Washington, DC Sports Franchises: Whats happening today with the Washington Redskins?

After a season intended to be a new era in our nation’s capital, the 2010-11 season instead found itself plagued with new problems, a 6-10 record, and continuing controversy between coaching staff and players. In January of 2010, Mike Shanahan agreed to a 5-year contract with the Redskins and announced that he will bring his son, Kyle, from Houston to be the offensive coordinator, and ex-NFL Head Coach, Jim Haslett for the defensive coordinator position.  Echoing the sentiments of an era of change at Fed-Ex Field, Haslett made a major change to the defensive scheme, switching to a 3-4 defense, a move which drastically changed the Redskins’ plans for defensive personnel.  And it would be issues with said personnel that would hog the spotlight on and off the field for the majority of the season.

On April 4, 2010, the team acquired pro bowl QB Donovan McNabb from their division rival, Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a second round pick in the 2010 draft and a third or fourth round pick in 2011. This gutsy move attracted loads of national attention, as many analysts called on a McNabb presence in Washington to be a deciding factor in the predicted turnaround of the team.

In the first week of the season, McNabb and head coach Mike Shanahan led the Redskins to victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Hearts were light, and excitement was abuzz in Washington. And then drama began.

In week 8, the Redskins played against the Detroit Lions. When the Redskins were losing 30-25 in the fourth quarter with 3:12 left, Shanahan benched McNabb, replacing him with backup quarterback Rex Grossman. On his first play Grossman fumbled the ball, which was recovered for a touchdown by Lions DT Ndamukong Suh, sealing the Lions’ victory of 37-25. Shanahan stated in a press conference that McNabb would remain the Redskins’ starting quarterback. In November of 2010 McNabb signed a five-year extension worth $78 million ($3.5 million guaranteed) with a chance to make it $88 million by completing incentives. But Shanahan’s promise to keep McNabb in the starting position did not hold, as he was demoted to the third string by the end of the season, with Grossman getting the start. As the season has closed, McNabb has remained relatively quiet as to his intentions for next season, although talk about the topic in sports media outlets has been so frequent that it is almost as tired a topic as the looming collective bargaining fiasco.

More drama ensued, this time on a different side of the field. During preseason, Shanahan entered into a heated controversy with star defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth. Hayneesworth, unhappy with his position of nose tackle in the new 3-4 defense, refused to attend early training camps and showed up to preseason practice out of shape. Shanahan refused to let Haynesworth practice unless at preseason camp unless he passed a fitness test. Haynesworth was unable to pass this test for several weeks during which the divide between he and Shanahan grew deeper. On December 7, 2010 Haynesworth was suspended for the last four games of the season for conduct detrimental to the team, after he told General Manager Bruce Allen that he refused to speak to Coach Shanahan after Shanahan made Haynesworth inactive Week 13 for poor practice the week prior. Coach Shanahan said the suspension followed a refusal by Albert Haynesworth to cooperate in a series of ways and not only because of the practice absence.

At the conclusion of the 2010 Season, Mike Shanahan stated that the Redskins were going to revamp their roster in the coming offseason via trades, free agency and the draft. It is widely believed and reported that The Redskins are in a rebuilding process. The general consensus is that Shanahan wishes to reduce the age of the roster, and after a quiet salary cap purge during the 2010 season by Bruce Allen, the team has many options going into a very promising rebuilding process. Let’s see if this “new era” will really live up to the hype this time.

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About Home Field Advantage
We are two senior Sports Communication majors at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. We have launched this blog as part of our senior year capping project, with the goal of creating a comparative analysis and multimedia approach to the differing sports cultures in America.

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