Today we exchange Q&A with Anthony Brown of Redskins Hog Heaven, the Washington Redskins football blog here on Bloguin.
Here are our questions about the Skins and Anthony's answers:
Q1) Your OL has had so many troubles for quite some time. Can you give us a recap and tell us how it is going to get fixed?
A) There were holes on the line everywhere after Joe Gibbs left (2007). The replacements haven't panned out. RT Jon Jansen gave way to Todd Wade, Stephon Heyer and Jammal Brown. RG Randy Thomas gave way to Jason Fabini, Todd Wade and Artis Hicks. C Casey Rabach should have been replaced this season by a younger, stronger player. LG Derrick Dockery doesn't seem to fit Mike Shanahan's zone blocking scheme. He's been replaced by journeyman Cory Lichtensteiger. First round draft pick Trent Williams follows six-time Pro Bowler Chris Samuels at left tackle. I say "follows" because nobody replaces Samuels. G Chad Rinehart (2008 Draft) didn't pan out and was released this year. Nobody picked him up.
The Redskins line couldn't be fixed in one year. Washington didn't (still doesn't) have enough draft picks to backfill with well selected young players who can grow into starters over two or three seasons. If the Redskins can mimic the Patriots or Eagles and shed players for draft picks, we might have a shot at a long-term solution.
Q2) Is there anyone healthy that can run the ball for the Redskins?
A) If you mean at the level of Clinton Portis, the answer is no. If you mean warm bodies who can come in and fill a role, then yes, absolutely. I think Keiland Williams is a find. He has been effective as a rushing and receiving threat. Shanahan went away from him in the Vikings game. I'm not sure why. Shanahan likes James Davis, dropped by Cleveland, who was pressed into action on short notice last week. Back-up FB Darrel Young has run at tailback.
I have faith in Shanahan on this one. He has a well-earned reputation for taking just a guy and turning him into a serviceable tailback.
Q3) Is Santana Moss helping this team in the passing game?
A) Moss is healthy and is having his best season in two years. Moss is trending to 90 receptions for 1100+ yards. The entire offense is scoring-challenged, so Moss is looking at five or fewer touchdowns.
The theory behind the McNabb trade was mobility to cancel out O-line issues and the arm to lift a below-average receiving corps. The passing game lives or dies with him.
Q4) DeAngelo Hall exploits QBs in Cover2 underneath but otherwise cannot play on an island in man to man. Hall got lots of highlight reel exposure for his INTs of Cutler, but isn't he a defensive liability when it counts?
A) Eh. True, but not the big deal people make of it. Hall is the only real ball hawk in the secondary. That is his primary role in a defense designed to pressure quarterbacks into bad throws. S LaRon Landry's absence hurts the entire defense. Brett Favre was not pressured into bad throws and the Vikings game plan called for him to throw less anyway. Thus, fewer opportunities for Hall to hawk the ball.
Against the Eagles, the 'Skins were still reeling from the McNabb pull in the Lions game and the two weeks of incredible excuses for it. I suspect they were still reeling from that going into that Monday night debacle.
The 'Skins can scheme for Hall's flaws. Critical injuries (Landry, Rodgers) are killing us.
Q5) Will the real Albert Haynesworth please stand up? Is the system such a mismatch that it marginalizes his skills? Can't he play DE in a 3-4? What is going on?
A) He lacks confidence. Shanahan and Jim Haslett envisioned Haynesworth as a nose tackle in the 3-4. Big Al says he doesn't have the talent to play nose tackle as well as journeyman D-lineman Ma'ake Kemoeatu. If Indiana Jones can be afraid of snakes, Big Al can be afraid of double-teaming offensive linemen, I guess.
Haynesworth and the coaches have found their level. Big Al plays DE in the 4-3 packages and on third down in pass rushing situations. He's still good at that. It's not the Redskins base defense, however, so Haynesworth is off the field for over half the defensive snaps. Make note that we don't see Big Al sprawled on the ground gasping for air as much as last year.
Q6) Shanahan, from our perch, seems to have made some big boners this season. Is he a retread who is 2 decades removed from what works, or does he have another title in him?
A) Look at this from our side. Shanahan is exponentially better than Snyder and Cerrato. Nothing he's done has been worse than those guys. I'm not comfortable with the Redskins going away from East Coast smashmouth Beastball, but I'm old. West Coast, spread offense passing is as modern and those handheld thingies and Shanahan is a thought leader in that offense. The 3-4 alignment is the defense to throw at 21st century offenses. The 2010 Redskins are what you get when you match new schemes on both sides of the ball with aging, hold-over talent.
But Shanahan has set the table for a 10-win season next year when he rolls more of his guys onto the roster. I'm confident enough to predict that now.
Q7) How do the Giants attack the Redskins on offense and defense?
A) Go through the middle. On (Redskins) offense, the guards and center are vulnerabilities. They have to get to the linebackers for the running back du jour to get four or five yards per rush. On passing plays, they've had match-up problems with strong front fours so the pocket collapses about a half-second sooner than McNabb needs to step into his throw. That's a challenge.
Washington's defense couldn't stop the Vikings on the ground even when Adrian Peterson was on the bench. Now here you come with Jacobs and Bradshaw. Need I say more?
Q8) Final Score?
A) I've given up on predicting outcomes for these guys. I leave that to my Magic 8 Ball now. ("As I see it, yes") I am sure of two things. First, the Redskins will be competitive and the game close with the outcome uncertain until late in the fourth quarter. Second, the Giants won more than three games this season, therefore we are going to split with you. I don't figure that to happen in Jersey. Although...Carlos Rogers says that FedEx Field now has the feel of an away game for the players. So maybe the Redskins will be victorious on their second visit to the New Meadowlands (beat the Jets 16-11 in exhibition game three).