2010: 6-10, Tied for last place in the NFC East
Better or Worse in 2011: Worse, like maybe historically worse
This was a quiet off season for the Washington Redskins, who are usually good for at least one over paid free agent every year. It’s going to be a tough year in Washington, the Redskins are going to be in contention for the worst record in the league this season.
At least that means they could end up with the first overall pick in next years draft, which will land them a man considered to be one of the best quarterbacks to enter the league since Peyton Manning over a decade ago, Andrew Luck.
Something Redskins fans will be reminding themselves of plenty of times this fall.
Important Acquisitions: Ummm Tim Hightower? Not really sure that counts as important but it’s kinda all I got here
Toughest Player Losses: Donovan McNabb (Stop laughing, he’s still better than Rex Grossman or John Beck)
Key Player: Chris Cooley, nothing helps out bad quarterbacks like a good tight end.
The “If” Factor: Only one, too bad it’s “if they can score double digits in any game this year”
2010 Offensive Ranking: 8th Passing, 30th Rushing
The NFL is a league built around winning with a good quarterback, and the Redskins have two options that would disappoint most fans if they were their team’s backups. That makes it even more scary that the team is going to have to start either John Beck or Rex Grossman. Most likely the job will go to Beck, pretty much by default. We’ve witnessed enough of Rex Grossman in the NFL that we know what he can do, which isn’t very much. If they hand the reigns to Beck there’s at least a small chance that he has another gear in his back pocket that we haven’t seen yet. Not likely, but hey, it’s not like it’s really gonna make a difference, both of these guys are just keep the seat warm for Andrew Luck.
The running game may be the only saving grace for the Skins offensive this season. Mike Shanahan is back to his old tricks, stockpiling mediocre running backs. If history is any indication he’ll be able to get decent results from them, but neither newly acquired Tim Hightower or Ryan Torain will have the type of blocking that Shanahan’s old backs in Denver had.
Important Acquisitions: Ryan Kerrigan (R)
Toughest Player Losses: Nothing of Note
Key Player: LaRon Landry
The “If” Factor: Again, not very high, just because there isn’t much upside here
2010 Defensive Ranking: 31st Passing, 26th Rushing
Not a lot of change from the defense that the Redskins put on the field in 2010. While continuity from year to year is usually a good thing, when you finished below .500 the year before and your roster isn’t exactly on the young side, staying put may not be a good thing.
Ryan Kerrigan has the potential to be a really good draft pick. He was a productive player at Purdue, and his skill set will fit right into the Redskins system.
To add injury to insult, the only reliable difference maker on the Washington defense, safety LaRon Landry, has been held out of pre season practices due to an apparent achilles injury. The extent of the injury is unknown, best case scenario is that the team is just be overly cautious with a player who already knows the system and won’t be affected too much from missing time in August, but will be a big loss if he isn’t able to play in September.
The bottom line is that things are going to be rough in the nations capitol this fall, and not just on Capitol Hill but in FedEx field as well.
New York Giants
2010: 10-6, Second place in the NFC East
Better or Worse in 2011: Worse, but not by a lot
The Giants are in danger of falling into the most dangerous of all NFL categories, consistently mediocre. They’re a good team in a tough division. They have a good quarterback but not a great one. They have the talent to win some games, but after catching fire during the 2007 playoffs they’ve fallen back to the rest of the pack. 2011 will be the year that we figure out if they have the ability to re-capture that 2007 magic or if this core group of players has seen it’s best days already.
Not really an acquisition, but re-signing Ahmad Bradshaw was important
Toughest Player Losses: Kevin Boss, Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert
Key Player: Hakeem Nicks
The “If” Factor: 2 Ifs
2010 Offensive Ranking: 10th Passing, 6th Rushing
The Giants have been successful the past few years by playing an old fashioned form of football offense. They had a reliable running game and a quarterback who minimized the amount of mistakes that he made. All of this relied heavily on the play of the offensive line. This season New York is going to need to replace two starters from last year, Shaun O’Hara and Rich Seubert. Good offensive lineman tend to settle in quickly to new roles, the question is whether or not the Giants have the talent in their big boys to get the job done.
Tom Coughlin and the coaching staff have three rookie offensive lineman in camp this summer, and they are hoping that at least one of them can step up and earn a starting job. One player with the potential to be that guy is Indiana University product James Brewer. Brewer has the size at 6’6” and 323 lbs, but was constantly injured during his college career. If he can stay health, Brewer could be a real sleeper this season for the Giants.
One bright spot for the New York offense has been the emergence of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Nicks has proven himself a more than capable NFL pass catcher, and has the potential to enter the ranks of the very best. If he continues his ascension and becomes the type of receiver that defenses need to focus their attention on, his play will open up the field for the running game.
The Giants offense will once again be based on running the ball and a conservative passing game, but if Hakeem Nicks can take the next step in his career then they may be able to get more aggressive in 2011.
Prince Amukamara (R), Rocky Bernard, Mark Herzlich (R)
Toughest Player Losses: Not much here, all the major parts come back in 2011
Key Player: Justin Tuck
The “If” Factor: Two Ifs, but two really big ones
2010 Defensive Ranking: 9th Passing, 8th Rushing
The Giants have built their defense on a talented, aggressive group of defensive lineman who can get after opposing quarterbacks. This pressure has been so important because their secondary play has been lacking in recent years.
New York attempted to address the lack of talent in the defensive backfield in this years draft by selecting Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara in the first round. Amukamara looked poised to be ready to step right into the Giants’ lineup and be a difference maker, and to take some of the responsibility of holding the opponents passing games away from those defensive lineman. Too bad he hurt his ankle in practice already this pre season, and it’s starting to look like his contributions in 2011 will be very limited.
With the injury to Amukamara, and the lack of any upgrades at the linebacker positions, the Giants defense will once again be based on those defensive lineman. Justin Tuck had a really good 2010, with 76 tackles and 11.5 sacks, and will be the best player of the group. New York made a good investment in re-signing Mathias Kiwanuka, a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid who has a knack for getting after the quarterback.
A big if for this squad will be whether they can get anything from Osi Umenyiora. His contract situation is messy, but if management can get him happy and back on the field he adds yet another dangerous weapon on the defensive line.
The Giants will continue to have a solid defense, and will rely on stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback on passing downs with their front four, leaving their linebackers and defensive backs free to clog up the passing lanes.