Ken: Hey there Rick-no more sparring with the Junior Varsity (Kevin). This week you get the real thing. Care to make any predictions on season stats/totals for Donovan McNabb and the starting receivers (games played, td's, yds, etc.)?
Rick: OK, so now the A Team is coming at me, huh? Better than Player A, I guess. Here we go -- Donovan McNabb will play 14 games. The line will get him whacked at some point. McNabb will throw 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions with a 90.0 pass rating. The big difference will be 26 passes of 30-plus yards.
Ken: Hmmm...I have made some pretty bold predictions for this team already so I guess I can't back down now. I have a very good feeling about this team in 2010, so if Donovan McNabb only plays in 14 games (during the regular season) it will be because they are resting him in Weeks 16 and 17 to keep him fresh for the playoffs! I think this team is already better than the one that Jim Zorn rode to a 6-2 start two years ago, which means I have to believe that if they can get to the bye week (in week 9) with a .500 record at worst, they won't fold like Kevin Ewoldt in a head-to-head strip poker game against Brad Pitt. To suggest that the first half or the second half of the schedule is easier or harder is not something I think we should waste our time on...I just don't think Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb get worse as the season progresses. I will take the over on your 26 TD's prediction. Once this offense gets inside the 30 yard line, I think you will see shots at the end zone. Overall rushing yardage might be up on the season, but I believe Kyle Shanahan will put the ball in McNabb's hands in scoring situations, resulting in 30+ TD passes on the year. McNabb's career passer rating is about 93, so you stayed risk-free on that pick. What's the matter? I thought you did well at the Preakness? Based on his ability to throw a very pretty deep ball as well as the added yards-after-the-catch potential with guys like Fred Davis and Devin Thomas contributing more and more this season, I am giving McNabb 4,000+ passing yards this season. Of course, this is predicated on him being able to walk off the field each week under his own power, but this offense is very quarterback-friendly and McNabb is no slouch. Last season, NOBODY had more 40+ yard passing plays than Donovan McNabb-he had 17. I'm taking the over there this season. The real question is: if you have McNabb in 14 games this season, how many wins are you calling that?
Rick: Wow, what colors are the pills you're taking? And, you shouldn't take so many at once because they're making you delusional. This isn't a playoff team unless the seas part for them, which happens but not for this team. They won't have a winning record by the bye, they won't be resting McNabb the final two games because best record is wrapped up. The 30-plus touchdowns is possible given I said 26 and that's not that big of a difference. I also see rushing up, which means fewer chances for McNabb. This is not the 1991 Redskins where everyone gets lot of touches. As for my win-loss prediction: I feel very generous at 7-9.
Ken: I may very well be delusional, but mine is a delusion born of countless hours spent in the parking lot at FedEx Field over the last decade believing that at any moment, our time would arrive. The beers I consume out there are for medicinal purposes only. The pills are for entirely different...ummmm...issues. Hey, listen-I think over the last 4 or 5 years the playoff field has changed by 50% each season. HALF of the entire playoff field are teams that did not make the playoffs the year before. Granted, some of that turnover is misleading-like when New England sat home after going 11-5 a couple seasons ago. But teams like Washington turn it around every year to become at best a playoff contender and at worst watchable in December. The Redskins have failed to accomplish either of these feats too many times in the last decade. But some of the more substantial reasons (excuses) for our failures-stability on the sidelines, sanity in the front office, proper chain of command up and down the organization, depth at key positions-have been addressed this offseason. Granted, we aren't where we want to be from a depth perspective at certain key positions, but they are being addressed...so we have that going for us, which is nice. Sprinkle in a proven veteran quarterback, a few journeyman veterans that understand how to prepare and compete in this league on a daily basis, a coach that is by all accounts ready to blow his proverbial load all over opposing defenses this season with a re-tooled offensive philosophy and I think there is reason to believe that the Redskins can join the ranks of those teams who go from pretender to contender. See how easy it is to talk yourself into 10-6?
Rick: I guess my delusions are born of countless hours spent in press boxes nationwide watching the Redskins lose. But, the past is the past. Each season is its own animal regardless of how good or bad they were the previous year. You're right that the greatest part of the NFL is everyone gets a chance. I think the Redskins have made some very good moves over the offseason. Larry Johnson is looking great in camps. I just think it will take another year to get the roster where Shanahan wants it.
Ken: The lack of cold beer in the press box is a real problem...I don't know how you do it. You need to get Newgent to work his political connections there. Get it on the ballot! You'll have to hit our tailgate this season for a pre-game sausage and a frosty beverage. You'll find me there rambling on about why we are about to beat whomever we happen to be playing that day. Bring your own pills.
Have a good week Rick. See you next week in the same space.