Through four games this season the Redskins have shown major improvements in several areas. The record is nice, but the moves that Shanahan has been able to make over the past year have improved the roster ten fold. Many speculated at which prized free agent the ‘Skins would chase, but Shanahan and company showed patience and played their cards well. As we enter the second quarter of the season, here is a look at some individuals who have rewarded Shanahan with their strong play thus far:
Jabar Gaffney-I have always liked Gaffney. Even dating back to his Florida days, I thought Gaffney could be a solid receiver in this league. He has bounced around for most of his career, but he fits the Redskins/Shanahan’s system. Similar to Santana Moss, Gaffney runs precise routes which allows him to find opening in zones during games. Never hurts having a receiver who is willing to block either.
Rocky McIntosh-Some may find it interesting that I am including the young linebacker in this column. Rocky has been around the Redskins longer than ‘ol Mike, but after a subpar year in which he seemed not to fit the 3-4 system, Shanahan and Haslet decided to keep #52 around. Their decision has payed dividends thus far in the early going of the season. I would even argue that McIntosh has to be in the running for most improved player on the roster. He had a huge game against the Rams and has been solid throughout the season. Hopefully the University of Miami player can keep up his early season stardom and continue to help lead the Redskins defense.
Stephen Bowen/Barry Cofield-I am putting these two together for a reason. Both have had solid season up until this point and seem to fit the Haslet scheme. I was worried about Cofield because he is not a true DT, but he has held his own in the middle and is a vast improvement from a year ago. His push has helped free up Bowen and the dynamic duo of Orakpo & Kerrigan. The other half of the newly added line is Stephen Bowen. The DE has been stellar in my opinion. He is a decent pass rusher, but his true value comes from his run defense. Bowen constantly finds himself int he backfield stopping the opposing running back because his motor never stops. These two figure to be part of Washington’s defense for the next few years and hopefully can continue their strong play…..Did I mention that the Redskins went after them and not Cullen Jenkins of the Eagles?
Washington and Philadelphia are headed in completely different directions entering week 6. A win this Sunday against the rival Eagles would prove once and for all that the blue print for success does not mean throwing money at superstars. With Shanahan and Bruce Allen in charge, the Redskins are finally bringing in quality players with strong upsides while Philly is falling into the shiny trap. A win against Philadelphia would prove the Burgundy and Gold are headed in a better direction than their rival.