By Rich Tandler
Ray Didinger is not a name familiar to most Redskins fans but in Philadelphia the man is an icon. He has been covering the Eagles for decades and he is currently the Eagles Insider for CSNPhilly.com. The man is a pro’s pro, as solid a writer as you will find anywhere and I’m proud to be associated with him under the Comcast SportsNet umbrella.
As much as I respect Didinger, however, I have to question the logic he used in his preview of the Washington Redskins in a recent CSNPhilly.com article.
Before looking at where Didinger says the Redskins have improved, let’s take a look at something that might indicate that he is not quite in touch with recent developments surrounding the Redskins. In discussing the quarterback situation, he says:
Rather than trade for a quarterback or draft one, they stayed with holdovers [Rex] Grossman and John Beck.
It was very unlike the Redskins and owner Dan Snyder. Normally, Snyder is quick to spend money to land a big name even if it is the wrong name (Read: Jeff George, Mark Brunell). This time Shanahan convinced Snyder the best move would be to let him work with the two quarterbacks who supplanted McNabb last season.
It is very clear that Mike Shanahan did not have to consult with Snyder about the quarterback situation. He decided who the quarterbacks on the roster would be and he may or may not have informed Snyder of his decision. Snyder is out of the football decisions business for at least as long as Shanahan is around.
Didinger does think that the Redskins offense will be better. “The offensive line is improved – Trent Williams, last year’s top draft pick, is coming on at left tackle – and the Redskins are running the ball like a typical Shanahan team.” He wrote.
And he believes there should improvement in the defense as well. “Defensively, the Redskins should be better in their second year playing the 3-4 scheme,” Didinger said. “It has to be better than it was last season when coordinator Jim Haslett’s unit finished 31st in total defense.”
So the offensive line and running game will be better, the defense will improve, they Redskins have “made strides” and they “do appear improved.” That should add up to some more wins, right?
Not according to Didinger, who in his conclusion writes, “The Redskins made strides but they still lag behind the rest of the division. Six wins and another last place finish.”
He doesn’t mention it, but the Redskins’ have the fourth-easiest schedule in the NFL according to last year’s record.
So, they’re better in key areas and improved overall, they play what now appears to be a relatively soft schedule, but they won’t win any more games than they did a year ago?
This is not the only similar preview-prediction article I’ve seen that proceeds along these same lines. Maybe some writers out there, even respected ones, think that they only won three or four games last year and that six wins will be an improvement.
I’ll be doing my season preview for the Redskins sometime in the next few days and you won’t be seeing a Super Bowl run or even a playoff appearance being predicted here. But I do think that improvement in personnel and the fact that the holdover players have a year in the system will lead to a better record. That is the way it usually works in the NFL.
If others believe otherwise, well, that’s why they play the games.