The Washington Redskins ended another futile campaign to bring home the Lombardi Trophy with a loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. It may have been another mediocre season for the Burgundy and Gold, but this 6-10 team managed to stir up enough national and local headlines to merit a whole column reviewing the ups and downs of Mike Shanahan's first year at the helm.
Here is said column. Enjoy the good, the bad, and the ugly from your 2010 Washington Redskins.
Most Valuable Player: Santana Moss (offense), London Fletcher (defense)
Moss quietly put together a career high in receptions, with 93 grabs for 1,115 yards and six touchdowns. Plus, he displayed how much the constant losing has hurt him with a money quote following a loss to Tampa Bay. Here's to hoping the Redskins re-sign him in 2011.
While LaRon Landry dominated the first half of the season, he missed the team's final seven games due to an Achilles injury. That means Fletcher, the team's vocal leader, was the top player on defense. Fletcher was a tackling machine and adapted to the 3-4 scheme a little better than the other linebackers.
Most-Maligned Player: Stephon Heyer/Joey Galloway
Heyer was always good for that timely false start infraction that killed many a drive. Pass protection wasn't his strong suit either. His best game came when he moved from guard to tackle. Maybe that's a transition coaches should think about.
Galloway was probably the most hated Redskin of all-time during his 10 game stint. The strangest part? The coaching staff seemingly ignored his lack of talent, which was so apparent to the rest of us until he had played 10 games.
From Homer McFanboy:
It's not his fault the coaching staff continues to let him take the field though. Galloway is simply doing what is asked of him - which is apparently standing around and letting other people do all of the work.
Best Player over 34: Vonnie Holliday/Fletcher
The Redskins had the oldest roster in the NFL so why not celebrate that by adding a superlative to commemorate the best of the old guys. Holliday was one of the better defensive linemen on the team. He had 29 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and was great as a gap defender. Fletcher is still a tackling machine. He had 136 takedowns this year and has now played in over 200 consecutive games. He hasn't had fewer than 116 tackles since 2001. How does he keep up that pace every year?
Worst player over 34: Galloway
Galloway makes the list twice and neither time in a good way. Again, from Homer McFanboy:
If you think about it, the Redskins aren't even one dimensional on offense. They're half dimensional, if there is such a thing. They have no real running game and they only have half of a passing game because McNabb only has two legitimate options to choose from because Shanahan insists on pretending Joey Galloway and Roydell Williams are capable of being productive.
Best Performance: DeAngelo Hall's four interception game vs. the Bears
Hall's jersey went to Canton for picking Jay Cutler's pocket four times. It also spearheaded his upcoming trip to the Pro Bowl as the Redskins lone representative. But Cutler would still throw it at him every time. Just ask him.
Worst Performance: 59-28 loss to the Eagles on Monday Night Football
Michael Vick's six touchdown performance netted him ridiculous fantasy points and the number one moment on ESPN's Monday Night Football top 10 of the year. The Redskins had no answers for Vick all night and the loss signaled the second half of the season wasn't going to be smooth sailing.
Most Intriguing Storyline: Donovan McNabb's contract
Would he get one after being benched against the Detroit Lions? He signed one shortly afterwards, but then it was discovered the contract was simply $3.5 million worth of lip service to get the media and the fan base off the organization's back. McNabb was benched for Rex Grossman weeks later.
Now the Redskins couldn't keep McNabb even if they wanted to because he isn't worth the $10 million contract option they would have to pay him if he were to remain on the roster in 2011.
Least Intriguing Storyline: Albert Haynesworth's conditioning test
Did anyone care how quickly Haynesworth ran some 25-yard sprints? I sure didn't. ESPN sure did.
Best Quote: Hall
Remember when he said this is his defense after Andre Johnson torched the secondary in week two?
"That ain't how it's going to be from here on out. I'm going to be wherever the [expletive] ball's going. Wherever the receiver's going, that's where the [expletive] I'm going. That's the bottom line. That's something we got to do in order to win games. So that's what's going to happen."
"It don't matter what [Haslett] say. It don't matter what he say. This my team. This my defense. So I'm [going to] follow the receivers around. That's what I'm [going to do]. If we got to do that to win games, that's what we do."
Breakout Season: Anthony Armstrong
Armstrong averaged nearly 20 yards a catch. The former Intense Football Leaguer said he felt he exceeded his own expectations this year with a 44 catch, 871 yard season. All I know is he's a lot better than Antwaan Randle El. And he had this great moment after the win against Dallas in week one.
Biggest Disappointment: Kyle Shanahan
He came into the season portrayed as the offensive genius who would put the Redskins over the top. He ends the season as the most hated man in D.C. sports. Shanahan the Younger was largely responsible for burying McNabb on the depth chart and frequently ignoring the fact that any good offense must be two dimensional.
The #Redskins' 605 pass attempts set a new franchise record (592 in '88). So did their 349 completions. 4,261 net pass yds is 2nd highest.
All well and good, but the Redskins were 30th in rushing offense and 31st in rushing attempts with 351. Mike, it might be time to evaluate Kyle for the disappointing offensive output.
Gutsiest Player: Brandon Banks playing in every game after undergoing knee surgery
You could see it in the locker room every week. Banks' knee was hampering his ability to move around freely. However, that didn't stop him from finishing fourth in kickoff return yards and third in punt return yards. Banks is a player to build around.
Best Game: 13-7 win over Dallas
It kicked the Shanahan era off on a good note. Alex Barron held Brian Orakpo on the game's final play to cancel out Tony Romo's game-winning touchdown pass, and D.C. was in euphoria. Short-lived success, but boy was it sweet to beat Dallas on prime time.
Biggest hit: Lorenzo Alexander on Jorrick Calvin
Most Punishing run: Ryan Torain over Quintin Mikell
This was probably the play of the year for me. Torain broke countless tackles during the season, but none stand out with the brutality of this collision.
Worst Cardiovascular endurance: Tie Donovan McNabb/Albert Haynesworth
Take your pick. Haynesworth couldn't pass a sprint test until the 10th day of camp, while McNabb couldn't catch his breath long enough to run the two-minute drill in Detroit. Shenanigans from the Shanahans? I think so.
Best Fan Reaction: Fans cheering as the first quarter ended in the Eagles game.
Down 28-0 after a quarter of play on prime time television to a division rival, Redskins fans applauded the end of one of the the worst quarters in the organization‘s time in the NFL. Making history for all the wrong reasons wasn't what we all had in mind just hours after McNabb signed his not-so-mega deal.
Most scathing comments: Rodney Harrison after a 31-7 loss to the Giants.
From Rodney Harrison on NBC tonight re: the Redskins, "They are consistently bad at all 3 phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. Offensively, they're turning the ball over...Defensively, they're scared, they're soft....[Guys] are planning vacations & saying, 'I don't want to play anymore. I want to protect myself four next year'."
Harsh words from Harrison, but after spending some years in New England, the rugged safety knows what it takes to win. The Redskins didn't this year and that's why they are heading into the offseason with plenty to improve upon.