Well, your ESPN NFL Predictions are in. Of the 12 ???Experts', none picked the Washington Redskins to win the NFC East. IN fact, only one, Adam Schefter, picked Dallas. The rest chose Philadelphia, despite a horrifically awful offensive line.
Really, no need to get upset. As we say every year at DC Pro Sports Report, projections are about respect, respect is earned. Finishing 6-10 in 2010 does not earn respect. Additionally, let's face it, this 2011 Washington Redskins team is difficult to project. The 53 man roster could feature as many as 15 to 17 players new to the franchise this year. Of the staring positions, if we go with Tom Blaz's 53 man projection 12 new starters throughout the roster (including those that have switched positions, such as Will Montgomery) Second, let's face fact number 2, the Redskins quarterback situation is a huge question mark. Can John Beck or Rex Grossman run the offense and lead it to wins. WE THINK so. But, no one really knows. The fact that the question mark exists at easily the most important spot on the offense is reason enough for pause. Beck or Grossman will have plenty of time to answer that question.
NFL.com made their season predictions as well. Their predictions were made by their seven experts. Not surprisingly, the Redskins were among ONLY ONE of the picks for the NFC East Champion. That pick went to Michael Lombardi. Lombardi is one of those rare, well respected NFL writers/analysts who has decided to walk out on to the limb and project an NFC East Championship for the burgundy and gold, a move we simply call, freaking gutsy.
"The Redskins, to me, this summer, have shown me more than any team in the NFC East," Lombardi said on the Bill Simmons podcast this week. "I think Shanahan was embarrassed last year, I think you could see it in his demeanor this summer. His team looks much more organized. They look effective running the football. I like Washington."
There is no doubt this is a MUCH different team. The extent of change the roster and locker room has undergone in just one off-season is dramatic. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen amazingly converted an aging, over-hyped roster into a young, talented, and inspiring roster. Gone are the overpaid prima donnas that were handed to Shanahan by Snyderrato. In are high character, leader type players. Gone are high priced, high aged veterans who's best days in the NFL are in the past, to reasonable contracts to guys who's best days may very well lie ahead. Let's just say this. Regardless of the end result this season, which we here think will be improved over 6-10, I will venture the best of 9-7 and missed playoffs, this franchise was dramatically turned in a new, positive direction. Mike Shanahan has pointed the Redskins toward a much brighter future. And, if John Beck or Rex Grossman turn out to be decent to good signal callers in this offense, Shanahan also look absolutely brilliant. Onward to the 2012 NFL regular season.
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