Six Positive Glimpses Of Hope On This Depressing Redskins Monday

By Kelso Carpenter

A lot of my faithful Redskins fan brethren might not like me saying this, but any hope of a positive outcome to the Redskins 2011 regular season walked out the door a couple weeks ago.

And guess what?  This shouldn’t be a shock.  Sure, the Redskins are playing terribly right now, but we knew before the season that this was essentially a rebuilding year.  Most folks, whether it was national-level NFL “experts” or die hard Redskins fans, picked the ‘Skins to go anywhere from 5-11 to 8-8.

Well, fear not.  At 3-5, they’re right on pace for those early predictions.  They’re not going to go 3-13.  But they’re not going to go 11-5 either.

We were pleasantly surprised early in the season when Rex Grossman lead his team to a 3-1 start.  Some people, maybe even me, a little, were fooled into thinking they had a chance to do something special.

Now, here we are, soaring back down to Earth with the sour taste of reality in our mouths.

I know it’s hard to smile or have any ounce of positivity when you’re in the middle of a four-game losing streak, but all is not lost.  There are still a number of good things going on with this team.

I wanted to list a couple things we can hang our hats on going forward, so take a deep breath and enjoy!

The combination of Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan is going to be goooood.  They’re both young and have plenty to learn about playing outside linebacker, but they’ve already shown us they are going to be a dominate pass-rushing tandem for years to come.  Oh and don’t forget about Jarvis Jenkins, the impressive rookie defensive end out of Clemson.  He’ll be back next year.

When healthy, this offensive line can be above average.  Before left guard Kory Licthensteiger was lost for the year with a knee injury and left tackle Trent Williams was knocked out with a bad ankle, the offensive line was actually playing pretty well.  Rex Grossman had time to throw and the running game was pretty steady even though the o-line was still learning to play together.  Rookie left guard Maurice Hurt filled in nicely this weekend, and the combination of Chris Chester and Jammal Brown will only get better – again, assuming they can stay healthy.  They’re not great, but a healthy combination of Williams, Lichtensteiger, Montgomery, Chester, and Brown will be okay.  Now they just need to work on depth.

Darrel Young is a heck of a fullback.  One thing is for sure – the Redskins have found an adequate replacement for the aging Mike Sellers.  Young is a good blocker and is a sneaky threat in the passing game.

The young wide receivers have potential.  Niles Paul has proven to be a very versatile player and, given his size and athletic ability, could develop into a nice player.  Leonard Hankerson has finally seen some playing time and is getting better and better each week.  Mike Shanahan said this weekend that he thinks Hank can be an elite receiver.  We saw a little bit of that yesterday as he was able to grab a back-shoulder pass in the end zone – a play the Redskins have never been able to successfully run before he got here.

Roy Helu could have a breakout year next season.  Say what you will about yesterday’s performance.  I know Helu was the sole beneficiary of an inept offense lead by John Beck, but he is showing signs of a solid running back.  He needs to bulk up a little bit and continue to develop, but he’s fast and has good hands.  He could be your full-time starter next year and the next Redskins 1,000 yard runner.

The Redskins may have finally solidified their kicking game.  Yes, I know they have had three field goals blocked this year.  Special teams coach Danny Smith will get that fixed.  But assuming they can lock down Sav Rocca to a long-term deal and Graham Gano continues to develop, they could be set at both punter and kicker for the foreseeable future.  I’m not saying either of them are going to be Probowlers, but any shred of consistency is a huge step up from years past.  If you take away Gano’s three blocked field goals, he’s 12 out of 13 with a long of 59.

Feel better??  Yeah, me neither.

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