There hasn’t been real enthusiasm for the Washington Redskins since the 1991 season when they won the Super Bowl. Some say people were enthused in the 2000 season when the Skins were trying to buy a championship. However, this year has a lot of expectations for the Redskins and they’re legitimate.
The offense is back with Robert Griffin III (RGIII) back from ACL surgery (it’s not a comeback since he really didn’t miss any games) and the pistol offense that the Skins brought from Chris Ault. Although we have no idea RGIII’s knee will hold out in the beginning, but from the preseason, expect the same from last year.
Through the first 41 games of Jim Haslett’s 3-4 defense, it was a liability: giving up big plays and not enough turnovers. The last 7 games of last season, things were turning around as Haslett became more creative on his defense and were a big factor of the turnaround to win the NFC East last year. The front seven should be better if Brian Orakpo can stay healthy and not break his shoulder again. The achilles heel last year (in fact, 3 years) is pass defense. This year’s pass defense should be more aggressive as the Redskins drafted ballhawks with David Amerson (2nd rd), Phillip Thomas (3rd rd, on IR) and Bacarri Rambo (6th rd). I expect the pass defense to struggle in the beginning, but can the young secondary learn quickly to be a respectable defense?
There has been “trust” issues between Mike Shanahan and RGIII. Let’s be clear: what happened during the Wild Card playoff game against Seattle should never happen and hopefully would never happen again. Most fans blame Shanahan for not pulling RGIII. I partially agree since Shanahan was watching the game like us and see how RGIII was struggling. RGIII should get blame for not telling coaches and trainers about his condition, plus he didn’t gain points for opening up that he wanted to play in preseason. To me, the story is overblown as you expect RGIII wanted to play and Shanahan looking what is best for the team. Do I see tension between both RGIII and Shanahan? Absolutely. Are they friends? No, but they have respect for one another. One underlying aspect about their relationship: if RGIII really hated Shanahan, why invited him to his wedding and hold a rehearsal dinner at his restaurant?
Another thing to note: you hear through the meaningless preseason games that this team has a lot of depth in all positions. Let me remind you this is with a $18+ million salary cap penalty. Next season, the cap penalty expires and they will have cap space to sign a big time free agent in need. Credit Mike Shanahan and “General Manager” Bruce Allen for somehow made the roster stronger while been resourceful. This is the Dan Snyder Redskins?
In the past years, expect the Redskins to go either between 6-10 to 10-6, with the exception of Steve Spurrier and Jim Zorn’s (sorry) last year, which everyone knew they would suck. I expect the Redskins to be in the same range, but unlike the past 20 years, this team is aiming higher than 8-8.
They will struggle in the beginning as RGIII will try to get his footing after knee surgery and a young defense trying to learn. However, from experience last year and the previous two playoff appearances, it is not how you start, it is how you finish. In 2005 and 2007, the Redskins were 5-6, and then won 5 straight to go into the playoffs. Last year, they were 3-6 and won 7 straight to win the division. I expect the same thing again. I got 9-7. Playoff bound? That’s tough to say, but I would say yes.