Thursday, February 12, 2009
Washington Redskins Off-Season Needs
Looking at my beloved Skins, I worry. Jim Zorn really does not have the personnel he needs to run his offensive scheme, and the team is aging. They did draft a few decent players last year, but the overall draft was as incompetent as the man who ran it. I think the Redskins need to start gutting their roster now if they truly are committed to Zorn and his beliefs. But, is Zorn a West Coast guy who learned under Mike Holmgren, or a Ground Chuck guy who played under Chuck Knox? I personally cannot see a West Coast scheme work in the NFC East, where a team must be tough and ready to rumble. Yet, even if the Skins decide to stay smashmouth, do they have the guys who can stay healthy to accomplish their goals? This is the time for Zorn to answer the question.
1. FIRE VINNY CERRATO! - The fact that this guy even holds a job in any function whatsoever is dumbfounding. No other team would hire him, as shown after the Redskins fired him the first time. The main reason the team has fallen on hard times is because Cerrato is a horrible G.M. Charley Casserly is truly a Redskin, having started out as an unpaid assistant with the team in his youth. He learned from Hall Of Fame coaches and Bobby Beatherd. His last job was with the Houston Texans, where he was slammed by some pundits for drafting Mario Williams over Reggie Bush and Vince Young. How's that working out? Dan Snyder claims to be a true Redskin fan. If this is true, then he understands the Redskins are about tradition. Get Casserly in camp and take Cerrato deep into the woods with a shotgun.
2. Draft Defense - Cerrato made huge mistakes in wasting draft picks on a tight end not interested in football, and a wide receiver unhealthy and slower than a lineman. These moves bit the Redskins in their rear all season long in 2008. The Skins need to pay attention to the line of scrimmage, and especially on the defensive side of the ball. They have 5 D-linemen and 3 defensive backs up for contract, and there are no guarantees on who will return. Pete Kendall is also a free agent on an aging offensive line. If the Redskins allow Cerrato to continue drafting poorly, the Redskins will continue falling short.
3. Keep stockpiling Offensive Linemen - Look, the Redskins have one of the best offensive line coaches ever on the team in Joe Bugel. Just look at the juggling job Joe has done over the last few years with his oft-injured bunch to see what I mean. Take advantage of his wisdom while you can is my motto. There is a very good chance the Redskins won't be able to get a few guys that could help immediately in LB Rey Maualuga or CB/ S Malcolm Jenkins. It will probably come down to CB Vontae Davis or OT Jason Smith as the Redskins pick at 13. DE Brian Orakpo is also a possibility. Getting Smith is a sound move. They have Heyer looking as the heir apparent to Jansen at RT, and Smith could be the guy to learn behind Samuels at LT. It might not be the sexy pick, and you have the Cerrato factor destroying you, so that means the Redskins better hope to get someone later in the draft if they go another route. Whether they will get lucky and have a Chad Rinehart fall into their laps again remains to be seen, but not very likely.
4. Get Better On Special Teams - Both kicking jobs have been a mess for years. Cerrato showed his brilliance by wasting a draft pick on a punter who ended up being cut early on. They also had one of the worst placekickers in the game last year, which may have cost the team a win or two. The return game is nothing to fear either. Their top special team players are All Pro Snapper Ethan Albright and Wide Receiver James Thrash. Albright is 38 years old in a few months, and Thrash reaches 34 in two weeks. Their other top performer, Linebacker Khary Campbell, is a free agent and 30 years old. The entire unit needs help, and that will only come from good drafting and free agent signings.
5. Get Another Running Back - Clinton Portis is on his last legs. Legs that cannot last 16 games carrying the ball anymore. Ladell Betts will be 30 soon, which is old by NFL standards for this position. Betts has also had his injury issues. It would bode well for the Redskins to get a young kid they can groom and bring along this year. You have to run the ball to win it all, and the Redskins have that ability to do so. Dividing carries between Portis and Betts seems to be the best formula for 2009, assuming they stay healthy, but the team needs to keep an eye on the future also.
There is talent on this team, albeit much of it is aging. The team showed a glimpse of what they were capable of last year until injuries derailed their slim hopes. If Dan Snyder is convinced Zorn has the plan needed to win, then he has to get Jim the support he needs. Having insufficient support in the form of Vinny Cerrato will keep the Redskins in the division cellar. There are important pieces in place on both sides of the ball, but having someone in the front office with the ability to recognize and fill the gaps is a must.