Ninety-nine percent of Redskins talk these days centers on the nut-and-bolt specifics of certain roster spots---primarily SAM linebacker, defensive end and offensive tackle---and what the team plans to do about them via free agency and the April draft.
Fair enough, I've been indulging in it somewhat myself. The discussion is topical, relevant and pure offseason gold for the serious fan feeling the absence of the game itself more acutely with each passing week.
What I found myself thinking about this week, however---in short bouts between fretting over the relative size of potential SAM linebackers and the inexorable process of determining which particular college player the Redskins simply cannot live without come draft day---is what is going on out at the Redskins Park practice fields when no reporters are around, and in the offices not plastered floor-to-ceiling with player evaluation cards.
What is Head Coach Jim Zorn up to? What does he believe he learned during Year One as an NFL head coach, and what specific things is he doing to incorporate said lessons into Year Two?
How different will his offense be in 2009? Will it look more like the "modified" West Coast Offense he envisioned at this time last year, or, with a year under his belt and resulting familiarity with his quarterback, line and receivers, will he take it in a noticeably new direction? And if so, how far along is he in that process?
What is QB Jason Campbell up to? Who is he throwing to and how often? Has he spent time studying with and/or throwing to Moss, Randle El, Cooley, and more importantly, rising sophomores Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly and Fred Davis?
Where is Campbell's head these days? It's a pretty good bet he wonders from time to time exactly what his future holds in Washington, given the window to sign a new contract prior to the season has apparently closed and he will head into the last year of his rookie contract playing for free agency in 2010. How does he feel about that, and will it affect his play?
And speaking of QB's, there's the whole Cult of Colt thing always hovering in the background. Personally, I'm not a cultist---to me it's a no-brainer Campbell is the incumbent heading into the season, and until and unless the wheels are clearly falling off at mid-season, he's the man throughout the year---but like a whole lot of other Redskins fans, I won't deny it was pretty damn electric watching the kid move around, make plays and ignite the offense last preseason.
If nothing else, I'd sure like to know what kind of progress young Mr. Brennan is making learning the pro game between the ears, and what his chances are of mounting a legitimate challenge to Todd Collins for the #2 spot behind Campbell.
What is defensive coordinator Greg Blache thinking? As you recall, he was seriously considering retirement before last season, and was convinced to return by some combination of the owner, general manager and incoming head coach. After last seasons' successes and frustrations, and with the addition of Albert Haynesworth, who might give him something he's not had here before---serious push up the middle---is Blache re-energized? Is he at the blackboard scheming up nasty new ways to let opposing QB's know the Redskins will, in fact, plant you in the turf from time to time?
And assuming he is (I mean, with AH on board, who wouldn't?), wouldn't it just be amazing to be a fly on the wall?
Point of all this being, as important as personnel acquisition during these frenzied weeks of free agency and the draft are, the fortunes of the 2009 Redskins will turn at least as much, if not considerably more, on the answers to the kinds of questions posed above.
It won't always be easy, but as fans we would do well to remind ourselves of that fact as the free agent market continues, the draft draws closer, the mock drafts proliferate, and whenever we catch ourselves obsessing too much about such things as what as-yet-undetermined player will draw the starting assignment at LDE come opening day in September.
You know what they say about forests and trees.