Preseason Lowdown : Washington Redskins

football, preseason, teams, redskins

What’s the story? 

There are lots of memories I wish I could erase from the NFL portion of my brain. It’d be nice to forget a few of those Brett Favre interceptions that cost us playoffs wins. I’d rather not think and/or talk about either of the Packers encounters with the 49ers last year. And even though I live in New York, I don’t want to discuss the New York Football Giants, who have had the Packers number for years. But right alongside of all those things is the visual of RGIII’s knee swinging around independent from the rest of his leg – not once, but twice. Every time I think about it my stomach flips around independent from the rest of my body. By all accounts, the electric QB is making a quick recovery from his second major knee surgery and will be wearing a brace all season to prevent possible setbacks. But the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not he can keep this up. Can he keep playing the way he plays and be a long-term franchise quarterback in the NFL? Let’s hope so, because he’s a lot of fun to watch.

Leader and commander:

Mike Shanahan, who is taking some heat from the aforementioned QB in what is really a non-controversy controversy. RGIII is a competitor. He wants to play as soon as possible. Mike Shanahan is a head coach. He wants his quarterback healthy as long as possible. That means no action in the preseason for Griffin, who has made his displeasure known. But once the regular season starts? Water under the bridge. This is a non-story, in my opinion.

New kid on the block:

That would be “kids” plural. Even without a first round pick (traded it to the Rams last year to pick RGIII second overall), they had a great draft, and a lot of those rookies could see significant playing time this season.

Last year was…

…way better than expected. The Redskins overcame a 3-6 start and won all 7 of their games after the bye week, leading them to their first NFC East title since 1999.

Survey says:

Watch out, NFC East. There’s a new powerhouse in town. The Redskins are ranked higher than any other NFC East team (11th, right in front of the Giants, who are ranked 12th), and for good reason. They have an experience head coach, a hungry starting QB, an excellent backup QB (Kirk Cousins) in the case RGIII has continued knee trouble, and a very talented backfield. They are the team to beat in this division.

Divisional Breakdown : NFC East Teams

If you’re confused about which teams are in the NFC East, just reminder that at one time, the Arizona Cardinals were part of this division. And really, nothing about Arizona says “east” – even less than Dallas, TX.

The Dallas Cowboys

History: The Cowboys (originally named the Steers, which is potentially the best worst first name ever) were formed as an expansion team of the NFL in 1960. Tom Landry was named as the head coach and led the team with integrity, innovation, and a long list of winning seasons as a result. Dallas dominated the NFL in the 90’s with Hall of Fame players and coaches such as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and Jimmy Johnson. The Cowboys are synonymous with their hands-on owner, Jerry Jones.

Current Players to Know: Tony Romo has probably dealt with more criticism than most quarterbacks due to the fact that he’s the face of America’s most well-known football franchise. He’s often accused of being inconsistent. Jason Witten is Romo’s favorite target at tight end; DeMarco Murrary is having a great start to the season at running back. Sean Lee is making quite a splash at linebacker this season.

Head Coach: Jason Garrett

2011 Regular Season Record: 8-8

What to Watch For in 2012: It’s been a rough start for Big D. They might be 2-1 at this point, but it’s an ugly 2-1. The Cowboys have a lot of work to do to gel as an offense, and it won’t get any easier this week against the Bears on Monday night. Sean Lee is probably the player to watch this season; he’s off to an incredible start.

The New York Giants

History: The Giants go way back. They were founded in 1925 by Tim Mara. The Mara family still owns the Giants. The team is well-known for the Bill Parcels/Phil Simms/Lawrence Taylor era in the 1980’s. They are also the current Super Bowl champions and have won two Super Bowls in the last 5 years.

Current Players to Know: Eli Manning is currently regarded as the best 4th quarter quarterback in the league. He has pulled out some unbelievable winning drives in the past few seasons. Victor Cruz is well known for this moves as a wide receiver…and for his moves as a salsa dancer during his TD celebrations. The Giants have a glut of talented defensive ends: Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Jason Pierre-Paul are the best known.

Head Coach: Tom Coughlin

2011 Regular Season Record: 9-7

What to Watch For in 2012: The Giants are probably the least talked about Super Bowl Champions in the history of football. Perhaps it’s the unassuming demeanor of Eli Manning, who has often been criticized for his low-key presence on-field, but one way or another it seems like no one takes the Giants seriously, despite their overwhelming success over the course of the past few seasons. They’re on pace to have another great one, too, with Eli playing better than even in the 4th quarter.

The Philadelphia Eagles

 History: The Eagles were actually founded in 1933 as a replacement team for another team (the Frankford Yellow Jackets) that had gone bankrupt. They’ve been to two Super Bowls but have yet to win one. Current head coach Andy Reid has held his position since 1999 and has led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. He is currently the longest tenured coach in the league.

Current Players to Know: Michael Vick, QB, who tends to spend more time on the ground getting hit than on his feet. DeSean Jackson (WR) and LeSean McCoy (RB) are his favorite offensive weapons. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie hold down the fort on defense as cornerbacks.

Head Coach: Andy Reid

2011 Regular Season Record: 8-8

What to Watch For in 2012: Philadelphia is notorious for it’s emotionally-charged treatment of the Eagles…especially when they are performing poorly. And they are indeed performing poorly. They’ve won two games by the skin of their teeth and lost by a landslide on Sunday. Andy Reid has been on the hot seat in Philadelphia for a few seasons now, despite significant success, but if the Eagles don’t improve quickly it could be his last season in Philly.

The Washington Redskins

 History: The Redskins were awarded a franchise in 1932 as the Boston Braves. The team’s name was changed to the Redskins a year later and moved to Washington in 1937. That was also the year the Redkins signed Sammy Baugh, who went on to become a Hall of Fame quarterback. Head coach Joe Gibbs had a long and successful history with the Redskins, coaching the team from 1981-1992 and then again from 2004-2007. Mike Shanahan, long-time Broncos coach, is the current head coach.

Current Players to Know: RGIII, or Robert Griffin the Third, is having the best season of all of the rookie quarterbacks in the league so far (though he’s had a rough two weeks after a stellar start in Week 1). This is wide receiver Pierre Garcon’s first season in Washington; he previously played in Indianapolis. London Fletcher is an inside linebacker and has played 224 consecutive games over the course of 14 seasons – never once missing a game.

Head Coach: Mike Shanahan

2011 Regular Season Record: 5-11

What to Watch For in 2012: The Redskins have been abysmal over the past few seasons. It looks like there is some reason to hope for more this season, though, with the addition of RGIII at QB and Garcon at WR. There are still plenty of kinks to work out, but Redskins fans have reason to believe that over the course of the next few seasons their situation in a difficult division might improve.

Gone Campin’ : NFL Training Camp

I woke up this morning with butterflies in my stomach and giggles escaping with uncontrollable glee. And not because I greet each morning with a smile and a song, ala Snow White. I greet most mornings with decidedly un-Disney-esque sentiments. But this morning was different. Because this morning…Packers training camp begins.


Training camp is the pre-pre-season. It’s basically a really long audition for teams to figure out who makes the 53 man roster. It’s also the ultimate boot camp to get players back into football shape.

Because training camp marks the beginning of the football season and comes at the end of a 6 month football drought, it probably gets more hype than necessary. But really, enthusiasm is warranted after 6 months of racing, X games, and golf on Sunday afternoons. (My apologies to all of those sports and their fans…I just can’t handle it.)

Here’s what you need to know about the big training camp stories this season:


Peyton Manning beginning his reign with the Denver Broncos is the biggest focus point of training camp this year. You may have seen Peyton Manning on any number of commercials for automobiles and/or sneakers and/or Oreos. He was the franchise quarterback* for the Indianapolis Colts for the past 14 years and is one the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. However, after sitting last year out to due injury, the Colts decided to move on with a spring chicken: Stanford’s stand-out prospect and first overall draft pick Andrew Luck. Because transitional quarterback moves can create controversies (like the 49ers Montana to Young transition and the Packers Favre to Rodgers transition), Peyton decided to leave the Colts and pursue greener pastures. He found them in Denver. All eyes will be on how he plays post-injury (he had a year-long rehab from neck surgery) and how he fits with a new organization. (Additional trivia: You may also know Peyton’s brother, Eli Manning, who is the quarterback for the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.)


Peyton’s arrival in Denver displaced their starting quarterback, Tim Tebow. You may know Tim Tebow because you don’t live under a rock. Homeboy is everywhere, and he’ll be a huge story of training camp because, well, he’s a huge story no matter where he goes, on the field or off.

After Peyton decided to come to Denver Tim was traded to the New York Jets, a media-happy team on their quiet days. The Jets are known for being big talkers and attracting lots of media attention for their unconventional antics, so adding Tebow, who already draws plenty of media attention for completely opposite reasons (parents: if your kids need a role model, look no further!), might cause both the New York and national media outlets to explode. From a football standpoint, it will be interesting to see how the Jets use Tebow, who is currently slated to be the teams back-up quarterback. The Jets are talking about using him in a variety of quarterback and non-quarterback ways, but again, it’s the Jets. And the Jets talk. A lot.


New Orleans. Oh, New Orleans. You’ve probably heard something about the Saints this off-season, whether it’s regarding the bounty program or the Drew Brees contract negotiations. The drama that unfolded over the past 6 months is what multi-million dollar movies are made of, but in short: the NFL uncovered a substantial “bounty” program run by the organization in which players were paid extra to take out other players on the field. The Saints deny the existence of this system and say they had a “pay for performance” program like many teams do. But in the end their head coach, Sean Payton, was suspended for a year as a result, along with numerous other player and coach suspensions.

The good news is that after months of negotiations the Saints finally reached a deal with franchise quarterback* Drew Brees so he will be back in New Orleans for the foreseeable future. Their training camp story is interesting because they’ve basically been decimated during the off-season with suspensions and bad news. They will also be without their interim head coach for the first 6 weeks of the regular season due to the bounty suspensions, so everyone will be waiting to see how they pull it all together in spite of their circumstances.


Training camp wouldn’t be training camp without a good holdout story. This season it’s Maurice Jones-Drew, who is “holding out” (not attending any team activities, including training camp) to try and get a better contract. The tricky part is that the Jaguars owner has already said that they expect Jones-Drew, the league’s premiere running back, to honor the last two years of his contract, and will not give him a long term deal. What happens next is a long, expensive stand-still to see who blinks first.


Namely: Andrew Luck in Indianapolis and Robert Griffin III in Washington. Both will garner lots of debate. They are two of the most highly esteemed quarterbacks to enter the league in the past several years (or…ever), which is why they were picked first and second in this year’s NFL draft, respectively. Too much will be made of their training camp experience because, after all, it’s just camp. But it will be a big story nonetheless, especially for Andrew Luck, who is replacing aforementioned legend Peyton Manning.


Here’s a little hometown love for Buffalo! They did WORK over the off-season, bringing in much-needed big name free agents. The biggest of which is Mario Williams, who chose to sign with Buffalo after leaving the Houston Texans. He plays defensive end, a key position on any team, but his addition to the Bills makes them about 1,000,000 times better. If they can pull it together on offense they could be legit this season.

To get the full effect of training camp, take a look at this video. And lest you think training camp is all work and no play, see Brett Keisel.

*a “franchise quarterback” is a team’s star player, the quarterback who they believe will lead their team for the foreseeable future