LaRon Landry And The Silver Lining In The Redskins’ Season

LaRon LandryWe knew this was going to happen. The Washington Redskins ended S LaRon Landry’s season by placing him on Injured Reserve. “Stuff” like that has happened to Washington all season.

Ryan O’Halloran writes on csnwashington.com that surgery is (and was from the beginning) Landry’s only option for dealing with his Achilles injury. Landry hoped that a great performance this season would propel him to the Pro Bowl and the coveted payoff contract. He took a risk in not having the surgery and it backfired. The good news for the team is that Washington had players to backfill Landry.

Reed Doughty subbed for Landry in the opening game against the Giants and Washington won. In late season, Washington worked in 2011 Draft pick Dejon Gomes. Credit Shanahan for Gomes. The 2011 NFL Draft management is Shanny’s lone bright spot this year.

That’s why we hope Tom Boswell’s story about Mike Shanahan forging a new identity for the Redskins is truer that the last re-forged identity, the one that involved Donovan McNabb (who I still think would have worked better than Rex Grossman) and Albert Haynesworth. Boswell says that the Redskins will rely on the NFL Draft as the primary source to build the team. The 2011 Draft Class is the only reason for optimistic for 2012 and beyond.

When The Washington Times’ Rich Campbell wrote of the lost potential of Washington’s safety duo, I assumed that he was speaking of Landry and Sean Taylor. Joe Gibbs drafted Landry with the idea of pairing him with Taylor to force “coverage sacks” of opposing quarterbacks by making them hold on to the ball longer.

We saw glimpses of what Gibbs attempted a few times in 2007, thus my first impression of “lost potential.” It was a cool idea…that never would have worked. Tom Brady blew up the concept in the 2007 Redskins-Patriots game. Quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees have only gotten better with quicker releases. NFL rule changes slanted to favor the passing game also worked against the idea.

The NFL and its fans aren’t feeling coverage sacks. They want playmaking quarterbacks and offensive shootouts. On defense they want disruption–INTs, sacks and hits–more than the ‘Skins’ stifling defenses of the LaVar Arrington days.  

Campbell’s story was about the loss of safety duo Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe on the 2011 team. That’s football. The NFL season, like presidential campaigns, is a test of endurance and resilience. Teams that win are true to the concept of “next man up” and build the roster that way.

Even under Gibbs, the Snyder-era Redskins never took that to heart. They sold out to marquee stars and a bunch of try-hard guys. Washington’s top talent was always competitive with division rivals, but the rest of the roster was something of a joke to other teams. Compound that with the Redskins’ chronic devaluation of good, mid-tier role players and you get a sense of why the team struggled since 2000…and why the team may be better now.

Walt Harris, Antonio Pierce, Ryan Clark, Brandon Lloyd, Carlos Rogers are just a few players who say that the Redskins are a good team to be from. Meh!

(The Redskins had different issues that worked against them in the post-Gibbs 1990s. That’s for a different story.)

For as much as the ‘Skins need a quarterback, no one complains that Shanny passed on Blaine Gabbert in favor of Ryan Kerrigan. Rex Grossman and John Beck drained any patience for that next year. Even with needier areas, there will be revolt in the ticket office if Shanahan selects anyone other than a quarterback with the first-round pick.

We want Griffin 3rd. No, we want Barkley. No, we want….  

The Mock Draft Tracker maintained by our friends at DC Pro Sports Report now shows USC’s Matt Barkley emerging as the best-guess pick for the Washington Redskins. Last week, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III led the guessing game. Barkley beats out Griffin by a small margin.

Coach Shanahan does not participate in these things. So, just consider mock drafts as nothing more than the wisdom of the crowds. But these days, Barkley or RG3 in a burgundy jersey is what passes for fantasy football around here.

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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