For the last 3 years as a Redskin fan, this has been my FAVORITE time of the year; The anticipation of Opening day and the optimistic HOPE of a great season ahead. I am a lifelong Redskins fan, but unlike a LOT of my counterparts, I am also a realist. Right now, I’m walking that fine line between the cynics and haters that have us going 4-12, and the delusional die-hards that have us going 11-5 and possibly winning the division. I’m going to tell you three things, and at the end of the season we’ll see who’s left standing.
What I Think
I think Mike and Kyle Shanahan totally butchered the Donavan McNabb AND Albert Haynesworth situation last year. I think the BEST coaches in the league (and in ALL sports for that matter) are best served to put their players in a situation that suits their talent. People in this area take shots at Albert any and every chance they get. While he DID lie down against the Eagles he also hopped over the line against the Bears and made the game winning tackle at the goal line. But people remember what they want. McNabb has been beating us down for the better part of 10 years. He’s consistently been the best quarterback in the division but SOMEHOW we are to believe that Shanahan’s system was SO COMPLEXED and McNabb was SO LAZY and STUPID that Rex Grossman was a better option at quarterback down the stretch? Not buying it. Andy Reid has totally revamped his offense to tailor fit Mike Vick this season. I guess we will see who’s right at the end.
What I Know
For the last few years The Redskins have been the bottom feeders and laughing stock of the division. They’ve been subject to such names as The Deadskins, The Headskins, and The Foreskins. (I actually just made the Headskins up just now.) But what I also know is that they are headed in the right direction. Mike Shanahan has rebuilt this team THROUGH THE DRAFT to fit what HE wants them to be. In the last two years the Redskins have gotten younger and faster and not just a little bit. Antwaan Randle El’s and Marcus Washington’s have been replaced by Brandon Banks’ and Brian Orakpo’s. Albert Haynesworth and Adam Archuletta style signings have been replaced by Steven Bowen, Barry Cofield and Oshiomogo Atogwae. Right now, like most off-season’s, The Redskins are now poised to be…. better.
What I hope
As a realistic fan, all I can hope for is progress. I hope the defense can carry the team long enough for the offense to get in sync. I hope the offensive line looks less… offensive than last year. I hope Brandon Banks silences his Many MANY offseason haters. But the best thing I can hope for is a split with the division teams. With that said, here are my predictions for the year.
Week 1 Win vs NYG. The Giants are hurt and Eli looks disheveled. If they can’t beat them now, they never will.
Week 2 Win vs Arizona. I have never been impressed by Kevin Kolb.
Week 3 Loss at Dallas. The Cowboys usually start the season hot.
Week 4 Win at St. Louis. The Rams always play the Redskins close, but I expect The Redskins to be in a groove by now.
Week 5 Bye Look for Ryan Torrain and/or Dante Stallworth to be traded by now.
Week 6 Loss to Philadelphia. I don’t expect a repeat of the Monday night massacre, but I expect Vick to be too much for the Redskins.
Week 7 Win at Carolina. No explanation needed.
Week 8 Win at Buffalo. See week 7 explanation.
Week 9 Win vs San Francisco. See week 8 explanation.
Week 10 Loss at Miami. I have a bad feeling about that game.
Week 11 Win vs Dallas. Week 3 payback.
Week 12 Win at Seattle. Why the hell not?
Week 13 Win vs Jets. I think they match up pretty good against the Jets.
By now you may be thinking I’m a big time homer. Redskins 9-3 through week 13? Here comes the pain…. I have the Redskins losing the last 4 games of the season! This includes Tom Brady being Tom Brady, Albert Haynesworth injuring our starting QB, The Giants getting payback (worst loss of the season), Revenge of McNabb, and Philadelphia, with the division already in hand, still beating us and eliminating us from playoff contention.
To wrap it up, I have the Redskins finishing 9-7. If that makes me a homer, then so be it. But I’ll be more surprised if they go 10-6 than if they go 7-9. The truth is, for everything Shanahan did right during the offseason, he still failed to address the offensive line, the quarterback, and a position that no one ever talks about that has plagued the Redskins for years… the training staff. It kills me that at the beginning of every year Laron Landry is hurt and lots of Redskins have “hamstring issues” under every coach. Malcolm Kelly made some dry accusations about the training staff mishandling his injury. He promised to “lay it all out” in a few days so we’ll see what happens.
Bottom line, say what you want about the Redskins, they are a better team than they were last year. They have a poise and confidence that I haven’t seen in over 10 years. So I cautiously say Go Redskins!