9/3/11: Holy crap Mike Shanahan has turned Rex Grossman into a passable signal caller. He’s done this before with Jake Plummer and while quarterback isn’t their only problem, I won’t pick them to be a laughing stock anymore.
Rex Grossman predicts the Redskins will win the NFC East. Rex Grossman is wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I love that he made that prediction. I love unfounded confidence in sports. I love when a team down 3-0 in a series predicts a series win. I love when a team currently out of the playoff race predicts they will win the championship. I love when an underdog predicts a big upset. What else are they going do to? Admit defeat?
However, Grossman is wrong. Hell, he might not even be the team’s starting quarterback if he gets beat out by John Beck. If that happens, that would be the most embarrassing moment of Rex Grossman’s career and that’s saying a lot. When Mike Shanahan first called Beck his starter in the offseason, before the team resigned Grossman, I assumed that Beck was only going to start to give the Redskins a better chance to get Andrew Luck. I mean if you were trying to get the #1 pick, starting John Beck would be what you would do right?
However, the Redskins spent a lot of money this offseason so it appears as if they’re not going to just throw the season. They didn’t really overpay anyone like they normally do and they added a lot of talent, adding guys like Barry Cofield, Josh Wilson, OJ Atogwe, Stephen Bowen, Chris Chester and resigning Santana Moss and Jammal Brown. However, given their quarterback situation, they won’t make the playoffs. All those signings can do is get them to 6 wins and blow their chances at getting not only Andrew Luck, but maybe Matt Barkley as well.
Of course, if they can get a quarterback next April, he is going to have a good supporting cast to work with after all of these financially smart signings. Moss, a veteran receiver, is 32, but had 1115 receiving yards last year when they didn’t have the best quarterback situation. He’s dealt with crappy to mediocre quarterbacks his entire career so this year will be nothing new for them.
Moss will line up across from either Anthony Armstrong, a decent player and their #2 receiver from last year, Jabar Gaffney, the Broncos’ #2 last year, acquired in a trade from Denver, or rookie Leonard Hankerson, drafted in the 3rd round. Hankerson has the worst shot as getting the job, based on what I’m hearing right now. At tight end, Chris Cooley is a talented veteran, but he could miss the start of the season with an injury which means Fred Davis, who played well in Cooley’s absence in 2009, would get the start.
At running back, another offseason acquisition, Tim Hightower, is expected to be the lead back. Hightower is not a great running back or anything, but he fits the scheme and I think he’s very underrated. He’s also a good pass catcher. Behind him, the Redskins have Roy Helu, a 4th round pick rookie, and Ryan Torain, the incumbent starter who can’t stay healthy. Keiland Williams, who started some games last year, is also in the mix.
On the offensive line, they resigned Jammal Brown to start opposite Trent Williams. Williams, the 4th overall pick in 2010, allowed 11 sacks in 2010, but figures to be better in his 2nd season. He’ll once again be the left tackle, while Brown, who played better down the stretch as he recovered from a hip injury that cost him all of 2009, will start on the right side. Chris Chester is a solid free agent signing at center, but they once again figure to get poor play from their guards, Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery.
On the defensive line, two more free agent acquisitions, Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen, will play next to Adam Carriker. Carriker, after struggling for 3 years in St. Louis in a 4-3, after being drafted high in 2007, did alright in a 3-4 in Washington last season. However, like Cofield and Bowen, he doesn’t offer much pass rush. Bowen and Cofield are studs against the run, though. They will both be upgrades over Albert Haynesworth and Vonnie Holliday.
However, there are questions with each. Bowen played well last year, but only has 11 career starts. Meanwhile, Cofield has never played in a 3-4 and players often have trouble adjusting to a new scheme, particularly at first. He won’t be helped by a shortened offseason as he tries to adjust to a new scheme.
The pass rush will be coming primarily from the rush linebackers. Brian Orakpo had 8.5 sacks last year after 11 sacks as a rookie in 2009. However, the Redskins only managed 29 sacks as they couldn’t get a consistent pass rush besides Orakpo. No one else on the team had more than 2.5 and their other starting rush linebacker Andre Carter really struggled in their new 3-4. The Redskins will hope Ryan Kerrigan, the 16th pick in April’s draft, can be an upgrade, but he’ll be hurt, at least right away, by the lockout and the fact that he’ll have to learn a completely new position, rush linebacker. He also wasn’t graded as a good fit for a 3-4 coming out.
Inside at linebacker, the 36 year old London Fletcher is an ageless wonder. He had 136 tackles last year and should post a similar total this year. However, Rocky McIntosh really struggled in their new 3-4 last season. He was still resigned and is expected to once again start next to Fletcher, a questionable move. 2010 4th round pick Perry Riley was supposed to step into the lineup this season, but he’s apparently disappointing. He’s listed as a 3rd stringer.
Another free agent acquisition is Josh Wilson, a cornerback. Wilson came out of nowhere to become one of the best cornerbacks in the league last year. I’m curious to whether or not he can keep that up now that he’s switching teams and now that he’s gotten paid. Wilson allowed just a 46.9% completion percentage and 3 touchdowns to 3 interceptions.
He’ll start opposite DeAngelo Hall, whose 2010 stats are inflated by a 4 interception game against Jay Cutler. He allowed 8 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 73.7%. At safety, another free agent signing OJ Atogwe, a solid free safety, will start opposite LaRon Landry, an overrated player who struggles against the pass, though he’s a beast against the run.
As I said earlier, the most all of these free agent signings can do is get them maybe 6 wins and blow their chances at Andrew Luck. They were, for the most part, financially smart deals, but in the grand scheme of things, they could end up looking very stupid. Rex Grossman and John Beck at quarterback are both terrible and they don’t protect their quarterback or get after the opponent’s quarterback very well either. They also lack continuity with a new starting quarterback and so many new free agents coming in. Their defense will be better, but not that great this year and the offense will be stagnated by poor quarterback and offensive line play.
Running backs: C
Receiving corps: C
Offensive line: C
Run defense: C+
Pass rush: C
Pass coverage: C+
Projection: 6-10 4th in NFC East