[caption id="attachment_2036" align="aligncenter" width="303" caption="Give Kelly a chance!"][/caption]
There are many observers out there opining that fixing the Washington Redskins will be a long, painful process. The whole thing needs to be blown up, they say, and reassembled part by part. It will take years to rebuild the team into a winner.
I'm not exactly sure what decade these people are living in. Long-term rebuilding is a concept of the 1970's. Things can be turned around in-season or, if not that quickly, from season to season. In two parts here, I'm going to take a look at how this team can become respectable in 2009 and contenders in 2010. Today, the immediate fix:
1. Get the younger backs some carries—Again, welcome to this decade. The successful running attacks in the NFL involve more than one back. Ladell Betts doesn't seem to be the answer as a change of pace back. Marcus Mason doesn't have breakaway speed but he needs more than a couple of touches a game (and some work on pass protection). Anthony Alridge has that speed. Give them the ball. Risk an occasional fumble or sack for an extra half yard or more per carry.
2. Call in Langston Walker—Or Jon Runyan or Mark Tauscher or anyone capable of playing at NFL caliber at the offensive tackle position. At the moment, the Redskins have one player who fits that description and Chris Samuels can't be fully relied on week after week. For that matter, Jason Fabini is still out there; he knows the offense and is looking for work. Yes, these are desperation, panic measure. But, guess what, it's time to break the glass, it's an emergency. (Note: As I was finishing up this post, Tauscher signed with the Packers.)
3. Play to Jason Campbell's strengths—I suppose that this would entail abandoning the West Coast offense but I'm not sure that that's what they're running anyway. It certainly bears no resemblance to what Joe Montana ran or even what Matt Hasselbeck ran in Seattle. Let Campbell use his strong arm and throw some deep outs and deep posts. Let him fire the ball to Malcolm Kelly in the back of the end zone from the opponents' 30. Yes, his completion percentage might suffer but overall the offensive productivity would improve (how could it get worse?).
4. Upgrade the return game—Is there any less exciting aspect of a football weekend than watching Rock Cartwright and Antwaan Randle El return kicks for the Washington Redskins? Those moments should bring a tinge of excitement; instead, as we are assured that nothing exciting is going to happen (unless it's negative, as we saw yesterday), it's a time for a trip to the fridge. This is the simplest of all the fixes proposed here. An upgrade here would not involve rewriting the playbook nor would it involve bringing in new players. Devin Thomas, DeAngelo Hall, and Justin Tryon, among others, could provide a spark here.
These changes could be made with our without a new coach and with a minimal expenditure of money. They're not particularly risky.
Most important, they are common sense moves that anyone with a minimal level of football knowledge can see would help.
And that's exactly why I'm not holding my breath waiting for them to happen.