The Washington Redskins division rival the New York Giants are Super Bowl bound after their win last night in rainy San Francisco. So what does that say about our beloved Skins, who swept those very same Giants?
If you want to be a smart ass about it it simply means that the Redskins beat the NFC Champions twice (last season they beat the Green Bay Packers as well), but I think it means a little more than that.
This wasn't like last season where the Redskins beat the Packers early on before the Aaron Rodgers machine was up and running at full capacity. No the Redskins beat the Giants twice, decisively.
In the greater scheme of things it makes Rex Grossman's start of the season prediction of the Redskins winning the NFC East seem like it could have been true with a bounce here and a call there.
Don't get me wrong 5-11 is a terrible record and in all honesty I shouldn't even be considering this a possibility but the Redskins were not as bad as their record. The team's two quarterbacks maybe, but not the entire team.
If you compare the Giants and the Redskins you'll see strikingly similar teams. Both have excellent defenses that keep teams out of the endzone and could force timely turnovers to give their respective offenses a chance late in games.
They both have an excellent tandem of running backs who compliment each other very well. The Giants have the edge at wide receiver (but just barely) and the Redskins have the edge at tight end.
So where is the different between the 9-7 Giants who won the division and the 5-11 Redskins who swept the Giants?
Surprise, surprise it's at quite possibly the more important position on the field, the quarterback.
The Giants have Eli Manning who at times can look a little Rex-ish but can also mimic his older brother in clutch situations . And then you have the Redskins who have Rex Grossman and John Beck.
I've been saying this for the past six or seven seasons now, "if the Redskins have had an honest to god franchise quarterback they'd be a threat in the NFC."
That isn't to say they'd be Super Bowl bound, but I think the Giants have proven (twice now) that all you need to do is get into the playoffs and anything can happen.
The Redskins, since Joe Gibbs' return, have not been as bad as their record at the end of the season has shown, but the lack of a real quarterback has held them back.
Mark Brunell's second season under center gave the fans a glimpse at what this franchise could be with a franchise quarterback. In 2005 Brunell threw for 3,050 yards with 23 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions and led the Redskins to the playoffs. He should have gone to the Pro Bowl but once again the fan voting led to Mike Vick getting the third slot even those his stats more resembled Rex Grossman's than a Pro Bowl quarterback that season.
Brunell hadn't played that well under center in five seasons and had he not been so old at the time it could have spelled promising things for the franchise.
Sadly, though, Brunell's age caught up with him and he was replaced by Jason Campbell late in the 2006 season. Now Campbell isn't a bad quarterback but he's not a franchise quarterback either. Campbell needs a lot of help to be a winner. He needs a defense that keeps teams out of the end zone (the Redskins were 50/50 in that department under Campbell) as well as a defense that generates turnovers (which they didn't). Also Jason needs a lot of weapons on offense because he's the type of quarterback who plays it safe, a little too safe to ever be elite.
If you look at guys like Tom Brady, both Mannings, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees they trust themselves enough to thread the needle with passes (so does Rex, the problem is he's not good enough to do that). A perfect example of that is late in the game last night Eli was facing a third and fifteen and was well into field goal range to get within one point of the 49ers. Did Manning play it safe and try and get his kicker a closer field goal? No. Did Manning try to get just enough for the first down? No. Manning was like, "screw this mess, we're taking the lead," and gunned the ball into the end zone passed two Niner defenders for the go-ahead score. That's a throw Jason Campbell will never attempt.
With that said about Jason he actually would have been good enough for the Redskins this season had they not traded for Donovan McNabb last season and then traded away Jason.
Make no mistake Campbell wouldn't have suddenly lit the world on fire with his passing but for the Redskins this season a quarterback who plays it safe and doesn't turn the ball over would have probably gotten this team closer to the playoffs.
Of the Redskins five wins you can't really point at any of them and say "Rex won that one for us," however, you can point at several of the Skins 11 loses and say Rex (or Beck for that matter) lost that game for us.
Essentially what I'm saying is that if you remove Rex Grossman and John Beck from the equation and install a quarterback who doesn't make poor decisions and the 2011 Redskins could have had a shot at the NFC East. That isn't to say that they would have won the division, but they would have been better than 5-11 to be sure.
So where does this leave the Redskin front office who will watch the Super Bowl and know that they are better than the team representing the NFC?
Well for starters they need to identify their franchise quarterback, either through the draft (Robert Griffen III, Ryan Tannehill, etc) or through free agency or through a trade (Matt Flynn or Peyton Manning) and then take a good look at finding a big time receiving threat.
Yes the Redskins have other holes than those two, but quarterback and wide receiver are their two biggest. You fill those with quality parts and the other holes will seem a lot smaller by comparison. Look at the AFC representative in the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots. They have a ton of holes in the defensive secondary and at running back but they are less noticeable because of Tom Brady, Wes Welker and their two mammoth tight ends.
The Redskins already have an awesome tight end duo (if one can stay healthy and the other doesn't get suspended), not to mention something the Patriots don't have an awesome backfield. If the Redskins can add a franchise quarterback and a big play receiver then they can be right in the mix next season.
What the Redskins do to address those needs is anyones guess but I have my suspicions. If they take a quarterback via trade or free agency it's because they know they won't be able to draft the quarterback they want (i.e. RG3 or Andrew Luck), if they don't address the QB position before the draft it means they have a very good idea that they're going to get the guy the want, which could be one of the quarterbacks above or because they saw something in another quarterback in the Senior Bowl which the Redskins staff happens to be coaching this week (wink, wink).
A big time receiver I honestly don't know where they'll lean to get him. I'll admit I have no idea what receivers are due to be free agents this off-season so I can't say who they'll look to there but other than South Carolina's Alston Jefferies there isn't a clear play maker in the draft.
So are the Redskins an off-season away from forming the perfect team? Heck no, but the two teams considered "perfect" the Saints and Packers got bounced in the second round of the playoffs. The Saints by a very good Niners team and the Packers by a very less than perfect Giants team. So Bruce Allen my nickels worth of free advice to you is "Don't try and build a Super Bowl winner this off-season. Just make sure you grab the two key offensive pieces that you're currently missing that will get us into the playoffs, because the Giants have shown that all you need to do is make the playoffs and good things can happen."
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