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Dawn of A New Beginning

By Mark Solway | July 9th, 2006

Well Redskin fans, here we sit on the cusp of yet another season for our beloved team. Every year, it’s common place to start gearing up for a season by examining what type of team you have. Being subjective is a difficult thing when you follow a team closely; especially when you have been a fan for a great number of years. You tend to look through rose-colored glasses in some instances, and just plain overlook shortcomings in others. But this is a blog, not an article… so I’m not looking to break down things position-by-position. I just want to tell my fellow fans that I think it’s okay to be excited. I’ve been up and down this lineup with a fine toothed comb, and there are not a lot of glaring holes. The only position that people are going to point to is quarterback. Mark Brunell isn’t exactly a spring chicken, so that makes him an easy target; but is that really fair? In 2005 Brunell resurrected what looked like a dead career and he did so on merit, nohing else. Redskin fans that watched every game last season would be hard-pressed to point to any game that Brunell single-handedly lost. There are certainly games and performances that can be pointed to, that would prove the contrary. Not only did Brunell put up some good numbers; he took this team by the horns and ran it deeper into the playoffs than they’ve been for almost fifteen years. He proved that being a leader might be the most important trait of them all, for being a quarterback. Does he have another really good season in him? That remains to be seen, but I think those paying attention last year should at least give him the respect that he earned; and consider that he will be commanding an offensive unit with a lot more weapons at it’s disposal. Will Jason Campbell be ready should Brunell get injured or not perform? I don’t know. I do know that he’ll have plenty of chance to get himself ready with Brunell likely to take it easy early on in camp after finger surgery. I do know that the coaching staff will be approaching the situation like Campbell should be ready. Joe Gibbs always puts a strong importance on having two ready and able quarterbacks. If Brunell stays healthy, it’s likely that Cambell could even see some playing time should the Redskins be fortunate enough to build any type of substantial lead throughout the 2006 season. But after that… what on earth are the critics going to point to? Our defense isn’t even worth mentioning. Under Gregg Williams they have always not only been strong, they have been stupendous. Chalk up whatever statistics you want, drag out the analysis as long as you want… if you don’t come to the conclusion that Williams has kept this team in the bulk of games for the last two seasons, well then you haven’t been paying attention. Game-in, game-out, regardless of the personnel on the field, Williams has fielded effective units. There have been no-names, there have been 4th and 5th stringers used, it hasn’t really mattered much. Williams adjusts the defense to suit the personnel and they continually stuff, if not dominate the opposition. Is it really a homer view to look at Williams’ performance as exemplary? Or are you blind if you don’t? Well how about we point to the offense that has struggled as a whole over the last two seasons? Sure they were really rolling by season’s end in 2005, but there were times where they struggled. Enter Al Saunders. It’s nice to see Mr. Saunders at least get some of the respect that he deserves. Most press is generally inclined to print that Saunders is an offensive mastermind. With the success he had in Kansas City, it would be irresponsible not to. So he comes to try and work his magic in Washington after being snatched from the grasp of Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders by a Redskins owner with his eye on the prize, and his hand in the check book. But do the Redskins have the tools to make it work? Are you kidding me? Clinton Portis has never been as excited about an offensive system as he is about Saunders’, and has stated so repeatedly. It’s doubtful that Saunders had a receiving corps as prolific as Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd, A.R.E and David Patten with the Chiefs. I’ll grant that Chris Cooley will have to do even more than the considerable amount that he has in his first two seasons, to be considered on Tony Gonzalez’ level. But surely he’s at least shown the promise and effectiveness to not see the position or situation as a weakness? The only other element would be the offensive line I guess; but it’s hard to see a problem there when they were playing so well at the end of 2005. Were it not for an unfortunate injury to Randy Thomas, the lineman that was actually playing the best of all at the time, the Redskins might have gone even further in 2005. Another year on their belts under Bugel, and you can expect this unit to keep improving and doing what it needs to do to be successful. If anything, Saunders’ offense suits the natural abilities of this offensive line even more. Pay attention to how the backups perform in the preseason, because effective depth is our only real offensive line concern in my opinion. If an improving Derrick Dockery continues to be the ‘weakest link’ in this line, then they’ll be just fine. Look… the team turned a corner last year. If you didn’t see it, enjoy wallowing in your misery. It doesn’t take a Redskin fan to see the team as ‘on the rise’… nobody really wanted to draw the Redskins in last year’s playoffs. Sure, they fell short. They didn’t have all that it took to get to the big dance. But they certainly learned for themselves, that they had it in them. They turned a corner because they somehow became winners instead of just losers that were occasionally winning a few games. It’s tough to ‘unlearn’ an NFL team, but it’s been accomplished nevertheless. It’s a direct product of the Joe Gibbs effect. The man has re-constructed this team completely in a fairly short time, and they are in a completely different place than they have been for years. Each year it builds a little bit stronger. Last year there was real hope to start the season. Not any overly lofty goals like Super Bowls or division titles, but the promise of fielding a team to be respected. This year, there’s real cause for optimism. In fact, there’s plenty of reason to actually be excited. It’s okay for you to be edgy… and jumpy… and anxious for the season to start. It’s the dawn of a new…

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