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Hog Heaven Previews the Redskins’ 2010 Season: Part II

In Part I, Anthony and Greg looked at the biggest changes on the Redskins this offseason, all of which on the offensive side.  This is Part II, which will look at the players who will be helping McNabb on offense, as well as the defense.  In Part III, you’ll get our predictions for the Redskins this season.

Hog Heaven’s 2010 Redskins Preview, Part II

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 21: Joe Flacco  of the Baltimore Ravens throws a pass during the preseason game as he is hit by Brian Orakpo  of the Washington Redskins at FedExField on August 21, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Offensive Discussion, Continued

Greg Trippiedi: The Redskins offense had two major consistent problems last year that transcended and, in my opinion, overshadowed both Campbell’s issues and the playcalling circus.  The first was the offensive line being unable to block anybody.  The second, which isn’t given the credit it should for de-railing the Redskins season, is that the receivers could not get open no matter what coverage the defense played.  Thing was, after the Redskins shook their three week long adversity to blocking three man rushes, the line actually had some really good pass blocking games at home.  This is especially true when you consider that they were working with the worst pass blocking backs on the Redskins: Mike Sellers, Marcus Mason and Quinton Ganther.

Anthony Brown: Addressing the offensive line with limited means is another of the right moves that Shanahan and Allen made. As you point out, Snyderrato would not have done as much.

Will it work? Trent Williams looks positive. Maybe he’ll be as effective as a rookie as Michael Oher (who Cerrato said last year he would not have taken) or as Brian Orakpo on defense. But he’s a rookie and will look like it at points this year.

Jammal Brown is the right move in light of alternatives on the roster. Upgrade to us, expendable to the Super Bowl Saints is reason for pause. Kory Lichtensteiger comes from Denver with Shanahan. I figure he’s here because of what he knows of Shanny’s zone blocking scheme. The Cardinals seemed to push him around a bit last night. The others are journeymen. I was surprised Shanahan dropped Edwin Williams.

Greg Trippiedi: Down two picks because they moved to address the quarterback position and drafted Jeremy Jarmon last year with this years’ pick, the Redskins couldn’t address both issues.  So they did the best they could, and invested significant resources to fix the offensive line, bringing in Kory Lichtensteiger, Artis Hicks, Jammal Brown, and Trent Williams.  They addressed the receivers as well, but very much on the cheap.  Heck, Anthony Armstrong, who appears to be the biggest improvement to the receivers, was already on the team at the end of last year.  Then they drafted Terence Austin in the 7th round, who was supposed to make an impact on special teams, only to find out that he would make a pretty darn good third receiver.

So while we can be hopeful that the Redskins upgraded two disaster positions in the offseason, they only really were able to invest in the offensive line.  Anything these receivers can do that helps us improve from last year is gravy.

Anthony Brown: Wide receiver has been a black hole for the Redskins — a lot of NFL teams, actually — for a long time. They’ve tried everything to fix it.

Heath Shuler, Michael Westbrook and Desmond Howard were supposed to lead the return to glory in the ‘nineties. On paper they were the perfect fit for Norv Turner’s downfield offense. Charlie Casserly was considered brilliant for his deft maneuvers to land them.

Lets turn on the wayback machine. At the end of his college career, Shuler was the Heisman runner-up and fans of the Tennessee Volunteers if his performance would  ever be matched by the man who replaced him–Peyton Manning. Michael Westbrook and Desmond Howard figured in one of the most famous NCAA games of all time, Colorado 27, Michigan 26 (1993, Buffaloes QB-Kordell Stewart, Wolverines QB-Todd Collins).

Howard flames out in Washington but went on to fame on special teams for the Packers. Shuler flamed out and went on to special teams in Congress. Westbrook was an ok receiver, but never the performer Norv Turner needed. (More famous for punching out Stephen Davis who cast aspersions of Westbrook’s manliness). Turner found a stop-gap in Henry Ellard (’94-98).

Greg Trippiedi: They’ve done a bit better than that recently.  There was Santana Moss’ 2005 season.  Antwaan Randle El had his moments (none of them on special teams).  Brandon Lloyd had a really nice catch in the preseason.  I briefly remember David Patten being here.  Hey, whatever happened to Jimmy Farris?

Anthony Brown: Rod Gardner was the most successful Skins receiver drafted this decade. The skins brought in Lloyd to replace him. They also signed Patten when Gibbs came back. They scrapped the barrel to work out Todd Pinkston and underused Keenan McCardell. (Not counting Moss who was traded for Lav Coles. They were both No. 1 receivers.

You can count on one hand the team that have effective No. 1 & 2 wide receivers. The Redskins won’t be one of them in 2010.

Greg Trippiedi: I think the changes on the offensive line will work, but I do not think they are finished.  Next year’s offensive line will look very different than this years offensive line, and I think Stephon Heyer and Jamaal Brown, who are both on one year tender offers, will both start for the Redskins this year at RT.  I think Artis Hicks will lose the RG job at midseason, but I don’t have a prediction for if Kory Lichtensteiger can or will win it.

Again though, it all comes down to health.  The Redskins released a bunch of their quality young offensive linemen because they didn’t have enough practice reps to develop them all.  And now, they are thin on the line for 2010, again.  Stay healthy, and this unit will be effective.  Multiple injuries accounting for ten or more missed games, and this unit could be a disaster again.

Haslett, the 3-4, and other Issues on Defense

Greg Trippiedi: I like the changes on the defensive line in the offseason, but I can also point out a decline when I see it: the Redskins aren’t going to be as good here as they were last year.  I liked the Ma’ake Kemoeatu signing from a point of getting a dominant interior player on the cheap (because of injury).  But he’s not an effective player right now, and on merit, he probably wouldn’t have made the roster.  If you keep an extra NT, as the Redskins did with Anthony Bryant, then you’re forcing Darrion Scott off the roster after an excellent pre-season…because you need to justify Kemoeatu’s contract.  It’s, well, unfortunate.  Jeremy Jarmon and Kemoeatu are both coming off injuries, which could explain their relative ineffectness this preseason.

It just means that this team really needs Albert Haynesworth to be himself.  Maybe next year, if Haynesworth is elsewhere, the Redskins will be able to replace him, but this year, the defensive front is just going to be weak when he’s not in.  Kedric Golston and Adam Carriker are both playable.  The depth is weaker here, but Vonnie Holliday is the best veteran among the bunch.  If Haynesworth is not in, or misses a game with an injury, this is one of the Redskins weaker units.  That was not true last season.

Anthony Brown —

THE ANSWER: Chris Wilson, Lorenzo Alexander, Chris Horton, Reed Doughty, H.B. Blades

THE CHALLENGE: Quick, name five role players you’re comfortable with filling in for a starter for three games.

Notice the pattern? Theses are all defensive players. Contending teams have strength in the middle of the roster. You don’t see that roster strength on the Redskins offense. It’s why the defense has been ahead of the offense this decade–and why they still are. Fixing roster structure on the offense is a multi-year job.

The Redskins’ depth chart going into the Cowboys game lists Adam Carriker ahead of Phillip Daniels at DE. Pass rush package?

Greg Trippiedi: Mike Shanahan is not the most straightforward character either of us will deal with when it comes to the Redskins, but he’s been nothing short of direct and honest when releasing his depth charts to the public.  People were concerned that Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly were listed as third WRs because of a motivational tactic.  It may have worked as such a tactic — Thomas made the team — but it was also the truth.  They listed them at third team because they were third team players.

To compare our depth on defense to our depth on offense would be downright unfair.  Our late round draft picks, forget the ones that worked out, all were on the defensive end for many, many years.  The late round picks on offense were usually quarterbacks (Jordan Palmer, Colt Brennan) or fullbacks (Nemo Broughton, Manuel White, Rock Cartwright).  Those players don’t have anywhere to go to make an impact on offense, and Cartwright was about as useful a pick as could have been.  He’s in Oakland now.

Our linebackers are going to be a strength with or without those late picks, even though Andre Carter could end up being a weakness.  We only have eight of them, but they are all going to get their chances to go after the quarterback, particularly Rocky McIntosh.  HB Blades is a lot better than Perry Riley right now, but the Redskins need Riley to become a starter to save this draft class.  He, along with Trent Williams, is one of just two draft picks from THIS CLASS who made it through cutdown day.  Mike Shanahan said that you’ve had a sound draft if half of your players made the roster, but only 5 players from his last 5 classes in Denver failed to make the roster.  One of those players was Domenik Hixon, who plays for the Giants now.  Shanahan basically equaled that total in his first draft with Washington.  But I suppose it’s okay, since Denver was so loaded thanks to great drafts that they have won the division every year since 2004.  I haven’t checked though, it would just seem to make sense given that awesome track record.

This 3-4 alignment is going to greatly increase the amount of unblocked pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which should result in a rebound year for LaRon Landry and a career year for Carlos Rogers.  That’s really good.  DeAngelo Hall looked good in the preseason, and if he can keep up, this secondary is going to be fierce.  If Hall slips in coverage, there isn’t anyone on the depth chart capable of replacing him this year.  Justin Tryon was traded to the Colts for a pick because he wasn’t going to make Jim Haslett’s defense.  Tryon was the nickel back last year: that’s a sign of progress, I believe.

Coming very soon: Part III, where Anthony and Greg make their predictions for the 2010 Redskins’ season.