DE Jason Taylor, DE Erasmus James, DT Matthias Askew, DT Zarnell Fitch, OLB Alfred Fincher, S Stuart Schweigert.
QB Colt Brennan, WR Devin Thomas, WR Malcolm Kelly, TE Fred Davis, G/OT Chad Rinehart, DE Rob Jackson, CB Justin Tryon, S Kareem Moore, S Chris Horton, P Durant Brooks.
QB Mark Brunell, RB Eric Shelton, WR Brandon Lloyd, WR Reche Caldwell, WR Keenan McCardell, WR Mike Espy, WR Steven Harris, TE Brian Kozlowski, OT Ross Tucker, OT Kevin Sampson, G Rick DeMulling, G Mike Pucillo, OLB Rian Wallace, ILB Randall Godfrey, CB David Macklin, S Stuart Schweigert, S Pierson Prioleau, S Vernon Fox, S Omar Stoutmire, KR Jerome Mathis.
2008 Washington Redskins Offense:
I'm never a big fan of having an established quarterback learn a brand new offense. Just look at Alex Smith. As Emmitt Smith stated earlier this year, Alex Smith learns four new offenses every year. No wonder he sucks so much.
With Jim Zorn replacing the retired Joe Gibbs as head coach, the Redskins will be running the same West Coast offense that Matt Hasselbeck operates in Seattle. The big difference is that Hasselbeck was drafted by the Green Bay Packers and consequently had to learn that system as soon as he signed his first NFL contract. While the transition could be beneficial in the long run, I have to believe Campbell'sprogress will "be a slowed down," as our good friend Emmitt would say.
It's a shame too, because Campbell was looking more and more promising as the 2007 campaign went on. While Campbell began the year slowly (12-of-21, two interceptions against Miami in Week 1; 16-of-34 for 190 yards versus the Giants in Week 3; 12-of-23 for 142 yards and a pick at the Jets in Week 9), something clicked for him against the Eagles on Nov. 11, and he thrived from that point on. In his final five contests of the year, Campbell completed 61.6 percent of his passes and maintained a 6-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Two of the picks came against one of the top defenses in the league (Tampa Bay). Campbell also nearly led an improbable comeback at Dallas, as he totaled 348 yards against the Cowboys' secondary.
Unfortunately, Campbell landed on the IR with a dislocated knee cap suffered on Dec. 6. We all know what happened after that. Todd Collins made his first start in about a decade and commanded the Redskins to a postseason appearance.
While at first it'll seem like Washington is taking a step backward by teaching a new system to Campbell, the team could eventually take two steps forward. Actually, make that five steps if rookie targets Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly and Fred Davis develop along with their quarterback. It was pretty evident the Redskins needed new receivers; Santana Moss took plays off in their 35-14 postseason loss at Seattle, while the mediocre Antwaan Randle El is coming off knee surgery. That said, no one expected Daniel Snyder to draft so many potentially lethal weapons for his offense. It should be interesting to see how quickly Thomas and Kelly can win a job in the starting lineup. As for Davis, he and Pro Bowl-caliber Chris Cooley figure to line up in many two-tight end sets once the USC rookie is ready.
One skill position where the Redskins didn't need an upgrade was running back. Clinton Portis had the fifth 1,250-plus yard season of his six-year career in 2007; he rushed for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns, while catching 47 passes for 389 more yards. Portis is just 26, so he still has a lot of gas left in the tank. It's encouraging that he has shown a better work ethic this offseason than he has in the past. If Portis gets hurt, however, Ladell Betts has proven he can carry the load. Betts compiled 1,154 rushing yards in relief duty two years ago.
Portis has enjoyed tons of success in the nation's capital because of a pretty stout offensive line. Unfortunately, I have some concerns with the group. First, like everyone else on the scoring unit, they're going to have to learn a new scheme under Jim Zorn. Second, they're all getting up there in age. Left tackle Chris Samuels will be 31 in the end of July. I don't really have a reservation here, as the Redskins figure to enjoy about three more years of elite production from the five-time Pro Bowler. Right tackle Jon Jansen, meanwhile, will be 33 in January. He has a vast injury history and could regress after playing just one game in 2007. If he struggles or gets hurt again, second-year Stephon Heyer proved he can be an effective substitute.
Meanwhile, Father Time has been even less kind to Washington's interior linemen. Left guard Pete Kendall is 35; right guard Randy Thomas, who played in just three contests in 2007 (torn triceps), has his birthday fall a few days prior to Jansen's; while center Casey Rabach will be 31 soon. Washington barely has any depth here, unless third-round rookie Chad Rinehart develops quickly.
With a new scheme in place and young receivers learning on the job, we won't see the Redskins' offense come to life right away. The team will struggle to score for a while - at least until Campbell learns the system and the rookie wide outs develop. Luckily, Washington has Portis, Cooley and Moss to avert disaster.
2008 Washington Redskins Defense:
The Redskins' 2007 campaign was defined by the tragic death of Sean Taylor. While the team banded together emotionally and surrendered just 14 points per game until its playoff loss at Seattle (down from a seasonal average of 19.4), realism now sets in, as Washington will have to move on without its All-Pro safety.
It's safe to say that Taylor and his team-leading five picks will be missed on the field in 2008, as the Redskins have a pretty troubled secondary on their hands. Reed Doughty, currently penciled into Taylor's spot, actually played pretty admirably last year, considering he was just thrown into the starting lineup so unexpectedly. Doughty can be upgraded, but he's not a huge liability or anything. Someone even further from that is LaRon Landry, who had a Pro Bowl-caliber year despite being just a rookie. Landry can play either safety position.
So, what's the problem? Why is the secondary troubled? Just look at the mess at cornerback. Soon-to-be 28-year-old Carlos Rogers tore his ACL and MCL, and won't be available for the season opener. Shawn Springs, who would be the other starting corner under normal circumstances, hasn't shown up to OTAs at all. He's expected to report to training camp, but considering that he's 33, he'll need to be in top shape to be effective. There has been talk that the Redskins plan on moving Springs to free safety, but how can that happen if he's not practicing? And way to get off on the right foot with your new head coach, Shawn. At any rate, with Rogers out of commission, Fred Smoot will be starting across from Springs (assuming Springs hasn't been abducted by aliens or anything). Smoot is a solid player, but he always seems to be hampered by injuries.
As bad as Washington is in its secondary, the linebacking corps could be worse. Like Rogers, Rocky McIntosh tore his ACL and MCL. The difference is while Rogers suffered the tears in mid-season, McIntosh's injury came in December. It looks like he'll play, but he likely won't be 100 percent until the late in the year, or even 2009. It's a shame because McIntosh is a very talented player. Meanwhile, strongside linebacker Marcus Washington was also productive when in the lineup, but he missed four contests and was limited in others. He turns 31 in October. The elder of the group is London Fletcher, who mans the middle. Fletcher was solid in 2007, but at 33, regression could kick in. The Redskins like H.B. Blades as a potential replacement for Fletcher, but at 236 pounds, Blades is pretty undersized for the position.
Unless Rogers and McIntosh can make speedy recoveries, the strength of Washington's defense looks like its defensive line. Right end Andre Carter accumulated 10 sacks in 2007 after just six the year before. Taking care of the run, meanwhile, is Anthony Montgomery, who is emerging as one of the best defensive tackles in all of football. He was the main reason the Redskins were fourth at stopping opposing ground attacks. Oh, and Montgomery is only 24 years old.
Joining Montgomery in the interior of the defensive front will be Cornelius Griffin and Phillip Daniels. This is another problem area. Griffin's best days are behind him, as he's very much over the hill. He'll be 32 in December. But that's nothing; Daniels is 35. He played left end in 2007, but will have to see some action next to Montgomery. When he moves inside, Demetric Evans will slide into the exterior role. As you can guess, this is another issue I have with Washington's stop unit.
The Redskins ranked 11th in defense last year, surrendering 19.4 points per game. Unless Rogers and McIntosh can make miraculous recoveries, however, I don't expect that average to hold up.
2008 Washington Redskins Schedule and Intangibles:
The Redskins scored two touchdowns on special teams and didn't allow any in 2005. They repeated their performance in 2006. Unfortunately, the same didn't occur in 2007. Antwaan Randle El was brutal on punt returns, and the special-teams unit yielded a score on a kickoff.
In his first season as a full-time kicker, Shaun Suisham nailed 29-of-35 attempts, including 11-of-15 from 40-plus. Pretty impressive.
Derrick Frost was a pretty shaky punter last season, which would explain why the Redskins drafted rookie Durant Brooks to take his place.
Washington has to battle the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles twice each. If that wasn't enough, the team also has to go up against New Orleans, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Seattle. Luckily, the Redskins get a good amount of seemingly easy contests, including Arizona, St. Louis, Detroit, Baltimore, Cincinnati and San Francisco.
2008 Washington Redskins Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2008 Washington Redskins Analysis: There are a lot of things that are going to bump the Redskins out of a playoff berth in 2008. First, Jason Campbell needs to learn the West Coast offense. Second, Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and Fred Davis need time to develop as potent targets for Campbell. Third, Rocky McIntosh and Carlos Rogers will be limited coming off nasty knee injuries. Fourth, Jim Zorn lacks experience as a head coach.
Luckily, all of these issues can be remedied with time, so watch out for Washington in 2009. Once Campbell learns, the young receivers improve, the defenders heal and Zorn matures, the Redskins will be a dominant force in the NFC.
Projection: 8-8 (TBA in NFC East)
2008 Fantasy Football Rankings:
Jason Campbell: Forget the fact that Jason Campbell has to learn the West Coast offense; he was never a great fantasy option in the first place. In 13 games, Campbell compiled 2,700 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 picks. He's not worth drafting. If you're looking for a backup quarterback, I'd take someone with more upside.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 3,100 passing yards. 15 passing TDs. 200 rushing yards. 1 rushing TD.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 271.
Clinton Portis: Clinton Portis rushed for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns, but his average gain was just 3.9. That can be attributed to right tackle Jon Jansen and right guard Randy Thomas playing a combined four games. Both will be back, so Portis' yards-per-carry average will increase, but the line as a whole is old. Also, with Jim Zorn's West Coast offense being installed, Portis will likely see a slight decrease in rushes.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 1,275 rushing yards. 325 receiving yards. 12 total TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 231.
Ladell Betts: Ladell Betts is worth drafting as a handcuff to Clinton Portis; Betts totaled more than 1,100 rushing yards when Portis missed significant action in 2006.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 250 rushing yards. 150 receiving yards. 2 total TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 52.
Chris Cooley: Chris Cooley may have to share targets with Fred Davis eventually, but he's still a fantasy stud in 2008. Despite starting slowly (six catches, 54 yards, two scores prior to Week 5), Cooley had 66 receptions, 786 yards and eight touchdowns in 2007. I have to wonder how he'll translate into Jim Zorn's offense though.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 750 receiving yards. 7 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 117.
Santana Moss: So, the 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns in 2005 was a fluke after all... In the two years after accumulating those amazing stats, Santana Moss has 1,598 yards and nine scores. His production will suffer until Jason Campbell fully grasps Jim Zorn's West Coast offense.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 800 receiving yards. 4 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 104.
Antwaan Randle El: Antwaan Randle El is coming off knee surgery. He's learning a new offense. He has never had more than 51 receptions, 728 yards and three touchdowns. Stay away.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 550 receiving yards. 1 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 61.
Devin Thomas: Definitely worth taking in a dynasty league. Otherwise, just watch his progress. He may start for the Redskins. If he gets enough experience and looks like he grasps the offense, make note and draft him as a sleeper in 2009. Same goes for Malcolm Kelly.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 450 receiving yards. 2 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 57.
Shaun Suisham: Shaun Suisham was great in his first full-season as a starting kicker, as he went 29-of-35, including 11-of-15 from 40-plus. Unfortunately, he doesn't get the extra-point opportunities you want from your fantasy kicker.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 26-32 FG (1-2 50+). 28 XP.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 117.
Redskins Defense: With two of Washington's better defenders coming off knee surgery, I'd look elsewhere. They could be worth starting against the Rams (Week 6) and Lions (Week 8).
Projected Fantasy Ranking: Spot-Starting Defense.
2008 NFL Draft Grade:
Save for two major things, I liked Washington's draft. The team needed a possession receiver, and it got a pair of first-round talents in the second round: Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly. It should be interesting to see how Jim Zorn utilizes them along with Santana Moss, Chris Cooley and Fred Davis ... Right guard was addressed with the acquisition of Chad Rinehart at pick No. 96. There were better guards available, but the selection was solid ... Justin Tryon, Kareem Moore and Chris Horton will provide Washington's thin secondary with some depth.
I mentioned that I don't like two things the Redskins did. Well, one was something they didn't do. I can't believe they failed to acquire a defensive end prior to the seventh round. I guess they weren't paying attention when the rival Giants stormed through the playoffs ... Picking Colt Brennan automatically prohibits me from giving Washington anything higher than a B. I've listed six reasons why drafting Brennan was a mistake:
1. Throws Like a Girl: Brennan has weaker arm strength than any quarterback who was drafted. If Brennan even attempts to throw the out, he'll continuously get picked off. Think Chad Pennington (post injury) and imagine an even weaker throwing motion.
2. Troubled Past: The average fan doesn't know this, but Brennan was once a quarterback at Colorado. He was kicked off the team because he was charged with sexual assault. He spent seven days in jail. Do you want this guy running your offense?
3. Tom Thumb: Brennan is 6-2, 201. Pretty small for a quarterback. There have been quite a few tiny signal callers in the NFL before, but none of them had a...
4. Side-Armed Delivery: Rich Gannon threw side-armed, but he wasn't 6-2. Because Brennan is short, his side-armed release point will be even lower. This will result in a lot of batted balls at the line of scrimmage.
5. Bad Teammate: When Brennan struggled at his Pro Day, he actually had the nerve to blame his receivers. You can probably Google the interview with Scout.com if you want to find out what he said.
6. He's 25: Well, almost 25. Brennan will reach the quarter-century mark on Aug. 16. Kind of old for a rookie quarterback, huh?
But he put up great stats! Yeah, so did Timmy Chang. How's he doing? June Jones' offense is designed to do that. Put any other seventh-round quarterback (i.e. Matt Flynn, Alex Brink, etc.) in Hawaii's offense and they would have put up similar (or better) numbers.
I hope you understand now why I gave the Redskins a Z for picking Brennan. I'll be shocked if he makes an NFL roster.
Grade give on 4/28/08: C
2008 NFL Draft Picks:
34. Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
Daniel Snyder might as well have robbed a bank. Devin Thomas could have went 11 to Buffalo. Getting him at 34 is completely ridiculous. (Pick Grade: A)
48. Fred Davis, TE, USC
I didn't get this pick. Why not a defensive end? Did the Redskins forget about Chris Cooley? Still, Fred Davis is a solid player and I can't blame Washington for falling in love with him. (Pick Grade: C)
51. Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
Three months ago, Malcolm Kelly was the consensus No. 1 receiver in the draft. The Redskins are going to have a scary offense next year, assuming Jason Campbell thrives with all of these weapons around him. (Pick Grade: A)
96. Chad Rinehart, G/OT, Northern Iowa
Roy Shuening and Mike McGlynn are probably better guard options, but Chad Rinehart isn't a bad pick. (Pick Grade: B)
124. Justin Tryon, CB, Arizona State
The Redskins needed a corner but there were better options available; I had Justin Tryon in my seventh round. (Pick Grade: C)
168. Durant Brooks, P, Georgia Tech
I'm not going to grade a punter. The Redskins needed one, and this is the right place to get one. (Pick Grade: N/A)
180. Kareem Moore, S, Nicholls State
Depth at safety, but there were much better players at this position availble. (Pick Grade: C)
186. Colt Brennan, QB, Hawaii
Worst pick in the entire draft. What's worse than an F? Can I give them a G? What about a Z? Yeah, I like Z. (Pick Grade: Z)
242. Rob Jackson, DE, Kansas State
Depth for a very thin group of defensive ends. (Pick Grade: B)
249. Chris Horton, FS, UCLA
Not on my board, but it's the seventh round. (Pick Grade: C)
Not even a Super Bowl victory could have trumped what happened to the Redskins organization on Nov. 27 - Sean Taylor, shot and eventually killed in cold blood. The team rallied and made the playoffs with a win over the Cowboys by 21, Taylor's old number. Washington didn't go deep into the playoffs, but I doubt this season will ever be forgotten.
Redskins cut S Vernon Fox
Redskins cut DT Babatunde Oshinowo
Redskins cut S Stuart Schweigert
Redskins sign OLB Alfred Fincher
Redskins sign DT Babatune Oshinowo
Redskins cut RB Eric Shelton
Redskins sign DT Zarnell Fitch
Redskins acquire DE Jason Taylor from the Dolphins for a 2009 second-round pick and a 2010 sixth-round choice
Redskins announce DE Phillip Daniels is out for the year
Redskins re-sign OLB Rian Wallace
Redskins sign S Stuart Schweigert
Redskins cut OLB Rian Wallace
Redskins acquire DE Erasmus James from the Vikings for a conditional 7th-round pick
Redskins cut WR/KR Jerome Mathis
Redskins cut OT Kevin Sampson
Redskins re-sign RB Nehemiah Broughton
Redskins re-sign G Jason Fabini
Redskins re-sign P Derrick Frost
Redskins sign DT Matthias Askew
Redskins cut WR Mike Espy
Redskins cut WR Steven Harris
Redskins re-sign DT Ryan Boschetti
Redskins tender Shaun Suisham
Redskins re-sign RB Rock Cartwright
Redskins re-sign QB Todd Collins
Redskins cut QB Mark Brunell
Redskins cut WR Brandon Lloyd
Defensive End: Phillip Daniels belongs in a museum, and the Redskins need another pass rusher besides Andre Carter. Taking away Carter's 10 sacks, Washington had 23 on the year, which is pretty pathetic. Acquiring a top-notch defensive end has to be the franchise's top priority this offseason, especially after watching how the Giants upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Unless Malcolm Kelly falls to them, the Redskins will draft either Calais Campbell or Derrick Harvey 21st overall. Traded for Jason Taylor and Erasmus James; drafted Rob Jackson
Possession Receiver: Santana Moss, 5-10; 185. Antwaan Randle El, 5-10; 192. Brandon Lloyd, 6-0; 181. James Thrash, 6-0; 200. Keenan McCardell, 6-1; 191. Notice a pattern? Who was this genius GM who assembled such a small group of wide outs? The Redskins need a massive receiver capable of going over the middle. Malcolm Kelly could be an option if he falls to Washington. If not, perhaps Devin Thomas or Adarius Bowman in the second round. Drafted Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly
Defensive Tackle: Anthony Montgomery is emerging as one of the top defensive tackles in the league. Unfortunately, the Redskins won't have much around him come September. Cornelius Griffin will be a cap casualty, in all likelihood. Ryan Boschetti, meanwhile, may not re-sign with the team. That'll leave Washington with Montgomery and Kedric Golston at the position. Depth, and perhaps an upgrade over Golston, is a must. A mid-round selection could remedy this. Re-signed Ryan Boschetti; signed Matthias Askew, Zarnell Fitch and Babatunde Oshinowo
Offensive Tackle: I don't think the Redskins can afford another season where an offensive tackle suffers a season-ending injury. Jon Jansen, 32, may never be 100 percent ever again. Washington could benefit from an insurance policy (a second- or third-round pick, perhaps).
Guard: Pete Kendall turns 35 in July, so the Redskins, despite dealing a draft pick for the former Jet, need a younger guard to take his place soon. Washington can grab someone in the middle rounds. Drafted Chad Rinehart; re-signed Jason Fabini
Cornerback Depth: Shawn Springs is another possible casualty of Washington's horrendous cap situation. If he's cut, Daniel Snyder will need depth at corner. Drafted Justin Tryon
Safety Depth: The Redskins' top two reserve safeties, Omar Stoutmire and Pierson Prioleau, are both free agents. If they're not re-signed, which could be difficult given the team's cap status, depth will be needed. Drafted Kareem Moore and Chris Horton; signed Stuart Schweigert
Washington Redskins Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 11): -$20.61 million
Shaun Suisham (ERFA), K. Age: 26. - Tendered by Redskins
Todd Collins, QB. Age: 36. Re-signed with Redskins (3 years, $9 million)
Any team looking to make a Super Bowl run can definitely use a proven veteran like Todd Collins as a backup quarterback.
Randall Godfrey, MLB. Age: 35.
Randall Godfrey's days as a starter are obviously over, but he can still contribute as a reserve.
Derrick Frost, P. Age: 27. - Re-signed with Redskins (1 year)
Rock Cartwright, RB. Age: 28. - Re-signed with Redskins (3 years)
Pierson Prioleau, S. Age: 31. - Signed with Jaguars
Jason Fabini, G. Age: 34. - Re-signed with Redskins
Ryan Boschetti, DT. Age: 26. - Re-signed with Redskins
Brandon Lloyd, WR. Age: 27. - Signed by Bears (1 year)
Ross Tucker, OT. Age: 29.
Reche Caldwell, WR. Age: 29. - Signed with Rams (1 year, $645,000)
Omar Stoutmire, S. Age: 34.
Vernon Fox, S. Age: 28.
Rick DeMulling, G. Age: 31.
Mike Pucillo, G. Age: 29.
Stuart Schweigert, S. Age: 27. - Signed with Giants
David Macklin, CB. Age: 30. - Signed with Rams (1 year)
Nehemiah Broughton, RB. Age: 25. - Re-signed with Redskins
Jerome Mathis (RFA), WR/KR. Age: 25.
Kevin Sampson, OT. Age: 27.
Mark Brunell, QB. Age: 37. - Signed with Saints (2 years)
Keenan McCardell, WR. Age: 38.
Rian Wallace, OLB. Age 26.
Babatunde Oshinowo, DT. Age: 25.
Brian Kozlowski, TE. Age: 37.
Mike Espy, WR. Age: 25.
Steven Harris, WR. Age: 26.
Eric Shelton, RB. Age: 25.
Divisional Rival History: Dallas Cowboys: Remember when the Redskins could never beat the Cowboys? Well, they've somehow won four of the past six battles. Go figure. New York Giants: The visitor won in the two meetings last season. That's not surprising, given how much better the Giants play on the road. Philadelphia Eagles: Pure domination. The Eagles have claimed nine of the past 11 battles.