Hat tip: Extreme Skins for finding this TSN article, "Redskins question: Can Gibbs clean up the mess?" which was a bit on the defeatist side. As I am just now gearing up for heavy, personal debate with fellow NFL fans on why the Redskins will go to the Super Bowl this year -- just like they are going to do every year -- I felt like responding with my
rosiest superlatively burgundy colored glasses. Here come those questions:
...what are the chances Gibbs creates another quick turnaround in one of the NFL's toughest divisions?
Rhetorical, as it turns out, since Vinnie Iyer answers his own question: "Slim to none." Interesting to damn the likelihood of a conclusion you've already admitted in the question. The "another" quick turnaround was 2005, when Joe Gibbs took a dismal, cellar dwelling Redskins to the postseason the following year. Admittedly the Cowboys and Giants (both 6-10) were in considerably worse shape the previous year, though they were a lot better in 2005 when we went 3-1 agains them. Unlikely as a turnaround might be, it doesn't lack a precedent. The 6-10, 1-5 division Redskins of 2004 were a game away from the NFC Championship in 2005, thanks largely to a 5-1 division record.
Can Andre Carter stop underachieving at end?
Arguably, I guess, 2006 was the 2nd best year of Andre Carter's 7 NFL seasons. He set a personal career record in tackles and recorded six sacks which is a long ways away from the 12.5 he posted in '02, but well within the range of any other season performance. Remembering that Carter played as a standup rusher in San Fransisco and switched to a down stance on the end in Washington, there are other reasons for Redskins to think he's done "underachieving" (as the best player on our defensive line, by the way, leading that unit in tackles, tackles for a loss, and sacks), namely that he accumulated four of his six sacks in December. I am happy speculating that it took time for Carter to get comfortable in the defense, though after he did his production spiked considerably.
Are tackles Cornelius Griffin and Kedric Golston adequate gap-cloggers?
Yes. Cornelius Griffin has always been a quality defensive tackle though, admittedly, he's getting long in tooth. The good news here is that he can be spelled by Anthony Montgomery who has received substantial praise
from teammates, coaches, and owners alike for his presence in the work out room and fast development. Big Joe Salave'a was transplanted last year by Golston, who looked like a real starter at times and is young enough to improve significantly. Apparently the Redskins are considering putting Daniels at defensive tackle as well
though likely on passing downs. In any event, that means spelling Griffin and Golston which will go a long ways towards keeping the former healthy and the latter rested.
Does former Bill London Fletcher-Baker have enough left to be a run-stopping, tackling machine in the middle?
I've kind of asked this question myself so I don't blame anyone for repeating, though a brief look at Fletcher's stats
reveal that last year was one of the most productive of his career. He hasn't missed a game. Ever, despite joining the league around the same time as El Nino. His production has remained fairly constant throughout his career while playing for two separate teams and different coaching staffs. If anything, he has observably improved in spite of Father Time's best efforts. Is he going to play 16 games in 2007? I don't know, injuries happen, but nothing in his prior history besides his birthdate gives us reason to think otherwise.
Do cornerbacks Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot really scare any wide receivers?
Carlos Rogers suffered a sophomore slump last year and Captain Fred was castaway from the Vikings, though he at least has previous success in Washington to point towards in his favor. Shawn Springs, when healthy, is a very talented cornerback and I'm perfectly comfortable lining him up against the wide receivers this league has to offer. I don't want receivers to fear these men anyways, rather I want quarterbacks to think twice before launching it their side of the field. If I want receivers
losing sleep, it's over this guy:
Or this guy:
Can Sean Taylor become more of a steady free safety than a flashy one?
The question is do we need him to be? Sean Taylor didn't morph into a worse player in 2006, rather he suffered along with a unit that was not very good. When we have reliable coverage around him Sean Taylor can roam the field doing what he does best, working on his Doctorate of Dental Surgery by knocking people's teeth out. LaRon Landry hopefully provides that balance (with a bit of tooth knocking as well). Even if he doesn't, Fred Smoot and David Macklin are both upgrades on Kenny Wright and Mike Rumph respectively. Were that not enough, Coach Williams seems willing to try some new things
by formally deisgnating Free and Strong safeties, something he hasn't done in the past. Hopefully that will have a "steady"ing effect on Taylor, if that's what the coaching staff wants. Personally I like him as a head-hunter.
How many rookie mistakes will strong safety LaRon Landry make?
If the talking heads are to be believed, a lot fewer than many of his rookie colleagues as he was largely hailed as one of, if not the, best defensive prospect in the 2007 NFL Draft.
Not a bad article though, if you aren't a Redskins partisan. I am.