The biggest area of concern for '04?
For me, the biggest area of concern is managing expectations. I'm as guilty as anyone - Joe Gibbs is back, here come the playoffs! Though we have every reason to expect drastic improvements, we will be in a new offense, a new defense, and have new leadership in every area. The specifics (D-line, backfield, QB, etc.) will evolve and improve during the season. The spirits of the team and the fans may not.
I believe the players and the coaches are up to the task - we all just need to remind ourselves of what the task is - improvement.
Let's say the team goes 8-8, will that be enough for the fans? I guess it depends on what kind of 8-8 it is. You can go .500 and show signs of improvement along the way, or you can stumble to an 8-8 like the '00 all-star team. I'd expect that even if the team doesn't go to the playoffs we'll be much more patient and willing to give Gibbs the benefit of the doubt.
Good assessment BL, I hope our expectations don't get the best of us this year. A 3 or 4 game turnaround would be significant progress in the eyes of most teams, but then again when you look at the talent this team has on paper and with the experience of this staff, 8 or 9 wins would almost seem like a disappointment. Then again we all know that talent on paper means nothing.
My early expectations for '04 are this,
Best case scenario: the team jells quickly, Portis is a monster, Brunell is smart and efficient, and the defense is much improved from a year ago, Skins go 10-6 or 11-5, challenge for the division and go deep into the playoffs.
Worst case scenario: the team is slow to come together under the new staff/system, perhaps there is a key injury or two, the defensive line is like a sive, but in the end the team shows improvement and fights to an 8 or 9 win finish.
In Gibbs first year in 1982, the team started 0-5 and finished with a .500 record. I would not be surprised if the team struggles at times this year. Gibbs system takes a while to master.
Regarding area of biggest concern, I voted D-line because that is most obvious. But our offense will also sputter at times this year. When that happens all of the Ramsey fans will scream for Brunnell's head and vice-versa if Ramsey starts the season as starter. It will be a small fan only QB controversy. It is unavoidable. But it will be with the fans only, it will not affect the team, because all the players respect Gibbs.
I really hope your "worst case" is really the worst thing that can happen this year. Sadly, there are lots of things that COULD happen that would be far worse than your team that makes a stretch run to win 9 games.
Portis will be a monster. His combined rushing and catching yardage will be over 2000 yards.
Skins will score more than last year because they'll get in the end zone at a higher percentage once in the red zone.
Defense will determine if the team wins 11 games or wins 6 games. And it could be on either end of that spectrum because the defense stunk last year and they lost arguably their best defensive player.
Area of POTENTIAL difficulty is the OL. IF Samuels has another mediocre season and IF Dockery is more like the Pillsbury dough-boy than the Rock of Gibralter, that could be big time trouble.
My guess is that Gibbs is going to take a little while to get his groove back. He needs time to rework his plays and get everythign going. I expect us to win one or two early because everyone is so pumped, then lose a streak while teams key on on Gibbs play calling. I tihnk Gibbs will adjust and we end up with 9 wins. Hopefully enough for a wildcard, but at that point of the season we are in high gear and take it deep into the playoffs.
I think its going to hlep up out a lot that we have five preseason games, yes there as all that controversy last year about even having preseason because of injuries, but it will allow us to gel a lot more as a team.
My concerns are:
1. D-line/pass rush
2. Depth at linebacker
3. Managing expectations
I think the Redskins are more talented than the Giants and Cowboys and closer to the Eagles than the recent standings would indicate.. Remember, we were an overthrow away from overtime last year in Philly.. The last time we were well coached (and I use that term loosely) was with Schottenheimer and Tony Banks as our starting QB we went 8-8 so I am optimistic that with a much better team and a much better coach 9-10 wins isn't unrealistic.
I just hope the players don't get complacent themselves and start thinking "Well Joe Gibbs is back so it will all work out".
Not to be cliche but Joe Gibbs isn't the one who has to make the tackles, Joe Gibbs isn't the one who has to catch the ball, Joe Gibbs isn't the one who has to block.
Good point SS but I can't see Gibbs letting the team get complacent. I think the players can see from the minicamps that Gibbs is pure business on the field and that individual and team expectations are sky high. For those that don't see that, they'll be gone before they can become a problem.
Loss of Champ I have to believe will be a major issue, for at least this season. Champ was a HUGE player on D & his departure should be exploited! If I was a coach, I'd exploit it, at least until they stopped me.
Like most, I think the D line is the biggest area of concern, but with Williams schemes, I think it will be a heck of a lot better than last year.
At this point the only concern I have is that the players stay healthy. Last season we had so many key players with 'minor' injuries, enough to take the edge off performance, that I'd like to have as injury free a season as is possible with this game.
People will be surprised in the lack of drop off from Bailey to Springs. We'll also have a much better D to ease the pressure from the CB's and let them do their jobs.
I agree with basically everything said up to now here. Still, I went with the d-line for this reason: if the D-line can't stop the run, I think there will be big trouble on D. If we are in 2nd and 3rd and shorts on D, we can't unleash the agressive blitzing D. We'll also be very vulnerable to play action as LBs and DBs look to help in run support.
Now, if we can stuff the run, then it's 3rd and long and we can pin the ears back and bring it. We'll be able to generate a rush in that case, I figure, due to Lavar, Washington, and Williams's schemes.
But if we can't stuff the run, look out.
[QUOTE=ChounsMan]Loss of Champ I have to believe will be a major issue, for at least this season. Champ was a HUGE player on D & his departure should be exploited! If I was a coach, I'd exploit it, at least until they stopped me.[/QUOTE]
Maybe I'm just naive, but I don't really think that Champ was a huge loss.. He was beat a lot last year and I know he was hurt some, but he never was a game changer and never made teams pay for challenging him.
[QUOTE=Paintrain]Maybe I'm just naive, but I don't really think that Champ was a huge loss.. He was beat a lot last year and I know he was hurt some, but he never was a game changer and never made teams pay for challenging him.[/QUOTE]
Springs may be a step down, but with Taylor in there roaming around, IMO it's a wash.
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