The 2010 Washington Redskins got one of the biggest upgrades on paper of all time from the QB-coach combo of Jason Campbell and Jim Zorn to Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan.
Unfortunately, the paper tore sideways, lengthwise and diagonally, and the Redskins were left with confetti – and not the celebrating kind.
But the disappointing passing game was just one of the team's worries in 2010, and you have to wonder after watching veteran coaches Marty Schottenheimer, Norv Turner and Joe Gibbs fail in Washington – can Shanahan win under Dan Snyder?
The 2010 storyline: Promise turned to resignation turned to confusion. McNabb out, Rex Grossman in?
The Vital Signs
2010 record: 6-10 (18.9 PPG – 23.6 PPG)
Last five seasons overall: 32-48 (.400)
Worst Quality Stat in 2010:
Defensive Passing YPA, Quarterback Rating, Scoreability
All Quality Stats
Defensive Passing YPA: 29th
Quarterback Rating: 29th
Defensive Quarterback Rating: 27th
Relativity Index: 26th
Statistical curiosity of 2010
Four different players punted for the Redskins in 2010, approximately three more than is optimal. One of them was kicker Graham Gano, who brought back memories of the 1950s by missing five field goals under 40 yards.
Best game of 2010
16-13 win vs. Green Bay (Week 5). The Redskins really should have been competing for the No. 1 overall pick considering their schedule and their generally poor play. All six of their wins came by six points or fewer, including three in overtime. And the win over the Packers was a fluke: McNabb somehow passed for 357 yards against the league's top-rated defense, and LaRon Landry hauled in a rare Aaron Rodgers INT in overtime to set up Gano's winning field goal in OT. But when you go 6-10 and beat the champs, it's your best win of the year.
Worst game of 2010
59-28 loss vs. Philadelphia (Week 10). No analysis needed here – when you give up 59 at home, that's nuff said. The Redskins were actually 4-3 at one point, had just beaten the Bears in Chicago and had playoff aspirations. But losses at Detroit and then home here against Philly sparked a downward spiral in which the team went 2-7 over the final nine games.
Coaching. Say what you want about Mike Shanahan, but there's little doubt that he's the best thing about this team. Maybe it was unorthodox to bench McNabb. But the fact is that Washington's passing game was terrible in 2010. And while other coaches would have played nice with the veteran QB, Shanahan did what was best for the future. The way he handled noted waste of space Albert Haynesworth was also admirable, if disastrous on the field.
If this franchise is ever going to turn around, it needs decisive moves on the sideline and in the front office, and Shanahan makes them. He might never get this mess of a team up to his winning standards, but he gives them a better chance than most.
Skill players. Only two Redskins scored as many as six touchdowns in 2010, Santana Moss and Ryan Torain. And Moss is a free agent who won't likely return.
If the season started tomorrow, the Redskins would be looking at Grossman at quarterback, Torain at tailback in place of Clinton Portis and Anthony Armstrong as the No. 1 wide receiver. While Torain and Armstrong showed flashes, they're not exactly go-to guys, and the quarterback position is a mess.
Considering that the Redskins are already pretty weak elsewhere, needing all new starting triplets isn't particularly promising.
General off-season strategy/overview
Yeah, the Redskins are f'ed. Their last two drafts have produced only two good players (and the jury is still out on rookie tackle Trent Williams), and the veterans largely underproduced.
Their theory of throwing money at free agents has been a massive problem, as has their propensity for trading away their second- and third-round picks year.
What's left is a roster that's old and bad, which last time we checked is a bad combo. Maybe Washington will do some shrewd dealing on draft day and change the image, but we doubt it.
Totally premature 2011 diagnosis
We'd have to quote Clubber Lang from Rocky III when asked what his forecast for the Balboa fight was: "Pain." The Redskins are not only flawed, but they play alongside three consistently good franchises in the NFC East, all with quarterbacks, all with pedigrees, all with Super Bowl hopes. Not in Washington, where six wins in 2010 was a bit of an upset and four wins in 2011 is more likely.