When you want to know about a team often the best person to ask is the beat writer who covers that team on a daily basis. We did just that and spoke with Daniel Shiferaw of SB Nation DC for this preview of the NFL Week 2 battle between long time NFC foes, the Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals.
The Redskins finished 6-10 last season and were ranked 21st in defense and 25th in offense in Mike Shanahan's first season as head coach. A lot like the Arizona Cardinals this year, however, they think they've solved their biggest problems and are very optimistic about the 2011-12 NFL season. A big Week 1 victory over their division rival New York Giants helps fuel that confidence going into this Sunday's game.
Here's what Shiferaw had to say about the team he covers.
The Redskins switched to a 3-4 last season when Mike Shanahan came in and the team struggled with the new system. They didn't have the right players up front to run the scheme and in the case of Albert Haynesworth, a guy who didn't want to play in the 3-4.
Washington focused in the offseason on getting the right players for the system. They drafted OLB Ryan Kerrigan 16th overall from Purdue. Kerrigan had a big play against the Giants when he returned an interception for a touchdown in a play that was crucial in getting the 28-14 win.
They also brought in two free agents to start on the defensive line, NT Barry Cofield from the Giants and DE Stephen Bowen from Dallas. The team is also impressed with seventh round draft pick, rookie NT Chris Neild who had two sacks in Week 1.
"The big thing is (Defensive coordinator) Jim Haslett taking this defense in year two and now has more parts to work it, particularly up front. Because of that, the Redskins defense is really much, much better than it was a year ago," Shiferaw said.
The attention on offense all goes to quarterback Rex Grossman. Shenahan surprised everyone in the preseason with the announcement that Rex Grossman would be starting over John Beck.
"Obviously, the knock on Gross man is that there's 'Good Rex' and 'Bad Rex'," Shiferaw said. "He'll look really good like he did against the Giants and then he'll have other moments where he just inexplicably turns the ball over, whether it will be a bad interception or a fumble when he should have just kept the ball."
Grossman went 21-34 for 305 yards against the Giants while former Cardinals running back Tim Hightower rushed for 72 yards on 25 carries. Fred Davis had five catches for 105 yards while Santana Moss had six catches for 76 yards.
According to Shiferaw, Grossman says that he's not the same guy and there is no more 'Bad Rex' but the jury is still out with the fans and media in Washington.
Shiferaw says that Hightower was a little upset that Cardinals traded him and about the team drafting Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams after he was already on the roster. He's happy to be in Washington where Shanahan sees him as a feature back.
"Revenge or no revenge (with Hightower), the Redskins are going to have to run the ball against the Cardinals. And from there, Rex Grossman -- if he winds up playing like 'Good Rex' it will be a close game.
"I think it's going to be a very high scoring game because the Cardinals obviously have a very good offense and the Redskins are having some secondary trouble (injury to S LaRon Landry)...I think both teams score in the 20's at least and I give the Redskins the edge because they're at home, probably by a field goal at the most."
Thanks to Daniel Shiferaw for his insight into the Redskins. We'll have more on the this game throughout the week in this StoryStream. For more on the Cardinals, head over to Revenge Of the Birds and for more on the Redskins check out Hogs Haven and SB Nation DC.