It Is, What It Is – but, What is It:

News Washington Commanders

The Washington Redskins are going into their bye week with four wins and four losses, after falling to the Detroit Lions 37-25 Halloween afternoon. The Redskins victory the week before was called ugly, so I have no idea what to call this lost. If a win is a win than a lost has to be a lost.

Granted it is only the mid-way point of the first season under this new type of regime. This regime is a group of decision makers that for the first time in over a decade, doesn’t include “the Danny”. This is what Washington Redskins fans have longed for, some even circled the date when the news broke on their calenders.

The Washington Redskins weren’t a mystery, they just were not anymore than what their 4-12 record of 2009 showed them to be, some of the players (a lot of them really) were but the team truly was what “it” was. Executive Vice Presidents Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan took over but didn’t have a lot to build from but changes had to be made. They made changes and have made moves that have baffled the fan-base, but the fan-base loudly and proudly supported these moves.

Washington Redskins fans are fanatics and Mr. Allen knows this from his childhood, hopefully he told Mike Shanahan. Being the fanatics that we are there is no way these guys get two, maybe three years to fix the decade plus of decay of a once proud franchise. Nope, we bleed burgundy and gold, twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week so… … … they’ll get half of a season just like any other GM and head coach tandem would get. It seems fair but what is “it” that is being judged.

We said “anything would be better than what we had”, and now this is “it”… “It” is what “it” is.
No one wanted, what “it” was yet most aren’t feeling what “it” is.

If you got that you’re ready for the bye week The question isn’t what is “it”, but it’s what should “it” be.

You still with me?

What could they do with the roster after just one off-season and halfway through the season one schedule? The season up to now has to be included because the new regime still has no roster. We don’t know when/if it will ever be set. Shanahan’s moves were questionable from the start with Willie Parker and Larry Johnson being brought in to compete for playing time against a guy the coach reportedly didn’t like prior to trading to Washington years earlier. Many questioned why a coach that was known to find no-name running backs had opted for two guys trying to rehash old glory. They still question it at the mid way point of the season, even though the RB roster spots are filled by Ryan Torain, Chad Simpson, Keiland Williams, and a guy the coach reportedly hadn’t liked prior to trading to Washington years earlier. Not much has changed here from last year, the backfield consist of Clinton Portis and dot dot dot. The only change here is that Portis was hurt early in the year rather than after being beat up and pounded for ten weeks prior. Torain is the starter, Williams is the backup, and Simpson is the only healthy RB that Shanahan hasn’t cut at some point this year; it appears you must be released before to get playing time. It’s the only reason I can think of that would have him go back to back weeks with only two healthy backs on the active roster.

Speaking of the active roster, why is it so hard for guard Derrick Dockery to find it.? He rotated with Kory Lichtensteiger for a few weeks then disappeared about the same time. Has the run and pass blocking took off? The coach says Dockery is inactive every week because he can’t move laterally, yet Lichtensteiger is routinely moved in whatever direction the defensive lineman wants him to go. Bruce Allen went and got a pro bowl tackle that can’t beat out Stephon Heyer for the starting right tackle job. Artis Hicks is in the starting rotation, that in itself is a profound statement. A zone blocking scheme has been incorporated but they failed to get quality zone blockers. Receiver help had been needed for years, so much so that a few years back the organization spent three second round picks on pass catchers. One is now spending his time on the inactive list for the Carolina Panthers, another is basically inactive riding the season out on injured reserve, the last one is a tight end on the same roster as Chris Cooley so he’s riding the pine. Moss still hasn’t gotten any help, but opening the season with Joey Galloway as a starter made them take a hard look at Anthony Armstrong, and that maybe a good thing down the road.

It was decided early on that Jason Campbell wasn’t the quarterback for this new regime, so, he was traded to the Oakland Raiders for a future dream, and Donovan McNabb was brought in. Yes, I’m talking about the only Donovan McNabb that would come up in a discussion like this. He has been treated just like everyone else. It didn’t matter that he has been successful in on scheme for upwards of eleven years. He is now a part of the restoration project in the Nation’s Capital and again changes had to be made. McNabb went from reading routes from the line of scrimmage, to the deeper routes, to looking for the long ball first and working his way back to the intermediate and short passes. Another not so good move, considering his questionable accuracy but Mike Shanahan and his son the newly hired offensive guru of the Washington Redskins offense wanted him.

With half the season over, what does “it” actually look like? “It” looks like they have a good idea of who will replace Clinton Portis next year (when he is due $8 million plus in base salary), and may have found some help for Santana Moss if he can hold on for another year or two. They lost a pro bowl tackle with the retirement of Chris Samuels, but drafted someone they may turn out to be a pro bowl tackle in Trent Williams. Trent Williams is “it” when it come to the offensive line. There is no one else there, maybe there may be help down the road from someone on the practice squad, or sitting on IR but the current members of the Redskins offensive line can without a doubt state that they are worst than the group that took the field last season (remarkably most of them were here last year). What is there to say about the QB? He was benched for Rex Grossman because the coach felt Grossman ran the two minute drill better with the game on the line. Rex came in and fumbled the only snap that mattered, it resulted in six points for the Lions. The guy that got shipped to the left coast lead a team that put up 59 points last week because they throttled it back as the fourth quarter started and threw for more than three hundred yards on Sunday. We know what it should be on offense and we know this ain’t it.

On the other side of the ball “it” wasn’t that bad. It was a top ten defense and “it” was arguably the reason four games were won last season. It didn’t produce pressure on the QB and it didn’t create turnovers. It was going to be changed just like everything else. The defense was never neglected under previous regimes, regardless of how misguided the decision makers may have been. This group had playmakers, it included professionals, blue-collar workers, possible diamonds in the rough, and the evidence that someone had made efforts to allow them to compete on the level they needed to compete on. The new regime immediately went from what had been a staple in DC, the 4-3 base defense and moved to a 3-4 base.

Clinton Portis and Santana Moss were the vocal points of offense along with Cooley. They were paid but knew they needed help and like the fan-base felt anything was better than what they had. Defensive players had different ideas about the impending changes. Most of the lineman in that 2009 top ten defensive unit became linebackers. Lineman that stayed on the line had to change the gaps that they played.. The old saying is “change is good” but Andre Carter had seen this change before and like others knew it wasn’t going to be good. Being the ultimate professional that he is, Carter went along with his move back to OLB. the same position that he had left San Francisco to get away from. Not being a professional on any level the guy tagged the $100 million man wasn’t going for it. He collected his $21 million bonus check before he let on, but before training camp started the highest paid player on that 2009 top ten defense wasn’t playing ball. Carter brought in whole heartily and was strongly criticized by the fan-base for doing what was asked of him. Albert Haynesworth wanted no part of any of anything that started with a three and ended with a four, Haynesworth was vocal about not playing in the new scheme but the new regime had a my way or the highway approach to this restoration project. This led to massive lost of sleep for the fanatics, and Haynesworth became “Fat Albert”, “Fatso” and a bunch of other names that aren’t fit for print, but he never became complacent. The new regime basically caved on this but it also helped get OLB Andre Carter move back to the defensive lineman’s rotation. So Carter became more productive as a lineman, and tight ends caught less passes because he was lost in space. Because Haynesworth simply refused to comply, going as far as to say he just isn’t good enough to start in a 3-4 scheme. Haynesworth and all his money forced the new regime to see it his way, this meant he was allowed to do what he does best. Like on fourth and one he should be lined up over center so his penetration will result in a two yard lost and a turnover on downs. Sometimes it means letting him dive over a center that is trying to cut block him on forth and goal, he can then grab and hold the QB until a teammate can take the ball from him. The fact that he lines up at a position that can only be describe as the nose tackle doesn’t really matter. It’s like DeAngelo Hall wanting to play man on the opponent’s top pass catcher instead of that awful zone package that has the corners lining up 15 yards off the ball. Well, playing man coverage has resulted in Hall grabbing five interception over the last six quarters.

“It” means these changes aren’t as hard and fast has those on the offensive side of the ball would like us to believe. That top ten defense is now bottom five (in yardage), but DeAngelo Hall lead the NFL in interception, Brian Orakpo is tied for fourth in the league in sacks and Haynesworth is doing whatever he likes (mostly beneficial to the team). As a whole the unit has produced more turnovers in eight weeks than they did for the 2009 season. Not sure what to make of ‘it” but It’s not as bad as the “it” that is the offense.

We truly have no idea what “it” is that we have but “it” is all that we have. Allen and Shanahan deserves at least another half of season before we call “it: a failure. May need two to three years, not much has changed on paper, the team is still one of the oldest in the league, the Redskins still have one of the highest payrolls in the league.

“It” is still a four win team but there is eight games to play.
Too soon to judge, too late to jump ship. The year one ride is only halfway over so hold on.

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Bernie Marshall

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