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Preseason power rankings: No. 22

Often the league leader in splashy moves, the Washington Redskins’ offseason was noteworthy for whom they didn’t add.

The organization made it clear they wanted to upgrade from quarterback Jason Campbell, but they weren’t able to acquire Jay Cutler or Mark Sanchez after public pursuits.

Dan Snyder didn’t hastily fire head coach Jim Zorn, even after big names like Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden suddenly came on the market.  (Although timing may have been a factor.) 

Just as importantly, the Redskins weren’t able to re-stock a thin roster with young talent because they only had two draft picks in the first 157 selections of the NFL.  This is typical of recent Redskins teams and a reason they’ve struggled to find sustained success.

Washington’s offensive line is aging all at once, and the best backup plan they could come up with for their inevitable injuries was to drag former Bills bust Mike Williams out of retirement.

OK, so we haven’t mentioned that Washington signed Albert Haynesworth, perhaps the biggest difference maker to hit free agency since Reggie White bolted from Norman Braman and the Eagles in 1993.  Haynesworth was the rare Redskins signing that was worth the money, a nightmare matchup squarely in the middle of his prime.

The pressure Haynesworth creates up the middle will ideally allow pass rushers Andre Carter and rookie Brian Orakpo to get favorable matchups on the outside.

Washington’s defense should be solid (although they overpaid to keep cornerback DeAngelo Hall), but the offense is likely to be held back by the offensive line issues, especially while playing in the rugged NFC East.

Even if Campbell takes a big step forward, would we really be able to tell?  Campbell will be under constant pressure and his wide receiver group is below average, as youngsters Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly have yet to show consistency.  Running backs Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts form a solid duo, but the offense as a whole is lacking explosive playmakers.

Put it all together, and you have a blah offense paired with a slightly better than average starting defense that is more vulnerable to injuries than most because the bottom third of their roster is sub-par.

This type of team could possibly make the playoffs out West, but they are stuck in a division with the Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys.

And if Washington finishes in the cellar again, we suspect the Redskins will go right back to making headlines again on the coaching front.

Key Player:  Chris Samuels.  The stalwart left tackle is showing signs of decay after a torn triceps and a persistent knee injury.  If Samuels goes downhill, the whole offense could crumble with him.

Rookie to watch:  Orakpo.  He might be a one dimensional pass rusher at first, but early reviews about his transition to linebacker have been positive.

Best veteran acquisition:  Haynesworth.  We thought about D.J. Hackett here, but we’ll give the slight edge to Haynesworth. 

Key game: Week Seven, vs. Philadelphia.  This is the first home game in the division, and it comes after a manageable early schedule.  Pull off the home upset, and they could be set up well to stay in in the mix.

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9 Responses to “Preseason power rankings: No. 22”
  1. dlr4skins says: Sep 3, 2009 12:12 AM

    All very true but 22 seems low.
    18.

  2. Emmet50 says: Sep 3, 2009 6:33 AM

    The Skins had a top 5 defense last year and have now added one of the best defensive tackles in the league. So explain to me how their defense is “slightly better than average”?

  3. cleanface says: Sep 3, 2009 9:46 AM

    Give up, Florio. You’re never going to finish these before the season starts. Nobody cares anyways.

  4. dcfan-1212450 says: Sep 3, 2009 11:43 AM

    Top 5 Defense. Don’t lose any players, but add the best DT in the league, and still no respect from anyone. The skins defense are going to be good. And the one thing that may change this year that changes teams is turnovers, something the skins defenses, while good, never get. The Steelers, Giants, Patriots, and Ravens always are better than the talent they have on offense because they get turnovers and have short fields. I do not think the Skins are top 10 by no means but 22, with that defense is low. Maybe 15 to 17, just ouside the playoffs due to their division and the NFC as a whole.

  5. st21snyderblows says: Sep 3, 2009 5:25 PM

    That’s being pretty nice we will be lucky to win 6 games this year. Yeah our D was pretty sick last year except for two minor stats turnovers and points. Oh and by the way our offesnse still blows and will be in the bottom 5 in the nfl this year.

  6. CH³NO² says: Sep 4, 2009 8:50 PM

    I think the Skins are going to lose a lot of games 16-10, 14-7, 10-3…..stuff like that.
    If they go 8-8…… that would be a gift.
    6-10 aint out of the question, but definitely no better than 9-7 and in the NFC “B”east Division……no way they make the playoffs.

  7. east96st says: Sep 4, 2009 10:49 PM

    I’m a Giants fan and even I think you ranked them too low. Put this team in the NFC or AFC West and they win it in a walk, which means they should be ranked much higher.

  8. ytrain says: Sep 5, 2009 12:26 AM

    Why did D.J. Hackett even get a mention for best free agent acquisition? He won’t make the roster. The 5th WR will be seventh-round pick Marko Mitchell.

  9. Sharpest Toolnshed says: Sep 7, 2009 8:25 AM

    I’m a ‘Skins fan, and for some reason was all excited about them pursuing – and landing – Haynesworth.
    But come on, Campbell is never going to pan out, o-line is junk, receivers are junk (Moss could be great if he wasn’t the only one worth anything), and the D – although statisically impressive last year – was not a dominant defense. They were good on 3rd downs! How that was a top 5 defense last year, with no interceptions or sacks, defies all convention. But to expect that for a 2nd year? Come on.
    This team is 6-10 at best. All hell’s breaking loose in the offseason. And Snyder, quit suing old Grandmother’s that can’t afford their season tickets anymore!

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