Full disclosure: I am not advocating that the Redskins do all of these things. Some of these moves are not even going to seem that bold to many of you. With three important tests remaining for our young team this season, I am optimistic some of these points will be rendered moot. I can just feel the fire from some of you on a couple of these, but here goes:
1. Draft a left tackle -- I think Trent Williams is coming along just fine in his career. He is still learning, but has already shown signs that he can be an impact performer on our line. Unfortunately, that learning process is currently on hiatus. I am not suggesting we draft a replacement for a guy we just burned a fourth overall pick on in a recent draft. I am suggesting we draft another blue-chip tackle prospect capable of playing left tackle in the NFL. Nothing we hope to do is possible without quality bookend tackles. That includes grooming a young quarterback behind a strong running game. Let the rookie tackle and TW battle it out over which side works best for each player in training camp. Better that we have two guys capable of covering the blind side--especially since only God knows which hand our future quarterback will be using to throw the ball. This is not to suggest that we don't have or can't develop one of the young guys to turn into quality contributors. But there is a reason guys like Joe Thomas, Jake Long and even D'Brickashaw Ferguson go at the top of drafts. Our offensive line needs another rookie blue-chipper.
2. Bring in a stud tight end-- I am struggling to think of a team dumb enough to let one of these new-fangled freaks of nature test the free agent market. You almost have to go to the draft to get your 6'6" 260+ lb athlete to fill out your tight end corps. Those are Jimmy Graham's measurements and he was a 3rd round pick in 2010. As you all know, I bang the multiple tight end drum pretty loudly around here and I am not afraid to use a 3rd round selection on a player like this next April. On one hand, we should be able to make Chris Cooley and Fred Davis work. On the other hand, we simply have not really seemed to make that a priority. When I recently spoke to Chris Cooley, he lamented the way that the Redskins have yet to really find a way to get a two-tight end system up and running at a high level. And when you layer in the fact that we have been forced to roll without either Fred Davis or Chris Cooley (or both) for stretches over the last few seasons, I could think of worse investments to make in our offense.
3. Trade LaRon Landry on draft day-- I can hear some of you asking, "How do you expect to have enough picks on draft day to make some of these moves?" This would be my response. You hate to ship out a player of his caliber, but if Mike Shanahan is serious about significantly upgrading his offense, this decision might have to be made. If Bruce Allen can find a team that still sees the Defensive MVP candidate from the first half of last season, I would favor making the trade. As we all know, LaRon is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, so it is not as simple as moving a guy under contract. We would have to put the franchise tag on him and then negotiate down from the unrealistic asking price that would traditionally accompany a player wearing the franchise tag. I do think Landry can still play--at a high level. I hope one or two NFL teams agree with me, because Landry's greatest value to the Redskins is likely to be in the form of whatever draft picks we can get in return for him.
4. Starting wide receivers in 2012: Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, Niles Paul and Leonard Hankerson-- I don't see us being able to burn a top draft pick at this position, especially given we have two rookies right now who are likely to factor heavily on our roster for the foreseeable future. I spent a considerable amount of time watching Niles Paul on Sunday and I have to tell you all that he is very impressive. On special teams, I watched him circle around behind a return play and come back to make the tackle in pursuit. You have to go back to preseason to remember significant stretches where Paul was a continuous target in the passing game. I think he has a very bright future as a receiver on this team. I have downgraded my position on Hankerson from "Bieber Fever" to "Just Please Be Better than Westbrook." I think Hank the Tank will factor in our red zone attack, but the truth is we just have to wait and see. Adding Reggie Wayne as a #1 receiver for us would have a very positive impact on Santana Moss. Not only were they teammates at "The U," Wayne could allow Moss to move permanently to the slot without drawing the other team's attention on every single play. Also, if you are going to be serious about two tight ends, you could do a lot worse than Reggie Wayne and Santana Moss on the outside keeping defensive secondaries honest.
5. The inevitable "Tough Decision" on Mike Sellers-- I hate this one. I feel compelled to include it because entering a season without Mike Sellers would be bold indeed. I think he falls into the category of "you need to have guys like him on our team" but at some point coaches have to weigh very carefully the impact he makes both on and off the field. Since I am advocating bringing in another stud tight end to add to the mix, I am forced to make room for him. You have to hope that guys like Lorenzo Alexander and yes, even Niles Paul can spread their wings on special teams as leaders to fill the void that will be left when Big Mike is gone.
6. Dip toes in the Drew Brees waters-- I don't believe for one second that New Orleans will ever let Drew Brees end up in a position where he is able to take calls and/or field offers from other teams. I am also firmly in favor of drafting the next quarterback of our team and letting Rex Grossman take all the snaps until the rookie is ready. HOWEVER, if Drew Brees somehow does make it to the market, we simply must kick those tires. I hate the idea of adding Peyton Manning--even if we do end up with Reggie Wayne. How many $100 million contracts can a guy sign with a broken neck? As for Brees, how could we fault Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan for breaking the bank to sign a guy who completes damn near 70% of his passes for well over 300 yards per game? He is a proven leader in the league and he adds instant credibility to an offense. At the very least, pursuing Brees with a big contract will not only push the Saints to pay dearly to keep him, it could make us look good even if we don't sign him. Anyone who signs Brees is smart. So attempting to sign him has to be also viewed as smart, right? I'll take it. The Redskins are not often associated with "smart"...though that could be changing!
7. Bring in a new returner -- Brandon Banks is a talented player with unquestioned agility and escapability. The thing is, you can get a guy with the same amount of athleticism and speed these days that has a lot more size than Banks. Brandon is not going to break a lot of tackles, and it seems most of his returns are terminated in...well...tackles. Perhaps Niles Paul is the guy who can add the physical aspect that Banks does not possess. Perhaps we need to target a big, physical cornerback in the draft who comes with this skillset. As much as I have enjoyed the breathless moments as a fan while the ball is in the air and visions of Banks taking it to the house danced in my head, it just seems like we need to score on special teams to win games. If Banks goes a whole season without scoring, then I would seriously consider giving another guy an opportunity.
8. Hire a new Special Teams Coordinator -- Danny Smith is an institution on our sideline, and I don't think he necessarily deserves to be fired. As I have said before, he is a very good coach and would not be unemployed long if we let him go. But if you are playing the home version of Ten Yard Fight today, you are seeing a little bit of a theme. If we go into 2012 without Danny Smith, Mike Sellers and Brandon Banks (Graham Gano?) we would be looking at a brand new special teams mojo. We can debate over how necessary it is to COMPLETELY overhaul the special teams unit, but a change here could end up doing our team a lot of good. We need a spark, and special teams is the place where you are forever hopeful to find that spark.
9. Take out more seats at FedEx -- Hahaha...I have been chewing on this one for a while. If Dan Snyder is trying to find the magic number of seats that results in an actual home-field advantage, that magic number is further south of the current capacity. I still believe he is bent on putting some kind of roof over the stadium so he can get his Super Bowl, and less seats won't exactly bolster that bid. But I also believe that the Redskins have a real problem selling tickets--especially to Redskins fans. It is conceivable that they could downsize the stadium again and still not be able to field a burgundy and gold majority. I know a lot of people who read this are not currently in the D.C. area, so this one might not mean as much, but for people who go every week, it is getting rather old wondering which team just did something good based on the crowd reaction. And no...I don't think this is a problem experienced by most teams in the NFL. Hell, I have been to Ravens home games and it is the exact opposite. If I was the owner of the team, this issue would be on my list of things to actively work on.
10. Re-invent Brian Orakpo-- Despite how this sounds, Orakpo is not having a bad year. He is still very much an impact player on our defense. I am just wondering if there is a way to do a better job of featuring him on our defense. Some of you out there know x's and o's a lot better than I do, but it seems to me that we could working harder to put #98 in better positions to influence the game. Maybe this question is best answered by UKRedskin? I would be interested in seeing how effective Orakpo may have been when we lined him up behind Kerrigan as opposed to putting him one-on-one against an offensive tackle. Have we even blitzed him a lot in that fashion? Am I over thinking this? Or is this just a dumb idea? Don't act like you have never told me I am an idiot!