The Washington Redskins officially kick off their 2011 season this Friday in a home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, last year’s Super Bowl runner-ups. Although most preseason games are typically cast aside as nothing more than feelers for rookies and last stringers at most franchises, for this particular franchise, these next four exhibitions are huge. The summer turnover for the team has been major, and the introduction of projected starting quarterback John Beck will take a few games to smooth out. If you count the inclusion of several running backs, receivers, defensive linemen and new starters in the line back corps and secondary, this summer’s preseason will be more than just a few auditions.

Despite an unknown at the quarterback position, head coach Mike Shanahan still continues to maintain that the team will be competitive this year. Being competitive while breaking in a new signal caller is one thing, but being competitive while breaking in a new quarterback, along with what could be close to 10 other starters, is a new animal in itself. To make matters worse, Shanahan hasn’t pulled the trigger on his trigger man, disclosing recently that the wildly projected Beck might not even be his day one starter.

In an interview with NFL Network, Shanahan responded to a question about his quarterback situation saying: “First of all, I’ve never mentioned a starter. I’ve never even insinuated a starter. I said I had a lot of belief in John Beck; I had a lot of belief in Rex Grossman. We’re going to play the best player at the end of camp, but I do believe in both those guys. I’ve watched them practice. You make decisions based on practice. I’ve watched both these guys for a year. I like what they bring to the table. Now I get a chance to watch them compete on a day-to-day basis.”

Great. Now Shanahan’s reneging on a starting signal caller. He may not have ever said that Beck was his starter, but he surely did nothing to quiet the summer notions, until now. The team is basically starting from scratch this year with no quarterback, a still shaky offensive line, a crowded backfield, an absence of receivers behind Santana Moss and new starters at every level on the defense. But, if you ask Shanahan, the team will be competitive this year, which translates to a lot of close losses in a perfect world. Redskin Nation should be excited to prep for another football season, but considering the list of unknowns on this team, it could be a season possibly worse than the last few dismal campaigns.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO