October 25, 2010

Not Your Same Old Redskins

When Mike Shanahan accepted the Redskins’ head coaching job last January he made it clear right from the beginning that his first season would be no rebuilding project. He acknowledged that certain areas of the roster—the lines in particular—needed rebuilding, but didn’t agree the Redskins needed the kind of raze-it-to-the-ground fresh start many fans and observers were clamoring for.

He wanted to build, but also to win. Now.

At first blush, it appeared he and general manager Bruce Allen intended to do that with a Back to the Future is Now approach that would have made George Allen and his famous Over the Hill Gang approach proud.

Six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb (33) was brought it to replace popular but ineffective incumbent Jason Campbell (28).

Running backs Larry Johnson (30) and Willie Parker (30) were brought in to compete with Clinton Portis (29).

At wide receiver the team signed graybeard Joey Galloway (39) and not-spring-chickens Bobby Wade (29) and Roydell Williams (29).

Key names expected to help transition the defense from a base 4-3 alignment to a 3-4 included Philip Daniels (37), Vonnie Holliday (37), London Fletcher (35) and Ma’ake Kemoeatu (31).

Before you knew it word on the street was the 2010 Redskins, the “oldest team in the NFL,” were simply the latest incarnation of Dan Snyder’s Flying Circus and destined to crash and burn.

But a funny thing happened on the way to disaster.

An opening night victory over ballyhooed Super Bowl favorite Dallas was followed up by a close loss to the suddenly relevant Houston Texans. A road win over division rival Philadelphia and surprising victory over preseason Super Bowl favorite Green Bay had the team 3-2 and suddenly being called “rugged” instead of “ancient.”

In a matter of just five weeks, the national conversation about the Redskins had evolved from clichés about age and “buying championships” to “tough and improving.”

On the fly, without fanfare and even while changing the losing culture fielding a competitive team in a transition year, Shanahan and Allen are also making the Redskins younger...

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