Last Redskins Game

San Francisco 27, Washington 24 (Dec. 28, 2008 in San Francisco, Calif.)

Campbell (WSH): 18-30 passing, 156 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Portis (WSH): 29 rush, 80 yards, 1 TD
Hill (SF): 21-30 passing, 245 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Gore (SF): 11 rush, 58 yards, 0 TD

Next Redskins Game

Regular season only.

Sunday, Sept. 13 at New York Giants, 4:15 p.m. EST

Monday, April 27, 2009

Redskins take Orakpo at No. 13

Turns out, all that Mark Sanchez talk was for nothing.

Note to self: add New York Jets to Christmas Card list.

The Redskins filled a need with the No. 13 pick in the first round, selecting Brian Orakpo. The 6-3, 263-pound defensive end from Texas was the Big XII Defensive Player of the Year and won the Lombardi Award (best lineman) and the Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player). He had 11.5 sacks as a senior for the Longhorns to go along with 17.5 tackles for losses en route to being named an All-American.

The Redskins needed a strong pass-rusher on the end, someone who could come off the edge and get to the quarterback. If free-agent signee Albert Haynesworth performs as he should and clogs up the middle on the line of scrimmage, Orakpo should feast on offensive guards and tight ends, thanks to a quick burst out of his stance.

Orakpo has battled knee injuries his last two seasons at Texas, but he said Saturday, "I'm 100 percent right now. I'm healthy." He's also a bit of liability on run defense, but that wasn't Washington's problem last season.

A solid first-round pick for a franchise lacking in them under Daniel Snyder's ownership. Rather than going after the splashy quarterback -- the New York Jets traded up to No. 5 to take Sanchez -- the Redskins went after one of their pressing needs. The teams that are successful use the draft to fill needs, not make splashy picks or trade them away like they're handing out free bags of Skittles on Halloween.

Kudos to Washington for getting this one right. The Redskins only had five other picks in the entire draft. Here's a look at them:

Kelvin Barnes, 3rd Round, No. 80 overall (CB, 6-0, 187, University of Maryland)
Barnes is a hard-hitting corner perhaps best known for the hit he put on Cal's Jahvid Best this past fall to break up a pass. Best laid on the ground for several moments and vomited before being helped to his feet again. That sort of hit was reminiscent of former Redskin Sean Taylor, and given how the team cut Shawn Springs in the offseason, it makes sense that Washington would go after a young, hard-hitting corner.

Barnes missed six games last season with a broken shoulder blade, but says he's completey recovered and healthy. He had 85 tackles and six interceptions over his last two seasons for the Terrapins.

Cody Glenn, 5th Round, No. 158 overall (LB, 6-0, 244, University of Nebraska)
Glenn was converted from running back to linebacker the spring before his senior season, in part because of injuries that sidelined him for the majority of his sophomore and junior seasons. He performed well on the outside before finding himself suspended for the final four games of the season. While I don't begrudge the Redskins for taking a linebacker -- it was a need, given the team's offseason activities -- I'm not sure what the team's thinking taking someone who has a character red flag and has played so little at the position in which he was drafted.

A real head-scratcher, honestly -- even if it was in the fifth round and there's little guaranteed money involved.

Robert Henson, 6th Round, No. 186 overall (LB, 6-0, 240, TCU)
Known mostly for his speed, Henson will probably spend the bulk of his early career with the special teams unit, but again, I don't have a problem with the Redskins drafting a linebacker. Henson was a first team All-Mountain West selection as a senior after he had 73 tackles and t wo interceptions.

Should Henson break into the linebackers unit, his speed could be a tremendous asset, whether the team uses him to rush the passer or drop into pass coverage. It'll be interesting to see how Henson develops in the coming seasons.

Eddie Williams, 7th Round, No. 221 overall (RB, 6-1, 239, University of Idaho)
Williams earned Team MVP honors after catching 54 passes for 687 yards and six touchdowns. He tore his ACL late in the season, but the Redskins expect him to be fully recovered in time for July mini-camps. Williams is expected to audition for the team's fullback role, though with Mike Sellers on the roster, I can't help but wonder if Williams is a backup and possible special teams player.

Still, in the seventh round, there's no real harm here.

Marko Mitchell, 7th Round, No. 243 overall (WR, 6-4, 218, University of Nevada)
Mitchell caught 61 passes for 1,141 yards and 10 touchdowns this past season, but that's a little misleading, since Nevada runs a passing-oriented offense. He's a tall receiver -- something the Redskins don't have -- and is quick, but there are questions regarding his upper-body strength and his hands. I question this pick, given how Washington took two wideouts and a tight end in the 2008 draft, but again ... there can't be too much to complain about in the seventh round.

If nothing else, another special teams guy -- maybe a return man, if he can ever work on that hands issue.

All in all, the Redskins did a good job with the relatively few picks they had. I'd give the draft an overall grade of B, bordering on B+, even though I realize we won't know just how successful this draft was until a couple years down the road. I admit a lot of that grade has to do with the team not getting Sanchez, but the team did make some smart picks with the purpose of filling holes in the defense -- a defense that was actually fourth in the league last season.

The only thing that kept this from being an A draft? Well, the Glenn pick is a little perplexing, but I was also hoping the Redskins would select an offensive lineman. There is still an issue on the offensive line, both in terms of talent and depth, and I was hoping Washington would use the draft to address those issues.

All told, though, this year's draft wasn't the disaster I was expecting.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Redskins Want Sanchez

According to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, four NFL teams are looking at former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez leading up to this Saturday's NFL Draft. The Seattle Seahawks at No. 4, the Cleveland Browns at No. 5, the Washington Redskins at No. 13 and the New York Jets at No. 17 are all interested, according to league sources.

Though I have reservations with regards to Sanchez because he only had one full season as a starter in college, let's operate for a moment under the assumption that Georgia's Matthew Stafford will go No. 1 overall to the Detroit Lions. That would leave Sanchez as the best quarterback still availiable -- and leave a lot of intrigue in the first round.

The Seahawks picking up Sanchez at No. 4 makes sense; veteran Matt Hasselback isn't getting any younger, and he was injured for a large part of last season. The Jets also make a fair bit of sense, considering Brett Favre's second retirement leaves the cupboard bare behind center. New head coach Rex Ryan can talk all he wants about his defense, but the Jets will need to score points to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC East.

Sources tell ESPN the Jets could jump over everyone to draft Sanchez, though another scenario has the Browns trading Brady Quinn to the Jets before drafting Sanchez themselves. I don't like this scenario, since Cleveland just traded back into the first round to draft Quinn two years ago. If Cleveland wants to trade away a quarterback, why not Derek Anderson?

The Jets reportedly love Quinn, though, so this scenario might happen.

But onto the Redskins. One rumor has Washington trading up to the No. 4 slot, where Seattle is now, and drafting Sanchez. The Redskins would then take Jason Campbell, their first-round pick from 2005, and trade him to either the Vikings, Buccaneers or Jets in order to recoup lost draft picks.

I know what you're thinking: Washington? Trading for draft picks?! No way!

According to Paolantonio, Campbell's second-half dropoff last season concerned some in the Redskins front office, apparently enough so that they would entertain trading him (remember the Jay Cutler fiasco?). Campbell is also coming into the final year of his contract, and in order to keep him, the Redskins would have to offer him franchise-quarterback money.

A scary prospect in this economy, especially if 2010 turns out to be an uncapped year.

Still, if we're going to trade Campbell based on his "second-half dropoff," then why aren't the Redskins trying to trade away the rest of the team, too? Washington lost six of its last eight games after a 6-2 start to miss the playoffs, and while Campbell deserves his share of the blame, it can't all be on him.

Can it?

Let's say the Redskins draft Sanchez and trade away Campbell. Are the Redskins really that much better off? What about a pourous and injury-prone offensive line? Campbell was sacked 38 times last season, and I know Sanchez isn't as mobile as Campbell.

What about the defensive front's inability to form a decent pass rush? Okay, there's newly-signed Albert Haynesworth, but what if he just sits back and idles now that he has his big payday. Haynesworth doesn't address the team's need at defensive end, either.

Then there's the matter of offensive playmakers. Clinton Portis, Chris Cooley and Santan Moss did all they could last year, but the offensive line and those sack numbers hurt their production, too. Not to mention, those three second-round draft picks from a year ago not being on the field hurt. Are Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and Fred Davis going to contribute this year?

I know owner Daniel Snyder likes to go for the splashy move, and Sanchez would satisfy that craving. But for the Redskins, flashy in March and April doesn't always equal wins in the fall, and Sanchez, by virtue of being a rookie quarterback, would be no different. I realize the likes of Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger were successful in their rookie seasons, but they are the exception, not the rule.

For all I know, Sanchez might be a damn good quarterback in the NFL; I'm just not ready to give up on Campbell yet. If I were making the pick this Saturday (oh, how I wish ...), I'd rather go with someone like Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers or offensive tackle Michael Oher. I'd even be willing to trade up to take Texas defensive stud Brian Orakpo or LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson.

Hell, at this point I'd even take Brian Cushing, the linebacker out of USC. I'd much rather see the Redskins fill a gaping need than chase around the stud quarterback of the draft. To me, the risk of getting a quarterback that high in the first round is too great; sure, you might get the next Peyton Manning, but there's also a good chance you might get the next Ryan Leaf too.

Why don't you ask the Chargers how that one worked?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Redskins' 2009 Schedule Released

Given the buildup surrounding Tuesday's unveiling of the 2009 NFL schedule, one would think the occasion was worthy of a national holiday. Far be it for me to turn down a potential day off, and I realize the NFL is king of the sporting world, but was the schedule release in mid-April worthy of several hours of coverage and a SportsCenter Special on ESPN?

But I digress.

Let's examine Washington's schedule, shall we? The Redskins will open the 2009 season on Sunday, Sept. 13 with a trip to the Meadowlands to take on the New York Giants. This will be the second year in a row Washington as opened with a road game against the Giants; last season, in head coach Jim Zorn's debut, the Redskins looked listless in a 16-7 defeat.

From there, Washington will have a home game against St. Louis and a road contest against the Detroit Lions. Two easy wins, you say? Well, the Rams beat the Redskins at FedEx last season, and though Washington did beat the Lions, it was far too close a game, considering Detroit eventually limped its way to 0-16.

The bulk of Washington's out-of-division schedule this year will come from the NFC South and AFC West. That means the Redskins will have contests against Tampa Bay (Week 4), at Carolina (Week 5), at Atlanta (Week 9), against New Orleans (Week 13), against Kansas City (Week 6), against Denver (Week 10), at Oakland (Week 14) and at San Diego (Week 17).

The Panthers won the NFC South last season, going 12-4, while the Falcons went 11-5 and clinched a wild card spot behind rookie quarterback Matt Ryan and first-year head coach Mike Smith. Tampa Bay finished last season 9-7 under then-coach Jon Gruden, and the Saints went 8-8 to round out what became one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.

The AFC West? Ha, good one ...

Consider this: at 8-8, the Saints finished last in the NFC South last year. The Chargers, at 8-8, won the AFC West. Denver also went 8-8, losing its last three to hand the division to San Diego. How will Denver be this year? No telling, with that pourous defense and the fact that no one seems to know who the quarterback is now. The Raiders went 5-11 a year ago, while the Chiefs stumbled their way to 2-14.

Will the Chiefs be better this year with new coach Todd Haley and quarterback Matt Cassell? Maybe, but the AFC West is a division that's ripe for the picking -- not just for the Redskins, but the entire NFC East. If all four NFC East teams sweep the AFC West, which they should, that will place an even larger emphasis on the division games.

The Redskins will host the Eagles in a Monday Night game in Week 7, then travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in the new Texas Stadium in Week 11. Week 12 will see Washington, go to Philly, before the Redskins take on Monday Night again in Week 15 at home against the Giants.

Washington will close out its division schedule in Week 16, when the Cowboys invade FedEx Field in an NBC Sunday night contest (and guess what? No John Madden!).

Where Washington fits in the NFC East is unknown; all four teams in the division are in flux. The Redskis swept the Eagles last season, but haven't done so in consecutive years since 1982-83. The Giants swept the Redskins last season, and could very well do it again this year, while Washington and Dallas split the season series with each team winning on the road.

How will the Eagles deal with all their offseason losses? Will Donovan McNabb just say to hell with it and leave?

How will the Cowboys handle the release of Terrell Owens? It could be a case of addition by subtraction, but only if Roy Williams steps up as a true No. 1 wide receiver -- and if Tony Romo can avoid the inevitable December and January choke job.

The Giants appear to be in relatively good shape, aside from the gaping hole Plaxico Burress' release leaves. Eli Manning needs a big-play wideout for the Giants to be an upper-teir team capable of winning the Super Bowl.

Washington's 2009 opponents went a combined 95-112-1 last season, a winning percentage of .457. On paper, that makes for an easy schedule, on in which the Redskins could easily go 9-7, maybe even 10-6. But the NFL is a fickle animal, one in which teams constantly go from good to bad and vice versa.

Just ask the Falcons.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

QB Situation a Mess

So the Redskins wanted Jay Cutler. Shoe-in, right?

After all, the Redskins under Daniel Snyder's ownership have repeatedly shown an aptitude for seeking out high-priced talents and luring them to the nation's capital. The team did so as recently as last month, when they signed defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to a mega-deal that left the rest of the NFL shaking its head and thinking, "Too rich for our blood ..."

But a funny thing happened on the Cutler-to-Washington train ride. Apparently, the team was using Amtrak, because the deal derailed and the train wound up going to Chicago instead. The Bears got Cutler, while the Redskins were left wondering what happened and dealing with the reality of a potentially-fractured relationship with quarterback Jason Campbell.

Is Campbell the quarterback of the future for the Redskins? I don't know yet, but in their horribly-arranged attempt to snag Cutler, the Redskins have shown they don't think so. There were already rumblings of such, since Campbell's in the final year of his rookie deal and no one in the front office has brought up the idea of a contract extension.

Let's refer to that as "Red Flag #1."

Let's be honest here ... on the list of Things That Are Wrong With the Washington Redskins, quarterback isn't exactly high on the list. Sure, there are questions surrounding Campbell after his second full season as starter, but plenty of other issues persist that, if addressed, could help clear up the answer at quarterback.

Try offensive line, for one. The Redskins used nine offensive linemen last year due to injuries, and there was a significant dropoff once the team got past its starting core. Jon Jansen struggled with injuries all year, and though Stephon Heyer showed flashes in his place, there's still too much inconsistency and not enough quality bodies to protect Campbell.

The offensive line was at its best when blocking for running back Clinton Portis, but pass protection was an issue. Sure, Campbell could've used his mobility to avoid many of his 38 sacks last season, but the fact was a lot of the time, Campbell didn't have time to look down the field and throw the football.

When he did throw the ball, Campbell was lacking in weapons. Wideout Santana Moss and tight end Chris Cooley did what they could, but none of Washington's second-round picks last season -- wideouts Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas, along with tight end Fred Davis -- contributed. Kelly rarely saw the field, and Thomas and Davis were MIA.

See how Campbell does if those three can produce this season.

The defensive line was also a problem last year, even though it didn't directly affect Campbell's production. The Redskins only managed 24 sacks last season and had no pass rush to speak of, thanks in part to injuries and the staff moving Jason Taylor away from his natural position along the defensive line.

Theoretically, the acquisition of Haynesworth will fix that, but there's no telling if he'll be even half as productive as he was in his last two seasons in Tennessee, when he had 14.5 sacks and 91 total tackles.

One thing that does help, though, was the re-acquisition of Renaldo Wynn. Add him to Haynesworth and a healthy Phillip Daniels, and Washington's pass rush should be vastly improved in 2009.

But back to the issue at hand -- can Washington and Campbell still make it work? To his credit, Campbell has been the good soldier through all this, saying all the right things publicly and demonstrating an understanding that the NFL is a business and this sort of thing happens. You produce, the team keeps you. Don't produce, and you're likely to get shopped around.

I'd rather have Campbell than Cutler for that reason alone. Cutler doesn't seem to get it.

Not to mention, Campbell has played in three different offenses, with three different offensive coordinators, in three years. Give him a little continuity -- head coach Jim Zorn was the only high-ranking Redskins official to come out in public support of Campbell -- and who knows what the strong-armed Auburn product can do?

Mel Kiper's latest Mock Draft on has the Redskins taking USC quarterback Mark Sanchez with the 13th overall pick. I hope he's wrong, because that would be yet another signal the team doesn't believe in Campbell, despite not really giving him the fair shake his talent and first-round pick status deserves.

I'm not sure if Campbell is the answer in Washington behind center, but I don't think we've really been given a chance to see if he can be the answer yet, either. Going after Cutler was a mistake, failing to get him an even bigger one. Drafting Sanchez instead of a prime offensive or defensive line talent. Sure, Baylor's Jason Smith and Alabama's Andre Smith might be off the board by then, but there are other offensive linemen in this draft Washington can go after.

Hell, if Andre Smith is still on the board at No. 13 (Kiper has him going No. 6 to the Bengals), snatch him. Campbell needs protection, and that aging offensive line needs depth. How about we see what Campbell, who threw for 3,245 yards and 13 touchdowns (as opposed to just six interceptions) last season, can really do.

How about we give the kid a fair shake before throwing him away in favor of the shiniest toy some other kid has?