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As the Redskins wrap up a third straight year out of the playoffs, its time to hand out some awards.
Redskins blogger Rich Tandler is up first and CSNwashington.com staff writer Ryan OHalloran responds on a variety of topics.
OFFENSIVE MVPRich Tandler: Santana Moss leads the team in receptions (84), receiving yards (1,041) and touchdowns (six). On a team without a consistent running game, those are solid MVP credentials. Moss was the one consistent presence on an offense that struggled to score. He didnt have a single monster game but he made key catches, both on short patterns and deep downfield, week after week.
Ryan OHalloran: Ill stick with my midseason choice nobody. Through 15 games, the Redskins have hit the 30-point mark just twice and scored less than 20 points in nine games, not the best way to help a defense that is ranked last in yards allowed per game. Who can the Redskins really count on offensively going into the off season. Chris Cooley and Trent Williams and thats about it.
DEFENSIVE MVPRT: It may be hard to justify giving an MVP award to a player who missed nearly half of the season but Im going to give it to safety LaRon Landry because his absence since the ninth game of the season has proven his value. Landry was a force all over the field he has been gone for six games but he still is the teams third-leading tackler. To be sure, the defense gave up a lot of yards while he was in the lineup and the unit continues to do so. But the key to the 3-4 defense is takeaways. With Landry in the lineup for nine games the Redskins had 21 takeaways and in the six games since they have seven. The bottom line: 5-5 with Landry in the lineup, 1-4 without him.
RO: DeAngelo Hall gets the nod because of his six interceptions (tied for second-most in the league) and eight total takeaways. Hes headed to his third Pro Bowl and was directly responsible for winning the first Dallas game (returned fumble for touchdown) and the Chicago game (four interceptions). More impressively is that he wasnt afraid to stick his nose in the run game, which wasnt exactly his reputation before he came to Washington.
SPECIAL TEAMS MVPRT: With a tip of the hat to Lorenzo Alexander, who earned a status as an alternate for the Pro Bowl with his kick coverage, Brandon Banks is the easy pick here. It used to be that when the Redskins opponent punted or kicked off, it was time to go the fridge to get a cold one. With Banks, there always is the possibility of a big play, making returns must-see events. Although he has been hampered by a knee injury in the second half of the season, the excitement has remained.
RO: H.B. Blades played on all four special teams the entire season and enters the finale with 11 tackles. Although not a captain, its obvious he has taken a leadership role in stressing the importance of special teams to young players like Perry Riley, Byron Westbrook and Darrel Young.
SURPRISE PLAYERRT: Come on back up to the podium, Brandon Banks. When the wise members of the media first saw Banks in uniform trying out during a minicamp, the joke was that one of the coaches junior high school sons was playing on the field in a uniform. Even in training camp, his size (generously listed at 5-7, 150) prevented many from taking him seriously. Then when he had some ball handling issues in preseason games the writing seemed to be on the wall. But he proved everyone wrong the first time he touched the ball with a 53-yard punt return against the Eagles.
RO: Im not 100 percent sure but I dont think Anthony Armstrong was on my first projected 53-man roster so he certainly counts as a surprise. He ended the year as a starting receiver opposite Santana Moss and an impressive 18.7-yard average per catch (42 receptions for 787 yards and two touchdowns).
DISAPPOINTING PLAYERRT: Free safety Kareem Moore was supposed to be the salvation of the draft class of 2008. Instead, he added himself to the list of disappointments from that group of 10 draftees. Moore came out of college with a reputation as a fierce hitter and in two years of part-time duty he lived up to that. But as a starter he put no fear into opposing receivers going up to make a catch. Moores pass coverage was nothing special either. He played in 12 games and in those games the opposing offenses completed 10 passes of 35 yards or more. They werent all Moores responsibility but youd like to see a better performance out of the last line of defense.
RO: Donovan McNabb cost the Redskins two draft picks and more than 10 million in salary. What they got in return was 13 games of generally mediocre play, a career-high 15 interceptions and a below-average 77.1 passer rating. Mike Shanahan finally had enough after the Tampa Bay game.
SURPRISING DEVELOPMENTRT: Before this year, the Redskins had gone since the middle of the 2007 season without scoring a defensive touchdown. This year they have two, both by DeAngelo Hall, and both critical to the outcomes of the games. His fumble return for six just before halftime was the teams only touchdown in the 13-6 win over Dallas and his 92-yard pick six in Chicago provided the margin of victory there. In addition, interceptions by Landry and by Kevin Barnes in overtime set up the winning field goals against Green Bay and Jacksonville, respectively.
RO: That Joey Galloway lasted 10 games before being cut. He started the first part of the season and got regular playing time yet he caught only 12 passes for 173 yards and no touchdowns. It took Thanksgiving for the Redskins to finally give up on Galloway to make room for Armstrong and Roydell Williams.
DISAPPOINTING DEVELOPMENTRT: The running game is supposed to be the strength of the Mike Shanahan offense but it never really got cranking in 2010. With one game to go, the Redskins are one of seven teams averaging less than 100 rushing yards per game. The puzzling thing is that the running game has not been utterly ineffective when utilized. Washingtons average of 4.2 yards per attempt is 14th in the league. But despite the fact that most of the Redskins games were close throughout, they averaged just 22.1 attempts per game, 31st in the NFL.
RO: How could Shanahan and Co. not expect the injury problems that surfaced from the start of training camp and ended with 14 players on injured reserve. This was an old team that wasnt built to withstand 16 games. That falls on the person building the roster.
SHANAHANS BEST DECISIONRT: The coachs best decision actually was a series of decisions. He took a chance on some rookie free agents and some other players on the NFLs scrap heap, gave them a chance, and got some good productivity out of them. Banks was one of them. Ryan Torain might have been a candidate for offensive MVP had he not started the year on the practice squad and then missed some games due to a pulled hamstring. He was out of football last year. Anthony Armstrong is a 27-year-old rookie who bounced around indoor leagues and NFL practice squads before Shanahan gave him a shot and got 42 receptions for 18.7 yards each out of him. Undrafted rookie Keiland Williams earned a roster spot and proved valuable as a reserve and as a spot starter.
RO: With McNabb going nowhere fast, Shanahan had to make a chance to see what Rex Grossman could do, even if the sample size is just three games. Shanahan could have absolutely handled it better make the move on Monday, not post-practice Thursday but the way Grossman played in the second half against Dallas, its tough to argue against the call to sit McNabb.
SHANAHANS WORST DECISIONRT: Giving up second- and fourth-round draft picks for Donovan McNabb. Not much explanation is required here.
RO: The way he handled the Haynesworth fiasco. Shanahan should have just tried to get something of value in the trade market once Haynesworth drew his line in the sand by skipping mini-camp or just released him outright. It would have eliminated much drama and would have forced the Redskins to go find nose tackle help, a position they ended up struggling at the entire season.
ONE 2011 PREDICTIONRT: Rex Grossman will start at least half of the games in 2011 and he will play well. Were not talking about a Pro Bowl selection or anything but he will manage games and avoid committing a lot of the killer turnovers that have plagued his game in the past. A combination of being a good fit for the Mike and Kyle Shanahan offense and an improved running game will help him out considerably.
RO: Carlos Rogers wont return next year. Most likely a free agent once the new collective bargaining agreement is reached, Rogers is looking for a pay day and will be one of those players who will go to the highest bidder regardless of the team. The Redskins should try hard to keep him, though.