The Redskins have very quietly started with one of the best records in the NFL. They are in second in the NFC East at 3-1. I think this team is for real, and barring injuries, will continue to improve.
You might say that can be said about all teams, but here is why it pertains more to the Redskins.
|Imagine how good Jason Campbell and his teammates will be when they finally get on the same page. (Getty Images)|
Campbell's pros are his strong arm, ability to be accurate on the deep ball -- crucial in a Joe Gibbs offense -- ability to run for first downs and poise. He does not get flustered in the pocket or if he makes a bad play, and his teammates feed off that.
Campbell gained a lot of respect this offseason by being one of the hardest-working players on the team, according to his coaches. This alone gains your teammmates' respect.
Campbell's weakness, other than inexperience reading defenses, is his accuracy on short-to-intermediate routes. Another area he has improved on -- and must continue to -- is his quickness in decision-making and getting rid of the ball, but this is something I have seen improvement on since last year.
The other reasons why the Redskins should continue to progress on offense is that many of their players either did not practice much or were not starting for them in training camp.
On offense, left tackle Chris Samuels missed most of camp. Meanwhile, left guard Pete Kendall missed most of the Redskins camp because he was with the Jets until being traded Aug. 23. On the right side, tackle Todd Wade and guard Jason Fabini were backups in camp and became starters after injuries. In fact, Fabini had never been a guard in the NFL. It takes time for an offensive line to come together, so every week these guys play together, they will improve as a unit.
Also, Clinton Portis, one of the best backs in the NFL, missed virtually all of training camp. So when you combine the fact that he has to work himself back into game shape during the season as well as get used to a virtually new offensive line, you can see why I feel this unit can improve more than most teams.
At receiver, Santana Moss missed a lot of training-camp time -- valuable time -- that Campbell could have spent with him learning each other's tendencies. The player who has benefited from this is Antwaan Randle El. Instead of being only a slot and gimmick-type receiver, he has developed into a true wideout.
When teams struggle, I always believed that if they can put the same team out there week after week, they will get better, and that is why I believe the Redskins have their best football in front of them.
The defense has also continued to develop. Most of their players have been healthy. Changes they made from last year at MLB (London Fletcher), OLB (Rocky McIntosh) and safety (LaRon Landry) all have greatly benefited the defense.
The other changes made to the defense have been more of scheme or technique in nature and have proved successful. There is more of a reliance on zone defense to help eliminate the big plays that hurt them so much last year, and a change with the defensive linemen to allow them to play a more upfield game, thus resulting in more pressure on the quarterback when they only rush four men, which is essential if you are going to play zone defense.
Finally, the Redskins have one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL.
As people begin to focus on the Sunday showdown between Dallas and New England, the Washington-New England game on Oct. 28 might be just as exciting, with the added intrigue of two Hall of Fame coaches matching wits. They have faced each other only once as head coaches, but that was in 1991 when Bill Belichick was in Cleveland. However, they did face each other quite often when Belichick was the New York Giants defensive coordinator from 1984-1990.
Many people are eagerly awaiting the New England-Indianapolis game Nov. 4 with the idea they both could be unbeaten. But do not underestimate the difficulty that Indianapolis will face when it goes to Jacksonville on Oct. 22. Jacksonville matches up quite well against Indy. It has a strong running game that can move the ball on the Colts and eat up the clock, which would lessen Indy's number of possessions.
The Jags also match up well on defense because they have two big and talented defensive tackles, Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, who will create problems for Indy's undersized guards. They hurt the Colts in the running game and in pass protection, where Henderson and Stroud can collapse the pocket and make Peyton Manning move his feet. Manning's only weakness is when he has to move his feet and throw off balance; he is not accurate.
Colts-Jaguars games are usually close and with Jacksonville at home, there could be an upset in Jacksonville, especially if Indy has as many players out as it did in Week 5.