By Kevin Ewoldt, Hogs Haven
Dan Snyder said in an interview with us that last year was his worst ever as an owner, which was evident in his decision to completely overhaul the front office and coaching staff. Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan were brought in and have full control of football operations. It's clear things are different in Redskins Park as for once the Redskins avoided all the high-priced, big name free agent such as Julius Peppers and Karlos Dansby, and instead brought in guys that they know will fit their scheme.
Significant Offseason Additions/Subtractions
The biggest changes were on the offensive side of the ball, which makes sense since the Redskins were one of the most ineffective offenses in the NFL last year. The offensive line was beefed up by drafting Sooner Trent Williams with the 4th pick. The right side of the line was upgraded with the trade for former Pro Bowl tackle Jammal Brown and the free agent addition, veteran lineman, Artis Hicks. The line still lacks quality depth, but it is still a major improvement from last year. It was imperative Shanahan make these moves because they need newly acquired QB Donovan McNabb to stay healthy. Jason Campbell rolling around in the grass in agony is a burned memory for Redskins fans in 2009. Clinton Portis has been asked to shoulder the load for the last six years, but Shanahan plans to ease that with the additions of Larry Johnson, Willie Parker, and Ryan Torain. The wide receiver depth chart also lacks any proven players besides Santana Moss, so Joey Galloway was brought in to help add to the competition.
Mike Shanahan simply laughed at the simplicity of the offensive schemes last year that Jim Zorn ran. Taking last season off, Shanahan had the time to watch college football and visit numerous pro and college camps. The Redskins offense looks nothing like it did last year, which is evident with the personnel changes across the WR, RB, QB, and OL positions. Shanahan drafted three offensive linemen last season, almost as many as the Redskins have drafted the previous 8 years combined.
Soon after Shanahan was announced as the new head coach of the Redskins, he made Jim Haslett his defensive coordinator. The Redskins have never run a 3-4 defense in their history, but the players (minus Haynesworth) have taken a strong liking to it. Orakpo rushed the QB over 200 times last year totaling 11 sacks, and Haslett said he expects to rush him 600+ times. Look out Tony Romo.
Danny Smith, the special teams coach, is one of the few hold overs from the previous regime. The Redskins statistically are not one of the better teams in producing special teams' touchdowns, but they are one of the best in regards to preventing them. Shanahan drafted KR/WR Terrence Austin out of UCLA in the 7th round this year to replace inefficient returns Rock Cartwright and Antwaan Randle El, and Austin is already turning heads in the return game.
Redskins players have repeatedly said in interviews how much fans will be shocked about how creative Shanahan's playbook is. Unlike the last few years where players always lineup in the same position, Shanahan and Haslett will move players all over the field to create mismatches. Dan Snyder said "Shanahan will retire a Redskin," so it appears the Redskins head coach carousel has stopped.
Conclusion/Prediction for 2010
It's hard for me to give the Redskins a great record coming off a 4-12 season, although the Dolphins won 10 games after their 1-15 season. There are still too many questions at the WR position, and the lack of depth along the offensive line and defensive line gives me major concerns. The truth of the matter is the Redskins would have won at least 2-3 more games last year if a competent head coach was running this team. For that reason, the Redskins will go 7-9.