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Om Field: 2010 Redskins: Great Expectations?


Burgundy & Gold Jacket
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Apr 11, 2009
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Montclair, VA
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Virginia Tech
2010 Redskins: Great Expectations?
July 14, 2010

T minus 14.

With training camp just two weeks away, focus is rapidly turning to the micro—can Donovan McNabb still move; who will start at free safety; how quickly can the offensive line gel and adjust to the new schemes, etc. The obvious macro question, of course, remains ...

How will the Washington Redskins do this year?

If you'll indulge me a minute, allow me to answer with a question:

What is a reasonable expectation?

Given their circumstances—coming off an ugly 4-12 season, replacement of their head coach, general manager and (apparently) entire modus operandi, installation of new systems on both sides of the ball, new quarterback and multiple additional new players—how exactly should one define “success” for the 2010 Redskins?

By wins alone? By some subjective assessment of "progress?"

Scenario 1: the Redskins start fast, say 5-3, stumble a bit down the stretch as the league gets a book on them, but claw out a tough win in the finale to go 9-7 and grab the final playoff spot. They then lose a lackluster road Wildcard game to the Eagles, 19-10.

Scenario 2: the Redskins start slow, say 3-5, struggling to find their new identity, but recover to go 4-4 over the tough second half of the season, including two solid wins against good teams to close out the year, and finish 7-9.

Sitting here today, which scenario would you define as more successful, hopeful, preferable ... ?

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Um, that wasn't really the focu---oh what the hell.

You're right. The Eagles suck. :)
I'm on the "trending upward at the end of the season" bandwagon, myself. For the last 2 decades, with a couple of exceptions, this has NOT been a team that finished strong. Even when they had something to play for, they often didn't finish strong (see 2008 when a couple of wins down the stretch against less than top flight NFL teams would have meant a playoff birth for the Men of Zorn).

I'd like to see a fast start but I am not going to expect it. What I do expect is competent play from guys who are obviously prepared. If I see that to start the season and it gradually translates into wins down the road with solid team chemistry by the holidays, I will call this season a win and lay heavier expectations on our Burgundy and Gold clad Heroes next summer.
Nice article Om. I just want to see a professional organization. A coaching staff that isn't near the bottom of the league--from the HC to position coaches.

Most importantly, I want to see the "losing is okay" atmosphere disappear from all over the team.

And I want to see more than just a few players who actually look like they are giving their best effort. Players who actually care about winning games. I don't believe that is asking too much.
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Good article Om. I'm glad others caught you on that "Scenario 1" loss to the Eagles in the playoffs......a loss to Philly in the playoffs would leave a bitter taste in my mouth no matter what :(

But I agree that finishing around the .500 mark, as long as we did so with some nice wins at the end of the year (not like we limped in during 2008), would be acceptable. Right now, I'm looking at year 2 if Shanahan as the one where we start to make some serious playoff noise (meaning, getting there and winning a game or two).

I think the comforting thing right now is that Shanahan should have the luxury of TIME to make his mark here. He is 58 right now, as opposed to Gibbs being 64 when he came back. That six years might not appear like much, but I think it means a lot. I don't know if it was reasonable to expect Gibbs was going to stay longer than his five year deal. After the 2005 playoff run our hopes were raised that we could build on it toward something special, but the 2006 disaster was crushing and gave serious doubts as to whether we were going to be able to do any serious playoff damage under Gibbs.

Would people be satisfied if Shanahan approximates the same level of success that Coughlin has had in NY? I think the answer would probably be yes.

Curiously, I feel that if we kept Campbell at QB, I don't think people would be happy with 8-8.
Om, I wondered, in perusing your list of categories of expected team performance, if one more category might be included as a loose-cannon-the "unexpected turnaround"? I'm thinking of, as an example, the Bengals of last season-they came off a 4-11-1 season to go 10-6 and finally lose to the Jets in the Wild Card playoffs. I'm not suggesting this as a likely outcome for the Redskins but the possibility exists and, judging from comments I've been reading that trend toward the optimistic, I wonder if this might be what some are envisioning as a hoped-for result of the changes that have taken place thus justifying it as an expectation category.

I identified with what I took as an emotionally "safe" conclusion of permitting a noticeable improvement in the team's "direction" to be an adequate predictor of future success that would be sufficient to ameliorate fears of a continuation of a decade-long string of "hopes raised, hopes dashed" seasons. I may be inaccurately imputing to you a motive that I have and if so I apologize.

Personally, continuing the thought of the previous paragraph and juggling hope with my compulsion toward framing things in the light of "harsh reality", I have a window of what might be called "sufficient performance" of between 7 and 9 wins, 10 wins being not unreasonable but for me uncomfortably optimistic and 6 being disappointing but not quite enough to throw in the proverbial towel.
Om, I wondered, in perusing your list of categories of expected team performance, if one more category might be included as a loose-cannon-the "unexpected turnaround"?

Absolutely, serv.

I actually edited out a sentence or two (I tend to wordy, as some may have noticed) in the bullet-point about "crisis mode" that talked about how an early big win against Dallas, or early success in general, could lead to a "confidence" factor that impacts the entire season's arc.

If the Redskins are going to have a breakthrough turnaround season like the Bengals did last year, that is almost a requirement---teams build their character and form a synergy as they win; classic positive feedback loop. I would not be one bit surprised to see this team take on such a vibe and be in the playoff hunt the last couple of weeks.

Thing is, given all the changes coupled with a tough second half schedule, I will also not be surprised at all to seem the working hard to finish .500.

Either way, "how" they come home in terms of professionalism, passion, cohesion ... that's what I'll be watching for most closely.
I think a 9-7, even a 10-6 record with a playoff berth is very realistic. I think the team will start out 3-3, and then start to gel in November. As long as the team is in contention for a spot in December, I will be satisfied this year. 8-8 is the minimum for me to consider this year a success, anything less will be disappointing as far as I am concerned.
I agree. 4-12 last year but to be honest we could have won 2 or even 3 of those games. The Chiefs and The Lions and even the Superbowl champion Saints could have went down in defeat to us. Not to mention the first game against Dallas that we lost 7-6and the 2nd game against the Eagles that we lost in overtime. We have a better QB, O-line and running game. A head coach and coaching staff that is miles ahead of last year. I think 9-7 and a 3-3 division record is not to much to ask. I think 10-6 is reasonable too.

What do you'll think?
Skinsfan76, the problem with using the "we could've won xxx number of games more easily" argument is that you also have to look at the games that you won that you could have lost. Of our four wins, only the Oakland one was convincing, and even in that one (like the Denver one) we were a bit fortunate that their QB got injured mid-game.

Having said that, I do think our performance in the first portion of the schedule was flat-out inexcusable, and I do blame it on a team that looked unprepared, and much of that had to fall on Zorn.

I do think that Shanahan will have this team at the respectable level this year but I'm not expecting much beyond that in Year 1. Remember, we've been down this road before a few times recently. Brought in Marty in 2001 and that started abysmally. And then Gibbs in 2004 (yes, he'd been out of the league for a while) with a QB who people figured had something left in the tank. Count me optimistic, but cautious.
Bump for end-of-season.......were expectations met?
I think it's clear Om was expecting more out of McNabb than we got. Maybe someday Om will get that franchise QB he's (we've) been desperately craving all these years.

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