The Washington Redskins‘ 2010 season actually began on December 17, 2009. On that day, vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato resigned after a total of 10 years with the organization. In those 10 seasons, Cerrato had accrued a 76-87 record. And really, that’s all Washington had known over the years. They were a below average football team with brief stints of being something more than that.
But on January 6, owner Dan Snyder hired former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan to be their new head coach. This hire set in motion what was thought to be a new potential for the team. Shanahan was set to take over for Jim Zorn, Washington’s head coach the previous two seasons.
Ultimately, the 2010 season unfolded with more melodrama and only two more wins than the previous year to finish with a 6-12 record.
The team added via trade former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb for a second-round pick in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft and a third- or fourth-round pick in the following year.
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth stole headlines in the preseason due to his unwillingness to play nose tackle in Shanahan’s new 3-4 defense.
The Redskins also released that year RBs Rock Cartwright and Ladell Betts, G Randy Thomas, WR Antwaan Randle El, CB Fred Smoot and DT Cornelius Griffin. They also traded QB Jason Campbell for a fourth round pick in 2012 to the Oakland Raiders. And in order to better protect McNabb, they traded a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft for then New Orleans Saints T Jammal Brown.
In the 2010 NFL Draft, the Redskins had the fourth overall pick after finishing with a 4-12 record in 2009. With the No. 4 pick in the first round, they selected offensive tackle Trent Williams from the University of Oklahoma. Unfortunately the Redskins didn’t pick again for another 99 picks when they selected linebacker Perry Riley from Louisiana State University at No. 103. With pick No. 174, Louisana Tech tight end Dennis Morris was brought onto the team but the Redskins opted to trade him to the St. Louis Rams just before the season began.
In the sixth round, at pick No. 219, they selected UCLA wide receiver Terrence Austin. And their final two selections were New Mexico center Erik Cook and West Virginia guard Selvish Capers.
After a forgettable 2-2 preseason record, although credit has to go to undrafted free agent rookie kick returner Brandon Banks for generating a lot of fan buzz to his electric speed and playmaking ability, the Redskins opened the 2010 season against the Dallas Cowboys at home.
The Redskins opened the season with a win after beating the Dallas Cowboys in their home opener. CB DeAngelo Hall returned a fumble for a touchdown to seal that victory as the Cowboys struggled to put points on the board.
In the following two weeks, there were two straight losses. First to the Houston Texans at home and then to the St. Louis Rams on the road. In Week 2, Houston QB Matt Schaub passed for an astounding 497 yards, three touchdowns and one interception as the Texans won in overtime with a game-winning field goal, 30-27.
In Week 3, rookie QB Sam Bradford led the Rams to a comfortable 30-17 victory. The Rams scored 13 unanswered points to seal the win.
The Redskins rebounded with back-to-back wins on the road at the Philadelphia Eagles and at home to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.
Washington came out with a hot-start against the Eagles scoring 14 unanswered points in the first quarter led by running back Ryan Torain. The Eagles offense couldn’t get off the ground as ‘Skins held on for a 17-12 win.
Against the Packers in Week 6, the Redskins scored 13 points, including the game-winning field goal in overtime for the win. McNabb hit receiver Anthony Armstrong on a big 48-yard touchdown which proved to turn the tide in the fourth quarter.
In a back and forth loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Colts QB Peyton Manning was very successful completing 25 of his 38 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Torain filled in nicely for Clinton Portis, who was out due to injuries, by rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
On the road against the Chicago Bears in Week 7, the Redskins shut out the Bears in the second half, sealing a hard-fought 17-14 win. Again Hall saved the day when he returned a 92-yard interception for a touchdown. On the day, Bears QB Jay Cutler threw four interceptions to Hall. The Redskins went over .500 for the season, improving to 4-3.
Washington went on to lose seven of their final nine games turning what looked to be a solid season into a poor one. The lone victory came against the ‘Skins remaining AFC foes on schedule (at Tennessee and at Jacksonville. Those seven losses all came against NFC opponents.
In Week 8, Shanahan opted to bench McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman late in the game against the Detroit Lions. The ensuing controversy led to the season’s breaking point. After a Week 9 bye when all that was discussed about the Redskins was the benching controversy, Philadelphia QB Michael Vick passed for 333 yards, four touchdowns and ran for another 80 yards and two touchdowns as the Eagles embarrassed the Redskins during Monday Night Football. The Eagles went on to win 59-28.
Later, there was even more controversy as Shanhan decided to bench McNabb for the final three games of the season.
For the Redskins, the 2010 season provided more lowlights than highlights. But another year brings another opportunity to improve as Shanahan heads into his second season as head coach.
Passing – Donovan McNabb: 275 for 472, 3377 yards, 14 TD and 15 INT
Rushing – Ryan Torain: 164 carries for 742 yards and 4 TD
Receiving – Santana Moss: 93 receptions for 1115 yards and 6 TD
Kicking – Graham Gano: 24 for 35
Punting – Hunter Smith: 57 punts for a 40.5 avg
Punt return – Brandon Banks: 38 returns for 11.3 avg
Kick return – Brandon Banks: 46 returns for 25.1 avg and 1 TD
Tackles – London Fletcher: 136
Sacks – Brian Orakpo: 8.5
Interceptions – DeAngelo Hall: 6 and 1 TD
Forced fumbles – London Fletcher: 3
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