"The Redskins have the most talented offense in the NFL - agree or disagree?"
When we finally got around to talking about football this past Monday morning in his office at Redskins Park, this is the question I posed to my uncle, Coach Mike Shanahan.
He leaned back in his chair and pivoted toward a whiteboard, labeled, Washington Redskins Depth-Chart.
"Well," he said, probably pondering how frank he should be with me, considering the fact that I had told him I was going to be writing a piece about our offense and its potential for Hogs Haven.
"Really, - this is the first time I've been able to sit back and say: Quarterback - I'll take ours against anybody. Running back - I'll take ours against anybody. Full-back - I'll take ours against anybody. X-receiver, I'll take ours against anybody. Z-receiver -."
He had made his point. He believes in this group.
Coach went on to cite the fact the 2012 Redskins were the league's #2 best rushing attack last season, (he uses yards per attempt as his go-to metric here) as well as the league's top passing attack (most yards per dropback). He added that fewer than five teams in NFL history have posted fewer turnovers than the Redskins offense did last year, with only fourteen giveaways. And what's much more, the group still has considerable room for improvement.
Even as he told me that he usually likes to respond more generically to these kinds of broad and general questions - (because he earnestly believes it is in the best interest of the organization for him to do so) - Coach couldn't help but confess his sky high expectations for what the Redskins offense can and will do, both this season and in the future.
Having said that, Coach underlined the fact that he thinks the team's success and Super Bowl aspirations will hinge on its ability to remain healthy and on its defense. As he added this second caveat, he looked up and down the nearer side of his whiteboard - as if always and constantly scanning his personnel for potential breakout stars on that side of the ball.
When I told him that I didn't mean - with the question - to put any additional pressure on his offense, he shrugged. He knows I couldn't if I tried.
During our hour-or-so-long chat that morning, before he would work out a resurgent, Robert Griffin III later that morning and head down to the team's new training camp facility in Richmond that afternoon, Coach Shanahan both in what he said and how he said it left me with the exact same impression he has always left me with whenever I've had the chance to talk with him about his football team prior to the season. Over the next six or seven months, he is going to work as hard as he possibly can to help this group of men become a winning football team. Beyond that - well, shrug - the chips are going to fall where they may.
My season, too, seemed to start that morning - and I remain inspired by Coach's confidence and focus.
Proud to be my mother's son, as well as a member of this wonderful community of Redskin faithful, I can tell you: Come wins and come losses, I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can to tell the story of this team in a fresh and engaging manner. Because in the end, in football as in writing: there is hard work - and the rest is noise and vanity.
 I will be trying out the generic term ‘Coach Shanahan' this season, despite the fact that it is made up of a name and a title I doubt I have ever used to address my uncle in real life conversation. I'll use the term not only to show respect, but also because I think it will help me establish - (OK, feign) - a certain level of objectivity when it comes to me writing about the Redskins. Cause in honesty, I'm unabashedly bullish about where I think this team is headed.