Washington Redskins 2009 Season Preview
by Badger of Predictem.com
2008 Record 8-8 (6-8-2 ATS)
Stadium: FedEx Field
Head Coach: Jim Zorn (2nd Season 8-8)
Current 2009-2010 Super Bowl Odds 34-to-1
Training Camp Site: Redskins Park, Ashburn, Va.
The Washington Redskins took a step backwards in 2008, finishing 8-8
and failing to make the playoffs after earning a Wild Card spot in
2007 with a 9-7 record. Head coach Jim Zorns first season at the
helm was filled with many ups and downs, and he dealt with plenty of
criticism when the Skins lost five of their last seven games of the
season to eliminate them from playoff contention, including
embarrassing losses to Cincinnati and San Francisco.
So owner Dan Snyder did what he knows best, spend money, in order to
try and get back into the postseason in 2009. He tampered and lured
the biggest name in the free agent market, defensive tackle Albert
Haynesworth, to D.C. for a cool $41 million even though the big run-
stopper has only played a full 16-game season once in his seven-year
Whether or not the Redskins can get things turned around remains to
be seen, but dont expect the fan base in the greater Washington D.C.
area to give Zorn or Snyder much of a break if they dont.
Whos In/Whos Out
As mentioned, the Skins made Haynesworth a very rich man in February, but he wasnt the only player they brought in during free agency to
try and change things on the defensive side of the ball.
The Skins brought in free agent defensive end Renaldo Wynn from the
New York Giants and linebacker Robert Thomas from Oakland to help
shore up the front seven and add depth. They also added punter Hunter
Smith from the Colts to help play the field-position game better in 09.
Offensively, they added guard Derrick Dockery (Buffalo) and WR D.J.
Hackett (Carolina) to the mix during free agency as well.
The biggest name the Redskins let go in the offseason was last years
prize pickup, defensive end Jason Taylor. Taylor was huge bust and
was allowed to go back to Miami with his tail between his legs.
Washington also parted ways with longtime offensive tackle Jon
Jansen, corner Shawn Springs and receiver James Thrash.
Draft Class 2009
The Redskins may have gotten an impact player with their first-round
pick (13th) of DE/LB Brian Orakpo of Texas, who is expected to start
at strong-side linebacker right away. But the rest of the Redskins
draft class (5 picks) will have a hard time making the final roster.
The Redskins offense certainly struggled in the first season of Zorns new West Coast scheme. The Skins finished ranked 28th
overall in scoring (16.6 ppg) and 19th in total yards (320.0 ypg),
numbers that must improve if they hope to get back into the postseason.
But the bright side is they did finish 8th in rushing (130.9 ypg),
and Clinton Portis nearly ran for 1,500 yards (1,487) and nine
touchdowns. One thing they must do in the preseason and training camp
is find a capable backup to Portis to limit the where and tear on his
body. Quarterback Jason Campbell was the Skins next best runner,
ending with 258 yards rushing, while backup running back Ladell Betts
(206 yards on 61 carries) was barely involved in the running game.
Campbell will also need to develop a better feel for the new scheme,
as the Skins ended 23rd in passing at just 189.1 yards per game. The
West Coast scheme is based on short to intermediate routes, and
Campbell only threw 13 touchdowns to 6 interceptions in his first
season under Zorns tutelage.
It would help if the Redskins could find a few more capable and productive receivers other than tight end Chris Cooley and No. 1
wideout Santana Moss. Cooley led the Skins in catches with 83, but
only reached the endzone once, while Moss went for 1,044 yards and
six scores. Antwaan Randle El is another player the Redskins threw
ridiculous cash at as a free agent, but with just 593 yards and four
scores his production doesnt match his pay check.
The Skins were hoping to start Stephon Heyer opposite Chris Samuels
at tackle, but Heyer tweaked his knee last week in practice and might
not have enough time to earn the job vacated by Jansens release.
Dockery will join center Casey Rabach and guard Randy Thomas inside
on the interior of the line.
The obvious strength of the team is the Skins defense, which finished
4th in the league overall last season allowing just 288.8 yards a
game, and 6th in points allowed at 18.5 per game.
Haynesworth will be the new anchor of the run defense, a unit that
ended 8th in the NFL last season (95.5 ypg). He joins Cornelius
Griffin inside, while Phillip Daniels, Andre Carter and Wynn rotate
on the outside to provide the pass rush.
Orakpo joins a linebacker core that is outstanding, led in the middle
by London Fletcher and flanked on the other side by Rocky McIntosh.
The secondary returns mostly intact, with LaRon Landry and Chris
Horton at safety and Carlos Rodgers and DeAngelo Hall at corner. Fred
Smoot will move to nickel back, giving the Skins depth in the back
they havent had for a few years.
Washington resigned kicker Shaun Suisham in the offseason, but after
going just 26-of-36 on his field goal attempts in 08 he will face
competition in training camp from Dave Rayner. Suisham was
ineffective from long distances, going 11-of-16 from 40-to-49 and
just 1-of-4 from 50+, so the Skins will take a long look at Rayners
strong leg in the preseason.
Smith was brought in as a free agent to be the punter, and he should be a serious upgrade over last years punter Ryan Plackmeier.
Randle El is the punt returner, but his 6.5 yard average was really
low and his 21 fair catches were extremely high, a trend he must
reverse to give the Skins better field position. Rock Cartwright is a
strong kick returner with a 25.6 yard average in 08.
2009 Washington Redskins Schedule
Sept. 13 at New York Giants
Sept. 20 ST. LOUIS RAMS
Sept. 27 at Detroit Lions
Oct. 4 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Oct. 11 at Carolina Panthers
Oct. 18 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Oct. 26 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Nov. 1 Bye
Nov. 8 at Atlanta Falcons
Nov. 15 DENVER BRONCOS
Nov. 22 at Dallas Cowboys
Nov. 29 at Philadelphia Eagles
Dec. 6 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Dec. 13 at Oakland Raiders
Dec. 21 NEW YORK GIANTS
Dec. 27 DALLAS COWBOYS
Jan. 3 at San Diego Chargers
Betting Odds and Projections
Washington not only made a lot of their fans angry with their late
season slide last year, but they annoyed a lot of bettors as well
with their 6-8-2 against the spread record in 08. The two games
mentioned earlier, the losses to the Bengals and 49ers in the final
three weeks, were prime examples of why bettors (and fans) hair went
gray quickly watching the Skins fold down the stretch.
Oddsmakers opened the Redskins at rather large 34-to-1 odds to win
Super Bowl 44 in 2009-2010, making them one of the biggest longshots
in the NFC. Depending on how you feel about Zorn, his quarterback
Campbell, and their ability to improve upon what was a weak offensive
attack, you may like to put some lunch money on those rather large
odds. The defense is certainly good enough to play at the elite
level, but can the offense make it is the million-dollar question.
The key to the Skins season will come after their bye week. With the
exception of the Denver game, the Redskins face four playoff-caliber
teams (Atlanta, Dallas, Philly and New Orleans) in the span of five
weeks during the heart of the season which will either put them in
perfect position, or crush their hopes in a hurry.