That's why I wasn't expecting this mostly negative write-up (from a few days ago) of the Redskins' offseason and their chances of competing this season by Bill Barnwell, formerly of Football Outsiders and now a writer for Grantland:
Redskins fans didn't get much out of the 2010 season, but they got a whole lot of close games. The Redskins were in 12 games decided by a touchdown or less, the first time since 2003 that a team was in so many close games in one year. They went 6-6, which means that Redskins fans can make the case that they were a few lucky bounces away from the playoffs, while people who hate the Redskins can point out that they were a few lucky bounces away from 3-13. In the four games that weren't close, Washington went 0-4 and was outscored by 81 points. The haters have it.I don't have a problem with that first paragraph. But in all seriousness, does anyone actually think the Redskins had a "typical Daniel Snyder offseason"? They may have signed Cofield, Bowen, Atogwe, and Moss, and they probably overpaid for a couple of them. But that's just four guys. The Redskins were apparently front-runners to sign several other high-priced free agents, including Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice, DeAngelo Williams, Braylon Edwards, and Cullen Jenkins, among several others. They resisted, instead deciding to target a few veterans at key positions while mostly focusing on a youth movement.
Of course, the Redskins then went and had a typical Daniel Snyder offseason. After clearing the decks by dumping their old, high-priced veterans and insulting them on the way out, they replaced them by overpaying new free agents. Instead of paying Albert Haynesworth, the Redskins now have the pleasure of giving former Giants tackle Barry Cofield and Cowboys backup end Stephen Bowen more money than they deserve. They devoted too much money to a defensive back, signing O.J. Atogwe away from the Rams as one of the few pre-lockout free agents to leave the market. They spent too much on one of their own, re-signing Santana Moss as he comes off a career year at 32. And then they finally traded Donovan McNabb and replaced him with god knows what.
Sure, the Skins signed Cofield and Bowen, but their first two picks in the draft were defensive players: Ryan Kerrigan and Jarvis Jenkins. Both were impressive in the preseason, though unfortunately Jenkins is now out for the season after tearing his ACL. And yeah, the Skins brought back Moss, while also not having an overly impressive group of receivers. But three of the receivers on the roster right now are Terrence Austin, Leonard Hankerson, and Niles Paul -- all of whom were selected in the last two drafts. Wouldn't the Redskins have been sharply criticized for throwing a ton of money to land Holmes or Rice? There's a decent chance that one of those three receivers turns into a solid receiving option, and at least for now, all three have a decent amount of upside.
I won't argue against the Atogwe signing, which probably won't look all that special if LaRon Landry also isn't able to stay on the field. But the Redskins also signed Josh Wilson for not a whole lot of money, while also drafting a couple of young guys (safety DeJon Gomes and cornerback Brandyn Thompson) who have made the team for now after strong showings.
The Redskins may very well struggle this season. If neither Rex Grossman nor John Beck plays competently, the Redskins could finish with 5 or 6 wins -- maybe fewer, depending on injuries. But the Skins also have an outside shot at a couple more wins than that, which isn't that bad considering the work Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen have done to remake the roster. Obviously there's a ton of work left to be done, and at some point the Redskins will need to address the quarterback position (probably in the upcoming draft). But I can't remember the last time the Redskins mostly stayed quiet during the offseason while instead choosing to get younger at several positions. Who knows if the youth movement will continue, but the point remains: the Redskins did not have a very Redskins-like offseason.