1. New Year's Resolution #7: Fifty-two "Ten Yard Fights" in 2014.
2. If I am going to be able to get all 52 of these in this year, I am going to have to rely on a lot of short ones like #1.
3. And #2.
4. As I said before, I really did not see the Shanahan era ending the way it did. Plenty of people did predict it, and I was quick to label them as cynics and pessimists. Let me be the 986th person to say I was wrong. I still think that predicting failure for the Redskins organization is like predicting rain in Seattle. It is the easy thing to do these days, and even if you don't know any better, you are likely to be right. In my mind, this weakens the position of those who are shouting that we are just always going to be terrible. After all, how hard is it to champion a cause that has a 90%+ chance of being right? On the other hand, continuing to blindly believe that every new direction we set off in is going to be a game-changing, world-saving maneuver seems foolish. I need to move on from being foolish, but I can't bring myself to join the legions of fans who expect us to crash and burn--even if that is the safest and most probable outcome.
5. The truth is that I believe our team is capable of being one of the "bounce-back" teams in 2014. And this belief goes beyond what I have previously used as the bedrock of such proclamations in the past--"Someone has to be the bounce-back team." Instead of just hoping that fate and luck will get drunk one night together and have a sinful evening resulting in nothing but shame and regret--and a Redskins playoff win--it is conceivable that there are pieces in place that could actually lead to lasting improvement. Although...ahem...those pieces don't currently include a coaching staff. Details...details.
6. Robert Griffin III is leaps and bounds ahead of any "quarterback situation" we have weathered over the last decade or two. We aren't squinting into the future trying to figure out how in God's name we can consistently win with guys like Danny Wuerffel, or Rex Grossman, or...I won't play this game today. We have a quarterback. In the NFL, if you have a quarterback--a real, bona fide, elite player under center--you have almost everything you need to set your expectations high. If you believe, as many do, that Griffin will shed both his knee brace as well as his injury rust in 2014, than you have to believe we are automatically far better than we were this past season.
7. Once the team re-signs Brian Orakpo (which has to happen, right?), we will have TWO very, very high-end edge pass rushers. In the NFL, if you have premier guys who can get to the quarterback, you have almost everything you need to set your expectations high. Ryan Kerrigan and #98 will hopefully be joined by a defensive coordinator who will succeed in maximizing the effectiveness of the pair. This is only part of the equation, but again, having Kerrakpo in the fold gives our defense a huge leg up.
8. Firmly in the "legs down" category are the offensive line and our secondary. While I certainly hope that Baccari Rambo and Phillip Thomas pan out as viable safety candidates for the future, I am not putting the deed to my house on the line. There is still hope that one or both of these guys turns into a real meaningful contributor. Neither can be called a bust yet because of the relatively low investment we made in them and the lack of a lot of time on the field. Methinks we are not so lucky along the offensive line. You name the backup and he is likely not the "future" guy at any spot on our starting offensive line.
9. This where the good news comes in. We have salary cap space. Even with no first round draft pick, we have plenty of opportunities in the upcoming draft to bring in impact players. Let's face it, at some positions, a fourth round draft pick is almost an automatic upgrade. Sad? Maybe. This is where we can choose to be optimistic, I think. Selective optimism might save me from blindly promising that whatever coach comes in is going to save our franchise. It could also allow us to dedicate our optimism to the task of bringing in a few competent, young players to anchor the spots that were so woefully manned in 2013. After all, how unrealistic is it to hope that we can find someone who is a better right tackle than Tyler Polumbus? I mean, that's like hoping that the sun rises tomorrow. Damn, that is mean and I take it back. I shouldn't be comparing the machinations of heavenly bodies with those of...one of the least heavenly bodies I have seen in years.
10. Did anyone see the video footage of Everett Golson working out with George Whitfield, the quarterback guru? I only bring it up because we featured the Stanford Broom in our draft profiles a couple years ago (hat tip to Parks Smith). Golson was facing TWO BROOMS!!!! TWO!!! Andrew Luck was only facing one broom in most of the footage I ever saw. Just imagine how good Golson is going to be!
**Bonus item: Smart move by Lindsey Duke staying out of camera range last night. Based on that move alone, I might vote for her for President in 2016. Okay...maybe not just based on that.