The Washington Redskins are the 2010 Redeem Team. Donovan McNabb needs to prove he is a Super Bowl-caliber winning quarterback, Coach Mike Shanahan has to prove he was not just riding John Elway and Terrell Davis’s coattails for two years, and a host of veterans want to prove they have not yet passed their prime.
From the feel of these story lines, this team has a lot to play for and the NFL pundits are going to be hyping those stories as we all eagerly wait for the start of the regular season (and the focus of the football world once again).
Of course, once the regular season begins, the reality sets in. Star defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth came into camp 20 pounds lighter than the season before. This is great news, right? Not quite, Shanahan ran him through a couple of 300-yard gassers and the lighter $100-million man failed miserably. Was this a show by a coach trying to establish his control of the team? Yes, and while this makes for great opening day fodder for old school players looking for nostalgic toughness, this is not a good sign for a team trying to make the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 (which already warrants a year of doubt).
Looking for more bad news? The only two star-quality receivers on this team are tight ends. Santana Moss is not the explosive playmaker he once was, even if his numbers were halfway decent in 2009 (keep in mind those numbers were inflated by a single game, his 10-reception, 178-yard performance in Week 3 against the Lions). Let’s face it, he only scored three touchdowns. Last season’s pair of youths are nothing more than bottom feeders on an NFL depth chart, combining for just 50 receptions, 672 yards, and three touchdowns. Veterans Joey Galloway and Bobby Wade may be recognizable names to casual football fans, but they are not true talents on the field any longer (some would argue Wade never was).
I have no clue as to what to expect from the running backs. Clinton Portis came in a few pounds lighter and supposedly showed some of that classic quickness he once terrorized the league with, Larry Johnson is being given another shot after a promising couple of games with the Bengals, and Willie Parker is not a terrible third option for a running back (just don’t give him the ball at the goal line).
Basically, the NFC East is once again going to be an incredibly compelling division. There is the Redeem Team (Redskins), The Team of Destiny (Dallas Cowboys), the quiet New York Giants, and a Philadelphia Eagles team looking to start anew with a Kevin Kolb.