Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Few Notes From The Washington Redskins Offseason

When the Redskins take to the field for preseason and the regular season this year, they will unquestionably look a lot different from years past. Sure, there will still be the familiar faces of London Fletcher, LaRon Landry, DeAngelo Hall, Brian Orakpo, Santana Moss, and Chris Cooley… but the traces of the Cerrato regime are quickly disappearing… having only the best and most productive of his decisions remaining here in Washington.

For anyone still questioning if the Redskins are indeed heading on the right path, I say look at the overhaul that has taken place so far. Shanahan has implemented much of his own team in the past two seasons, having gotten rid of some old pieces and bringing in a lot of new guys. If my math is correct, the average age on the Washington Redskins right now is 26, down big time from our past. Not only that, but Shanahan drafted wisely, and acquired a lot of Free Agent talent to fill the D-Line and fit the mold of what he and Haslett want to do on defense. Offensively, some pieces were added at WR to bring in a lot of competition, and likely to give whoever the QB may be a lot of different looks to practice with and adapt.

So here, I’ll break down 10 key points (in no order) from so far this offseason and give my outlook…

Santana Moss – Moss for years has said he wanted to remain a Washington Redskin. He even took pay cuts along the way, but fans insisted that when he could test Free Agency, he would be gone. Well, Moss had his chance to test free agency, and several suitors were thought to be heavily in the mix for him, but Moss took the contract with Washington and came home. He reportedly told every team interested in his services that the Redskins came first, and he believes building, even with him a veteran 32 years old, is best suited for him now… NOT going elsewhere and yet again having to pick something else up.

Mike Shanahan – He told people for too long now that Bruce controls things and that he has final say in everything, and that Snyder is only writing the checks and being supportive. Well, people thought “that could never happen” and that Shanahan was a liar. Well, the spectacle last year with Albert should have told people that Mike wasn’t playing when it came to him saying it was his team, but even when people still had doubters, Mike and Bruce continue to reshape the roster and structure contracts where they benefit the Redskins even when the team loses their services… no more bulky guaranteed deals here… and the incentives based contracts inspire guys to play harder for their money.

Bruce Allen – As stated above… his structuring of contracts has been incredible, and his ability to work with the list of free agents Mike Shanahan gave him of interest, and win on most of them, and often find the next best guy immediately after it becomes clear they’re not in the market for the “top” guy… well, they’re doing some very good work. The key was Cullen Jenkins, who people pegged to come here. He walked out of negotiations when his agent wanted to look for more money. Well, the Redskins signed Stephen Bowen and Jenkins went and took a contract to play for a 4-3 team, for less money than he was bargaining for here in Washington. Stephen Bowen is no pushover either…

Josh Wilson – He’s no upgrade in coverage from Carlos Rogers, in my own personal opinion… but he’s definitely not much of a downgrade either. Also, his ability to take interceptions back to the house (4 of his career 9) and the fact he’s played very well in man and zone over his career so far, make him a very wise pick. He’s a local fan-favorite as well, so that doesn’t hurt at all. It’s worth noting that last season when he was starting for the Ravens, he was lined up on the same side of the field as Ed Reed… so targets were few and far apart anyways… he also finds a way to pick up fumbles…

Fred Davis – This young man got in incredible shape this offseason, and people are noting that he looks like a wide receiver this year rather than a tight end… but his blocking has improved. It’s likely he’ll line up in the slot at times to spread linebackers out to create mismatches vs. base defenses, much like Dallas Clark or Owen Daniels are used.

Malcolm Kelly – He apparently impressed yet again during (unofficial) OTA’s during the lockout much as he did in workouts last season before the team convened at Redskins Park. I thought it was very telling that Mike kept him on the team last year when he placed him on IR but got rid of Devin Thomas. And that he’s kept him through now (I think a lot of it has to do with Keenan McCardell as well. Kelly’s been a beast in camp as well, minus the injury… but coaches seem to want to give him the chance to prove himself in preseason games… and if he performs, we may see him work his way up to the 1 WR (not a true 1, just there to put Moss in the slot).

Jarvis Jenkins – I honestly haven’t seen a player, rookie or veteran, receive this much praise for their practice effort and dominance. He’s difficult to budge, absorbs blockers and creates lanes when he starts tossing linemen aside. If his offseason is telling… this kid is going to be a monster for years to come in this league.

Brian Orakpo – News has seemed quiet on his front, but drills have shown a significant boost to his techniques, and one has to think Rak isn’t showing us everything he taught himself on how to avoid those holds and get back to hitting QB’s.

Jammal Brown – I like the readdition of Brown to the O-Line. He says he received offers to go back and play on the left side of the line for several teams, but decided to come back to Washington because he has bought in to what Mike Shanahan is selling. With his hip another year recovered and rested after the lockout… Brown could be in for a big season.

Dan Snyder – I’ve got to give this guy credit for seemingly stepping away from the team operations and allowing Mike and Bruce to build this team their way. We still yearn for a Robin Hood when it comes to ticket prices, parking prices, and concessions prices… but the part that matters the most about the Washington Redskins organization… the actual football team, has found its robber of the rich and giver to the poor… of sorts… in Mike Shanahan.

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