In the aftermath of another brutal division loss, one that all but finally put the nail in the coffin of the Redskins’ playoff hopes, Redskins fans, press, players, and coaches are left wondering what has happened to the spark that led this team to an opening week win against the Dallas Cowboys. We defeated the Eagles, and held position of 1st place in the NFC East, and looking like we could begin to improve bit by bit on our way through the season. Instead, commitment has been questioned by fans, by players, by coaches.
I should remind Redskins fans that whether it appeared that way or not, the Redskins were going to be rebuilding. If not for the additions on offense, then the additions on defense. Bringing in aging players leads more to teaching the future of this defense, as we do have some parts in place for sure. Shanahan’s also wise in knowing we could be competitive (somewhat) enough for some of the guys who are stable in these systems to really learn how to fight from their position, so that when we draft or acquire the correct pieces on both sides of the ball, their job would become easier. Brian Orakpo is going to grow wonderfully with this defense… and while I know what the problem is with him not getting sacks, I look at a Clay Matthews who faces the same exact things from the same players all year long… and he’s managing to get things done. LaRon Landry is going to be a cornerstone of this defense, and perhaps in 2 years time, the only carryover in the secondary. Outside of them, the defense feels very hollow.
Offensively, there are some parts that could fit. Ryan Torain may very well keep his job as starter, and I personally like James Davis’ ability to make a play with the ball. Fred Davis, maybe I’m jumping the gun but I don’t think it’s farfetched considering his on-field production, could be an Antonio Gates kind of receiving TE. Anthony Armstrong has some things he needs to work on, but he can develop very well in this system. Trent Williams is an animal when healthy, and with the right guy playing guard beside him, he could really develop into one of the best linemen in the game.
But even in a rebuilding stage, you hope for more players to commit themselves for an audition for next year. You hope you have enough talent to remain competitive until the final week of the season, but you know during rebuilding that you have to grow. Don’t believe we’re rebuilding? We’ve got 3 times the amount of youth on the team now than we had at the beginning of the season. Guys have been brought up from the practice squad and earned game day roster spots.
But commitment is the problem. McNabb is getting pressured, yes… but I also see lanes that I know he can see, and he’s not running the football enough. When he had the clear-cut opportunity to run it, he hesitated enough to cut a possible 15+ yard run down to a 3 yard scamper and fumble. I look no further than Ben Roethlisberger on a broken foot with an offensive line as terrible as ours scrambling against a defense far better than the Giants’, and I question the heart of McNabb.
I see receivers dropping good or great passes… we’ve got entirely too many drops, and contact is no excuse either… half of the time the receiver is wide open. But even considering contact, 5’7, 155 lb. Brandon Banks catch in Tennessee going up for a high-thrown ball and catching it with mid-air contact and holding onto it, is enough to prove to me that he’s got more heart than any other receiver on the team. Especially when guys are dropping 3rd and short passes at the marker without contact on them.
Defensively, the inability to tackle is disturbing. London Fletcher himself said that guys don’t commit to sacrificing themselves to make a tackle… and nobody is wrapping up on those tackles. Even something as simple as staying in your zone gets lost on our defense, who have spent entirely too much time on the field because the offense hasn’t been able to keep drives going.
Albert Haynesworth apparently didn’t have a great practice Thursday before becoming ill and missing practice Friday, and players on the team have admitted Haynesworth isn’t committed in practice. That’s enough for me to finally avoid the route of the media who hate on Shanahan for the way he’s treated Albert, and start to consider Albert’s “commitment” to even just nickel packages.
The fact of the matter is, I knew this year was a rebuilding stage, I didn’t expect playoff hopes, or opportunity, or wins against the division or Packers or Bears. What worries me is that it appears very few guys want to remain on this team in the coming years… just remember, these guys can hurt their own stock elsewhere if they’re not performing here anyways.
I don’t get mad with the results of this years’ team… I get mad with the players who don’t audition to come back next year. As Philip Daniels said, “I’ve been through 15 seasons and I ain’t won [anything]. So what I’m saying is, if I can come out and do this, don’t tell me you can’t do it.”