My initial thought was that suck, won 4 games last year, and haven't improved much. Our defense has been our strength for several seasons, and as excited as I am about a new defensive coordinator, our personnel are better suited for a 4-3, and think the D might be slightly worse this year. Sure, we got McNabb, but he is only marginally better than Campbell, and we haven't upgraded anywhere else on offense. I think Kyle Shanahan helps too, but only see a modest upgrade here. Balancing the D and O together, I see a team that might be slightly improved, but not much different from last year. If we won 4 games last year, 2 more wins seems about right, when accounting for the upgrade on Jim Zorn.
That was until I read FO's tasty tidbit:
"The Redskins should reach the playoffs this year: They are better than they were last season, and they weren’t as bad last season as their record suggests. They fell well below their Estimated Win total of 7.3 in 2009, underperforming because of Zorn’s dreadful coaching and some special teams lapses. Zorn’s ineffectuality as a leader and strategist was evident in early season losses to the woeful Lions (the Redskins were 2-of-10 on third downs, committed 97 yards in penalties, and allowed three straight drives for a combined 41 Lions offensive plays) and Chiefs (eight three-andout drives against an opponent that couldn’t score a touchdown). If Shaun Suisham could kick straight, the Redskins would have beaten the Cowboys in Week 11, and a special-teams fumble provided the margin of victory for the Saints in Week 13. The switch from Zorn-Campbell to Shanahan-McNabb will get the Redskins to snap back to that seven-win level and then buy them an extra win or two. A schedule full of Rams, Buccaneers, and Lions gives them another boost...The Redskins will have an offense close to league average and a solid 3-4 defense that has the right personnel for the system...Barring a Week 1 McNabb injury, the Redskins are a safe bet to compete for a wild card, if not win their division.
Holy crap! That's right, with a semi-competent coach and normal luck, we would have won 7 games last year. FO agrees with me that this team will be about 2 games better, but is using a much higher baseline. Running through the schedule though, I still having trouble finding 9 wins. Let's say we beat the Rams, Bucs, Lions, Bears, and Jags, and go 2-4 in the division given that Dallas is a superior team, and the Giants and Eagles are no pushovers. Then let's assume we lose to the Colts, Packers, and Vikings (although Viking injuries might push them into the W column). That gives us a 7-7 record with games against the Texans and Titans not counted. Maybe the Skins beat the Texans at FedEx and lose at Tennessee to go 8-8. We still need to find 1 more win, and that is if we don't slip up against any of the supposedly inferior teams. Maybe we go 3-3 in the division, or can sneak out a game in Tennessee or against the Vikings, but 9 wins is a stretch for me. That said, in the metrics and I trust, and with McNabb ready for week 1, this team can legitimately talk about playoffs.
Contenders for the NFC East crown - just when I thought I was out, they pull me right back in! Don't look now, but it's Dallas week!
(Image courtesy of harryhogfootball.com)