If you look at the Redskins' depth chart, there aren't a ton of exciting, well-known names -- especially at quarterback. The roster is filled with youth and inexperience. But for once, the Skins are actually building an actual roster, you know, with things like talent and depth. Intriguing strategy, fellas.
The best sign of all seems to be that Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen are the guys running the show, not Daniel Snyder. There haven't been any particularly flashy moves made, and the Skins also got rid of their two biggest headaches, Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb. The McNabb acquisition seemed like a Snyder move; going into the season with John Beck as the starter does not.
But this season really isn't about Beck. It is, in a sense, I guess. Shanahan keeps going on and on about Beck's potential, which may be necessary to keep fans involved and coming to games. Fans don't seem to be as interested in going to training camp this year, which can partly be tied to having Beck and Rex Grossman as the top two quarterbacks on the roster. But that's more of a combination of things like the lockout, unbearable weather, a lack of marquee names, Snyder backlash, and the fact that the Redskins have been poorly run for a long time. It's a little early to overreact about that, but it's difficult to expect fans to keep showing up when the team has been so inept. Oddly enough, even though Beck appears to be the likely starter, this would be the perfect time to support the Redskins. They drafted well and didn't do anything ridiculous in free agency. Isn't that what fans want?
I'm not buying all of the Beck stuff. Sure, there's a chance that he plays competently enough, but there's an even smaller chance that he actually plays well. Shanahan has to know that; then again, maybe I don't understand just how big Shanahan's ego is. But even if Beck does OK, the Redskins are still going to be a bad team. The ceiling is probably the record they had last season, 6-10, though they're probably a win or two worse than that. Regardless, they're still going to pick a quarterback in the first round next year, and if Beck (or even Grossman, somehow) proves that he can fill in without doing a terrible job, he'll give that young quarterback a little more time to mature. That's not the most ideal strategy, but Shanahan and Allen certainly discussed something along those lines heading into last year's draft. Did they want to take a quarterback then? It's possible. But they also could have looked at the options, saw that several quarterbacks were being taken way too early, and decided to go in a different direction. That's the type of thinking that could eventually turn the Redskins around. That is, if the other players they drafted are actually good.
I'm not saying that Shanahan, or anyone in the organization, wants to intentionally lose games or tank. But there's nothing the Redskins could have done to not be a bad team this season -- even if they had signed Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Matt Hasselbeck, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, or any other combination of the top free agents available. That would have been more of the same, and the Redskins still would have finished no better than 8-8.
Whether or not the Skins are actually rebuilding remains to be seen. The defense seems improved and should be better at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but the offense has plenty of question marks -- not just at quarterback, but also on the offensive line. Again, it's still a bit early. But if they do go through this season and find that they've put together a decent roster filled with young, improving talent, well, then it will only look better if/when they're able to add a young, skilled quarterback to the mix.
But first things first: Let's find out which of these young guys can actually play.