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Chain Reactions: Mike Shanahan's Washington Redskins Start 6-10

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The first year of the Mike Shanahan era is in the books and it didn't look all that different from Jim Zorn's final season. Was this a productive year for the Redskins?

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The real season for Washington Redskins fans is about to begin. Yes, I'm talking about the offseason, where the franchise shines. Shortly after the season mercifully ended Sunday in a 17-14 loss to the New York Giants, the question was asked: are the 6-10 Mike Shanahan-led Redskins headed in the right direction?  Many Redskins players feel like they are headed in the right direction and cite the close losses. Wait a minute? Didn't they have a bunch of close losses last year too?  

Newsflash: the NFL is set up for close games. The teams that win more of them are winners. The teams that don't are losers. I thought Mike Shanahan was supposed to be the difference in the tight games. Remember he's not Jim Zorn. The Redskins lost five games by three points or less, which seems so close ... except it's the exact number of three-points-or-less losses from a year ago. Also, the Redskins had four double-digit losses this season (14, 12, 31, 24), just as many as they had last year (10, 14, 33, 17). The team scored more points this year (302 to 266), but gave up more (377 to 336).

To be fair, they were playing a 3-4 defense with 4-3 personnel and were in a new offense.  However, those were choices they made just as they were asking fans if they were all in. Are they better? I would say just slightly, and a lot of work is needed.

Whether you are a Shanahan believer or not, he is the only alternative to pull the Redskins out of the abyss. Starting over is not an option - they must stay the stay the course at this point.  You have no other choice unless of course owner Dan Snyder reverts back to the guy that sent Marty Schottenheimer packing after year one. 

Where to Start?

The one thing that has proven the test of time in football is that you can win your fair share of games if you win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The offensive line showed some promise towards the end of the season. Rookie left tackle Trent Williams had a promising first season despite a shaky game Sunday. The other positions on the line are up for debate. Defensively, if you do not have a quality nose tackle, you don't have a 3-4 defense. Perhaps Anthony Bryant could be that guy. However, more young talent is needed on both sides.

What Else to Shop For?

Everything. Is that too harsh? Not really. Outside of tight ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis, as well as return man Brandon Banks, what do you feel good about? Ryan Torain could be the guy at running back, but only if he stays healthy.  A young quarterback is needed via the draft, either with the first-round or second-round pick. I do not feel too good about the kicking game (punter and kicker), and certainly the secondary needs another safety to play next to Laron Landry. Will Carlos Rogers and Rocky McIntosh be re-signed? A big wide receiver is needed to go along with the smurfs - is that guy Malcom Kelly or someone in the draft? Finally, no offense to Adam Carriker, Vonnie Holliday and Phillip Daniels, but younger defensive ends are needed.

Good/Bad Rex Grossman

Rex Grossman did some good things in the offense he clearly knew better than Donovan McNabb, hurling a pair of 300-yard passing games and seven touchdown passes. However, he was a turnover machine, with eight in three games. Rex had just a 55.6-percent completion percentage, a 81.2 quarterback rating and a 1-2 record. McNabb turned it over 16 times in 13 games and had only a 77.1 rating, but he had a higher completion percentage and averaged more yards per attempt 7.2 to 6.6. Grossman is at best a stopgap for the yet to be acquired quarterback of the future.


McNabb Days Numbered?

Mike Shanahan on McNabb's future: "Nothing out of the realm of possibility when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks." I got a better chance of winning Mega Millions than McNabb being quarterback as long as the Shanahan's are still in D.C. Anyway, the real question is whether they can get anything for him in a trade, or whether they ruined his market with the back and forth bickering with his agent? 

Albert's Back ... then get him out of here

Hey, hey, hey, it's ... okay, you get the point. Albert Haynesworth is back at Redskins Park. The suspension is over and No. 92 the big headache is at the park on Monday. The same questions mentioned with McNabb need to be asked about Albert. Is there a trade market for him? Get a bag a of donuts at this point and move on.


Santana Moss Has A Career Year in A Contract Year

Santana Moss had a career year - 93 receptions for 1115 yards and six touchdowns in his free agent year. To me, re-signing Moss is a no-brainer. Despite all the inconsistency at quarterback, he still made plays. The other thing that should make Moss attractive the Redskins is that he actually wants to stay with the franchise. 

Edsall Is A Boring Hire by the Terps

No one should understate what Randy Edsall did in building UConn into a respectable football program. The guy has a strong resume. However, after firing Ralph Friedgen, the word was the university was looking for a more dynamic coach that would excite the fan base and sell luxury boxes. Randy Edsall is not that guy. Mike Leach would have been. Athletic director Kevin Anderson just appears to have made the "my guy" hire, and did not really elevate the program from "good" to "great" as promised.