Gil Brandt was director of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1989. He now does analysis for NFL.com.
GS: What are the strengths of the Redskins?
GB: An experienced coaching staff led by Joe Gibbs: That can become a big advantage in an era of so many good players and teams. These coaches have proven they have the ability to develop players and prepare teams. I also believe Mark Brunell is an upgrade at quarterback. Any time you get a quarterback who has put together two 13-3 seasons like he did in Jacksonville, you're doing pretty good. He's probably lost some mobility, but he's bright and smart and recognizes defenses well.
GS: What would be the team's weakness?
GB: You're betting on things you hope come true: The Redskins' defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, had the number two defense last year when he was head coach in Buffalo. Will he do the same with the Redskins [No. 25 in defense last year]? The defensive line is not a real strength and the cornerbacks are questionable.
GS: What kind of offense do you see from the Redskins?
GB: The offensive line should be okay. I like Chris Samuels. They'll miss Jon Jansen. Green Bay, Kansas City and Jacksonville have the best offensive lines, but Joe Bugel is a heckuva football coach. Every place he's been, he's produced a good offensive line. The Clinton Portis deal is in Denver's favor because it's easier getting a good running back than a shut-down cornerback like Champ Bailey. But Portis is one of the top six running backs in the league.
GS: On defense?
GB: Shawn Springs came out of Ohio State [to Seattle] with tremendous ability. He can do better. Fred Smoot will be terrific some day, if he keeps his head on straight. Sean Taylor will be rookie of the year on defense. Marcus Washington was a big loss for Indianapolis and LaVar Arrington can be the best linebacker in the NFL. Everyone in the league would like a better front four, but Williams will get the Redskins to play hard. He's a great defensive coach.
GS: The Redskins' record?
GB: A favorable home schedule will help them go 9-7, or with breaks, 10-6. Washington, Dallas or Philadelphia can win the East.