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Huzzah for division previews

Or something.

To tell you the truth, offseason division previews are better than nothing because it affords us the opportunity to build up optimism even if that's a really, really poor idea.

Allen Wilson of Buffalo News has the latest NFC East preview. For the most part it's an acceptable preview, my opinion, though I have a few minor gripes. See for yourself:


Key gains: OT Jason Fabini (Cowboys), OG Ross Tucker (free agent), LB London Fletcher (Bills), LB H.B. Blades (Pittsburgh), CB Fred Smoot (Vikings), CB David Macklin (Cardinals), S LaRon Landry (LSU), S Omar Stoutmire (Saints).

I think he's nailed most of the key gains outside of the first two picks. I really like that we've picked up some depth on the offensive line in Jason Fabini and Ross Tucker, but neither of them were brought in to start. The narrative coming out of Redskins park is that the job is up for grabs between Todd Wade and Mike Pucillo, leaning towards Wade. I suspect the team brought in Tucker because he's versatile (guard or center) and because he's played with this staff before (Gregg Williams in 2003). The truth on Tucker is that he was an undrafted FA in 2001 who has now been released from four teams in his short(ish) tenure in the league, the Redskins among them.
Update [2007-6-7 13:1:25 by Skin Patrol]: The "truth" on Tucker is that he sounds like a nice guy with a great attitude and I'm happy to have him on the team. Well-timed Redskins Insider piece has additional details, including this Ross Tucker quote on getting canned from so many teams: ""I'm the only guy to graduate from Princeton and get fired four times by four employers in four years"
Fabini was a 4th round draft pick a decade ago though did manage to stay with the Jets for most of that time. He's a veteran who provides valuable depth, but let's not overstate his role with the team. To tell you the truth, I would've thought that Derrick Blaylock has a better opportunity to make an impact than either of those guys. Anyways, minor point...
Key losses: OG Derrick Dockery (Bills), LB Warrick Holdman (Broncos), CB Mike Rumph (Rams), CB Kenny Wright (Browns), S Adam Archuleta (Lions).
With the exception of Derrick Dockery, you could almost interpret "Key" to mean players the team really needed to bounce. Warrick Holdman wasn't doing anyone any favors as the Will. He's now replaced by Rocky McIntosh backed up by Lemar Marshall, which is a giant upgrade over last year, enabled by London Fletcher in the middle. Mike Rumph was the worst player in our secondary that saw field last year, that includes Ade Jimoh (who at least has utility as a special teams player). Kenny Wright probably received a worse rap than he deserved because the team asked him to do too much. At best he's a serviceable nickel; we lined him up as the #2 cornerback when Shawn Springs went down. We scooped a 6th rounder for Adam Archuleta along with 4.5M in cap relief, which I view as pretty "key". He simply is not reliable enough in coverage to play next to Sean Taylor on a team that could not rush the passer. I add those caveats so that when he has a Pro Bowl season in Chicago, I can claim he merely wasn't the "right fit" in Washington.
Breakdown: Help was needed on defense. Fletcher, Smoot and Macklin should help. The Redskins made the most of only one Day One draft pick by getting Landry, who will form a hard-hitting safety tandem with Pro Bowler Sean Taylor. Signing Fabini and Tucker doesn't negate Dockery's departure. Already rehabilitating from shoulder and hand surgeries, RB Clinton Portis now has knee tendinitis. Good thing the Redskins have Ladell Betts (1,154 yards last year) in reserve.
I don't disagree with any of this. I think the wording on Fabini and Tucker is strange as, again, I don't think either was brought in to "negate" Derrick Dockery's "departure". They wouldn't even negate the departure of Mike Pucillo, in my opinion.
Questions: How is Gregg Williams going to fix the NFL's 31stranked defense without a pass rush (a franchise low 19 sacks in 2006)? Is QB Jason Campbell ready to lead the offense full time?
These are the big questions this offseason. Campbell's development appears to be humming along just fine, if you listen to the hype coming out of Redskins Park, along with welcomed praise from neutral, national writers. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the team has acted as if the defensive line ain't broke, and I'm willing to give them the opportunity to prove it. If it is broke, 19 sacks won't win us many games in 2007.

Bleeding Green Nation, The Linc 6.07.07