The Washington Redskins enter the 2011 NFL season as one of the league’s most troubled teams. They have an overpaid, disgruntled defensive tackle they have to do something with. They also have a quarterback which was given a contract extension at the mid-season mark and then was benched at the conclusion of the season. The finished the season with the 30th ranked rushing attack and a defense which was ranked 31st against the pass and 26th against the run. So, can the Washington Redskins win 7 games in 2011? They can, but will they? Not without a lot of help.
Nearly anywhere you look at the Redskins roster, there is help needed. The offensive line has allowed nearly 90 sacks in two seasons. The defense only accounted for 29 sacks last season. There are questions at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. LB London Fletcher is starting to show his age. The Redskins are going to have some free agents in the secondary, and it could be a lot, depending on the final outcome of the new CBA and how many years of service need to be accrued for free agency.
Veteran signal-called Donovan McNabb is all but gone in Washington as he is due a $7 million dollar roster bonus and for whatever reason, has fallen out of favor with Mike and Kyle Shanahan. Head coach Mike Shanahan has stated that he plans to ride with 5th -year QB John Beck. In his career, Beck has appeared in five games and has completed 60 of 107 attempts for one score and three interceptions. Shanahan better hope that Beck is the best kept secret in the NFL because the word patience is never synonymous with owner Daniel Snyder and another 6 win season and he could be looking for work elsewhere especially with Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher waiting in the wings.
The running back position was another mess for the Redskins last year. The debacle started when the team brought in Larry Johnson and Willie Parker to compete for a roster spot and it went downhill from there. Clinton Portis and his salary is gone. Ryan Torain, who led Washington in rushing last season with 742 yards will return but he might trip on shoelace coming out of the tunnel on opening day and wind up on IR. Washington drafted two running backs in April’s draft, Nebraska’s Roy Helu and Penn State’s Evan Royster. You generally don’t want to roll with two rookie running backs, so I expect the Redskins will be looking at one of the veteran backs which will be available in free agency.
One of the problems which plagued Donovan McNabb last season, was the lack of playmakers at the receiver position. Santana Moss, who led the team in receptions last season is a free agent. Anthony Armstrong shows some potential with an average 19.8 yards per reception, but he is a third receiver at best. Washington draft University of Miami WR Leonard Hankerson, but again, you really don’t want to roll with a rookie backfield and a rookie wide receiver. The Redskins will be serious players in free agency this season to bring one, if not two, veteran receivers into camp.
The Redskins did a good job of parlaying a few draft choices into 12 picks in April. They addressed some needs on the defensive line by selecting two defensive ends and two tackles. I expect DE Ryan Kerrigan and DT Jarvis Jenkins will play immediately. But outside of selecting a veteran running back and receiver in free agency, they are going to need to focus on the defensive side of the ball. The Redskins started to address the need when they signed S O.J. Atogwe, who should pair up nicely with LaRon Landry.
At the corner position, if the Redskins can’t re-sign Carlos Rodgers, then they will need to look at one of the other free agent corners that will be on the market, and it is a thin crop this year but headed by former Oakland Raider Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha will come at a very steep price but that has never deterred owner Daniel Snyder before.
There is a lot of work to be done in Washington without a doubt and the current lockout and inability to hold OTA’s this off-season is not helping matters. The Redskins benefit from a schedule which sees the teams from the NFC East playing the NFC West and Washington gets to play the Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills. However, the question mark is going to be, how well will John Beck perform under center, and if he can’t cut it, who is going to be behind him. At this point, prior to seeing what moves the Redskins make in free agency, I’d have to suggest that another 6 win season is going to be in store.