During what seems like this entire century thus far, one of the biggest criticisms about the Skins is that we have had too many "over-the-hill" old guys. Players that have the experience and can help the team win, but who inevitably break down as the season wears on. Last year was a prime example of us breaking down after we started out 6-2, only to follow it up with a 2-6 meltdown. There were several factors that went into our monumental collapse, but one undeniable factor was having an older, injury-prone O-line.
However, going into this season, things are looking a little different. As Zorn and Cerrato have really started flexing their executive muscles, we have started to see a striking development. Zornerrato is actually making a youth movement. Between the 2 drafts, FA acquisitions, and player cuts under Vinny Cerrato as VP of Football Operations (since 2008) and Jim Zorn as HC (and designated play-caller), the Washington Redskins average starter's age is dropping in virtually every phase of the game.
Starters that were cut or not re-signed:
- Jon Jansen (OT - 33)
- Pete Kendall (G - 36)
Shawn Springs (CB - 34)
Jason Taylor (DE - 35)
James Thrash (WR/ST - 34)
Marcus Washington (OLB - 32)
These are most of the substantial starter cuts made so far this year. They all represent different phases of the game (Offense, Defense, STs), and in almost every case we will be going younger at those respective positions. The exception will be if Blache keeps Orakpo at OLB, in which case Phillip Daniels (36) will probably be replacing Taylor. While he is a year older than JT, Daniels is also a better fit in Blache's gap-filling, run-stopping DL schemes. Until training camp is over, we obviously don't know what our final roster will be. But with the recent signings of draft picks in Marko Mitchell, Robert Henson, Cody Glenn, Eddie Williams, and the continued development of our hopeful future stars in Thomas, Kelly, Moore, Tryon, Barnes, Orakpo and others, it looks as though sunny days are on the horizon.
There may be another player addition or two before pre-season, but there will definitely be many more cuts. So far, Zorn has shown that he is willing to make tough decisions by letting under-performing players go. The real question will be whether our young replacements can step up and excel at those positions. But it seems as though we are, at least, heading in the right direction.
Not only are we going younger, but Zornerrato have been addressing weak areas from last year. While we did have the 4th overall defense in yards allowed last year, we also lacked in sacks and QB pressure. Enter Albert Haynesworth and Brian Orakpo. Not enough turnovers? Hall, Horton, and Barnes should be able to make a difference. We've needed bigger receivers for years. Malcolm Kelly and Marko Mitchell are both 6'4" & 200+ lbs. How about a younger OL? Dockery and Heyer (maybe Rinehart) should fit the bill.
I see a team developing with a nice mix of seasoned vets and young, energetic players with a lot of potential. Let's hope Zorn and Co. have what it takes to put it all together and dominate!