Kidspost: The Score - A Season Preview of the Redskins
The Washington Redskins open their National Football League season against the New York Giants on Sunday. While there's always great excitement at the start of the football season and there's much to like about this year's team, I'm not sure how confident I am about the Redskins' chances.
Let's begin with what I like about the team.
Jason Campbell: The Redskins tried to replace Campbell during the offseason, but I don't think the fifth-year quarterback from Auburn University is the problem. Campbell is a solid young quarterback who completed more than 62 percent of his passes last season and threw for more than 3,200 yards with only six interceptions. If the Redskins' blockers give Campbell enough time to find his receivers, I think he will have a big year.
Defense: The Redskins' defense ranked fourth out of 32 teams last season. They should be even better because they added all-pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth from the Tennessee Titans. At 6 feet 6 inches and 350 pounds, Haynesworth is a giant who will plug up the middle of the line. The Redskins also added rookie linebacker-defensive end Brian Orakpo. Hopefully, Orakpo will help the Redskins' defense create more turnovers.
Coach Zorn: I'm not sure if Jim Zorn is a great coach, but at least he is back. That means the Redskins won't have to learn a bunch of new offensive plays. So Washington should be ready early in the season when they play three of the worst teams in the NFL -- the St. Louis Rams (2008 record: 2 wins and 14 losses), Detroit Lions (0-16) and Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) -- in their first six games.
But there are also things I don't like about this year's team.
Offensive line: During the second half of last season, the Redskins' offensive line struggled to open holes for running back Clinton Portis and to protect quarterback Campbell. Although the Redskins added guard Derrick Dockery during the offseason, the offensive line doesn't look much better than last year. And the backups look worse. If any of the starters on the offensive line go down with an injury, the Redskins might be in big trouble.
Receivers: According to the Football Outsiders Almanac, a book that analyzes football statistics, Redskins receivers led the NFL in dropped passes last season. And because they are small (5 feet 10 inches), Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El have trouble getting open and catching passes in crowded end zones against often-taller defenders. The Redskins are hoping that 6-foot-4 second-year receiver Malcolm Kelly will step up and have a big year. He better; the receivers need help.
Schedule: Because they are in the NFC East, the Redskins play six tough games every season, two each against the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Add in games against 2008 playoff teams, the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers, and Washington will be lucky to improve on last year's 8-8 record.
My prediction: I would love the Redskins to make the playoffs, but I don't see it happening. I see a 7-9 season.
Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column and is the author of sports novels for kids. His book "Touchdown Trouble" has just been published.