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Posted at 02:35 PM ET, 10/04/2011

My four-week relationship with the 2011 Redskins

I’m not sure why or how, but it’s working, so best to leave it be. I’d rather be unhappy after a win than positive after a loss, and the Redskins sitting at 3-1 after the first four games should shock the NFL world. Oddly enough, it hasn’t really.
Ryan Torain and the Redskins are starting to make my heart flutter once again. (Tom Gannam - AP)
The success of the Lions and Bills have been bigger stories, as have the failures of the Donovan McNabb-led Vikings and Peyton Manning-less Colts. The Redskins appear to play their best football when they’re out of the spotlight, and the less attention they garner may work out in their favor. If the starry-eyed Dallas-loving media doesn’t find anything interesting about the 3-1 Redskins then so be it.

I’m loving the committee of running backs. Shanny’s got his type: 6-feet tall, 220 pounds, one cut, and better be able to pass protect. Might as well strip their names off the back of their jerseys. I do miss Clinton Portis from time to time, but not fulfilling a marquee back’s quota allows Shanahan to put the freshest legs on the field. Ryan Torain was outstanding against the Rams and Roy Helu was outstanding against the Cards. Tim Hightower hasn’t been the breakout every-down back we expected after his preseason performance, but he doesn’t need to be. He’s still valuable as a screen option and in blitz pick-up and hasn’t grimaced about sharing the load.

I’m loving the defense. Ranked fifth in yards per game, tied for first in 3rd down conversions allowed at 26 percent, tied for first with 15 sacks, tied for second with seven forced fumbles, and most importantly ranked third allowing 15.8 points per game. The Redskins’ defense has returned with a vengeance. Brian Orakpo should palm stickers in his hand that say “You’ve Been Orak-poned” and slap them his latest victim. Ryan Kerrigan keeps insisting he still has much to learn; I can’t wait until this guy is comfortable! We must not forget to sing about the defensive line, the unsung first line of defense. With LaRon Landry back in the mix this is the best defense in the NFL.

I’m liking the offense — as a friend. The defense will keep every game close, but the offense has declined from week to week in scoring points. The only way to win is to outscore your opponent. Mixing up running backs seems to have worked, why not mix up receivers? Give Leonard Hankerson a shot. He’s not getting any better watching every week and he could be the type that shines on game day more than in practice. His height and hands at least pose a bigger threat, or even decoy, in the red zone. As of now, Rex Grossman is getting wins, the last thing needed is to shake up the quarterback conspiracy.

I’m taking the next step with the special teams. Despite Graham Gano’s inconsistency, Sav Rocca’s botched hold, and Brandon Banks’ disappearance over the last two weeks, they have yet to give up a punt or kick return for a touchdown. Rocca’s punting has been tremendous and Gano does seem improved, but up to 28th in the league from dead last. Still I’m ready to start thinking these guys are getting their act together more than falling apart.

The Redskins could’ve fallen asleep at the wheel headed for the bye week, but still managed to squeak out the win. Without too many nagging injuries they have an opportunity to right some wrongs and build upon their success, rather than use the week to rest and recover. Hopefully players will continue the trend of showing up to Redskins Park on their off days. It’s not how you start but how you finish, and there’s still a long way to the finish line. Nevertheless, finishing strong is much more feasible after a solid start.

By Evan Bliss  |  02:35 PM ET, 10/04/2011

Tags:  Redskins, Evan Bliss

 
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