Zac’s note: This piece was first published on my Examiner page
One year ago, I was the new kid in the Examiner world. Washington Redskins Examiner Mark Newgent, one helluva sports writer and guy, reached out to me about putting together joint previews. It’s a year later and the New York Giants and Washington Redskins once again are kicking off the NFL season facing each other. This gives Mark and I yet another chance to work together. Here are his thoughts on the 2009 Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFC East.
1. I’ll ask you what I did one year ago. Is Jason Campbell really a championship caliber quarterback?
Campbell has the ability to be a championship quarterback. I argued against pursuing Jay Cutler and drafting Mark Sanchez, in favor of retaining Campbell. He needs to be more consistent though. I think he will continue the progression he showed during the first half of 2008, when he led the team to a 6-2 record. However, that continuation depends quite a bit on the offensive line, which broke down and lost two starters (left tackle Chris Samuels and right guard Randy Thomas) during the 2-8 collapse in the second half of 2008.
2. Can Santana Moss finish the season with 10+ touchdowns? Why/why not?
Yes. Santana can finish the season with 10+ touchdowns. He will do it because receivers Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas are developing into the added threats the Redskins thought they would when they drafted both of them in the second round of the 2008 draft. Last year defenses locked on Moss (and Chris Cooley), now they will have to worry about Kelly and Thomas. I’d also throw in rookie Marko Mitchell, who has dangerous speed.
3. What type of year must Albert Haynesworth have to justify his contract?
I don’t think you can quantify that answer in terms of his sacks. I’d see justification in sacks, turnovers, and general pressures from the defensive line as a whole. Haynesworth’s value is his ability to collapse the pocket forcing the quarterback into the edge rush, and draw double teams, which open up other avenues to the quarterback for his mates.
4. Will Chris Cooley remind his brother to not call out eventual Stanley Cup winners in the next 12 months?
All I’ll say about Pittsburgh is that they should export less of their fans and more Primanti Bros. sandwiches. I’ve met Tanner and he is a cool cat, and can handle his own with his antagonists. I’ll cite Tanner’s fisking of a rather bizarre Cowboys blogger last year. He does a great job helping Chris to be more accessible to fans.
5. Who will be the breakout player(s) on offense and defense this year?
On offense it will be one of the previously cited receivers: Kelly, Thomas, and Mitchell. On defense Brian Orakpo is simply made of awesome. His speed and power will be problems for many an offensive tackle. He literally lifted a 300lbs+ tackle off his feet in a preseason game against Pittsburgh.
6. I have the Redskins finishing last in the NFC East this year. Tell me why I’m wrong.
I’m inclined to agree with that assessment. However, if the offensive line holds, Campbell has the weapons to score plenty of points, and the improved defense will generate the turnovers, which were sorely lacking in 2008
For more info: Check out the Washington Redskins Examiner page. Seriously, go do it.