While Bucs Fighting To Stay Alive, Redskins Fighting For Roster Spots

The Bucs and Redskins are both teams in turmoil, one obviously in stronger turmoil than the other. But neither team’s emotional plights and difficult “big picture” tasks will be main factors when they strap on the helmets on Sunday. For sixty minutes, it won’t matter what this coach said about Haynesworth or what this newspaper said about McNabb. For sixty minutes, the Bucs can’t be concerned about what the Giants, Saints and Packers are doing.

However, the Redskins are 4-7 for good reason: their roster isn’t very good. Going into the year, they had high hopes on defense and – after the start of the year – they thought they might have a decent offense. Right now, it’s about continuing the process started last off-season: personnel purge. Dan Snyder has had no affinity for draft picks, but the lack of picks is not nearly as jaw-dropping as the picks themselves.

From 2007 to 2009, the Redskins drafted a 2nd-round tight end, two 2nd-round wide receivers, a 3rd-round tackle, two 6th-round project quarterbacks, and a 7th-round receiver. They’re all gone except the tight end and the tackle, who are back-ups. In those three drafts, they accumulated just three current starters – FS LaRon Landry, SS Kareem Moore and OLB Brian Orakpo –  and a failed starter, S Chris Horton.

The Redskins started the year 4-3, but have dropped 4 of their last five to fall to 5-7. Their most humiliating defeat was 59-28 at home to the Eagles. They’re the 23rd-ranked defense in points and dead last in yards. On offense, their 28th ranking in points is far and away the worst ranking a Mike Shanahan team has ever had. In his 15.5 seasons coming into this year, he started out in Oakland with a 16th ranking and had an 18th ranking four games into the next season when he was fired. He only reached the depth of 18th or worse two more times – the first post-Elway season (18th) and the first full season with Jay Cutler at quarterback (21st).

I generally don’t think many teams quit on their coach.
I had heard that said by many as a reason for picking the Colts last night, but the Titans didn’t look like they weren’t trying hard. Maybe I need to see more games and Mike Shanahan is certainly a coach who has alienated or angered players before but I don’t think they are going to quit.

Expectations are transient and contextual. Redskins and Bucs fans believed this was mostly a rebuilding year for their teams. As they started to show some promise, the expectations changed. As the Bucs have progressed, their heartbreaking losses to the Falcons have stung more knowing they could make some noise if they got in the playoffs. On the flip side, Redskins fans are merely looking to see some more glimpses from young playmakers Brandon Banks and Anthony Armstrong and also for somebody on defense to step up.

Smart personnel decisions have accelerated the rebuilding process for Tampa Bay. It really doesn’t seem like they’ve lost five games. The Bucs will continue to find ways to use their bludgeoning weapons on offense, and continue to take the fight to their opponents while on defense. It’s one game at a time.


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