So it’s a bye week, and for Redskin fans, that seems to mean a whole lot of people walking around with their heads down. Who can blame them? It’s been a tough first seven games.
Since the bye week is almost at the half-way point, I thought I’d take a look at the things that were ‘good’ for the Redskins in the first half of 2009.
1) Albert Haynesworth – check last week’s blog to see what I think about Big Al and the way he’s played so far.
2) Andre Carter – In last week’s blog about Haynesworth, I mentioned the great season that Carter is having. So far Andre has 6.5 sacks, to go along with 34 tackles. He is consistently in the backfield disrupting the passer, and he has taken advantage of the inside pressure created by Haynesworth. He has also played much better against the run, and has 3 forced fumbles. If he can continue playing at his current level, he will have a good shot at the Pro Bowl.
3) London Fletcher – Speaking of Pro Bowls, it sure would be nice to see Fletcher finally make it to one. It’s criminal that he hasn’t already, but with 71 tackles going into week eight, he led all NFL players. As usual, Fletcher is quietly putting together another great season. Well, quiet in that he’s an unassuming man, but just ask Brian Westbrook if he plays quiet. London is the leader and heart and soul of the Redskins defense, and he leads by example. Sometimes it’s hard to notice how great a player is, when he’s so consistently great, but Fletcher is that kind of player, and has been again in 2009.
4) Brian Orakpo – Can you say real deal? This kid hasn’t even cut his teeth yet, and he’s hard for anyone to handle. There are many people that feel that having him play linebacker is a mistake, but there’s no denying that when he lines up with one hand down, he has shown that he is an absolute force. He has 3.5 sacks in his rookie season, and that with very minimal snaps at end rather than linebacker. It’s hard to move Orakpo to end when Carter is also playing so well, but the Redskins have to find more ways to get Orakpo up to the line. It’s hard for a Redskin fan to be patient waiting for a young defensive end to be used, when it’s so long since we had such a promising one. If the season continues to go South, it would be nice to see Brian get a longer look at end at some point, even if it means moving Carter to the other side. Carter isn’t really an ideal left end, so maybe platooning the two of them for a game or two, would allow the Redskins to let Orakpo get into a groove. He looks so hungry out there, that it’s hard to imagine that perpetual motor not coming into full effect and fully releasing the beast.
One more worthy Orakpo note – he may not be the best linebacker in the league, and have struggled slightly in coverage, but for a rookie to walk on to a starting NFL roster at a position that he doesn’t really play, is pretty darn amazing. The kid is a phenomenal athletic talent, and while others may have played slightly better than Orakpo in 2009, no Redskin has more up-side and future.
5) Chris Cooley – You can’t talk about who’s played well without mentioning Captain Chaos. He may be out for a while with the ankle injury, but he was putting together another good season. The Redskins continually fail to utilize him enough, but when they do, CC never disappoints – he’s one of the league’s very best tight ends.
6) Mike Williams – Surprised to see an offensive lineman on the list? Well I think it bears mentioning and acknowledging that Big Mike has actually done a very decent job stepping in after injuries to first Randy Thomas, and then Chris Samuels. Originally Williams got slotted in at guard where he did better than either of the other previous attempts (Chad Rinehart and Will Montgomery), and then when Samuels went down and Stephon Heyer moved to left tackle, Williams moved to right tackle. He has been effective in pass pro, and excellent in run blocking, and shown absolutely no signs of having not played football since 2005. He is a massive man, and has worked himself into good football shape, and I think he has done a surprisingly bang up job. Kudos to Big Mike for the amazing dedication that it took to get back on a roster, let alone to play his way on to the field and play well.
7) Shaun Suisham – What can you possibly complain about when Suisham is perfect on the season? Obviously Shaun had a bad 2008, but it’s amazing to me that people just seemed to forget that his 2007 was the second best season EVER for a Redskins kicker in terms of accuracy. He is 9-for-9 on field goals in 2009, with a season long of 47 yards; it’s hard to do better than 100%, so its pretty safe to say that the Canadian kicker is having a good season.
Reed Doughty – While it was disappointing for many Redskin fans to see Chris Horton relegated to back-up status, give Doughty credit for playing his way back on to the starting roster. He has been steady and effective, and has 37 tackles so far in 2009.
9) Kedric Golston – The big defensive tackle continues to improve and contribute; he’s played very well along side of Big Al. Pretty good find in the 6th round.
Give yourself a break – think about some of the good things on the 2009 Redskins roster.