first six wins you’ll see that most of them weren’t as close as the score were implied.
If the Redskins’ D can keep the pressure on like when they are behind then I think you’ll see more turnovers and more chances for the offense to score.
The Redskins’ first opponent is the Giants. A game they lost last year by a score of 16-7.
The Giants have on awfully big hole to fill on offense with the loss of Plaxico Burress. This doesn’t mean that they are gonna be pushovers, but it might just make them weak enough that the Redskins’ have a better chance than many in the media world are currently giving them.
Kick-off is at 4:15 and it should be a good one!