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Blognostications

2011 - Week 1 vs NY Giants

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Blognosticator - Anne the Fan, Chief Blognosticator 2010

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, and Hail to the Redskins! As I write this post, the protracted wrangling over the CBA is a distant memory. Teams have pared their rosters down to 53 players and played the last of their preseason games. The Saints and Packers will play in the inaugural game on Thursday night, with the rest of the league to follow suit only a few short days later. Football is finally back!

While most of us spent the offseason fretting over changes to free agency and arguing over the new kickoff rules, Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen were busy implementing year two of their five-year plan. As a result, on opening day this Sunday, an estimated 52 percent of the Redskins’ starters will be different from opening day a year ago. 52 percent! Given this rather high number, this post will focus on a few of the personnel changes, with some discussion of the Giants game at the end.

OFFENSE

QB. As I write this, Shanahan has just announced that Grossman will be the team’s starting quarterback, thus ending the burgeoning QB controversy. In Grossman’s favor, his passer rating of 92.3 was better than Beck’s 74.7; moreover, Grossman knows the system, has the experience to be an effective game manager and is extremely confident in his abilities. He’s a good, safe choice.

OL/RB. The other day, someone asked me the names of our starting offensive line and my first thought was, “I don’t know and I don’t even care any more.” So yes, you could say that I’m more than a little tired of the annual body shuffling. The situation reminds me of my early experiences with the Rubik’s Cube: Every time I would start to line the colors up properly, my brothers would sneak into my room, peel off all of the colored stickers and switch them around. While this current group of players appears to have promise, I still believe that they need to play together in this system a while longer before they can become a dominant unit. And while the signing of Hightower at RB appears so far to have been an inspired choice, his success will depend at least in part upon the success of the offensive line.

DEFENSE

DL/LB. I know that some folks will disagree, but to me, the defensive line is looking better than it did last year. Most notably, the players seem to be getting into the backfield more often; if nothing else, it’s fun for the casual fan like me to watch them chase the quarterback around. As for the linebackers, it’s been interesting to watch Kerrigan take on his new position; he’s shown perseverance and improvement, and even registered 2 sacks in the preseason. (Speaking of sacks, the defense has already logged 15 sacks; compare this to the 2010 totals of 9 preseason and 29 regular season sacks.)

Secondary. My enthusiasm over the addition of Atogwe has been tempered by concern over whether Landry is going to be able to get back on the field any time soon. Still, Doughty is a solid player and reliable replacement; I confess to having a soft spot in my heart for him after he was saddled with the terrible burden of replacing the irreplaceable Sean Taylor. As for the cornerbacks, I always liked Rogers and was actually quite sorry to see him go. Wilson, however, has demonstrated during the preseason that he can (gasp) intercept the passer.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Gano was 7 for 7 during the preseason, including a 48-yarder; plus, he made all of his PATs. Talk about consistency. And Banks is the first return man who’s been able to make me forget about Mike Nelms. The guy has scored at least 3 touchdowns since he entered the league last year and we need players who can put points on the board.

GAME PREDICTION

Before I make my prediction about the game, let me just say one thing: I really hate the fact that the Giants own us. Did you know that since the 2001 season, the Giants have won 15 out of 20 games against the Redskins by a combined score of 381 to 194? (Amazingly, not one of our wins has occurred during the first of the two matchups.) When I think Redskins-Giants, the first thing that I think of is the humiliation of the Swinging Gate game. So I really, really, really want the Redskins to win Sunday’s game.

But (and it pains me to say this), I don’t think we will. Yes, I know that the Giants have been inconsistent during the preseason. But a lot of good teams have trouble during the preseason. I also know that the Giants have suffered a significant number of injuries. But remember this: Osi and Goff may be out but Tuck and Kiwanuka are still in. And Manning is still handing off to Jacobs and Bradshaw and throwing to Manningham and Nicks. I think – actually, I’m certain – that we will play hard and look competent. I think that we will prove to be a worthy opponent and that it will be clear at the end of the game that we are a team that is slowly improving. Still, I just don’t believe that we’re good enough to beat the Giants. I hate having to say that. I want to pick the Redskins, but I’m a realist by nature (OK, a pessimist actually) so I can’t. The best that I can do is pick them to lose a close game that provides good reason for the fans to be cautiously optimistic that the worst days of the franchise may in fact be over.

Giants 24, Redskins 20. Sorry. And Hail.
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