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Homer: Rex Grossman raises the bar for 2011 Redskins


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(photo by Brian Murphy)

I think it’s safe to say that most people believe Super Bowl XLVI will not involve the Washington Redskins. And honestly, who could blame them?

For a decade or so, the front office was content to cut corners and take shortcuts when assembling the roster. Draft picks were routinely traded away, and when they were utilized, too often they went towards skill-position players who were better suited to sell jerseys rather than fill a specific need.

Trades and free agent signings often brought great headlines during each offseason, but little in the way of results once the season actually began. Washington officially became a destination for players looking to get paid, rather than players looking to win games.

For all of the millions upon millions of dollars management has thrown around in pursuit of a championship, the Redskins have exactly one playoff win since 2000.

During head coach Mike Shanahan’s inaugural season in Washington, it appeared as if the Redskins were happy to repeat the cycle. The Redskins had plenty of over-the-hill players, but not much in the way of depth.

That, of course, leaves little room for error. So when a starter gets hurt or the team faces any sort of adversity, it’s only a matter of time before the losses start to pile up.

But I will say this about Shanahan: he’s not afraid to make changes if things aren’t working out.

Just look at the franchise one year later – the distractions are gone and the roster is noticeably younger. Draft picks were stockpiled.

Rather than reaching for a flashy quarterback in the draft who may or may not have fit the current offensive system in place, management opted to trade back and target players who filled specific holes in the lineup.

Veterans acquired in free agency weren’t awarded the biggest contracts. Again, they were younger, lesser-known players who were targeted because of their specific skill sets.

It might not be newsworthy in other NFL cities, but these are drastic changes for the thought process at Redskins Park.

And looking at the team’s current roster, it appears the franchise is finally heading in the right direction.

Tight end has been the one position of strength in Washington’s offense for as long as Chris Cooley and Fred Davis have been in town. But I’m excited to see what the receivers can do, now that youngsters like Leonard Hankerson and Niles Paul join veterans like Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong and Jabar Gaffney.

History shows Shanahan’s offense can turn seemingly any running back into a 1,000-yard rusher, which is why the battle between Ryan Torain, Tim Hightower and Roy Helu should be fun to watch.

The offensive line looks better than the train wreck Washington trotted out a year ago, although, if I’m being honest, none of the back-ups inspire much in the way of confidence.

Basically, if one of the quarterbacks can be anything better than mediocre, Washington’s offense could very well be respectable in 2011. That’s my stance, heading into the team’s first preseason game.

Apparently though, I might be setting the bar a little bit lower than others around town.

“We’re fine being the sleepers right now,” said quarterback Rex Grossman during an interview with Comcast SportsNet. “You know, we’re just waiting in the wings, ready to take over the NFC East. Nobody’s talking about us. That’s right where we want to be. You look at us from top to bottom out here, there’s a bunch of great players. And we don’t need people saying we’re the best right now, but when it’s all said and done, I really feel like this team’s gonna win the East.”

Sexy Rexy wasn’t done there.

“I look around, this offense from top to bottom is better than that offense I had in Chicago,” said Grossman, referring to Chicago’s 2006 Super Bowl season. “The defense is gonna make a ton of strides this year. I know they are. It’s gonna be fun. I know we’re gonna be a good team.”

Well then.

And here’s the craziest part – Grossman isn’t alone in thinking it’s only a matter of time before the Redskins take the world by storm.

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I saw where people were saying he was crazy for saying we would be a good team in win the division. I mean, that's what I want my team to think. So I have no problem with him saying he thinks we can win the division. I don't think we will, but that doesn't mean the players and coaches shouldn't.

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I have no problem what the Rex Cannon said. I too don't agree with him. But I have no problem with the team itself thinking this way. Why not? There is no pressure to back it up.

The Redskins are in a nice position for once. The Eagles are a bloated team that always fails to live up to the hype. Dallas is in the same boat. The Giants have the pressure of not falling behind those two so Coughlin is on the hotseat once again. This leaves the Redskins. A team finally going young and stockpiling draft picks and with no expectations whatsoever. It's refreshing.

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Players should be confident. Nobody is in camp right now going "Welp, I think we're going to be in the basement". That's not how professional athletes think. This are highly competitive individuals. If they don't think that they can compete to go all the way, they shouldn't be out there. I'm excited for the 2011 season. While I may not be as confident as Rex, I'm glad to see the players are and I'm glad to see the organization seemingly moving in the right direction. Winning begins with hard work and attitude.

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