2011 NFL Offseason: Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins (Last Year: 6-10) Buy Tickets

2011 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Tim Hightower, WR Jabar Gaffney, OT Sean Locklear, G/C Chris CHester, DE/DT Stephen Bowen, NT Barry Cofield, CB Josh Wilson, FS O.J. Atogwe, P Sav Rocca.
Early Draft Picks:
DE/OLB Ryan Kerrigan, DE/DT Jarvis Jenkins, WR Leonard Hankerson, WR Leonard Hankerson, RB Roy Helu, CB/S Dejon Gomes, WR Niles Paul, RB Evan Royster, WR Aldrick Robinson.
Offseason Losses:
QB Donovan McNabb, RB Clinton Portis, OT Stephon Heyer, G Derrick Dockery, G Mike Williams, C Casey Rabach, DE Jeremy Jarmon, DT Albert Haynesworth, DE/DT Vonnie Holliday, DE/DT Phillip Daniels, NT Ma’ake Kemoeatu, DE/OLB Andre Carter, CB Carlos Rogers, P Josh Bidwell.

2011 Washington Redskins Offense:
Was that really Rex Grossman who threw for 200 yards against Pittsburgh’s defense in the preseason, or an alien imposter who doesn’t commit turnovers? It’s hard to believe that Grossman would play so carefully and efficiently, but not after remembering what Mike Shanahan was able to accomplish in Denver several years ago.

As the head coach of the Broncos, Shanahan named Jake Plummer his starting quarterback in 2003. This was a controversial move at the time; in fact, here’s what was written in the 2003 NFL Season Preview on this very Web site:

I lost a lot of respect for head coach Mike Shanahan, when he signed QB Jake Plummer to take over his team. Since 1998, Jake has thrown 43 interceptions, while only throwing 21 touchdowns. Having an excellent running game will help Jake the Snake, but his inaccuracy and inability to scan the whole field will continue to cause him to throw many interceptions.

Not so much. Plummer played relatively well under Shanahan – at least in the regular season – and Rex Grossman, whose career numbers are actually better than Plummer’s were at the time, could experience similar success in this system. Shanahan is an offensive genius, so don’t be surprised if Grossman experiences a breakout campaign. Then again, don’t be surprised if Grossman struggles with turnovers either.

An advantage Plummer had back in 2003 were his targets. Rod Smith and Shannon Sharpe were a hell of a duo to throw to. Grossman doesn’t have that. Santana Moss is still a solid wideout, but he turned 32 in June. Jabar Gaffney, a very mediocre receiver, is slated to start across from Moss. At tight end, Chris Cooley can’t seem to recover from his knee ailment, so Fred Davis may have to start.

As usual, the Redskins made a ton of moves this offseason, but a relatively quiet one was the acquisition of Tim Hightower. The former Arizona running back has quickly passed Ryan Torain and Roy Helu as the starting running back. Hightower isn’t the most talented runner in the league, but he blocks and catches the ball well out of the backfield, and he’s also a perfect player in Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme.

Someone who will help Hightower is right tackle Jammal Brown, who was a key re-signing this offseason. Brown struggled for most of last year, but picked up his play in December once he recovered from his hip injury. He’ll play next to newly acquired Chris Chester, who is decent but has issues with consistency. Center Will Montgomery is mediocre, but a passable starter.

The left side of the offensive front is a huge concern. Trent Williams, controversially chosen with the No. 4 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, was guilty of 11 penalties and six sacks as a rookie. He has to be better for Grossman to survive the onslaught of Trent Cole, DeMarcus Ware, and either Jason Pierre-Paul or Osi Umenyiora in the NFC East. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger was even worse than Williams last year; he allowed seven sacks, which is unbelievably high for a player at his position.

2011 Washington Redskins Defense:
While Shanahan is an offensive genius, his decision to transform Washington’s defense into a 3-4 proved to be disastrous. Successful head coaches, such as Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichick cater their system to their players. However, like Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels, Romeo Crennel and failed head coaches of that ilk, Shanahan forced a scheme switch despite lacking the personnel to do so. As a consequence, Pro Bowl-caliber defenders like Albert Haynesworth and Andre Carter struggled and have left the team this offseason.

The Redskins had the seventh-fewest sacks in the NFL last year (29), so they had to replace Haynesworth and Carter to improve that figure. They spent the No. 16 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft on Ryan Kerrigan, a defensive end at Purdue who will have to transition to rush linebacker in a short period of time. Because of the lockout, this is going to be a tough process for the former Boilermaker. Luckily, Washington has a proven pass-rusher across from Kerrigan; that would be Brian Orakpo, who registered 8.5 sacks in 2010.

Replacing Haynesworth up front is newly acquired Stephen Bowen, who signed a 5-year, $27.5 million deal this offseason. Bowen doesn’t have much starting experience, though he was superb with Dallas last season. The issue, as always with Washington’s flashy signings, is whether Bowen is going to give 100 percent now that he’s earning a big paycheck. Taking the money and going to an inferior team is not a sign that a player’s No. 1 priority is winning, after all.

Adam Carriker and free-agent acquisition Barry Cofield join Bowen on the defensive line. Carriker is a solid run-defender, while Cofield has the same concerns as Bowen; he inked a 6-year, $36 million deal this offseason. Second-round rookie Jarvis Jenkins could also be in the mix, as he’s had a phenomenal training camp.

Washington’s third big offseason signing was free safety O.J. Atogwe, who agreed to a 5-year, $26 million contract prior to the lockout. Atogwe has been a very good player for the Rams over the past several seasons, but in addition to motivational issues, something going against Atogwe is that he turned 30 in June, so his best years are obviously behind him.

Still, Atogwe is an upgrade over the dreadful Kareem Moore. He’ll start next to strong safety LaRon Landry, who missed the final seven games of the 2010 campaign with a strained Achilles tendon. As of Aug. 16, he’s still on the active/PUP list.

The Redskins also have a new starter at cornerback. That would be Josh Wilson, who played well for the Ravens last year. Unfortunately, DeAngelo Hall is the penciled in on the other side. Hall is renowned for his high interception totals, but he only gets those because opposing quarterbacks love to pick on him. Hall surrendered eight touchdowns and a completion percentage of 73.7 in 2010.

As for the final two starters on Washington’s stop unit, there’s some concern with the two inside linebackers. London Fletcher has been a very good player for many years and is coming off a solid 2010 campaign, but he recently celebrated his 36th birthday. He has to slow down at some point. Next to Fletcher is Rocky McIntosh, a third player who struggled in Shanahan’s questionable 3-4 last year.

2010 Washington Redskins Schedule and Intangibles:
Brandon Banks is a really good return specialist, but is having major knee issues. Second-year Terrence Austin will take his place. Washington defended kickoffs well, but the team really struggled against punts.

The Redskins have kicking issues. Graham Gano was an abysmal 24-of-35 in 2010, prompting Daniel Snyder to sign Shayne Graham. Although he was a perfect 12-of-12 in New England last year, Graham was so bad in training camp and the first preseason game that he was cut.

Washington also had a terrible punting unit, so former Eagle sav Rocca was brought in. Rocca is an upgrade over what the Redskins had last season, but he’s definitely not the answer.

Though they’ll struggle against NFC East foes, the Redskins have their share of easy, non-divisional opponents, including Arizona, Carolina, Buffalo, San Francisco, Miami, Seattle and Minnesota.

2011 Washington Redskins Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2011 Washington Redskins Analysis: Every spring (or summer in this case), Daniel Snyder sits on his throne, dons a crown and proclaims himself the King of the Offseason. Casual fans and blind media people praise his spending and predict that these new signings will work and this is “the year” that Washington will crawl out of the NFC East cellar.

And every year, it’s the same. It’s amazing that Snyder has yet to learn that the way to win in the NFL is through the draft. But because of newly acquired veterans every year, the Redskins never truly hit rock bottom, and consequently don’t put themselves in position to obtain a franchise quarterback in the NFL Draft. Mike Shanahan may get the most out of Rex Grossman, but Washington has absolutely no chance of maintaining long-term success with him.

Projection: 5-11 (4th in NFC East)

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings

More 2011 NFL Season Previews


2011 NFL Draft Grades:

Washington failed to draft a quarterback on Thursday and Friday, prompting Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen to report that the team plans on going with John Beck in 2011. Translation: The Redskins will have the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

The Redskins had some really good picks. They also had some really questionable selections. As far as the pure prospects are concerned, the draft was pretty average. Having said that, I’m really befuddled by Bruce Allen’s decision not to acquire a quarterback or much offensive line help. Beck doesn’t stand a chance behind Washington’s pathetic front.

What saves Washington from an abysmal grade is its plethora of trade downs. I loved that. That said, Allen and Mike Shanahan may have just locked up Andrew Luck. Maybe that’s their plan.

Overall 2011 NFL Draft Grade given on 5/1/11: C

2011 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

16. Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue
Despite what ESPN is saying, I’m not sure Ryan Kerrigan is a good fit for the 3-4. He can function there, but his ideal scheme would be the 4-3. Having said that, I’m not going to punish the Redskins because they’re filling a need with one of the top players available. Plus, figuring out scheme conversion is pretty tricky. (Pick Grade: B)

41. Jarvis Jenkins, DE/DT, Clemson
It took me a while to understand what Doug Williams said, but Jarvis Jenkins isn’t a bad pick. This is a slight reach, but he’ll fill the void created by Albert Haynesworth’s eventual departure. (Pick Grade: C)

79. Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami
I really love this pick. Leonard Hankerson could have easily gone in the 35-50 range, so the Redskins have just filled a big need with a great value selection. Santana Moss could be leaving, and Washington couldn’t go into the 2011 season with Anthony Armstrong as its No. 1 wideout. (Pick Grade: A)

105. Roy Helu, RB, Nebraska
Three reasons why I hate this pick: 1) Roy Helu was ranked in the 150-175 range by most services, so this is a reach. 2) The Redskins had far greater needs. 3) Trading up for Helu with all the running backs available? Why? (Pick Grade: F)

146. Dejon Gomes, CB/S, Nebraska
This is a major reach. I didn’t think Dejon Gomes would be drafted, and I don’t think many other people did either. He does provide some secondary depth, but that’s about it. (Pick Grade: D)

155. Niles Paul, WR, Nebraska
As mentioned, Anthony Armstrong was the team’s No. 1 receiver heading into the 2011 NFL Draft, so it should be no surprise that the Redskins have drafted two wideouts. Niles Paul fits the range in the middle of Round 5. (Pick Grade: B)

177. Evan Royster, RB, Penn State
Evan Royster fits Mike Shanahan’s blocking scheme to a tee. This is also the right range for him. I like this selection much better than the Roy Helu pick. (Pick Grade: B)

178. Aldrick Robinson, WR, SMU
A third receiver? I’m not so sure about this. Aldrick Robinson fits the range, but there were greater positions of need to address. Where’s the quarterback, by the way? (Pick Grade: C)

213. Brandyn Thompson, CB, Boise State
This is a better value pick than the Dejon Gomes selection. Again, the Redskins need secondary depth, so this pick makes sense. (Pick Grade: B)

217. Maurice Hurt, G, Florida
I’m disappointed the Redskins waited this long to address the offensive line. Maurice Hurt fits the range, so he’s a solid choice in Round 7. (Pick Grade: B)

224. Markus White, DE/OLB, Florida State
The Redskins needed to add another pass-rusher, so this is a solid mid-Round 7 selection. This is the right range for Markus White. (Pick Grade: B)

253. Chris Neild, NT, West Virginia
This is a decent value pick. Chris Neild could have been chosen a round earlier, and he fills a need as a reserve nose tackle. He could eventually start. (Pick Grade: B)

Season Summary:
Another season of big promises and small results. Redskins fans were really duped this time; with Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb joining forces, how could Daniel Snyder’s latest venture possibly fail? Well, it did, so it’s back to the drawing board for the team that looks like it may have the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Just check out all of their needs…

Offseason Moves:
  • Redskins cut K Shayne Graham
  • Patriots sign DE/OLB Andre Carter
  • Redskins sign OT Sean Locklear
  • Redskins re-sign ILB Rocky McIntosh
  • Redskins re-sign S Reed Doughty
  • Redskins re-sign DE/DT Kedric Golston
  • 49ers sign CB Carlos Rogers
  • Raiders sign OT Stephon Heyer
  • Redskins re-sign QB Rex Grossman
  • Ravens sign C Casey Rabach
  • Redskins re-sign CB Phillip Buchanon
  • Redskins sign OT Willie Smith
  • Redskins sign K Shayne Graham
  • Redskins acquire RB Tim Hightower from Cardinals for DE/DT Vonnie Holliday and conditional late-round pick
  • Redskins re-sign OT Jammal Brown
  • Redskins cut G Mike Williams
  • Redskins re-sign ILB H.B. Blades
  • Redskins sign P Sav Rocca
  • Redskins sign G/C Chris Chester
  • Redskins sign DE/DT Stephen Bowen
  • Redskins cut NT Ma’ake Kemoeatu
  • Redskins cut DE/DT Phillip Daniels
  • Redskins cut P Sam Paulescu
  • Redskins cut KR Chad Simpson
  • Redskins cut WR Roydell Williams
  • Redskins cut C Casey Rabach
  • Patriots acquire DE/DT Albert Haynesworth from Redskins for 2013 5th-rounder
  • Redskins sign CB Josh Wilson
  • Vikings acquire QB Donovan McNabb from Redskins for 2012 6th-rounder, 2013 conditional 6th-rounder
  • Redskins acquire WR Jabar Gaffney from Broncos for DE Jeremy Jarmon
  • Redskins sign QB Kellen Clemens
  • Redskins sign WR Donte’ Stallworth
  • Redskins sign NT Barry Cofield
  • Redskins re-sign WR Santana Moss
  • Redskins cut P Josh Bidwell
  • Redskins sign FS O.J. Atogwe
  • Redskins cut G Derrick Dockery
  • Redskins cut RB Clinton Portis

    Offseason Needs:
    1. Quarterback: As I said, it’s back to the drawing board. The Redskins will likely take Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton or Jake Locker with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Re-signed Rex Grossman; signed Kellen Clemens

    2. Wide Receiver: Make it two wide receivers if the Redskins can’t retain Santana Moss. Washington may target someone like Torrey Smith or Leonard Hankerson in the second round this April; their new quarterback will need a talented target to throw to. Re-signed with Santana Moss; signed Donte’ Stallworth; traded for Jabar Gaffney; drafted Leonard Hankerson, Niles Paul and Aldrick Robinson

    3. Right Tackle: Jammal Brown is a free agent, and he’ll probably do everything he can to get out of Washington. If he leaves, add right tackle to the Redskins’ never-ending list of needs. Re-signed Jammal Brown; signed Sean Locklear and Willie Smith

    4. Rush Linebacker: The Redskins had a great pass-rushing combination in 2009 with Andre Carter, Brian Orakpo and Albert Haynesworth dominating opposing fronts. Why they changed to a 3-4 is beyond me. Carter won’t be back, so Washington will have to find a new rush linebacker. Drafted Ryan Kerrigan

    5. Inside Linebacker: It’s hard to imagine Rocky McIntosh sticking around after struggling in the 3-4. Meanwhile, London Fletcher turns 36 in May. Re-signed Rocky McIntosh

    6. Nose Tackle: Assuming Albert Haynesworth and Mike Shanahan can’t kiss and make up, the Redskins will need a new nose tackle because Ma’ake Mekoeatu isn’t cutting it. Signed Barry Cofield

    7. Cornerback: Carlos Rogers and Phillip Buchanon are both free agents. Replacements are needed here if either one walks. Signed Josh Wilson; re-signed Phillip Buchanon; drafted Brandyn Thompson

    8. Right End: Kedric Golston needs to be upgraded. If Washington didn’t desperately need a quarterback, it could go for someone like J.J. Watt with the 10th pick. Signed Stephen Bowen; drafted Jarvis Jenkins

    9. Free Safety: Kareem Moore really struggled in 2010, but then again, so did pretty much everyone else. With so many needs, the Redskins will probably be forced to keep Moore as their starting free safety for another season. Signed O.J. Atogwe

    10. Right Guard: Artis Hicks was a failed offseason acquisition. He was benched in the middle of the year, so the Redskins will look elsewhere for a solution at this position. Signed Chris Chester; drafted Maurice Hurt

    11. Center: Casey Rabach, 34 in September, is not getting the job done. Yet another upgrade is needed up front. Signed Chris Chester

    12. Fullback: The Redskins will be looking to upgrade Mike Sellers.

    13. Kicker: Graham Gano went 24-of-35 last season, whiffing on a 30-yarder in the team’s finale against the Giants. Signed Shayne Graham

    14. Punter: As you can see, the Redskins have more needs than any other team in the NFL. Not to keep piling on, but they have no punter. Signed Sav Rocca

    2011 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Barry Cofield, DT, Giants. Age: 27.
      Signed with Redskins (6 years)

      Barry Cofield is a great interior lineman who excels against the run and provides a decent enough pass rush. He’s due for a big contract this offseason.

    2. O.J. Atogwe, FS, Rams. Age: 30.
      Signed with Redskins (5 years, $26 million)

      Despite being 30 years old, O.J. Atogwe is still one of the better free safeties in the NFL. He’s solid in coverage and excels as a blitzer.

    3. Shayne Graham, K, Patriots. Age: 33.
      Signed with Redskins

      Shayne Graham went a perfect 12-of-12 in 2010. He has hit at least 82.1 percent of his field goals since 2003. Graham’s a great kicker if you can get over the whole choking in the playoffs thing.

    4. Josh Wilson, CB, Ravens. Age: 26.
      Signed with Redskins

      Josh Wilson was a pleasant surprise for the Ravens this season, as he came out of nowhere to become a reliable starter for them.

    5. Stephen Bowen, DE/DT, Cowboys. Age: 27.
      Signed with Redskins (5 years, $27.5 million; $12.5 million guaranteed)

      Stephen Bowen took over for an injured Marcus Spears in the middle of the season and played very well down the stretch.

    6. Sean Locklear, OT, Seahawks. Age: 30.
      Signed with Redskins

      Sean Locklear is pretty abysmal when it comes to opening up lanes for running backs, but he does a really good job in pass protection. He surrendered only five sacks in 2010 (including the playoffs).

    7. Sav Rocca, P, Eagles. Age: 37.
      Signed with Redskins

      The aging Sav Rocca averaged 43.8 yards per punt, with about a third of his attempts pinned inside the 20.

    8. Chris Chester, G, Ravens. Age: 28.
      Signed with Redskins (5 years, $20 million)

      Chris Chester didn’t enjoy a good postseason, but otherwise had a pretty decent 2010 campaign.

    9. Willie Smith, OT, East Carolina. Age: 24. — Signed with Redskins
    10. Kellen Clemens, QB, Jets. Age: 28. — Signed with Redskins

    Washington Redskins Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: No cap.
    1. Jammal Brown, OT, Redskins. Age: 30.
      Re-signed with Redskins (5 years)

      After a very sluggish start, Jammal Brown played well down the stretch once he got over his hip surgery.

    2. Shayne Graham, K, Redskins. Age: 33.
      Shayne Graham went a perfect 12-of-12 in 2010. He has hit at least 82.1 percent of his field goals since 2003. Graham’s a great kicker if you can get over the whole choking in the playoffs thing.

    3. Rocky McIntosh, OLB, Redskins. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Redskins

      A decent weakside linebacker in the 4-3, Rocky McIntosh was one of many Redskins who were lost in the new 3-4 look. McIntosh will have more success next year as long as he stays away from teams running the 3-4.

    4. Carlos Rogers, CB, Redskins. Age: 30.
      Signed with 49ers (1 year)

      Carlos Rogers didn’t play well this season because of a myriad of injuries. If healthy, he’s still a solid starting cornerback.

    5. Andre Carter, DE, Redskins. Age: 32.
      Signed with Patriots

      One of the many reasons the Redskins sucked this season was because they couldn’t get any pressure on the quarterback. Why couldn’t they do so? Andre Carter’s conversion from 4-3 end to 3-4 rush linebacker failed. Carter, who had 11 sacks in 2009, will thrive elsewhere.

    6. Santana Moss, WR, Redskins. Age: 32.
      Re-signed with Redskins (3 years, $15 million; $6 million guaranteed)

      Santana Moss caught 93 balls for 1,115 yards and six touchdowns last year. However, he’ll be 32 in June – an age which usually marks the rapid decline of speedy receivers.

    7. Derrick Dockery, G, Redskins. Age: 30.
      Derrick Dockery had a very solid 2009 campaign, but barely played last year because he didn’t fit Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme.

    8. Phillip Buchanon, CB, Redskins. Age: 30.
      Re-signed with Redskins

      Teams could do worse at nickel than Philip Buchanon. I wouldn’t want him starting too often, however. He embarrassed himself on a few occasions in 2010.

    9. Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins. Age: 30.
      Clinton Portis is probably done. However, he’s carried the ball only 178 times in the past two years – thanks to various injuries – so there’s a chance he could have something left in the tank. I’d take a shot on him as long as he’d ask for something close to the veteran minimum.

    10. Reed Doughty, S, Redskins. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Redskins
    11. H.B. Blades, ILB, Redskins. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Redskins (1 year)
    12. Casey Rabach, C, Redskins. Age: 33. — Signed with Ravens (2 years)
    13. Will Montgomery, G, Redskins. Age: 28.
    14. Ma’ake Kemoeatu, NT, Redskins. Age: 32.
    15. Rex Grossman, QB, Redskins. Age: 31. — Re-signed with Redskins
    16. Stephon Heyer, OT, Redskins. Age: 27. — Signed with Raiders
    17. Chris Wilson, DE/OLB, Redskins. Age: 29.
    18. Phillip Daniels, DE/DT, Redskins. Age: 38.
    19. Chad Simpson, KR, Redskins. Age: 26.
    20. Sam Paulescu, P, Redskins. Age: 27.
    21. Josh Bidwell, P, Redskins. Age: 35.
    22. Roydell Williams, WR, Redskins. Age: 30.
    23. Mike Williams, G, Redskins. Age: 31.

    2011 NFL Free Agent Rankings

    2011 NFL Free Agent Rankings Coming Soon

    Divisional Rival History:
    Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have won four of the last five meetings, but Dallas-Washington games tend to be close regardless; 10 of the last 14 matchups have been decided by six points or fewer.
    New York Giants: New York dominates this NFC East rivalry, having won the past six meetings.
    Philadelphia Eagles: Philadelphia swept the series the past two years.

    Features to be Posted This Offseason:
    1. 2011 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well – Live on Draft Day!)
    2. Detailed season preview
    3. Fantasy football projections
    4. Positional rankings
    5. Daily updates on free-agent signings

    More 2011 NFL Offseason Pages:

    DAL / NYG / PHI / WAS /
    CHI / DET / GB / MIN /
    ATL / CAR / NO / TB /
    ARZ / SEA / SF / STL /
    BUF / MIA / NE / NYJ /
    BAL / CIN / CLE / PIT /
    HOU / IND / JAX / TEN /
    DEN / KC / OAK / SD /

    2011 NFL Offseason Pages

    Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

    2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12