31 Days, 31 Teams: Washington Redskins
By Jeff Falconio
In most cases an 8-8 season would put a team third or possibly second in the division and at times is good enough to make the playoffs. In 2008 the Washington Redskins ended the year at .500 but finished last in the rugged NFC East.
The Redskins started 4-1 but crushing losses to St. Louis and Cincinnati coupled with an offense that disappeared in the second half of the season led to Washington's demise. Despite a 1,400 yard season from running back Clinton Portis and 1,000 receiving yards from Santana Moss the Redskins averaged only 12.5 points over the final 8 weeks. Not surprising, the Redskins went 2-6 in that stretch. Quarterback Jason Campbell never materialized, leading to speculation that he would not be the franchise quarterback but Campbell is back for another year.
While the offense struggled, Washington's defense was in lockdown mode for most of the season. The Redskins featured one of the league's stingiest units, finishing fourth in total defense and sixth in scoring. More of the same should be expected in '09 as the Redskins focused on defense in the offseason. Washington drafted defensive end Brian Orakpo, re-signed free agent cornerback DeAngelo Hall and reeled in the biggest fish of the free agent pond in defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.
Burning Question: Do the Redskins have enough offense? Portis put up Pro Bowl numbers last year behind a solid offensive line that got a little more beef with the acquisitions of Derrick Dockery and Jeremy Bridges. But Campbell needs to prove he can lead the team to the playoffs. Campbell was sidelined in the final month of Washington's push to the '07 playoffs and last year posted only 13 touchdowns. Washington can certainly run but without balance the Redskins will not be able to keep up with the other three thoroughbreds in the NFC East.
The Redskins will be better than last year if: Portis hammers out another 1,500 rushing yards and the Redskins flash some vertical game with speedsters Moss and Antwaan Randle El. Haynesworth earns his hefty paycheck by plugging up the middle of the defensive line, as the Redskins finish in the top five of the major defensive categories. With an offense that can score the Redskins return to the playoffs in '09.
The Redskins will be worse than last year if: Campbell puts up another year of mediocre numbers which in turn slows down Portis. Without any punch to the offense the defense is forced to win games. Problem is, with all the big contracts on defense, no one lives up to the hype and the Redskins finish with a losing record.