ESPN has predicted they’ll go 3-13 and ranks them 28th in the league. The Vegas over/under for wins is 5.5. They are in a division with this year’s off-season champs (the Eagles). Both the Redskins and Cowboys were 6-10 last year, but most pundits seem to think they were both fluke seasons — the Cowboys will turn things right around, and the Redskins are doomed to be awful.
But I’ll tell you what — the Redskins won’t be awful this year. Yeah, that’s right — I said it. I don’t believe that the Redskins will the embarrassment of the league. They won’t totally suck. Even better, they appear to have hope. The team is younger (by more than two years, on average). The Redskins made a ton of draft picks this year, and most of them made the roster. They seems to be building the organization the right way.
The key to the Redskins not-suckitude this year is the obviously-improved defense. The Redskins had the wrong players for the 3-4 scheme last year (and some, like Albert Hanyesworth, were wrong on every level), and have drafted and acquired players to better fit that scheme. Preseason is not a great indicator of future success (remember Spurrier’s Redskins beating up on everyone?), but I think this is one lesson we can definitely take from it.
The big question mark is at quarterback. As the Brothers Mottram put it after Grossman beat Beck out for the job: “This isn’t really good news or bad news, it’s just news.” Let’s be clear — a team with John Beck or Rex Grossman as their quarterback won’t win a Super Bowl (sorry, 2006 Bears).
So, other than my complete underestimation of the awesomeness that is Rex Grossman, I feel pretty good about my predictions. I’d caution about getting too excited — let’s be honest, 8-8 would be a miracle — but I really believe that they won’t be a total embarrassment.
One last thing. You know the State Farm ad that ran this weekend with all the little kids singing from Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind”? After the line, “There’s nothing you can’t do/Now you’re in New York,” my 8-year-old daughter said, “Yeah, except beat the Redskins.”