5 things the Redskins can and must learn from the Packers and Steelers

The Super Bowl is coming up in less than two weeks and there are so many things to be envious of as a Redskins fan.  Ben Roethlisberger looks for a chance to redeem his off field issues and cement himself as one of the top QBs in the NFL with a 3rd championship ring, while Aaron Rodgers looks to lead the high flying Packers and capture his first, jumpstarting his journey to be the best QB in the league.  On top of that the #2 Steelers defense, led by Troy Polomalu faces off against the #5 packers defense led by Clay Matthews.  These two teams got there the right way, and are set up for more success and title chances for years to come.  As we sit here with the 31st ranked defense in the league and no idea who will be starting at Quarterback come September, we have to ask, what should we do?

Here are 5 things that we need to learn from the successes of these two teams…

  1. NT is the most important position in the 3-4: BJ Raji and Casey Hampton come to work and are studs on the football field (unlike someone lazy bum we know…).  Stick with the 3-4; find the anchor to it.  Can you imagine what Orakpo could do if he had someone like Hampton or Raji anchoring our D-line instead of a washed up Haynesworth or Maake Kemoeatu?   If Marcell Dareus from Alabama is somehow available at 10 (though unlikely) he would be my choice and would make the most immediate positive impact overall on this team.  Green Bay went from allowing 51 points in the playoffs last year in the 3-4 to being a top 5 defense.  Not saying we’ll be there, but we can definitely make strides from last year.  There really is nowhere to go but up.
  2. The Draft is King and the Draft is DEEP: Key contributors to both franchises were drafted after the 2nd round and compliments to the drafted talent was picked up in free agency.  Notable steals: Tramon Williams, Mike Wallace, Jermichael Finley, Sam Shields (probably the player of the game against the Bears), James Starks, Desmond Bishop, and Chris Kemoeatu.  It’s something that the fans have been echoing for the past several years and this Super Bowl backs it up.
  3. We NEED to draft a franchise QB: Whether it is this year in the first round, or someone slightly later to groom under McNabb (I vote no to grooming under Grossman), or next year, it needs to happen soon.  Trent Dilfer and Rex Grossman were anomalies and we will not get to a consistent playoff level with a QB that we pick up off the street or past his prime.  Getting lucky with someone like Tom Brady is unlikely, especially with the Redskins, so the fact of the matter is that the QB needs to be a pick on the first day of the draft.  Jason Campbell could have been great…he wasn’t and we need to try again soon.  That second round pick we traded for McNabb could’ve been Colt McCoy, it’s time to not make that trade anymore.  I’m not saying McCoy is a budding all-pro, but I think we would certainly be in a better position than we are now if we had picked him up in the second round last year and kept Jason Campbell around.  Campbell and McCoy (w/an extra pick this year) or Grossman and Beck…is it really even a choice?
  4. O-Line is important, but…these Super Bowl teams have somewhat raggedy lines and still made it because of the stars leading their teams.  Big Ben’s best quality as a QB is his well-documented ability to be a tank in the pocket and not go down, but Rogers has made due with a mediocre O-line at best.  Our O-line needs to be bolstered for sure, there is no doubt about that.  We also need a lot of other pieces.  Rex Grossman will not lead us to the Promised Land no matter how good our O-line is.  Both of these teams have great QBs (on the field) and have surrounded them with good young talent and a top 5 defense.
  5. Time to get a fresh face at coach? It’s failed in the past with the Spurrier experiment and the Zorn debacle, but Mike Tomlin and Mike McCarthy are great coaches, and they get the absolute best out of their players after being plucked from obscurity.  I’m not saying Shanahan is a bad coach, or that we should get rid of him.  More so that if it doesn’t work out and we cut our ties with the Shanahan family, it might be time to look to get younger on the sideline in addition to on the field.  Mike Tomlin has a chance to earn his second Super Bowl ring in four seasons, one more than Bill Cowher did in 15!  Might it be time to say goodbye to the old guard and bring in the new?

Here’s to a brighter future…Go Skins!

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  • I know Rex, not personally

    Why do most of the Redskins fans hate Rex? Seriously, tell me what he’s done in a Redskins uniform that is so negative or give me an example of someone that they could immediately bring in thats available that could do what he can. Palmer aint getting traded and I think Rex is better at this point anyway. Maybe you want to try and get Brett Favre? McNabb? Rex already proved he’s better than McNabb in this offense. No rookie that you bring in will do what Rex can in his first year. Rex has been injured the bulk of his career and thats why he’s been inconsistent. 2006 was his only full year in which he was basically a rookie since he had only played in a handful of games up to that point. He had his ups and downs and inconsistent moments but ever since his 2nd stint in 2007 he’s been very consistent. No Good Rex, Bad Rex. He’s a starter in this league and if the idiot Skins fans had their way to drive him out of town then you’d be left with nothing and will acheive nothing next year just like you have for the past decade plus. If he comes back and they fill a few holes with the draft, this is a playoff team next year. Ask me anything about Rex, you can get stats anywhere but I’ve watched every game in this guys pro career and he’s a gamer. I’m glad Shanny likes him and that he’s making the decisions and not some washed up blogger.

    • Miles Aghajanian

      I would much rather give McNabb a second chance with a second year in the Offense then have Grossman start. Grossman threw 7 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and lost 4 fumbles. He played one good half of football all year. The one win he had was because he was set up inside the 20 yard line by interceptions twice. I honestly don’t understand why some Redskins fans like him and support him as our QB. He did better in the offense because he had ATV running behind him and an extra year in it not because he is a starter in the NFL. He isn’t. You say he can lead us to the Playoffs if he had a few more pieces around him. If we get more pieces to improve our team in the draft/FA McNabb has a better chance to lead us to the playoffs than Grossman. McNabb will be a better mentor to a young player than Grossman, you cannot deny that, and that’s exactly the role that either of these guys will have to play in coming years. I vote McNabb even though they probably aren’t going to bring him back.

  • http://erg rgergerg

    Because Rex Grossman is a BAD FOOTBALL PLAYER.

    he is NOT GOOD at football.

    that is why people do not like him you dumbass.

    not that it matters because the redskins are a total loss anyway. you should just burn the team to the ground and start over or just give up entirely.

    GO STEELERS.

  • I know Rex, not personally

    Good job backing up that argument with some facts. Typical steeler fan. Your mom would be proud. You should join a debate team, you’d rock.

  • http://www.techbayusa.com James Thompson

    I’m a season ticket holder from Florida and go up for all the games.

    Lifelong Redskins fan. Know all the players from all the rosters going back to when Gibbs first came onboard. Watched and studied every game ever played.

    I miss the hogs and the equivalent. It seems the AFC teams like the Ravens and Steelers and the NfC teams like the Eagles and Giants learned this from us and we forgot this lesson long ago. I think with a solid offensive line you can win with quarterbacks like Rypien, Willims, McNabb, Campell, and Grossman. We should have used the 2nd round and other picks we traded for McNabb on a big and fast guard or RT. When I think of our previous champs, our offensive line gave the quarterback time to find our receiving threats Monk, Clark, Sanders, Bryant, Didier, Warren, Riggins, Washington, Byers, Allen, etc. even when our quarterbacks and receiving threats were not as good or as heralded as others like Elway and Kelly. The key was time and the ability to run the ball and maintain possession to run out the clock and win the game.

    If Kyle Shanahan can ever learn to combine a possession ball control ram it down your throat running game with his skill at getting receivers the ball, we would be balanced and formidable. I’m sure his dad wants him to learn this.

    Defensively, I think one of the reasons we failed this year was it takes time for the players to learn the 3-4 and for it to take effect. but a major reason for that was because the coaching staff was too easy on Haynesworth during the offseason, training camp, preseason, and early in the season. They should have suspended him for the first 4 games and not the last 4 games, but the error on their part was out of the kindness of their heart in giving the young kid a chance to catch a clue and come around. He never did and when you combine a malcontent with an still injured and hindered Kemo the glaring weakness and lack of push up the middle gave opposing offenses way too much time to find their receivers. On a note with Kemo, I am disappointed our team plays players that are still injured. Come on, put the guy on injured reserve and give the player a chance to truly heal, and likewise give our team a chance to find another player.

    Another reason we failed on defense is because Haslett still has too much of the AFC / Buffalo Bills mentality on defense. He thinks lightweight players are going to stop the run against heavier linemen based on position and scheme and he gives the offenses way too many mismatches in their favor against the run. Likewise, he thinks our bigger, heavier, and slower linemen and 3-4 size linebackers can pass cover and he gives away more mismatches in pass coverage to the opposing offense … hence all the yardage racked up against us. The schemes “almost” worked, but almost doesn’t count and our coverages were just one step away too many times. A strong and consistent pressure from strong defensive linemen are the key to stopping the run, pressuring the quarterback, and giving our defensive backs and players in pass coverage a chance to make a play. I like what the Giants and Eagles do with their 4 man line, and even what we used to do. We can get there, but we have to eliminate giving away so many mismatches.

    We failed a lot on offense because Kyle Shanahan was too much of a gunslinger and took inordinate and unnecessary risks in games such as the Houston game. We had the game won and all of a sudden when we are nearly in position to get in position for either a first down or a field goal, he heaves it into the end zone and blows our chance to win. You just can’t take those kinds of risks when ball control is the smart move. First down or just move into field goal range would have won that game on several different occasions. Ball control power football (maybe even combined with zone blocking) is the key to success in sustaining drives, wearing out the defense, slowing down the pass rush, building a successful passing game and winning.

    Another reason why we failed this year was not our decision to get Donovan McNabb, but the fact that Donovan McNabb did not buy into and execute the system during games. He rolled out the same way he did in Philadelphia countless times and telegraphed the receiver he was going to throw to so many times it was laughable and it was no wonder opposing defenses were able to keep us from making 3rd downs and long drives. I can’t believe Donovan hasn’t upped his game. Surely if Vick can become a student of the game and up his game, Donovan can. If Donovan had done his read progressions correctly, played within the system like even John Elway was willing to do, then he could have easily improvised something after his reads weren’t there instead of trying to make something happen and ignoring the reads. The reads and open receivers were there so many times I was actually surprised Shanahan waited as long as he did to bench McNabb. We would have been better as a team, and McNabb would have been better as a quarterback if we had started Grossman at the beginning of the year … left it an open competition until Donovan pulled his head out and was willing to work synergistically with our offensive coordinator Kyle instead of secretly being stubborn and improvising his own thing. I’m glad we have both the Shanahans and Donovan. Donovan is the one who needs to ante up and get with the program first and foremost, then i”m sure the Shanahans will find a way to implement what Donovan does best.

    Our secondary is awesome. I thought it was a miracle we did as well as we did with our defensive line situation. Considering Hall considers himself a friend of Haynesworth and stuck up for him constantly, it is amazing Haynesworth was willing to let his friend down by being such a selfish malcontent. If Haynesworth got in shape and truly wanted to be best player in the nfl he could be. He owes all Redskins an apology. He needs to admit he was wrong, change his ways, grow up, become a man at what 30? and then take his lunch pail to work and work hard for his team and to unleash his potential. Otherwise, I just pray Dan Snyder suspends him forever. Ill take our young NT Bryant over a pouting selfish Haynesworth any day.

    I don’t know much about our defensive line coach, but we need someone like Bruce Smith or Dexter Manley to teach our pass rushers some 2nd, 3rd, and 4th moves to evade, elude, escape all the holding. It seems Orakpo is an expert at running around the outside and getting the linemen to hold him around the neck with one arm, but Dexter and Bruce need to teach him their moves on how they would also do that then spin inside for the sack. Where the heck is Dexter? Dexter, please go help Orakpo!

    I don’t understand the logic to start Lichtensteiger over Dockery or Montgomery over Hicks. There must be some things we don’t know. Sure the zone blocking scheme let little fast guys to create lanes where they otherwise wouldn’t, but as a Redskin I want our hogs to be able to blow people off the ball. Surely Dockery can get himself in shape to be fast enough and durable enough to block in the zone scheme. Why not alternate the linemen and blocking schemes to their strengths. Put in Dockey and Hicks and run power. Wear the defense out. Then put in the little guys and run the defense to death and wear them out some more. Switch out again, repeat, etc.

    Likewise with Haynesworth, you mean to tell me we have a lineman with his potential and we can’t figure out a scheme to use him and our coaches can’t either motivate him or kick his behind enough to get him to play like the monster he could be? Get a marine in there, get some hard ass to get him in line. This also was a coaching failure. I think Mike Shanahan and the coaches took the nice approach on this one. They gave Albert enough rope to hang himself with his immaturity and he not only hung himself but hurt the entire team for 3/4′s of the season. This was the wrong decision. They should have gotten in his face and told him the way it was going to be and if he refused, kicked his butt. Why not call Albert and say Albert we are going to give you a chance to do things your way. We are going to implement a 4-3 scheme just for you and call it the Albert Haynesworth defense. All you have to do is have 100% participation in the offseason program so we know you are in shape and then actually work hard at training camp and preseason to learn all of our defensive schemes and help us come up with more to win with. Albert is only going to be able to physically play for 35-50 plays a game max, so why not run a 4-3 scheme for those plays, and a 3-4 scheme when Albert is resting? If an opposing offense has to game plan for both a 4-3 and a 3-4 AND ALBERT their preparation workload will go up exponentially.

    Regarding Free Agents, the more the merrier and lets get some competition at WR, OL, DT, FS!

    Regarding age, trade or cut everyone over 32. Sign other teams practice squad players and build us a roster.

    Regarding the draft, it will take some time. We can make do at QB, RB, LB, SS, CB, punter, and even FG. Lets get some more offensive linemen (RT and guards), defensive nt, outside threat pass rushing de and lb, and a free safety. Lets try to get Donovan and Haynesworth to come onboard, but if we can’t, then trade them early and move on.

    The coaching staff needs to not be so nice and get the team on the same page by training camp.

    Last and certainly not least, our offensive coordinator needs to be better balanced and stick to the run to have a better possession game and shorter first downs, and our defensive coordinator needs to quit trying to turn us into the Buffalo Bills crappy defense, watch some tape of some successful dominant real defenses, and quite giving away so many mismatches.

    Thanks for the opportunity to state what is on my mind to other true Redskins fans.

    Sincerely,
    James