We have landed at the halfway point of the 2011 season. Every team in the NFL have played out their first 8 games. Only two teams have played into the second half of a 16 game schedule, the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts. The second half is upon us and the playoff brackets are beginning to take shape.
The NFC East has always been a competitive division, in and of itself and outside of the conference/division. The first impressions that many had of the NFC East have been blown out of the water. Regardless of record, any team in this conference is capable, at any time, of making the opposition sorry for mistaking a losing record for terminal weakness. We’ve got the grades and projections for the remainder of the season right here. Welcome to the NFC EAST Midseason Report Card! Check it out!
Washington Redskins : C
These guys came out with their pistols blazing in the first quarter of the season. Mike Shanahan was brought into this franchise last year and made his presence known. Shanahan came out determined to turn things around for this club, who haven’t had a winning season since 2007. Maybe if they stop playing musical QBs they can get something going.
The trend in the Redskins camp, these days, seems to be QB controversy. The Mike Shanahan/Donovan McNabb fiasco last season drew plenty of attention from the football world. Shanny brought in McNabb as their savior, only to sit him on the bench towards the end of the season at a whopping $40 million, in favor of Rex Grossman. Now, Shanahan has benched Grossman in favor of John Beck. Beck hasn’t played or started a game, aside from these last 3, since 2007 when he was with the Miami Dolphins. It makes you wonder if the problem is with the quarterbacks or with the coach himself. In the last 3 games Beck has thrown 2 TDs and 5 INTs. Rex Grossman threw 4 INTs against the Philadelphia Eagles. The passing game just isn’t here, folks.
Tim Hightower and Ryan Torain are both relatively new to the game, and the team. Torain has been with the Skins since 2010, making him the senior running back. However, he is only in his 3rd season in the NFL. Hightower is in his 4th. But the real story here is the rookie, Roy Helu. He has the 2nd RB slot, behind Hightower. He averages more yards per carry (4.6) than Hightower or Torain. The Redskins are also using him strategically as a receiver. He has 172 rushing yards and 197 receiving yards. Look for this kid to blossom into something in the coming years. But, the Redskins running game is not much to write home about. Hightower leads the team with 321 rushing yards, 64.2 yards per game and 1 TD. These are not numbers that strike fear in the opposition.
Fred Davis, the star WR for the Skins, already has more yardage this season than he has from all of 2010. He is in his 4th year and beginning to show some growth. Jabar Gafney was brought in this year after recording his best year to date with the Denver Broncos last season. He is in his 10th year but on track to having his most productive season, if you can believe that. Santana Moss, (Yes, he’s still around) has always been a thorn in any secondary’s side. But he is not in danger of breaking any records this year. There are some names on this receiving corps that hold weight. Yet, there’s not a lot of production coming from them. There are some threats here but nothing a decent secondary could not handle.
Offensive Line: D
It’s ugly, guys Just plain ugly. Here we have a pathetic passing game, a mediocre running game and a subpar passing attack. Could it be that all of these areas, that rely heavily on an offensive line to succeed, are doing poorly because the O-line is as bad as it is? You betcha! Let’s not blame the state of the Skins solely on the offensive line. But they play a very big role in it. They are ranked 27th in the NFL. They’ve given up the 5th most sacks and the 4th most hits on their QBs. Like I said, it’s ugly.
Hey! We’ve arrived at something positive to discuss. Yes, this Washington defense is not too shabby. London Fletcher, now in his 14th season, has the 7th most tackles in the league. Brian Orakpo has the 8th most sacks. Their front three, one of whom is ex-Giant Barry Cofield, present many a problem for an opposing QB. Collectively they have 11.0 sacks so far in the season. Their secondary have two of the best in the NFL, DeAngelo Hall and LaRon Landry. All together, they make up a pretty good defense. However, they’re still 3-5.
Special Teams: C+
Nothing special to report here, except Brandon Banks. He leads the league in kickoff return yards (618). He also leads the NFL in return fumbles. Sav Rocca, formerly of the Eagles, averages 44.8 yards per punt and is tied for 1st with punts inside the 20. Graham Gano has missed 4 FGs this season but has the 2nd longest FG in the NFL.
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