- The Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles—This seems a bit odd, but stay with me. The Redskins get to play six games a year against three of the most storied teams in the entire NFL, teams with long traditions (well, except the Cowboys) of championship-caliber play (well, except the Eagles). How could you get pumped up for games against Detroit or Cincinnati twice a year? An NFC East game is never, ever just another game.
- Ryan Boschetti—This guy is an all-time, all-effort football player, and that's not even the best thing about him. He is the consummate team player. I'll never forget talking to him in training camp when Kedric Golston and Anthony Montgomery were rookies. He told me that he was spending a lot of time with them both in practice and in meetings, teaching them about the pro game and about the Redskins' defense. The two rookies made the roster, Boschetti was cut. It's great to have him back.
- London Fletcher—Calling him a student of the game is faint praise. He's the professor of the Redskins defense, sometimes even giving coaches tips on how it needs to be run. His anticipation for the play at times makes you think that he lined up in the other team's huddle and that this radio headset is also tuned into the frequency of the offense. As soon as the ink was dry on his contact he became the team leader on defense.
- Chris Horton—The rookie burst onto the scene with a three-takeaway performance in a game that he didn't even know he was starting until that morning. While the takeaways have not come as easily lately, Horton is learning on the job, he's not getting beaten in coverage often, and he displays a great nose for the football. Not bad for a seventh-round pick.
- Clinton Portis—Clearly, he brings on a lot of the criticism he takes himself with comments like the one he made about the offensive line. But his productivity speaks for itself. Did you know that his average of 113.5 yards per game from scrimmage is the fourth-best of all time? Only Jim Brown, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Barry Sanders have better averages. Sometime next year Portis will surpass 10,000 career rushing yards. And in the what have you done for me lately category, he leads the NFL in rushing and is the engine that makes the offense of the 7-4 Redskins run.
- Jim Zorn—The stay-medium but play suddenly, judiciously dice-rolling, hip-hip-hooraying head coach of the Redskins appears to have been quite a find for the Redskins. Few are describing him as the worst hire in the history of the NFL as they were last February when he got a quick promotion from offensive coordinator to head coach. He has scaled back his brutal honesty with the press to some degree, not wanting to alienate himself from his players, but he still makes conversations interesting. His offense still is learning on the job and needs a few new pieces but Zorn has a vision and he is working towards it.
Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at email@example.com