Sunday, September 13, 2009

Redskins Preview Part I

This will be a brief note to be followed by a more extensive analysis. I just want to address some of the mainstream media predictions for NFC East this year. Absolutely no one thinks that the Redskins can avoid the cellar this year. For example, in response to a question about whether the Cowboys have a shot at the playoffs, Troy Aikman said, “There is only one NFC East team with no shot and that is the Redskins.”

All of this is remarkable considering that they had the talent to be a playoff team last year. They beat the NFC champs, for example, and swept the only other team that could have been NFC champs—the Eagles. That is SWEPT. And, it is remarkable because they are a much better team this year.

They had the fourth best defense in the NFL last year and have improved it immensely with the additions of Haynesworth and Orakpo. In the NFL opener Steelers-Titans game on Thursday, Chris Collingsworth remarked at one point that Ben Roethlisberger had a perfect pocket formed around him in which to throw. He said if this was last year there was no way that pocket would be there because Haynesworth always collapses pockets up in the middle. Several have said that Haynesworth is the best defense lineman in the NFL and Chris Carter said on today’s pregame show that he thinks Haynesworth will be the defensive player of the year.

Orakpo is going to have no pressure because he will not be asked to do a whole lot. He is not joining this defense as a savior, just a role player, albeit a first-round role player. But, he has been a monster defender in college and going against first-team NFL lineman this year. He could get 12- to 15-sacks this year without breaking a sweat.

Considering several of the injuries to the defensive line last year (e.g. Daniels, a leader was sorely missed) led to a non-existent pass rush; considering that they STILL managed to finish fourth on defense in the NFL and second-toughest to score on in the NFC; then you must know that Redskins back seven was outstanding. And, this year they get Deangelo Hall for an entire season.

The one thing this defense lacked was pressure on the quarterback from the front four. They have that in spades now. The Redskins will get many more turnovers this year, they will shorten the field for Campbell and the offense, and they will take pressure off Campbell because he will be managing games with a lead and not running for his life trying to make a comeback.

Speaking of running for his life: The Redskins weakness is a lack of depth on the offensive line. Three of the five starters missed significant playing time last year. All three are back this year. If they stay healthy this year, Campbell will develop into one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

As for the other NFC East teams. It is almost a foregone conclusion that the Giants will win the NFC Championship if the Eagles or Cowboys do not. Let me just ask a few questions here:

Didn’t the Giants just lose their best coach? So, are we to believe that they will not miss Spags? The guy replacing him has already caused controversy because he doesn’t want to be on the sideline with the team. Didn’t the Giants just experience 100% turnover at wide receiver and virtually 100% in the defensive secondary? I heard that all of their wide receivers combined have fewer than 150 catches in their career.

Are we to believe that this team is that much better than last year because they got one defensive lineman back? Remember, this team couldn’t get past the Eagles last year. I’m not even sure that the Giants have the best defensive line in the NFC East anymore, not when you consider depth. Why is Manning a much better quarterback now compared with last year? Is it because he just got a raise? See the post below comparing two quarterbacks. The answer to the riddle is this: Eli Manning is quarterback A and Jason Campbell is quarterback B.

The Eagles are the class of the NFC East? What does that make the Redskins who beat them twice last year? Didn’t the Eagles lose a bunch of players to injury? Didn’t they lose the architect of their defense on the sideline, the great D-Coordinator Johnson? Didn’t they lose their heart and soul on the field in Dawkins?

The Cowboys? Didn’t they lose their best receiver? What have they added to improve their team?

Honestly, I do not get why “last-place Redskins” is an open-and shut case. Often in probabilistic fields like sports and markets, when all of the action lines up one way, when all of the sentiment leans one way without questioning the rationale, as I questioned it above, then usually the opposite happens. How many thought the Arizona Cardinals would be in the Super Bowl last year? Stay tuned.


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