Everybody makes a few New Year's resolutions. Here's a few the Redskins ought to entertain as they embark on one of the most crucial offseasons in franchise history:
Protect the football
You might think the Redskins streak of 30 consecutive games with a turnover tells the whole story. It doesn’t because it gets worse. Washington turned the ball over at least twice in 14 games this season and in 22 of 32 contests in Mike Shanahan’s two seasons.
The root of the problem is of course Rex Grossman, who accounted for 25 of the team’s 35 turnovers. Grossman was the most capable option under center this season, but he made it abundantly clear that he isn’t the long-term answer at quarterback.
Find the quarterback of the future
Mike Shanahan isn’t going to make any moves at this position until he finds the guy he wants. Some coaches might settle for any first-rounder or a flavor of the month free agent, but last year Shanahan ignored the available quarterbacks and bolstered his defense. None of last year’s guys fit his scheme and he wisely chose not force his system on a poor fit.
This year, the pressure is on him to find his guy, and an early look at the draft class indicates there are several elite quarterbacks that should be enticing. If that doesn’t suit him, then he could opt for a free agent such as superscrub Matt Flynn or possibly Peyton Manning.
Bring back Fletcher
London Fletcher may be 36, but both he and Shanahan have made it unequivocally clear that this is a relationship both sides want to continue. The Redskins already have enough needs at other positions, so keeping Fletcher to lead the defense and assist in the development of fellow linebacker Perry Riley ought to be one of the team’s top priorities this offseason.
“Hopefully he’ll be back and part of our organization for years to come,” Shanahan said on Monday.
Bring in playmakers who…you know…make plays
When was the last time the Redskins possessed a player who was a threat to score whenever he touched the ball? How about a versatile player who get the ball in a variety of situations and turn any of them into six points?
Brandon Banks didn’t take the next step as an explosive returner this season and the offense produced just seven plays that went for over 40 yards. The bottom line: when half your games are decided by a touchdown or less as the Redskins’ were this season, it’s nice to have that wild card in your back pocket – that player who can go the distance anytime. The Eagles have several, as do the Giants and Cowboys. Strangely enough, those teams haven’t finished last in the NFC East four years running.
2011 wasn’t kind to the Burgundy and Gold, but it was downright cruel to Fred Davis and Trent Williams. For all the talk about the character, Williams and Davis failed to live up to the standard set by the NFL when they violated the league’s substance abuse policy multiple times.
But that wasn’t the only incident that contradicted the players’ assertion that they had the right mix in place. Bone-headed unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and an overall lack of discipline flared up at times throughout the year. The defense mailed in several fourth quarter performances in December and the coaching staff rarely held their turnover-prone quarterback accountable for his mistakes.
For all the assurances that this team has the right character, it didn’t always seem like it in 2011.