Above: Papa’s in the house!
The Redskins season opener is Sunday and that has this Skins fan giddy with excitement. With a bitter rival coming to town and a nationally televised game under the lights, well, it just doesn’t get any better than this. Yes it does – a Superbowl. Or at least a deep playoff run. Ahhh … how I long for coach Gibbs, version 1.0. But I digress.
Here are some key things to watch for Sunday night:
Haynesworth: Much has been made this offseason and preseason about the drama between Albert Haynesworth and Coach Mike Shanahan. The key questions going into Sunday night are: How much playing time will Haynesworth get and at what position will he be utilized? Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett has indicated that Haynesworth will be used in both the nose tackle and defensive end positions. If Haynesworth is to remain a Redskin for the duration of the season, Haslett will need to find where he is most productive yet also keep him content with his role on the team.
Wide Receivers: One huge question mark with regards to the Redskins roster is the personnel at the wide receiver position. So much for the 2008 draft picks coming through. With Malcolm Kelly on the IR and Devin Thomas still needing to prove himself, Santana Moss (31 years old) and Joey Galloway (38 years old) will be the number one and two receivers on Sunday. Look for new additions Brandon Banks and Anthony Armstrong to come through as big play makers.
Running Back by Committee: Many NFL teams use this strategy to get good productivity out of their running backs for the duration of the season. Coach Shanahan was well known for using his zone blocking scheme to allow his running backs to excel while with the Denver Broncos. Even with Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson (both were absolutely crucial in 2005!) expected to be getting the bulk of the carries, look for the Skins to establish a solid run game. With two aging backs, sharing the workload might be just what the Snyder ordered.
Defense: The X-factor on defense is Haynesworth, who can be a major force when he wants to be. But the real key addition is Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett. Look for him to bring a more aggressive defensive style, which should allow outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter to continue their dominance over offensive lines from last season.