Reasons to be Hopeful

Tis the season to be jolly and all that. So tis also the season to be in a good mood, unless you're stuck at the mall behind a line of strollers at Bath and Body Works waiting to buy a gift. But that's another story. Redskins fans need hope and I'm going to dish some out today.

1. They do have talent. Washington does not have as much talent as it thinks, at least not in the key areas. But when you look at next season, the Redskins will have: Jon Jansen, Chris Samuels, Patrick Ramsey, Laveranues Coles, Rod Gardner, LaVar Arrington, Fred Smoot and Randy Thomas. That's not bad. Plus they'll have a high first-round pick. If they don't re-sign Champ Bailey, then they'll add another pick. These are good building blocks.

2. Offensive improvement. OK, the offense did not produce like everyone hoped it would this season. But, look at the above names. Many of them play on offense. Regardless of who is coaching the team, all of these players would return. And if they're in the same offense again next season, they should get better.

3. Ramsey will be another year older. This is important. He's played better than either Joey Harrington or David Carr has in their first two seasons. Ramsey is very smart, dedicated and tough. Then we find out he was playing part of the season with a fractured foot. That problem will be gone next season, which will help greatly. One reason Ramsey did not improve by leaps and bounds this year is that the coaches asked him to do an awful lot more. At times that slowed his progress. Next season, it should speed it up.

4. The Redskins will draft high enough to select a quality defensive lineman. They'll draft high enough to select another one in the second round, if they wanted. Or they could take a running back with that selection. And if they trade Champ Bailey, they'll have that other pick to use (we won't get into the cap implications of all this; not today). If they can find those linemen, then they'll have depth since many of the guys starting now would be solid backups.

5. There won't be much change this offseason with the coaches. At least not right now, but this is very much subject to change. Unfortunately, Steve Spurrier remains at wits end out here. But if he's back and most of his coaches are, at least there's continuity. That should be a good thing.

6. One of these years, owner Dan Snyder will get tired of being a national joke. Not to mention losing. And he'll hire a competent GM. After this season, you have to figure the Redskins have inched just a little closer to that wish.

7. One of those available, Ron Wolf, has said he'd consider working for four franchises only. One of them was the Redskins. Problem is, he'd want a piece of the team. Alas, this is a pipe dream so let's not go here.

8. The Redskins have the makings of a very strong ground game. Spurrier seems to have evolved in his thinking and knows what a good back could do for this offense. If they can find a solid back this winter, it would be a major help. This line is built to mash lines. As bad as the defensive line is, the offensive line could be that good. Imagine what this offense could do if it faced more eight-man fronts. They faced precious few this season.

9. Bruce Smith will be gone. Addition by subtraction. His act got stale even for some of the players. Maybe this will end the era of the owner's open-door policy, one which undermines the players.

10. It'll be a new season. And every new season brings hope. Also, after another offseason of bringing in new players, you can always find reasons to be optimistic. Besides, one of these years everything has to break right for this group. Doesn't it?

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