32 teams in 32 days: Washington
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Apr 06, 2008
We continue our team-by-team early off-season look at the NFL with the ...
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2007 record: 9-7 (334-311)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 2-5
Expected W-L (based on PF/PA): 8.7-7.3
All-time franchise record: 529-486-27 (.521)
Playoff record: 23-17 (.575)
Last five seasons: 35-45 (.438)
Best game of 2007: 32-21 win at Minnesota (Week 15). The Vikings were supposed to win this game and earn a playoff spot, but Washington had different ideas. They dominated, taking a 25-7 lead into the fourth quarter while forcing three turnovers and paving their own path to the postseason.
Silly-season activity: The Redskins are standing pat, having re-signed guys like QB Todd Collins and T Jason Fabini and watching some lesser lights leave town. It looks like they will have all of their playoff starters back.
Strength: Balance. Washington was solid, though unspectacular, all the way across the board despite injury and tragedy in 2007. They ranked in the top 20 in every one of our Quality Stats in 2007, though in the top 10 in only one (Defensive Hog Index).
Weakness: Mediocrity. Despite their admirable balance, the Redskins just weren't great at anything last year. As noted above, their best rank in any Quality Stat was 9th. RB Clinton Portis was just average with a 3.9 YPA. The receiving trio of Chris Cooley, Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle-el all finished with between 728 and 808 yards. The defense was a bit better than the offense, but still finished a mere 11th in scoring (19.4 PPG). The offense ranked 18th (20.9 PPG). Even their games showed mediocrity: 12 of 16 were decided by eight points or less.
Most underrated player: MLB London Fletcher. The Skins allowed 4.5 PA with Lemar Marshall in the middle in 2006 and a mere 3.7 YPA with Fletcher in there in 2007. He was the QB of the defense and helped it improve from laughingstock in 2006 to playoff tough in 2007. Fletcher has been one of the most consistent players in the game; over the past nine seasons with the Rams, Bills and Skins he's missed a total of one start and has averaged 96 solo tackles, three sacks and 2.4 turnovers per season – with no Pro Bowl nods.
Unit on the rise: None. One of the big problems with this team is that it's hard to see them getting better at anything than they were last year. Only four of their 22 regular starters were in their first or second year in 2007, and QB-of-the-future Jason Campbell looks like he might have already seen his shot come and go.
2007 Draft grade: C+. No. 1 pick LaRon Landry was excellent as a rookie safety, coming up huge for Washington in the face of Sean Taylor's tragic death. He looks to be a Pro Bowler of the future. But only one other draftee, LB/special teamer H.B. Blades, made the roster, and that's never a good thing going forward.
2008 Draft power: 1st (21), 2nd (51), 3rd (84), 3rd (96), 5th (154), 6th (186), 7th (228), 7th (242), 7th (249).
General Draft strategy: Washington has put a premium on acquiring blue-chip picks under owner Daniel Snyder. Over the past eight drafts, they have picked six players in the top 10, but have paid the price with depth - they have had only five second-round picks and six third-round picks. They have the draft power to move up again if they choose to this year, but with an aging roster keeping their nine picks seems to be the thing to do.
Youth/experience: The Redskins are so old, they have an autographed Bible. So old, they took their driver's test on a dinosaur. So old, their social security number is "1." So old ... well, you get the point. Washington's average player was 28.6 years old last year, and 18 players 30 or older started games. Only five regular starters and 15 of those who saw any time on the field were 25 or younger, a very low number. And since they've basically stood pat in the offseason, this year's team could be even older despite their nine 2008 draft picks.
Coaching: Jim Zorn might have dreamed of someday getting a head coaching job in the NFL, but most would have considered it just that – a dream. A lifetime QB coach, the 54-year-old Zorn landed Washington's offensive coordinator job ... and then was inexplicably given the head job a few weeks later. Odd stuff, and he'll have a lot to prove. He brings with him a first-time offensive coordinator in Sherman Smith, and his defensive coordinator will be 2007 defensive line coach Greg Blache.
Overview: The Redskins remind us of an Adam Sandler movie – good for a few higlights, but ultimately forgettable. And certainly not in contention for any major hardware during award season. The best thing about the organization was its Hall of Fame coach, and he's been replaced by a first-time head coach who was legitimately shocked to get the job. With a workmanlike roster of veterans, the Redskins might repeat their 9-7 performance of a year ago – but that's about the best they can hope for.
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